Westmoreland Marcellus Citizens’ Group Updates
May 1, 2014
* For articles and updates or to just vent, visit us on facebook;
* To view past updates, reports, general information, permanent documents, and meeting information http://westmorelandmarcellus.blogspot.com/
* Our email address: email@example.com
* To discuss candidates: http://www.facebook.com/groups/VoteProEarth/
* To contact your state legislator:
For the email address, click on the envelope under the photo
* For information on PA state gas legislation and local control: http://pajustpowers.org/aboutthebills.html-
To read former Updates please visit our blogspot listed above.
WMCG Thank You
* Thank you to contributors to our Updates: Debbie Borowiec, Lou Pochet, Ron Gulla, the Pollocks, Marian Szmyd, Bob Donnan, Elizabeth Donahue, and Bob Schmetzer.
A little Help Please
***Tenaska Plant Seeks to Be Sited in South Huntingdon, Westmoreland County***
Petition !! Please forward to your lists!
Please share the attached petition with residents of Westmoreland and all bordering counties. We ask each of you to help us by sharing the petition with your email lists and any group with which you are affiliated. As stated in the petition, Westmoreland County cannot meet air standards for several criteria. Many areas of Westmoreland County are already listed as EPA non-attainment areas for ozone and particulate matter 2.5, so the county does not have the capacity to handle additional emissions that will contribute to the burden of ozone in the area as well as health impacts. According to the American Lung Association, every county in the Pittsburgh region except for Westmoreland County had fewer bad air days for ozone and daily particle pollution compared with the previous report. Westmoreland County was the only county to score a failing grade for particulate matter.
The Tenaska gas plant will add tons of pollution to already deteriorated air and dispose of wastewater into the Youghiogheny River. Westmoreland County already has a higher incidence of disease than other counties in United States. Pollution won’t stop at the South Huntingdon Township border; it will travel to the surrounding townships and counties.
If you know of church groups or other organizations that will help with the petition please forward it and ask for their help.
Sierra Club Sues Texas Commission on Proposed Tenaska Plant
SIERRA CLUB VS TEXAS COMMISSION On ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY,
I. CASE OVERVIEW
Sierra Club seeks an order reversing Defendant’s December 29, 2010, final order in Docket No. 2009-1093-AIR.1 The order authorizes the construction and operation of a new solid fuel-fired power plant by approving the application of Tenaska Trailblazer Partners, L.L.C. (Tenaska, Trailblazer, or Applicant) for state and federal air pollution permits.
This new facility is a large solid fuel-fired electric generating unit, or power plant, to be constructed in Nolan County, Texas. The Tenaska facility will generate about 900 megawatts (MW) of electricity and is authorized to emit over 9,207 tons per year of criteria air pollutants.2
While under the jurisdiction of the State Office of Administrative Hearings, the proceedings bore SOAH docket number 582-09-6185. 2 There are several “criteria” pollutants: carbon monoxide, lead, particulate matter with a diameter of less than 10 micrometers, particulate matter with a diameter of less than 2.5 micrometers, nitrogen oxides, ozone, and sulfur oxides. For each of these air pollutants, National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) have been established by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and are adopted through the Commission’s rules. See e.g 30 TEX. ADMIN. CODE § 101.21 (“The National Primary and Secondary Ambient Air Quality Standards as promulgated pursuant to section 109 of the Federal Clean Air Act, as amended, will be enforced throughout all parts of Texas.”) Criteria pollutants must be evaluated prior to obtaining a PSD permit.
Filed 11 March 14 IN THE DISTRICT COURT OF TRAVIS COUNTY, TEXAS
.3 The facility will also emit an estimated 6.1 million tons per year of the greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide (CO2).
At the heart of this lawsuit, Sierra Club alleges the approval of the permit application was made in violation of:
a. the requirements of the Texas Administrative Procedures Act (TEX. GOV’T CODE, Chapter 2001) regarding Defendant’s authority and duties upon adoption of a final order;
b. the requirements for a preconstruction application and approval by TCEQ, including:
i) Deficient information and legal bases for the findings related to hazardous air pollutants (HAPs) and the corresponding maximum achievable control technology (MACT) determination.
ii) Deficient information and legal bases for the findings related to prevention of significant deterioration (PSD) review and the corresponding best available control technology (BACT) determination.
iii) Failure to consider and minimize the impact of greenhouse gas emissions. II. DISCOVERY
1. This case is an appeal of an administrative agency’s actions, and therefore based on the administrative record. Designation of a level of discovery is not applicable. If discovery becomes necessary, it should be controlled by Level 3. TEX. R. CIV. PROC. § 190.4.
*** WMCG Group Meeting We meet the second Tuesday of every month at 7:30 PM in Greensburg. Email Jan for directions. All are very welcome to attend.
***Penn Trafford Zoning-May 20, 7:00pm The PT Secretary has announced a new zoning ordinance and map is listed on the township website, penntwp.org. It's an eye opener as there are major changes that require homeowner’s input.
*** Deer Lakes Vote Tuesday, May 6, 5:00 p.m.
LAST CHANCE! Please contact Allegheny County Council today & tell them you don't want fracking in/on/under our parks.
On May 6 Council will vote on the ordinance that will give County Executive Fitzgerald the go-ahead to seal the deal with Range Resources. Sierra Club has called on Council to vote NO on the ordinance.
