Westmoreland Marcellus Citizens’ Group Updates May 8, 2014
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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-
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- this Tuesday, May 13. Email Jan for directions. All are very welcome to attend.
***Fracking Documentary Triple Divide Norwin -May 17
Saturday Matinee Screening
May 17 at 1 PM
Norwin Public Library Community Room
100 Caruthers Lane, Irwin, PA 15642
Join producers Melissa Troutman and Josh Pribanic at a screening of this 90-minute film.
built on evidence from investigations on the question, “How are the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection and the operators handling impacts from shale gas development?”
The screening is sponsored by the newly formed North Huntingdon Environmental Stewardship Project. For more information, please visit the project’s Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/NHuntingdonEnvironment, email email@example.com or call 724-864-6189..
***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.
***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:
***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.”
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
***PA Permit Violation Issued to Chevron Appalachia Llc in South Huntingdon Twp, Westmoreland County
Environmental Health & Safety violation issued on 2014-04-24 to Chevron Appalachia Llc in South Huntingdon Twp, Westmoreland county. 78.54 - Failure to properly control or dispose of industrial or residual waste to prevent pollution of the waters of the Commonwealth.
All articles are excerpted. Please use links for the full article.
1. Drilling In Parks
Comment by Debbie
“We believe Murrysville's change in direction was due to (1) Jon Kamin's EXCELLENT presentation during the education session (2) John Smith's suggestion that we ask council whether they were doing their Due Diligence in protecting Murrysville residents.
Thank you again to Jon and John!!
It is too bad Deer Lakes Park didn't have a similar positive outcome. However, some of the differences are: (1) ALL of Murrysville council heard Jon Kamin's presentation vs. only three Allegheny County Council members heard the presentation by Jon Kamin and John Smith. (2) Murrysville Council was not being bullied by Rich Fitzgerald.”
***Murrysville Council: To drill or not to drill
Jonathan Kamin Speaks
May 8, 2014 9:28 AM
By Tim Means
“The first of a series of education sessions on gas and oil drilling sponsored by Murrysville council was held last week.
The speakers, attorney Jonathon Kamin, of Goldberg Kamin & Garvin; Susan LeGros, executive director of the Center for Sustainable Shale Development; and Martin Knuth, vice president of Civil and Environmental Consultants of Pittsburgh provided insight and answered questions about gas drilling in the state and in Murrysville.
Mr. Kamin was an attorney in a lawsuit challenging the state’s gas drilling law, Act 13. According to Mr. Kamin, the Pennsylvania State Supreme Court decision to overturn portions of the law limiting local authorities' regulation of drilling created the opportunity for local governments to set the rules for their own communities.
When ACT 13 passed in 2012, Mr. Kamin said, "a number of my clients were concerned that all of their rights were taken away. ... We got an injunction and after fourteen months of litigation, in December, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court declared Act 13 unconstitutional. ... There is an obligation on state and local government to ensure that your resources are protected.” Mr. Kamin said, citing the opinion of Chief Justice Ronald Castille.
Mr. Kamin said the commonwealth and local governments are trustees of the state’s environment resources. He urged local governments to determine what is right for their communities. “The obligations you have are very serious and will affect what your municipality is now and for future generations. Best practices are not what industry tells you is best,” he said.
When asked about banning drilling altogether, Mr. Kamin said it is not defensible to ban drilling outright. He suggested a moratorium providing a period of time to study may be more realistic.
In regard to drilling under Murrysville Community Park, Mr. Kamin said “There is no doubt that drilling is an industrial process. The heart of zoning is compatibility. The question you have to ask is ‘Would I put an industrial use in a park? I don’t mean to be flip, but I wouldn’t go sending kids to play in a park where there is drilling’ “
According to Susan LeGros, the key to sustainable, socially responsible drilling is to find common ground that industry and those affected by the operations can agree upon. She said the Center for Sustainable Shale Development is attempting to define best practices and certify that operators are following them. She identified air and climate standards and surface and ground water standards that drillers would be held to if they want certification by the organization.
Ms. LeGros rattled off some of the criteria: “Zero discharge of waste water, 90 percent recycling of waste water, double-lined impoundment ponds, disclosure of well fluids. Our focus is to audit drilling practices, to verify proper procedures and certify that standards are met.” The Center, focused on drilling in the Appalachian region, counts Shell, Chevron, Consol and EQT among its industry members. The Center’s standards are voluntary, she said, but certification could be withdrawn if an industry member does not comply.
In response to questions about traffic, noise, air and light pollution, Mr. Knuth talked about measures taken at a well pad to minimize the impact.
“For noise abatement we can restrict hours of operations and erect noise barriers around some of the equipment. To reduce light pollution we will use more direct, focused types of lighting,” he said.” Vehicle traffic will be what it needs to be to get the project done. There are often road bonding and road repair requirements and we will try to travel off-hours and at night,” he said.
Mark Emerson of School Road asked about the health consequences of Marcellus drilling. “When folks started to mine for coal, I don’t think they knew of black lung and acid mine runoff. What do we know?” he asked.
“I have zero confidence in the work the [state Department of Environmental Protection} has done [on fracking] to date,” Mr. Kamin responded. ”And I have a good knowledge as to what they have done. We’re now only starting to discover problems with testing. I don’t think we know. Anyone who tells you differently is not being honest.”
Tim Means, freelance writer: suburbanliving-post-gazette.com.
Allegheny County Council wavers on Deer Lakes drilling pact
***Murrysville Council Votes No On Drilling Under Park
Congratulations Murrysville!!! Nice Work.
By Daveen Rae Kurutz
Published: Wednesday, May 7, 2014, 11:00 p.m.
“Council on Wednesday voted down a measure that would have solicited bids for the Marcellus shale gas rights under Murrysville Community Park. Council also instructed Chief Administrator Jim Morrison to tell Huntley & Huntley that council is not interested in their lease offer.