Allegheny County Council - County Courthouse 4th Floor - Gold Room
436 Grant Street Pittsburgh
Request to comment online. Deadline Monday, May 5: http://www.alleghenycounty.us/council/meetings/recomm.asp
***Webinar by TEDX –starting April 21 for six weeks
Natural Gas Development, Public Health, and Protecting the Most Vulnerable Populations
Join Carol Kwiatkowski, TEDX's Executive Director April 21st at 2pm EDT for a webinar hosted by the Center for Environmental Health. Dr. Kwiatkowski will be speaking about the public health implications of natural gas development, with an emphasis on air pollution and the hazards it might hold for vulnerable populations, including children and pregnant women. Recent studies pointing toward the endocrine disrupting effects of chemicals in natural gas operations will be discussed.
This webinar is the first in a six-week series on Fracking, Natural Gas, and Maternal Health. The webinars feature presentations by experts in the field of environmental health, medicine, and public health. They will each run 45-60 minutes with 10-15 minutes for Q & A.
***Physicians for Social Responsibility Webinars on Health
Begins Wednesday, May 7, 6:00 p.m
This PSR webinar -- one in a series of three -- will provide science-based health information and an unparalleled opportunity to ask your questions and hear an expert’s answers.
Are you concerned about hydraulic fracturing (fracking)? Want to learn from a medical authority about fracking’s potential harms to health? Join us next Wednesday, May 7 when fracking expert Jerome Paulson, MD, presents "Potential Health Impacts of Unconventional Gas Extraction."
To find out how to sign in, and to get the dates for our other upcoming fracking webinars, click here.
TAKE ACTION !!
**Letters to the editor are important and one of the best ways to share
information with the public. ***
***See Tenaska Petition at the top of the Updates
***Petition- Help the Children of Mars School District
Below is a petition that a group of parents in the Mars Area School District are working very hard to get signatures. Please take a moment to look at the petition and sign it. It only takes 5 minutes. We are fighting to keep our children, teachers, and community safe here and across the state of Pennsylvania.
Please share this with your spouses, friends, family, and any organizations that would support this cause. We need 100,00 signatures immediately, as the group plans to take the petition to Harrisburg within a week.
Your support is greatly appreciated!
***Forced Pooling Petition
“The PA DEP announced the first public hearing on forced pooling in PA to be held in less than two weeks. We're pushing on the DEP to postpone the hearings and address the many problems we have with their current plans. In the meantime, we're circulating a petition to the legislature calling on them to strike forced pooling from the books in PA.
Forced pooling refers to the ability to drill under private property without the owner's permission. It's legal in the Utica Shale in western PA, but the industry has not made an attempt to take advantage of it until now. Forced pooling is a clear violation of private property rights and should not be legal anywhere.
I know I've asked a lot of you. Unfortunately, we're fighting battles on many fronts and they just keep coming. But with your help, we've made lots of progress, so I'm asking you to help me again by signing and sharing this petition.”
Appreciatively, as always,
***Sunoco Eminent Domain Petition
“PA PUC for public utility status, a move that would impact property owners and municipalities in the path of the Mariner East pipeline. As a public utility, Sunoco would have the power of eminent domain and would be exempt from local zoning requirements. A December 2013 PA Supreme Court ruling overruled Act 13’s evisceration of municipal zoning in gas operations and upheld our local government rights. We petition PA PUC to uphold the Pennsylvania Constitution and deny public utility status to the for- profit entity, Sunoco.
That's why I signed a petition to Robert F. Powelson, Chairman, Public Utilities Commission, John F. Coleman Jr., Vice Chairman, Public Utilities Commission, James H. Cawley, Commissioner, Public Utilities Commission, Gladys M. Brown, Commissioner, Public Utilities Commission, Pamela A. Witmer, Commissioner, Public Utilities Commission, and Jan Freeman, Executive Director, Public Utilities Commission, which says:
"We, the undersigned, petition the Pennsylvania Public Utilities Commission to uphold the Pennsylvania Constitution and deny public utility status to the for-profit entity, Sunoco."
Will you sign the petition too? Click here to add your name:
***The Fight For Deer Lakes Park
Allegheny County Council Meeting ( 4 hours long)
***Lisa Parr Speaks from bob donnan
Lisa’s Parr’s presentation begins at the 3:30 mark of this video:
Lisa Parr: “Imagine having your dream home surrounded by gas drilling and fracking, and then ending up with 19 chemicals in your body!
When it’s your daughter in the bathroom with a nosebleed in the middle
of the night everything comes sharply into focus!”
***The sky is pink If you haven’t yet seen this, Joe reminds us of this video.
"The Sky is Pink", a short film by Josh Fox, deals with the issue of "fairness" as well as the issue of gas migration. The answer from the panelist "vanishingly small" is patently false. The recent study by Ingraffea supports DEP and industry findings of about 6 to 7 percent of new wells leak and some fifty percent leak after 30 years. Ingraffea also points out that these numbers underestimate the real problem as only leakage at the wellhead is reported. The Sky is Pink can be seen:
It is a good review of both issues and worth a second look if you have seen it already.