“Even if you wanted (to lease the gas rights), you don't want that lease,” Councilman Dave Perry said.
Huntley & Huntley had submitted a lease offer to the municipality earlier this year, prompting officials to consider soliciting bids for the gas rights to the 262-acre park along Wiestertown Road.
About 15 residents in attendance at Wednesday's meeting applauded council when President Joan Kearns asserted that the municipality would not be soliciting any bids for the park's gas rights and would instead focus on updating the municipal drilling ordinance.
But that doesn't mean those rights won't be leased eventually.
“The decisions of this council can always be reversed by a future council,” Kearns said. “Nothing is cast in concrete except the sidewalks out front and this building, hopefully.”
Several residents spoke against allowing fracking in the municipality. A task force has begun reviewing the municipal drilling ordinance, which permits surface drilling in a designated district. However, subsurface drilling can take place anywhere in the municipality if the well pad is built within the designated area.”
***Deer Lakes Park
Sue Mean’s Strives For Fairness (Before the Deer Lakes Park Vote)
“Allegheny County Councilwoman Sue Means said she was “disappointed” by the speaker lineup for the parks committee’s discussion of the Deer Lakes Park proposal. So the Bethel Park Republican held her own meeting in the Downtown Allegheny County Courthouse.
She called on speakers including Susan Packard LeGros, executive director of the Center for Sustainable Shale Development; John Stolz, director of the Center for Environmental Research at Duquesne University; and John Smith and Jonathan Kamin, attorneys who represented the municipalities who challenged Pennsylvania’s Act 13 law.
It was a panel of speakers far less friendly to natural gas development than council members have heard from at the three parks committee meetings held in the past three weeks.
Those meetings, which covered environmental and safety factors, legal questions and economic factors, included speakers representing parties ranging from Range Resources and Huntley & Huntley to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Resources and county officials.
The final meeting of the parks committee Wednesday night ended with a vote recommending an amended Deer Lakes drilling ordinance to the full council.
Ms. Means said the purpose of her meeting Thursday was “just to gather information so we can make a more informed decision.”
More than 30 members of the public attended, many of them wearing the green scarves that have come to mark the members of the Protect Our Parks group.
Council members Tom Baker, R-Ross, Barbara Daly Danko, D-Regent Square, Bill Robinson, D-Hill District, and Ed Kress, R-Shaler, were present for part of the meeting.
Only Ms. Means and Jan Rea, R-McCandless, stayed for the whole session, which lasted more than three hours.
At Thursday’s meeting, Mr. Smith said his reading of the lease left him concerned that it did not provide enough protection for the water in the lakes in the park.
Mr. Stolz said council members should think about not just contamination from fracking fluids, but from “pre-existing legacy issues” that fracking could disturb.
The main question council members need to ask is what their obligations are as stewards of the park, Mr. Kamin said. They should also ask whether they have done their “due diligence” in reviewing the proposal.
Nicholas Futules, D-Oakmont and chair of the parks committee, said Wednesday he believed his committee had covered the appropriate topics according to the state’s oil and gas law.
Council President John DeFazio, asked Wednesday night whether council had done its due diligence, said yes.
“My opinion is, we did more than due diligence,” he said. (Yeah, right!)”
Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/powersource/latest-oil-and-gas/2014/05/01/Another-meeting-held-before-Deer-Lakes-vote-1/stories/201405010388#ixzz30a8cu3QI
***Allegheny County Council Approves Drilling in Deer Lakes Park
But not to worry- Fitzgerald is protecting the community
Thank you to all those who worked so hard to protect the health of our parks and children.
“The Allegheny County Council early Wednesday approved a proposal to under Deer Lakes Park, clearing the way for drilling to possibly start this year.
Council voted 9-5 at the end of a seven-hour meeting to allow Range Resources and Huntley & Huntley to extract gas buried below the 1,180-acre park in West Deer and Frazer.
Council members Barbara Daly Danko, D-Regent Square; Heather Heidelbaugh, R-Mt. Lebanon; Sue Means, R-Bethel Park; Jan Rea, R-McCandless, and Bill Robinson, D-Hill District, voted against the proposal. Councilwoman Amanda Green-Hawkins, D-Stanton Heights, abstained.
“This is a short-term gain. To hell with our grandchildren,” Danko said before the vote.
Following the vote, members of the public chanted “shame” and yelled at council members. Council Vice President Nick Futules, D-Oakmont, yelled obscenities back at one member of the audience.
“This battle is only a beginning. We are considering court action following this blatant disregard of the wishes of the county residents,” Protect Our Parks, a coalition organized against the proposal, said in a statement after the vote.
The vote came after more than four hours of public comment on the proposal. Members of Protect Our Parks unrolled a scroll of more than 7,000 signatures - wrapping around the council chambers twice - from county residents opposed to the drilling.
“I think you're not just voting on a specific lease but on a precedent,” said Jules Lobel, a professor at the University of Pittsburgh Law School. “You are setting a precedent that you can use the parks for industrial purposes.”
The companies hope to start drilling this year and plan to tap more of the park from additional well pads in the future, officials said.
“There are horror stories of families that can't sell their land or can't let their children out to play,” said Russell Fedorka of Elizabeth. “Why can't we protect at least our parks? If you vote to protect the park, you can tell your children that you stood up for the beauty of Deer Lakes Park.”
County Executive Rich Fitzgerald said in a statement that “the county's participation in this lease allows us to further protect our community with additional environmental enhancements while also bringing revenues to our parks. Allegheny County taxpayers benefit by having revenue that doesn't come from our property taxes to invest in our parks and our county.”
Read more: http://triblive.com/news/adminpage/6060789-74/park-council-members#ixzz310rA3eOa
***Deer Lakes Approved
By Kaitlynn Riely and Richard Webner / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
“Mr. Fitzgerald called the decision a “victory” for taxpayers, for people who use the parks and for the residents of Frazer and West Deer Gwen Chute, a member of Protect Our Parks, said the organization would consider legal action to stop the drilling.
“We, the members of Protect Our Parks, are outraged that the County Council has ignored the wishes of the majority of county residents and voted to allow Range Resources to frack under Deer Lakes Park,” the organization said in a statement.
As for legal challenges, Mr. Fitzgerald said the county is often sued on contentious issues, but that he believed the ordinance would withstand challenges.
"I'm not naive to the fact that we need energy," Ms. Danko said. "I do think ... that the parks are different."
She said she could not support the ordinance.
"We did not do what we needed to do," Ms. Danko said.
For Mr. Finnerty, the vote came at the end of what has been a long focus by the county.
"It's been an exhaustive thing," he said before the vote. "I've read that lease so any times."
Prior to the vote, council rejected an amendment put forward by Ms. Heidelbaugh to add additional language to the ordinance, such as further groundwater and roadway protections.
County solicitor Andrew Szefi said the proposed amendment would require re-negotiation of the lease, disrupting the deal between Range and the county.
“If you vote to protect the parks, you can tell your children that you stood up to protect the beauty of Deer Lakes Park,” said Russell Fedorka of Elizabeth.
Some voicing opposition said they support fracking, just not in parks.
You can drill wherever you want where it’s appropriate — industrial areas,” said George Jucha of Moon.
Members of Protect Our Parks, several in their signature green scarves, stood around the room holding up a long scroll of what Joni Rabinowitz said was a list of more than 7,000 people against drilling in county parks.
“Our job is to protect them, not industrialize them,” said Ed Chute of Mt. Lebanon.
Others criticized the council’s process leading up to the vote.
“I cannot believe that you have done your due diligence,” said Dana Dolney of Polish Hill, a comment that Mr. Ellenbogen objected to by briefly leaving the room.
Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/local/north/2014/05/06/County-council-hears-both-sides-of-Deer-Lakes-Park-drilling-controversy/stories/201405060229#ixzz310ov3RR0
2. Cross Creek Park Woes-Recalling the Fish Kill
May 4, 2014
“Allegheny County officials should consider a likely scenario if they choose to approve a gas lease to frack under Deer Lakes Park.
Consider this headline from June 5, 2009: “Waste from Marcellus Shale Drilling in Cross Creek Park Kills Fish.” I fished there on May 30, 2009, and witnessed the fish floating on top of the water (the June 5 article reported the waste-water discharge was May 26). Needless to say, it wasn’t a good day for fishing.
Months later the state Department of Environmental Protection fined the driller $23,500, but it’s hard to track where that money ends up. I know it doesn’t end up paying for a new stocking of fish, or for the cost of my fishing license, or for my buddy’s boat launch permit. I haven’t been back to Cross Creek Lake to fish since the contamination. I doubt the habitat has improved considering the driller now has amassed three reported violations at the site.
How many more leaks and errors go unreported? Cross Creek Park is not an acceptable prototype for Allegheny County to follow in our parks.
3. Serving the Public Or The Gas Industry?
“Part of the reason there’s so much corrosive cynicism about and mistrust of government is the perception that public servants aren’t really working for the public.
Oh, there’s all kinds of rhetoric about the public interest, but, sometimes, the real interest seems to be in appeasing donors, the powerful, the well-heeled and the well-connected.
Anyone trying to shake off their disenchantment would have been severely tested last week when StateImpact Pennsylvania, which reports on energy and environmental issues on NPR radio outlets throughout the commonwealth, revealed a Harrisburg law firm has been advising the Public Utilities Commission on zoning issues related to the oil and gas industry at the same time it has been representing energy companies before the PUC.
The firm, McNees, Wallace and Nurick, had been due to represent Sunoco Logistics before the PUC in a battle over whether the company can be considered a public utility and sidestep local zoning rules in its efforts to refurbish a pipeline that stretches across the state. However, after the StateImpact Pennsylvania story, the law firm withdrew its services.
But, even with McNees, Wallace and Nurick out of that particular picture, it’s not as if Sunoco Logistics will be deprived of someone with first-rank Harrisburg credentials on their team – among the attorneys now arguing on Sunoco’s behalf will be Michael Krancer, who had been at the helm of the Department of Environmental Protection until the private sector beckoned last year.
Chris Borick, a political science professor at Muhlenberg College, summed up the arrangement pretty well: “This is pretty bizarre. No matter what the legal boundaries say, from a public perception point, it just seems too cozy between the industry and the regulators.” A spokeswoman denied there was any conflict of interest in the PUC having a law firm advise it that has such deep ties to the industry because they used different lawyers for each function.
Whether it’s pocketing elephantine campaign donations from the industry, assembling Act 13 with lobbyists at hand or swatting aside an extraction tax, too often Gov. Tom Corbett and many of his allies in the state House and Senate have seemed too beholden to the oil and gas industry, rather than the voters who put them in office. By tethering itself to a law firm deeply invested in the industry, the PUC has, unfortunately, done nothing to reshape that impression. “
4. Fracking Near Schools in RA Zoned Areas-
Excellent letter from Att. Yeager explains why it is erroneous
“From CURTIN & HEEFNER, ATTORNEYS AT LAW
2005 S. EASTON ROAD • SUITE 100 • DOYLESTOWN, PA 18901
JORDAN B. YEAGER (Emphasis is jan’s)
To: Mike Hnath, Esquire
Solicitor, Middlesex Township
128 W. Cunningham Street
Butler, PA 16001
May 1, 2014
Re: Middlesex Township
Proposed Unconventional Gas Development on the Geyer Tract
We are writing to address your stated position that Middlesex Township can allow unconventional gas development activity at the Geyer property in the Township's R-AG zoning district. Your position is untenable and exposes the Township to a significant risk of litigation.