Ingraffea's work is referenced:
***To sign up for notifications of activity and violations for your area:
*** List of the Harmed--There are now over 1600 residents of Pennsylvania who have placed their names on the list of the harmed when they became sick after fracking began in their area. http://pennsylvaniaallianceforcleanwaterandair.wordpress.com/the-list/
***US Chamber of Commerce is Prime Supporter of Fracking
From Journalist Walter Brasch:
“DID YOU KNOW . . . The U.S. Chamber, which spends more in lobbying expenses than any company or organization and has been a prime supporter of fracking, spent about $901.2 million between 1998 and 2012, with $95.7 million of it spent in 2012. Under new Supreme Court ruling last week, the cap is off on contributions. The anti-fracking movement doesn’t have the money to counter such massive financial outlays by lobbyists AND INDIVIDUALS. But, it does have the spirit and can use social media, rallies, and music to try to reach the people.
For more information about fracking and its health and environmental effects, get a copy of FRACKING PENNSYLVANIA, available at
http://www.greeleyandstone.com, amazon.com, bn.com, or your local bookstore.”
***The West Virginia Host Farms Program
The West Virginia Host Farms Program is a volunteer-based initiative. The goal of the program is to provide opportunities for the environmental community to study the impact of Marcellus shale natural gas drilling in the state. This includes an invitation to academic researchers, journalists, environmental scientists, public policy and environmental law professionals, public health advocates, and other advocacy groups concerned about drilling impacts.
West Virginia landowners living on or near drilled properties and/or compressor stations opt to participate in the program by becoming volunteer “host farms” for researchers and journalists. Through a managed database of participant landowners throughout the state, the WV Host Farms Program serves as a point of contact between those in the environmental community seeking suitable locations for study of Marcellus in WV, and those who are landowners able to provide them.
Who We Are.....
We are a grass roots effort of concerned landowners in WV who are willing to provide access to our private properties on or near drill sites. This enables environmental researchers, journalists, environmental advocacy groups, and others to come to WV to observe and study the effects that Marcellus drilling and fracking has on the environment, water quality, public health, and safety in our rural WV communities. Those interested in visiting a WV Host Farm will be able to access the private properties of our many volunteers who live right at "ground zero," of the Marcellus shale drilling activity in West Virginia.
We do not charge a fee for this access. We are all volunteers who opt to participate as "host farms” in order to increase public awareness as well as research opportunities. We volunteer because we are committed to providing unfettered access to the environmental research community, so that they can more easily evaluate the impacts of shale gas drilling and fracking.
DEP Response on Herminie Compressor Station—Many of you commented on this station
Apr 2 at 1:19 PM
On March 31, 2014, the Department modified Plan Approval PA-65-00979A to reflect the removal of the Waukesha L5794LT compressor engine, require installation of an oxidation catalyst to control the Caterpillar G3516LE compressor engine, prohibit the simultaneous operation of the Caterpillar G3516LE and G3512LE compressor engines, and allow the second new Caterpillar G3612LE engine currently authorized under PA-65-00979A to begin temporary operation at the Herminie Compressor Station located in Westmoreland County.
This notice is being provided in accordance with the requirements of 25 Pa. Code §127.51 to all protestants who have submitted comments.
A summary of the comments received during the public comment period and the corresponding Department responses can be found in the attached Comment and Response Memo which is included in the Plan Approval file. I have also attached a copy of the modified plan approval. All other documents relating to the Herminie Compressor Station air quality plan approval are available for review at Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, Southwest Regional Office, 400 Waterfront Drive, Pittsburgh, PA 15222. Instructions for scheduling a file review may be found under the Regional Resources section of the Department’s website (www.dep.state.pa.us).
Alan Binder | Air Quality Engineering Specialist
Department of Environmental Protection
Southwest Regional Office
400 Waterfront Drive | Pittsburgh, PA 15222
Phone: 412.442.4168 | Fax: 412.442.4194
All articles are excerpted. Please use the links to read the full article
1. “The Deal Makers”
from Bob Donnan
Range Resources Still Spinning
“Range brought in a senior VP to spin most of their tales in front of Allegheny County Council Committee on Parks. To hear him and other Range reps speak, you would think they only frac with water and there is no benzene in Marcellus Shale production. Was I hearing all that right?
They also said they only use flaring for upsets following fracking; meantime I got a report yesterday of a HUGE flare across from Ft Cherry Jr/Sr High School at Range’s Chiarelli unit causing some student nosebleeds.
You may know that Range keeps spinning how great their drilling has been in Cross Creek County Park. The highlight of the evening for me was when Sue Means pinned Applegath down on the spill and fish kill inside the park. ”
2. PUC Uses Industry Law Firm for Advice On Gas Zoning Ordinances.
“Over the past two years Pennsylvania has
employed a law firm with ties to the oil and gas industry for advice on zoning rules directed at that very same industry.
The law firm McNees, Wallace and Nurick is an associate member of the gas industry trade group, the Marcellus Shale Coalition. The firm’s attorneys routinely represent energy companies before the state Public Utility Commission (PUC).
McNees is currently representing Sunoco Logistics in a high-profile case before the commission. The company is seeking permission from the PUC to be considered a “public utility corporation,” which would exempt its Mariner East pipeline from local zoning codes.
Act 13 gave the PUC the power to withhold natural gas impact fee money from local governments with unfavorable oil and gas zoning rules. One of the remaining issues in the case is whether or not the PUC still has the authority to review local zoning rules.
Jordan Yeager is an attorney who represents local governments challenging Act 13.
“There’s a real concern the PUC isn’t putting the interests of the citizens first, they’re putting the interests of the industry first,” he says.
“This contract did not create any conflicts of interest for the PUC as the McNees attorneys advising the PUC on Act 13 zoning matters were not the same attorneys who practice before the Commission on separate utility matters,” Kocher wrote in an email. “The divisions are siloed within the law firm.”