Township officials- including the Chair of the Board of Supervisors- have made it clear that they are predisposed toward allowing gas development activity to proceed at the Geyer tract and throughout the Township, regardless of the facts. It has also become clear that the Township is seeking legal "cover" to do so. No such cover exists.
First, Township officials told residents that the Township does not have the ability to apply its zoning ordinance to unconventional gas development activity. We provided the Township an extensive memorandum debunking this assertion. Indeed, as we explained in that memorandum, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has made it undeniably clear that municipalities have the authority to apply their zoning ordinances to the gas industry. Robinson Twp. v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, 83 A.3d 901 (Pa. 2013). The Court went further and reminded local elected officials that they have a constitutional duty to apply their zoning in a rational way and to protect the community's clean air, clean water and high quality soils for future generations.
With the Township's first legal position debunked, the Township is confronted with the reality that its zoning ordinance- which it has the authority and responsibility to enforce- does not allow gas development in the R-AG District, where the Geyer tract is located. In the face of this reality, the Township has shifted positions and is now advancing the erroneous position that unconventional gas development is permitted in the R-AG district (and all other agricultural districts) as an accessory use to farming. As this letter will explain, this most recent legal theory is not supported by the plain language of the Township's ordinance, case law, or the Municipalities Planning Code ("MPC").
As further explained below, the Township's current position directly conflicts with the Ordinance's definitions of "accessory use" and "agriculture;" is inconsistent with the Ordinance's statement of community development objectives, the comprehensive plan, and the purpose of the R-AG District; and ignores the fact that the Ordinance expressly permits gas development activity as a principal use in other districts, which precludes it from being an accessory use in the R-AG District.
(This is an excerpt from the 11 page letter!)
As set forth above, the Township's assertion that unconventional shale gas development is an accessory use to farming in the R-AG District is directly inconsistent with the Zoning Ordinance, case law, the MPC, and the Pennsylvania Constitution. The Township is placing itself at substantial risk of challenge from citizens negatively impacted by the proposed Geyer well site development. Please share this correspondence with the Board of Supervisors and Township Manager so that they can be guided in carrying out their constitutional and statutory obligations.”
5. Babst- Calland Law Firm-Profit Over People
(Do these attorneys not have lungs, children, homes they value? Compressors can be highly polluting, yet Babst Calland issued the alert that PA might require “reasonably available control technology”. The firm, which represents the gas industry, is concerned that the industry might have to pay for pollution controls.)
“New PA Regs Limiting NOx/VOC Likely Affect Compressor Stations
The Babst Calland law firm has put out an alert that proposed new rules recently issued by the Pennsylvania Environmental Quality Board to require “reasonably available control technology” (RACT) will affect “hundreds of facilities” that produce nitrogen oxides (NOx) or volatile organic compounds (VOCs), requiring them to spend money and install new equipment. There are nine source categories covered by the new rule, and although none of those categories say “compressor stations,” one of them is “turbines” which may cover compressor stations. At any rate, pipeline compressor stations are a major source of NOx and VOCs and will almost certainly be affected by the coming changes.”
6. Residents Forced to Evacuate After Shale Well Leak in Ohio
“In Ohio, hundreds of gallons of drilling fluid have spilled into a creek from a shale well being prepared for fracking. Officials say the leak was discovered on Sunday. About 1,600 gallons of the fluid, known as "mud," gushed out before the spill was contained on Wednesday. Nearby residents were evacuated amid fears of a natural gas explosion. The company, PDC Energy, said it still plans to move forward with fracking the wells.”
Amy Goodman, Democracy Now!
7. Gas and Oil Operations are Death Sentence for Soil
“According to the Soil Science Society, “soil supports and nourishes the plants that we eat” and that livestock eat; soil “filters and purifies much of the water we drink;” “soils teem with microorganisms that have given us many life-saving medications;” and “protecting soil from erosion helps reduce the amount of air-borne dust we breathe.”
According to a Denver Post story, At least 716,982 gallons (45 percent) of the petroleum chemicals spilled during the past decade have stayed in the ground after initial cleanup—contaminating soil, sometimes spreading into groundwater.
Oil and gas drilling produces up to 500 tons of dirt from every new well, some of it soaked with hydrocarbons and laced with potentially toxic minerals and salts.
Heavy trucks crush soil, “suffocating the delicate subsurface ecosystems that traditionally made Colorado’s Front Range suitable for farming.”
These impacts from the tens of thousands of wells in Colorado alone led a Colorado soil scientist to state that oil and gas operations are ”like a death sentence for soil.”
The Post points out that no federal or state agency has ever assessed the impact of the oil and gas boom on soil and on human health.”
By Amy Mall, Natural Resources Defense Council
8. Suspect Cancer Cluster in Flower Mound, Texas
“Cathrine Benefiel was diagnosed with brain cancer last year. The diagnosis stunned her family. Her mom Mindy said they have no history of cancer.
"Just no history of it," she said. "It turned our world upside-down."
News 8 profiled a number of families in Flower Mound several years ago that were equally confused and concerned when their children were diagnosed with cancer.
Some of those families — and now the Benefiels — suspect heavy fracking operations in Flower Mound may be a contributing factor. The process can produce cancer-causing compounds like benzene. No firm link has been established in Flower Mound.
But the Texas Department of State Health Services recently announced it was going to again analyze whether cancer rates among children were higher in Flower Mound.
In 2010, the state conducted an initial study and ultimately determined there weren't more cases of leukemia, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma or brain cancer than in other parts of Texas.
But a new analysis of those findings by a University of Texas research team found there actually was a strong indication of more cancer cases in the area.”
9. Radon and Methane Greater Than Expected
Drilling in Coal Areas
“According to a spate of recent scientific studies from the United States and Australia, the shale gas industry has generated another formidable challenge: methane and radon leakage three times greater than expected.