Harrisburg Law Firm Withdraws High-Profile Pipeline Case
BY MARIE CUSICK
“A day after StateImpact Pennsylvania published a story about a Harrisburg law firm’s close connections to both the gas industry and the PUC, the firm stepped down as legal counsel for Sunoco Logistics in a high-profile pipeline case currently before the PUC.
The law firm of McNees, Wallace and Nurick is a member of the gas industry trade group, the Marcellus Shale Coalition. The firm’s attorneys routinely represent energy companies before the PUC.
McNees has also spent the past two years working as outside counsel to the PUC– advising it on oil/ gas zoning matters. One political science professor has called the arrangement an example of the cozy relationship between government regulators and industry.
One of the new attorneys working on behalf of Sunoco is former DEP secretary, Michael Krancer. He stepped down as Pennsylvania’s top environmental regulator a year ago to head Blank Rome’s Energy, Petrochemical, and Natural Resources practice.”
3. WVA Landfill Wastewater Shows Elevated Radioactivity
“Bill Hughes, chair of the Wetzel County Solid Waste Authority, is quoted as saying tests on water leaching from the Meadowfill landfill near Bridgeport show “widely varying levels of radioactivity, sometimes spiking to 40 times the clean drinking water standard.” The radioactivity occurs naturally in the drill cuttings and brine that come from Marcellus gas wells, he said, so it is in the waste dumped in Meadowfill and other landfills.
“We are putting radioactive waste in a bunch of landfills in large quantities, and we don’t yet know the long-term danger of doing this,” Hughes said.
The report continues: “Water leaching from Meadowfill averaged 250 picocuries per liter last year.” The clean drinking water standard is 50, Hughes explained. At times Meadowfill spiked as high as 2,000 picocuries or dropped below 40. Wetzel — another local landfill taking large amounts of the waste — also showed radioactivity, Hughes said.
“We haven’t normally been putting radioactive material in a municipal waste landfill. We’re not set up to process, handle, test, dispose. We don’t know what we’re doing,” Hughes continued.
Join the club when it comes to fracking. Fracking’s impact on air pollution, property values and earthquake surges — just to mention several items — now has radiation as an issue. Is fracking really worth it?
The concerns about radioactive drill cuttings have prompted West Virginia lawmakers to increase monitoring at the landfills. But that’s only mildly comforting: Is the state — and the nation — moving fast enough on the issue? The barn door is open, and the horse is romping free.”
4. Williams Co. Gas Plants Keep Exploding
By John Upton
“Perhaps executives at the Williams energy company have fiery personalities. Or maybe they just don’t care about safety, or about their workers or neighbors.
A huge explosion at one of the company’s gas processing plants in southern Wyoming triggered the evacuation of all residents of the small nearby town of Opal. The plant, which is connected to six pipelines that help feed fracked gas to customers throughout the American West, burned throughout Wednesday night and into Thursday, when its neighbors were allowed to return to their homes.
As extraordinary as the (fortunately injury-free) accident sounds, something similar happened just four weeks ago at a Williams’s gas processing plant near the Washington-Oregon border. That explosion injured five workers and led to the evacuation of 400 residents.
Less than a year ago, workers were injured when one of the company’s natural gas facilities blew up in Branchburg, N.J. The company’s pipelines have also blown up.
Also last year, a leak of 241 barrels of fluid from a Williams’s natural gas processing plant in Colorado contaminated a creek with carcinogenic benzene. At least nothing blew up that time.
“Williams is committed to maintaining the highest standards of safety,” the company claims on its website. We’d hate to see what lower standards looked like.
5. “Radioactive” Container At Range Resources Impoundment –Mt Pleasant Twp.
By Amanda Gillooly
“The DEP confirmed that an inspector had been called to a centralized impoundment in Washington County operated by Range Resources after residents complained about unusual activity there.
DEP spokesman John Poister said there was “material that raised some concern” at the Carter impoundment in Mt. Pleasant Township, and that the department was awaiting the results of soil tests that Range Resources is conducting.
He said there was an issue with the weir system at the impoundment, which he said is used to filter solids out of water used in the fracking process.
Residents who live near the impoundment became concerned when they saw blue containers at the impoundment with stamps reading DOT SP 11406. An Internet search shows that these containers are used to transport radioactive waste.
Asked if those containers were actively being used by Range Resources to remove and transport radioactive waste, Poister said he did not know, but that the company would be required to have a permit known as a Form U in order to do so.
“Kimberly Staub was worried when a blue steel container of radioactive sludge as big as a truck roll-off box showed up near Range Resources' Carter impoundment, just over the hill from her Mount Pleasant farm in Washington County.
"I'm scared for my family and my animals," said Ms. Staub, who moved into the 17.5-acre farm in 2009, just months before Range began digging the football field-sized impoundment 850 feet from her back door.
"We didn't know what the blue box was at first, but then we were able to read the name 'SunPro' on the side and 'radioactive,' " she said. "I called the DEP, and they were never informed. That was frustrating."
She said she was later told by a DEP inspector that there had been a spill of radioactive water near "weir tanks," which were set up next to the impoundment to separate solid particles from the water and chemical mixture used to frack the shale.
John Poister, a DEP spokesman, said the ground under the weir tanks was checked by DEP inspectors who found no indication that any radioactive water was spilled at the site.