In some cases the volume of seeping methane, a greenhouse gas that traps heat 25 times more effectively than carbon dioxide, is so high it challenges the notion that shale gas can be a bridge to a cleaner energy future, as promoted by the government of British Columbia and other shale gas jurisdictions.
Revkin also asked Louis Derry, a Cornell University geologist, to comment on the study's implications in regards to coal.
….It also found a big difference between measured methane emission rates versus "official" estimates. Stanford University researcher Adam Brandt and 12 other scientists reported that a small number of high-emitting sources such as leaky pipelines, faulty wellbores, polluting gas plants, and venting storage tanks might account for the high rates of methane.
Last month, another U.S. study reported that an airplane survey over a two-day period found large plumes of methane above shale gas well pads over southwestern Pennsylvania two to three times order of magnitude greater than expected during drilling operations.
The scientists suggested that just a few shale gas wells may be super methane leakers and account for the large spikes of methane in the atmosphere.
"It was possible that a small number of wells contribute heavily to methane leakage in a producing field -- a largely fixable problem," Derry said.
But "the real message of this study may be that gas fluxes from coal operations have been underestimated, and that they are mostly responsible for the hotspots," he said.
He added that drilling in a coal-rich area may "require special precautions to prevent transient leaks" in addition to pre and post-air monitoring.
Australia's approach to leakage
Australian studies have also found significant problems with methane and radon leakage from fields producing coal-bed methane. In 2012, Isaac Santos and Damien Maher at Southern Cross University measured concentrations of methane in the atmosphere above fractured coal-bed methane fields with a spectrometer mounted on a vehicle.
Like subsequent U.S. studies, they found methane emissions in producing fields were three-and-a-half times more than expected.
The scientists offered two explanations for the findings: leaky industry infrastructure or seepage through soils.
Australian scientists are now trying to figure out whether drilling activities such as fracking are activating large methane escapes by releasing methane and other gases such as radon into groundwater, creeks, soils and the atmosphere.
Coal is a major source of methane, so it's not surprising that levels are higher over coal fields, noted David Hughes.
"But saying these levels are related to later [coal-bed methane] or shale development or initial mining or natural outcrops of coal again needs the data before, during and after," added the geologist and consultant.
A 2013 follow-up study measured radon gas concentrations at monitoring stations The scientists found radon levels in the atmosphere three times higher than average in areas with a high density of coal seam wells.
"It has been known for years that radon anomalies can be observed during earthquakes," explained Santos in a press release. "As the soil structure expands or contracts and cracks before and during an earthquake, it creates conduits for the release of soil radon into groundwater and the atmosphere."
"We hypothesize that an analogous process is happening when the soil structure is altered during coal seam gas mining through processes such as drilling, hydraulic fracturing and alteration of the water table."
Damien Maher, one of the study's co-authors, said the findings suggested the radon leaks are not only coming from wellbores but through new man-made pathways that industry had not accounted for.
"Fixing the infrastructure is relatively easy. Fixing up the changes in the soil structure is much more difficult," said Maher.
Karlis Muehlenbachs, a University of Alberta expert on tracing stray gases from oil and gas fields, doubts that oil and gas regulators have the gumption or the resources to do baseline atmospheric monitoring, let alone fix the continent's leaky natural gas production system.
"There is no will to fix anything," Muehlenbachs said.
For years Muehlenbachs has proposed that governments mandate baseline monitoring, through isotopic fingerprinting, of methane, ethane and propane from producing wells, abandoned wells, natural seeps and water wells in order to protect groundwater prior to drilling and fracking.
No regulator has yet implemented his protocol.”
10. Letter to the Editor
“The question is not whether you are for or against fracking. The question is are we safe and is Industry really using best practices. Money buys a lot of influence that can hide the reality of this situation. The health impact of gas fracking has been left in the dark. The state said they would fund a health registry to collect data around drilling sites. Without important data , the issue can not be resolved nor the public be protected, said Dr. Ralph Schmeltz, endocrinologist and former president of the Pa Medical Society.
Governor Corbett appointed the commission, but the Republican Legislature/ Senate failed to fund it in Act 13. This leaves the public without answers. The gas industry maintains that fracking is safe, while nationwide , residents near drilling sites have experienced health problems and psychological impacts. Ground water for drinking, air emissions, waste water disposal, harm to gas field workers, and the public, all demand the truth according to public health experts. Also, the journal [ Environmental Science & Technology ] states. " there are substantial public concerns and major uncertainties to address."
We as Pennsylvanian's need this resolved. If the Harrisburg leadership will NOT protect the health, safety, and welfare by funding an impartial study, then new faces need to represent us.......
Bob Schmetzer “
11. Mystery of Wastewater Tankers
“Wastewater tankers were gathering at a point on Chartiers Creek to withdraw free water. Someone had even installed concrete jersey barriers along the top edge of the creek bank and placed a port-a-john there, obvious health and safety enhancements to further enable and encourage water withdrawals there.
I had told our county commissioners at least a year ago that this was not a DEP authorized water withdrawal point, that it was located further downstream. The site was so heavily used that truck drivers just left their hoses in place on the bank of the creek.
Then, several months ago, a security trailer was placed in a parking lot across from the huge MarkWest Gas Plant. Around the same time the security trailer appeared, people began noticing that wastewater tankers were no longer gathering there to withdraw water.
Passing by that site last Saturday, and with curiosity getting the better of me, I stopped at that security trailer to inquire. The security guard, a blonde lady in her 40’s, was very guarded about giving me any information. I asked, “Why is this security here?” She said, “We are protecting something.” Now it was turning into a guessing game.
“What are you protecting, the creek?” She said, “Yes.”
Beyond that I was unable to learn much more, like who is paying for that security checkpoint?... the taxpayers of Washington County? Exactly why is it there, were trucks dumping into the creek? If anyone learns more about this, please pass it along.”
12. It’s the Pits
From Bob Donnan
“How many pits does Range have in Washington County, Pa?