Mr. Poister did confirm that radiation just outside the blue steel container on the Carter impoundment site was measured at 350 microrems per hour, which he described as "about the equivalent of a dental X-ray."
The radiation measurements decline to near background levels just feet away from the container, he said, adding that there is no danger to drilling company workers or residents in the sparsely settled rural location.
Normal background radiation in the area is between six and eight microrems.
Mr. Poister said it's "not uncommon" for wastewater to have picked up natural radiation washed from the underground shale formation.
"And in this case," Mr. Poister said, "the problem occurred because when you have sludge you have concentrated a lot of the solids containing radiation material."
"If the readings are low, it could still end up in a landfill here. Or, if they are high, the sludge will be taken out of state to a landfill that specializes in radioactive disposal."
Don Hopey: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1983.
Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/local/washington/2014/05/03/Radioactive-water-near-fracking-pond-Washington-County-residents-worried/stories/201405030088#ixzz30noalAyG
6. Appeals Filed Against Frack Water Storage Site- Smithfield Twp.
BY AMANDA RENKO (STAFF WRITER)Published: May 2, 2014
“Two appeals have been filed with the state's Environmental Hearing Board against a proposed frack water storage facility in Smithfield Township to be located on an existing three-acre natural gas well pad at Lamb's Farm on Ulster Road..
The township filed one appeal and a group of nine township residents also filed an appeal.
The DEP's Bureau of Waste Management issued a registration approval to Chesapeake Appalachia LLC for the facility under general permit WMGR123, which applies to the processing and beneficial use of oil and gas liquid waste, including contaminated water from well sites and wastes from the drilling, development and operation of oil and gas wells.
The proposed facility will consist of 38 storage tanks, which are expected to hold up to 756,000 gallons of frack water.
The residents' appeal notice alleges that the DEP's issuance of the registration approval "was arbitrary, unreasonable, contrary to law and the issuance was made without adequate investigation and disclosure of the facts."
The notice states that Chesapeake did not fully disclose the facility's intended purpose to the public or hold a public hearing on the proposed facility.
The residents also state that the naming of the facility as "Lamb's Storage Facility" is deceptive; that citizens are concerned Chesapeake will not adhere to environmental protection regulations; that the values of surrounding properties will decrease ; and that activities at the site may compromise the health of nearby residents, including those with pre-existing health conditions.
The appellants also listed several safety concerns with regard to what tests and assessments have been performed at the site related to safety; if the liners to be used are sufficient for the intended use and term of the facility; the effect of increased truck activity on the site and to and from the facility; how the site will be maintained, monitored and inspected; and if any safety precautions or emergency plans are in place in case of an accident.
The township's appeal also lists several objections to the approval of the site. The appeal alleges that the liners to be used are inadequately designed to catch spills, inadequate traffic studies have been performed and the applicant is using a well pad with an expired permit.
The township's concerns also include the applicant's avoidance of county planning and public input, insufficient inspection provisions and safeguards in place and failure to safeguard wetlands in the immediate area.”
7. Living Near Drilling Site Is Not Pleasant
“The April 27 Forum article “Our Plan for Deer Lakes” by John Applegath, Range Resources senior vice president, is sugar-coated propaganda.
I have lived with and continue to live with the 24/7 disruption of quiet living 800 feet from my home. I had almost a year and a half of 24-hour noise, flaring and gas fumes, along with promises that it would be over “in six months,” then “18 months,” then “just a few more months.” It is never-ending with the trucks and 18-wheelers, and let me not forget the diesel pickup noise. There are no holidays … these people think nothing of Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s, Easter, Fourth of July, etc.
Drilling is just the start. Four years later it still continues and will continue until the wells are depleted.
Roads and improvements are only those that benefit the truck traffic. These trucks like their half to be in the center of the road.
Environment? I have aerial pictures of the site 800 feet from my home. They have buried a sludge/waste pit on the platform. The 16-to-20-foot screen that was erected (for so-called noise abatement) seems to me to be nothing but a screen to conceal the activity that could be seen from the ground.
Range is spending a fortune with its advertising to spread the propaganda of benefits. It is making a fortune. Otherwise, why would it have funds for all the propaganda?
The only people who are happy with Range are those who have mineral rights and wells on their properties. The rest of us have to bear unpleasantries such as being run off the road, hearing the noise and putting up with the gas being expelled.
Ask the neighbors who have to bear the fact of having a well drilled within 500 feet of their homes … you can thank Gov. Tom Corbett for that gem.
JOSEPH G. HAMM
Hopewell, Washington County
8. Families Sue For $120 Million Over Compressor Station - Arkansas
“Eight families sued a natural gas company for personal injuries they attribute to its fracking operations, which emit half a pound of toxic emissions per minute, 24 hours a day, year round.
A Texas jury recently awarded $3 million in damages for fracking in what is believed to be the first jury award of its kind. Gas companies customarily settle such claims confidentially, or fight them vigorously, often with help from complacent legislatures.
Photo by Bob Donnan
In the Arkansas case, Barbara Ramsey et al. sued the DeSoto Gathering Company. The plaintiffs live adjacent to natural gas compressor and transmission stations DeSoto operates.
"The entire process of purifying, compressing and transmitting shale gas through gas transmission pipelines constitutes an industrial development, which is incompatible with residential living," the complaint states.
"The compressor units are injuriously loud and produce harmful levels of noise and toxic emissions. The noise produced by these compressor units is so loud that persons living next to those industrial facilities are harmed and injured by the noise, vibration, odor and pollution. ...