Even though I have photographed most of them, I never took time to count all of them, but someone told me yesterday there are 29. Wow! And instead of trying to count the ones with problems, it would be much simpler to count the ones without problems, or should we say, the ones with problems we don’t know about… yet.
The whole ‘Pits –burg South story’ more or less began back when Stephanie Hallowich brought attention to contaminants their well water tests. Their well was very close to the Stewart Impoundment.
The Stewart impoundment dam went from holding fresh water to flowback, and holes developed in the plastic liner. Results from water tests on the Hallowich well water began showing bizarre chemicals like acetone and acrylonitrile, as well as toluene, ethyl benzene, tetra-chlorethylene and styrene.”
(Stephanie Hallowich’s family became ill and the family eventually was bought out by the industry so they could move. Jan)
13. The Fracking Prostitutes of American Colleges
(part 2 of 3)
[Part 1: Lackawanna College, a two-year college in Scranton, Pa., accepted a $2.5 million endowment from Cabot Oil & Gas Corp. to strengthen that college’s programs and ties to the oil and gas industry.]
by Walter Brasch
“ Two of the reasons Pennsylvania has no severance tax and one of the lowest taxes upon shale gas drilling are because of an overtly corporate-friendly legislature and a research report from Penn State, a private state-related university that receives about $300 million a year in public funds.
Opponents of the tax cited a Penn State study that claimed a 30 percent decline in drilling if the fees were assessed, while also touting the economic benefits of drilling in the Marcellus Shale. What wasn’t widely known is that the lead author of the study, Dr. Timothy Considine, “had a history of producing industry-friendly research on economic and energy issues,” according to reporting by Jim Efsathioi Jr. of Bloomberg News. The Penn State study was sponsored by a $100,000 grant from the Marcellus Shale Coalition, an oil and gas lobbying group that represents more than 300 energy companies. Dr. William Easterling, dean of Penn State’s College of Earth and Mineral Sciences, said the study may have “crossed the line between policy analysis and policy advocacy.”
The Marcellus Center for Outreach and Research (MCOR), a part of Penn State, announced that with funding provided by General Electric and ExxonMobil, it would offer a “Shale Gas Regulators Training Program.” The Center had previously said it wasn’t taking funding from private industry. However, the Center’s objectivity may have already been influenced by two people. Gov. Tom Corbett, who accepted more than $2 million in campaign funds from oil and gas company personnel, sits on the university’s board of trustees; billionaire Terrence (Terry) Pegula, owner of the Buffalo Sabres hockey team, was CEO of East Resources, which he had sold to Royal Dutch Shell for $4.7 billion in July 2010. Pegula and his wife had also contributed about $380,000 to Corbett’s political campaign. On the day Pegula donated $88 million to Penn State to fund a world-class ice hockey arena and support the men’s and women’s intercollegiate ice hockey team, he said, “[T]his contribution could be just the tip of the iceberg, the first of many such gifts, if the development of the Marcellus Shale is allowed to proceed.” At the groundbreaking in April 2012, Pegula announced he increased the donation to $102 million.
The Shale Technology and Education Center (ShaleTEC) program at the Pennsylvania College of Technology, a branch of Penn State, was established “to serve as the central resource for workforce development and education needs of the community and the oil and natural gas industry,” according to its website. With an initial $15,000 grant from the Marcellus Shale Coalition, the Community College of Philadelphia (CCP) planned to establish certificate and academic programs for workers either already employed by or intending to enter jobs that provide services to Marcellus Shale companies. John Braxton, assistant professor of biology and an ecologist, said CCP “must not be used as a PR puppet for shale gas fracking companies,” accurately noting that the fracking industry “got a free publicity ride” by the administration’s hasty decisions.
Within two weeks of CCP’s announcement, the faculty union (AFT Local 2026), which represents the college’s 1,050 faculty and 200 staff, condemned the decision to establish the Center “without the consideration or approval of the faculty, and with total disregard for established College procedures for instituting new academic curricula.” In a unanimous vote by the Representative Council, the faculty declared, “the natural gas drilling . . . industry and peripheral and related industries present unacceptable dangers and risks to public health, worker safety, the natural environment, and quality of life.” Curtis left CCP in Summer 2013; the proposed program was never developed, and remains unfunded.
In April 2011, Gov. Corbett had suggested that the 14 universities of the State System of Higher Education (SSHE) could allow natural gas drilling on the campuses that sit on top of the Marcellus Shale. In a secret negotiation revealed by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the Student Association of California University signed over mineral rights on 67 acres. The lease includes a confidentiality clause.
The Marcellus Institute at Mansfield University is “an academic/shale gas partnership,” designed to educate the people about the issues of natural gas production. The university holds summer classes for teachers and week-long camps for high school students to allow them to “Learn about the development of shale gas resources in our region and the career and educational opportunities available to you after high school!”
The university’s associate in applied sciences (A.A.S.) degree in natural gas production and services, begun in Fall semester 2012, was fast-tracked, submitted and approved in less than six months rather than the 12–18 months normally required for approval. The union that represents the state system’s 6,000 faculty passed a resolution in September 2013 opposing drilling on campuses, stating that the campuses “are not appropriate locations for [fracking] given the environmental and health hazards of the fracking process.”
[Next week: Compromising academic integrity at other American universities.]
[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.]
Kindle and Print Editions
"Fracking Pennsylvania is
packed with information
—and everyone living in
any area being drilled or
likely to be drilled
by the gas industry—
needs to know about the
public health and safety,
and economic risks
this dangerous practice poses.”
founder, Berks Gas Truth
"As an anti-fracking activist,
one of the most important things
I’ve learned in this work
is how necessary it is for us
to be connected and know
about each other’s work,
experiences and information.
Walter Brasch has made a
to that effort.
If I were teaching a course
on environmental ethics,
Brasch’s books would
be on the reading list."
—The Rev. Leah D. Schade,
14. "Chris" Mobaldi of Split Estate Film Died November 4
“A woman who grew gravely ill after living near gas drilling activities in the Rifle area has died in Grand Junction, to where she and her husband moved to get away from the rigs. Elizabeth "Chris" Mobaldi, 63, died after a lengthy battle with a rare and persistent tumor of the pituitary gland. She recently underwent her third surgery related to the tumor; complications of that surgery led to her death.
"Industry representatives have long argued that there is no conclusive evidence that proximity to gas wells has adverse effects on the environment or on human health. From 1993 to 2004, the Mobaldis had lived near Rifle, south of the Colorado River, According to testimony by Mobaldi before the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform in Washington, D.C., the couple suffered symptoms such as headaches, burning eyes and skin, which they believed were related to the drilling rigs as close as 300 feet from their home. The first of Chris' three pituitary tumors appeared in 2001, roughly four years after gas rigs went up near their home, Steve Mobaldi said. At the time, he said, the rigs were operated by Barrett Resources, which later was sold to the Williams Cos.
The couple moved to Grand Junction in 2004. Chris Mobaldi, aside from her other symptoms, developed rashes, blisters and a rare malady known as "foreign accent syndrome," a speech abnormality that is quite rare.
A physician who treated Chris Mobaldi, Dr. Kendall Gerdes of Colorado Springs, said, "When I first met her ... I thought it must be some kind of Eastern European thing.” Asked if he agrees with Steve Mobaldi's assertion that the symptoms are in some way related to exposure to gas drilling activities, Gerdes said simply, "I do." But, he continued, this conclusion is based on his understanding of the couple and their story, and that "there's not a lot of testing you can do that will prove or disprove that. I think that [Mobaldi's exposure to drilling chemicals] was causative. I am simply looking at time, cause and effect relationships." He said tests indicated that Chris Mobaldi was "vulnerable" to toxic influences "because she did not detoxify as rapidly as other people," meaning that chemicals accumulate more readily in her fatty tissues. The fact that others have reported similar symptoms they believe are caused by proximity to gas rigs, has prompted some doctors, including Gerdes, to call for greater investigation of the health effects of gas drilling.
Recently, the Garfield County government supported a Health Impact Assessment to establish a base-line of data for residents of the Battlement Mesa residential neighborhood, where the Antero Resources gas company is planning to drill up to 200 wells within the community's boundaries." It is an ongoing problem, and one that deserves a lot of attention," said Gerdes, specifically mentioning requests by Antero for permission to drill one well for every 10 acres of land, rather than the current density of one well per 160 acres, in residential sections of the county. Industry officials have stressed that 10-acre spacing, as it is known, already is in place in many parts of Garfield County. They note that the term refers to below ground bores and does not signify a drilling rig on every 10-acre parcel of firstname.lastname@example.org
15. Concerned Health Professionals of NY
Regarding Air Pollution and Fracking
Study: Fracking the Eagle Ford Shale
February 18, 2014 Statements/Resolutions
“In response to the release of the eight-month investigation ‘Fracking the Eagle Ford Shale’ by InsideClimate News, The Center for Public Integrity and The Weather Channel that found very dangerous air pollution and widespread health impacts, Concerned Health Professionals of New York released the following statement from Sandra Steingraber, PhD and Distinguished Scholar in Residence at Ithaca College, and Kathy Nolan, MD, MSL.
“The extensive investigation into air pollution from drilling and fracking operations in the Eagle Ford Shale of southern Texas has documented–in otherwise rural communities–alarming levels of highly toxic air pollutants. These include benzene, a proven cause of leukemia, and poisonous hydrogen sulfide gas, which, at acute levels, can be lethal and, at chronic levels, is linked to both brain damage and risk of miscarriage in pregnant women.
“These results are consistent with existing and emerging research from Colorado, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania. All together, these studies create a startling picture of the harms that fracking can bring to human communities. As health professionals, we possess not only a duty to inquire but an obligation to take action to prevent further harm.”
December 17, 2013 Statements/Resolutions Endocrine Disruptors
Of the 700-plus chemicals that can be used in drilling and fracking operations, more than 100 are known or suspected endocrine disruptors. Unique among toxic agents, endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) interfere with hormonal signals, are biologically active at exceedingly low concentrations, and, when exposures occur in early life, can alter pathways of development.
In a two-part study published on December 16 in the journal Endocrinology, a team of researchers led by Susan Nagel at the University of Missouri reported a variety of potent endocrine-disrupting properties in twelve chemicals commonly used in drilling and fracking operations. The team also documented potent endocrine-disrupting activity in ground and surface water supplies collected from heavily drilled areas in Garfield County, Colorado where fracking chemicals are known to have spilled. The levels of chemicals in these samples were sufficient to interfere with the response of human cells to male sex hormones, as well as estrogen. Five samples taken from the Colorado River itself showed estrogenic activity. The catchment basin for this drilling-dense area, the Colorado provides water to 30 million people.
These results, which are based on validated cell cultures, demonstrate that public health concerns about fracking are well-founded and extend to our hormone systems. The stakes could not be higher. Exposure to EDCs has been variously linked to breast cancer, infertility, birth defects, and learning disabilities. Scientists have identified no safe threshold of exposure for EDCs, especially for pregnant women, infants, and children.”
Contact: Sandra Steingraber, PhD
16. Utilities Quietly Dumped ALEC
“After writing letters to nine utility companies that have supported the anti-science, environmental attack campaign waged by a secretive lobbying group called the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), Greenpeace has directly confirmed at least six large U.S. utility companies have ceased supporting the secretive lobbying group in recent years:
Last year, ALEC experienced a $1.3 million budget shortfall from an exodus of its corporate members in recent years.