They claim the compressors run 24 hours a day, seven days a week, year round, which cause damages, including "discomfort damages" to the plaintiffs.
"As a result of the constant operation of the compressor units, the compressor station continuously and constantly emits exhaust gases, methane, hydrogen sulfide and other flammable, malodorous and noxious gases and chemicals and compounds, directly into the air. These substances are then allowed to flow freely off of the compressor station property and into the surrounding air and atmosphere
in such a way as to cause injury and harm to your plaintiffs," the complaint states.
"The station emits more than 135 tons per year of pollutants including carbon monoxide (CO), sulfur dioxide (S02), hydrogen sulfide (H2S), fine particulate matter (PM/PM10), oxides of nitrogen (NOx), formaldehyde, benzene, and other volatile organic compounds (VOC's). This amount equates to more than 31 pounds of pollutants per hour, or a half pound of pollutants every single minute. All of those pollutants are released into the air and then migrate in such a way as to cause injury and harm to your Plaintiffs. No efforts are made to contain the emissions within the confines of the defendant's property."
The plaintiff families say they bought and lived in their homes for many years before DeSoto built the compression stations. What's more, they say, "Employees of the Defendant are aware that compressor stations like Midge 2 have exploded and caught fire, causing injuries and deaths in the immediate vicinity of the compressor stations.
"The plaintiffs' homes are within the blast/impact zone of the Midge 2 compressor station, the area which is likely to be impacted in the event the massive amounts of explosive natural gas or other flammable hydrocarbons on-site were to explode or catch fire."
They seek damages for strict liability, negligence, discomfort damages and personal injuries. Each plaintiff demands $3 million in compensatory damages and $12 million in punitive damages.”
9. Reminder Of The DEP Suite Code Deception
From a group member
“The EPA has identified heavy metals that are found in frack water that are associated with many of the symptoms that are reported by those living near Marcellus well sites. As part of the Voyles litigation against Range and the EPA being conducted by Smith Butz, it was discovered that Range only reported a portion of the analysis to the well owner and that the DEP reported only a partial set of items in their analysis.
The excluded items were heavy metals that can cause neurological damage, encephalopathy, neuropathy, cirrhosis of the liver, gastrointestinal hemorrhage, cardiac depression, nausea, vomiting anemia, abdominal pain, immune deficiency, diarrhea, and bone marrow suppression among other symptoms or conditions.”
10. The Fracking Prostitutes of American Colleges
(part 1 of 2)
by Walter Brasch
“Lackawanna College, a two-year college in Scranton, Pa., has become a prostitute.
The administration doesn’t think of themselves or their college as prostitutes. They believe they are doing a public service. Of course, streetwalkers and call-girls also believe they are doing a public service.
Lackawanna College’s price is $2.5 million.
That’s how much Cabot Oil & Gas paid to the School of Petroleum and Natural Gas, whose own nine building campus is in New Milford in northeastern Pennsylvania. On the School’s logo are now the words, “Endowed by Cabot Oil & Gas Corporation.”
That would be the same Cabot Oil & Gas Corporation that has racked up more than 500 violations since it first used fracking to extract gas in the Marcellus Shale almost six years ago. That would be the same company that was found to be responsible for significant environmental and health damages in Dimock, Pa.
Several major gas and oil companies and suppliers—including Anadarko, BakerHughes, Chesapeake Energy, Halliburton, Noble Energy, Southwestern Energy, Williams Midstream, and others—have also contributed scholarships, equipment, and funding to the School. The School’s mission includes creating “a campus that is focused and dedicated to the oil and gas industry.”
Lackawanna College proudly claims its Cabot-endowed School is “focused on its vision of becoming a nationally-recognized, first in class program in the field of petroleum and natural gas technology.” There is no question the School is fulfilling its promise. A $500,000 outdoor field laboratory simulates a working gas field; all students are required to complete internships.
Richard Marquardt, the School’s executive director, has B.S. degrees in petroleum engineering and business management, as well as a long history of work in the industry. The eight other full-time faculty also have engineering degrees and significant industry experience. Fifteen adjunct faculty also have significant industry experience.
An associate’s degree doesn’t mean the students, no matter how prepared they are to work in the shale gas industry, will be exposed to the issues, reports, and scientific studies that suggest fracking causes significant environmental and health problems, major concerns of those who oppose the process of horizontal fracking. After all, Cabot wasn’t going to invest in a college program that presented all sides of the issues. Nor is Cabot likely to invest anything more if the college expands its program to require that students also take classes in renewable energy, and the health and environmental effects of fracking.
[Next week: Other colleges that may have been compromised by accepting corporate donations.)
[Dr. Brasch is an award-winning journalist and professor emeritus of mass communications. He is author of 20 books, including Fracking Pennsylvania, a critically-acclaimed in-depth investigation of the process and effects of high volume hydraulic horizontal fracturing throughout the country.]
11. Earthquakes Can Occur Further From Injection Wells Than Thought
“ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Fracking may cause earthquakes much farther from the sites of its wastewater wells than previously thought, researchers said at the annual meeting of the Seismological Society of America.
In central Oklahoma, a cluster of four high-volume wastewater injection wells triggered quakes up to 30 miles (about 50 kilometers) away, said lead study author Katie Keranen, a geophysicist at Cornell University in New York. The earthquakes have since spread farther outward, as fluids migrate farther from the massive injection wells, she said.
"These are some of the biggest wells in the state," Keranen said. "The pressure is high enough from the injected fluids to trigger earthquakes." http://www.livescience.com/45322-fracking-wastewater-farther-earthquakes.html
12. Gas Exports Spark Public Outcry:
182,000+ Sign Petition to Senate
“Some 182,000 petitions have been delivered to the U.S. Senate to urge it to reject plans to dramatically expedite exports of liquefied natural gas (LNG). Escalating tensions between Ukraine and Russia have prompted some members of Congress to push to export LNG overseas, but doing so will lead to increased fracking in the U.S., subjecting American communities to the public health, economic and environmental risks associated with the practice.
“Fracked gas is not a geopolitical bargaining chip, nor should American communities be sacrificed to the oil and gas industry’s quest to increase profits,” said Food & Water Watch Executive Director Wenonah Hauter. “Pushing to increase exports of gas flies in the face of industry claims that fracking will make the U.S. more energy independent, and since most of the gas will go to Asia where it can fetch the highest price, exports will only increase gas prices for American consumers.”
Earlier this month, Sen. Udall and Rep. Gardner (R-CO) introduced bills that would expedite exports of LNG. Sen. Landrieu (D-LA), chair of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, recently came out full-force in favor of exports too. These bills would deem all exports in the public interest if the gas were sent to a member nation of the World Trade Organization, which includes 75 percent of all nations, including China, India, Japan, Brazil and Russia
The Obama Administration has given initial approval for seven LNG export facilities, including the Cove Point facility in Calvert County, Maryland. Earlier this month, an LNG facility near the Columbia River at Plymouth, WA, exploded, injuring workers and forcing the evacuation of 400 residents and agricultural workers within a two-mile radius.”
13. Shale Gas: How Often Do Fracked Wells Leak?
“When industry says hardly ever, that's a myth. It's a documented, chronic problem.
One of the boldest claims made by the shale gas industry goes like this: oil and gas companies have drilled and fractured a million oil and gas wells with nary a problem.
In other words fracture fluid or methane leaks are "a rare phenomenon."
But industry data disproves this dubious claim says Cornell University engineer Anthony Ingraffea, who has studied the non-linear science of rock fractures for three decades.
Moreover industry studies clearly show that 5% to 7% per cent of all new oil and gas wells leak. As wells age, the percentage of leakers can increase to a startling 30 or 50%. But the worst leakers remain "deviated" or horizontal wells commonly used for hydraulic fracturing.
In fact leaking wellbores has been a persistent and chronic problem for decades. Even a 2003 article in Oil Field Review, a publication of Schlumberger, reported that, "Since the earliest gas wells, uncontrolled migration of hydrocarbons to the surface has challenged the oil and gas industry."
Methane, by its very lightness, wants to go up. Where ever drillers have not properly sealed and cemented wellbores in deep shale rock, the gas will escape and move through rock fractures (existing or industry-made ones) into groundwater, stream beds, water wells and even the basements of houses.
A 2009 study by Alberta scientists Stephan Bachu and Theresa Watson found that so-called "deviated wells" (the same kind of right angling used for fracturing shale gas and tight oil formations) typically experienced leakage rates as high as 60 % as they age. Moreover "high pressure fracturing" increased the potential to create pathways to other wells, the atmosphere and groundwater.
Theresa Watson, now a member of Alberta's Energy Resources Conservation Board, also disclosed that an increase in the number of water wells in heavily fractured oil and gas fields would increase "the likelihood that gas, due to migration through shallow zones, can accumulate in buildings."
Leaking of toxic fracture fluids is also common because only 25 to 60 % of diluted chemicals and water used to blast open shale or coal formations are ever recovered.
In a 2004 report the US EPA factually noted that "if fracturing fluids have been injected to a point outside of the well's capture zone, they will not be recovered through production pumping and, if mobile, may be available to migrate through an aquifer."
The failure rates of shale gas wells in heavily fractured jurisdictions with transparent regulation has now become a significant issue.
In 2012 Ingraffea and colleagues read through 16,017 inspection reports filed over the last four years. What they found was a significant and steady rate of methane leaks at the wellbore or what is known in industry jargon as "bubbling in the cellar."
In 2010, 111 of 1,609 wells drilled and fracked failed and leaked. That's a 6.9 per cent rate of failure. In 2012, 67 out of 1,014 wells leaked -- a seven per cent rate of failure.
"We looked at violations and not comments," adds Ingraffea. Quite often inspectors would note that a well was leaking like a sieve but that violation was pending. As a consequence the seven per cent figure represents a dramatic underestimate of methane leaks, says Ingraffea.
Moreover, the seven per cent figure only includes leaks at the wellhead. It does not include leaks that sprouted up in stream beds, water wells, or ponds often 2,000 feet away from the well site after steady fracking operations.
In 2009, Cabot Oil and Gas drilled 68 new Marcellus wells in Pennsylvania that the state's DEP concluded resulted in extensive groundwater contamination for nearly a dozen families in the town of Dimock. State regulators cited Cabot seven times for "Failure to report defective, insufficient or improperly cemented casing within 24 hours or submit plan to correct within 30 days."
But this common problem will only get worse. Industry has proposed between 150,000 to 200,000 new wells to develop the Marcellus Shale in Pennsylvania, West Virginia and New York. Given current practices that means 10,000 to 20,000 new wells leaking methane into the atmosphere or groundwater and many more over their lifetimes. "That's a lot of leaking wells," says Ingraffea.