Some of the nation’s largest utilities have quietly distanced themselves from the secretive, climate-denying lobbying group. None of these five utilities made any commitment whatsoever to maintain disassociation from ALEC. Instead, they all defended their self-stated commitments to climate and clean energy policies, which Greenpeace’s letters referenced and juxtaposed against ALEC’s ongoing work to deny climate change science and undermine climate change solutions like renewable energy policies that create jobs and stimulate local economies.
Independent of ALEC, some of these companies continue to resist commonsense clean energy incentives, such as net metering for distributed solar generation. The democratization of electricity production poses a serious threat to monopolistic utility companies, and rather than working to innovate during this massive shift in the energy economy, many utilities are digging in their heels. In the long run, that will not likely turn out to be a wise choice; even King Coal’s top lobbyists admits that the industry is outdated, comparing coal’s latest pollution control technology to the irrelevant “bag phone” technology of yesteryear.
Perhaps ALEC’s clear intent to impose taxes and fees on people and small businesses installing solar panels on their rooftops wooed APS back into its dirty ranks, since APS coordinated with other Koch-funded front groups to run ads promoting fees for solar net metering. APS executives have refused to communicate with Greenpeace.”
17. The Mothers Project Vs. Independent Women’s Forum
Two Very Different Motives
“The Mothers Project, founded and headed by Angela Monti Fox, is based in New York City and global in scope. Fox is the mother of Josh Fox, the filmmaker. Fracking is a major focus of The Mothers Project.
This week, the anti-environmental, arch-conservative entity named The Independent Women’s Forum is staging a panel discussion in Manhattan to try to counter the mothers’ movement. It is titled From Helicopter to Hazmat: How the Culture of Alarmism is Turning Parenting into a Dangerous Job.
The group, which gets its funding from right-wing foundations and other conservative interests including the Koch Brothers, got its start in 1992 as Women for Judge Thomas defending the nomination of Clarence Thomas to the U.S. Supreme Court. It fights feminist groups, promotes access to guns and has taken to denying global warming.
Also involved in the event today is the American Council on Science and Health, financed by polluting industries and long described as an industry front group. Its specialty has been issuing reports denying health damage caused by environmental pollutants, notably pesticides and other toxic chemicals.”
18. Trucking Impact: Deadly Side Effect To Fracking Boom
“Booming production of oil and natural gas has exacted a little-known price on some of the nation's roads, contributing to a spike in traffic fatalities in states where many streets and highways are choked with large trucks and heavy drilling equipment.
An AP analysis of traffic deaths and U.S. census data in six drilling states shows that in some places, fatalities have more than quadrupled since 2004 - a period when most American roads have become much safer even as the population has grown.
"We are just so swamped," said Sheriff Dwayne Villanueva of Karnes County, Texas, where authorities have been overwhelmed by the surge in serious accidents.
"I don't see it slowing down anytime soon," Villanueva said.
Deadly crashes are "recognized as one of the key risk areas of the business," said Marvin Odum, who runs Royal Dutch Shell's exploration operations in the Americas.
The number of traffic fatalities in some regions has climbed far faster than the population or the number of miles driven.
In North Dakota drilling counties, the population has soared 43 percent over the last decade, while traffic fatalities increased 350 percent, to 63 last year from 14 ten years ago. Roads in those counties were nearly twice as deadly per mile driven than the rest of the state. In one Texas drilling district, drivers were 2.5 times more likely to die in a fatal crash per mile driven compared with the statewide average.
This boom is different from those of the past because fracking requires 2,300 to 4,000 truck trips per well to deliver the fracking fluids. Older drilling techniques needed one-third to one-half as many trips.
Another factor is the speed of development. Drilling activity often ramps up too fast for communities to build better roads, install more traffic signals or hire extra police officers to help direct the flow of cars and trucks. Drillers will sink 20,000 new wells of this type in the U.S. this year.
Last year, a truck carrying drilling water in Clarksburg, W.Va., overturned onto a car carrying a mother and her two boys. Both children, 7-year-old Nicholas Mazzei-Saum and 8-year-old Alexander, were killed.
"We buried them in the same casket," recalled their father, William Saum. He said his wife, Lucretia Mazzei, has been hospitalized four times over the last year for depression.
Traffic fatalities in West Virginia's most heavily drilled counties, including where the Mazzei-Saum boys were killed, rose 42 % last year, to 47, from 33 in 2012. Traffic deaths in the rest of the state declined 8 percent.
Traffic fatalities in Pennsylvania drilling counties rose 4 % over that time frame, while in the rest of the state they fell 19 percent. New Mexico's traffic fatalities fell 29 percent, except in drilling counties, where they only fell 5 percent.
In 21 Texas counties where drilling has recently expanded, deaths per 100,000 people are up an average of 18 percent. Across the rest of Texas, they are down by 20 percent.
For Villanueva, that means his county now has accidents serious enough to require air transport of victims three or four times each week, compared with only a few times a month before drilling operations took off.
In two Texas drilling regions, 259 people were killed last year, compared with 148 a decade ago. An average of 100 more people were killed in vehicle accidents in each of the last two years compared with before the boom.
When oil and gas are found, changes come fast. Drillers scramble to acquire leases and get the oil and gas flowing as soon as possible. Local service companies quickly marshal trucks and drivers to earn as much new business as they can while the boom lasts.
Counties and regions going through drilling booms simply cannot keep up. A weigh station stands on U.S. Route 2 in Williston, North Dakota, the heart of drilling country, but traffic on the highway gets backed up if the station stays open for 15 minutes, said Alan Dybing, a research fellow at North Dakota State University's transportation institute. So it soon has to close, letting streams of unchecked trucks pass through.
Some experts say regulatory loopholes make things even worse. Federal rules limit the amount of time most truckers can stay on the road, but the rules are less stringent for drivers in the oil and gas industry.
"These exemptions make Swiss cheese out of safety regulations," said Jackie Gillan, president of Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety.
Vehicle crashes are the single biggest cause of fatalities to oil and gas workers, according to a study by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.”