Evidence is also growing that toxic fluids used for hydraulic fracturing can also migrate into adjacent water bodies. A 2012 study in the journal Ground Water warned that hydraulic fracturing opens more pathways for the movement of both fluids and methane. And a recent study by the EPA in Pavilion, Wyoming, found that toxic fluids had contaminated local water supplies.
So what is it, myth or reality, when industry claims that leaks are rare?
The scientific truth is irrefutable says Ingraffea: "Fluid migration from faulty wells is a well-known chronic problem with an expected rate of occurrence." Inadequate well construction and monitoring remains a persistent industry problem.
The health implications are also serious. The migration of methane or fracking fluid has repeatedly contaminated groundwater across North America or polluted the atmosphere with methane, a potent greenhouse gas.
Verify facts, debunk rumors
14. Why The Compressor Station Permitting Process Doesn’t’ Work (Reprint of this important article on permitting compressor stations.
Barto Compressor Station Exceeds Pollution Standards
The Clean Air Council has conducted a study of the Barto Compression Station in Penn Township, Lycoming County. The study finds the station is creating pollution concentrations nearly three times the amount allowed under the federal health-based air quality standards.
Back in 2011, Chief Gathering and Williams each had plans to each construct compressor stations and metering stations approximately 1,500 ft from the Dallas, PA school campus. There are 5 schools, K-12, on the campus where over 3,000 children attend, plus the few hundred people who work in the schools. The campus is located in a residential area. The proposed compressor/metering stations would have been located near people’s homes.
Parents and taxpayers of Dallas were understandably concerned, and with the assistance of GDAC formed a citizens group to stop the construction. During the hearings, it was agreed town officials, and PA House/Senate legislators for this district would take a tour of a compressor station. Originally the tour was to be of the Barto Station. At the last minute it was changed, and the officials toured a nice clean and quiet station instead. In fact, the station was shut down for “maintenance” at the time of the tour.
Chief Gathering withdrew its proposal for the compressor station, as did Williams and constructed them in next door Wyoming County. There is one metering station operated by Williams, in the backyard of residents in the area.
The Barto station started out with 1 building and 3 compressors. This is how the creeping compressors begin. A natural gas corporation applies for a DEP permit for 3-4 compressors. Because of the size and number of compressors, it usually falls under what DEP calls a “minor pollutant” and the regulations are less strict.
Next, the natural gas corporation applies for a second permit for another 3-4 compressors. Because each permit is viewed as separate, this second permit also falls under the “minor pollutant” standards. The DEP does not upgrade to “major pollutant” level even though the number of compressors at a single location has increased. EACH PERMIT IS VIEWED AND ASSESSED SEPARATELY. From there, a 3rd, 4th etc permits are approved, with each just falling under the threshold and are approved as minor pollutants.
The Barto station now has 2 buildings with a total of 14 compressors (7 in each building), 9 of which are operational, and it is assumed the remaining 5 are back-ups.
MARCELLUS SHALE COMPRESSOR STATION EXCEEDING POLLUTION STANDARD BY NEARLY THREE TIMES THE ALLOWABLE LIMIT
Clean Air Council The Barto Compressor Station in Penn Township, Lycoming County is creating pollution concentrations nearly three times the amount allowed under the federal health-based air quality standards. Recent modeling results show that the compressor station, which pressurizes natural gas extracted from the Marcellus Shale to achieve the desired flow along pipelines, is on its own causing nitrogen dioxide pollution 278 percent over the National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS). The modeling shows that exceedances can be measured a mile away from the station. Emission of oxides of nitrogen must be reduced by up to 76 percent in order to stay below unhealthful levels.
The Barto Compressor Station, owned and operated by Chief Gathering, LLC, consists of nine compressor engines. Oxides of nitrogen are formed by fuel combustion within the engines. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) set a new 1-hour nitrogen dioxide NAAQS in January 2010. The standard was established at a level determined to protect the public from adverse health effects associated with short-term exposure to elevated levels of oxides of nitrogen. Health impacts include increased asthma symptoms, difficult controlling asthma and increases in respiratory illnesses. Furthermore, nitrogen dioxide contributes to the formation of ground-level ozone which can trigger a variety of health problems.
Clean Air Council has repeatedly requested that the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PA DEP) require modeling for larger compressor stations to ensure that they do not cause pollution that will exceed the federal health-based standard in nearby areas. PA DEP, however, responds that because these sources are classified as “minor sources” of emissions they are not required to perform modeling and that by virtue of being a minor source the facility will not impact the NAAQS. However, while modeling is not required for a minor source, Pennsylvania law gives PA DEP ample authority to request modeling. This recent modeling study makes clear that these “minor sources” are having a major impact on local air quality and PA DEP must address this serious pollution.
The natural gas industry from drilling to compressor stations, dehydration plants, and pipelines are impacting all of us. We are all downstream and downwind.”
15. Beverly Hills Becomes First City In California to Pass Ban
Beverly Hills became the first city in California to pass a ban on fracking and related extreme well stimulation techniques with a unanimous vote. The ordinance not only would make it unlawful to use hydraulic fracturing, acidizing or any other well stimulation technique from any surface area in the city—it also prohibits these activities from any site outside city limits that would drill and extract oil and gas underneath the city. The ordinance will now return to the Beverly Hills City Council for its final reading at an upcoming formal meeting where a second vote will put the law into effect.http://ecowatch.com/2014/04/24/beverly-hills-pass-fracking-ban/