Westmoreland Marcellus Citizens’ Group Updates
May 22, 2014
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For the email address, click on the envelope under the photo
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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.
***PITTSBURGH ARTISTS AGAINST FRACKING through June 1
Garfield Artworks, 4931 Penn Ave., Garfield.
The exhibit Pittsburgh Artists Against Fracking was organized in support of Protect Our Parks, a coalition fighting to prevent hydrofracturing for gas in Allegheny County's public parks. Protect Our Parks distributes information, speaks out, meets with officials and circulates petitions. It's not surprising that many local artists support the group, and a portion of all sales from this Garfield Artworks show will be contributed to Protect Our Parks. (Last week, Allegheny County Council voted to permit fracking beneath Deer Lakes Park.)
Art exhibits addressing significant issues are a tradition, and the fracking of local parks is certainly a significant issue. Exhibit organizer Bob Ziller wanted to be inclusive, so he didn't require artworks to address fracking directly, though he encouraged participants to exhibit works relating to nature. With more than 80 artists — almost all from Pittsburgh currently or previously — and more than 100 artworks, the exhibit makes a dramatic statement through quantity alone.
Some works explicitly address environmental concerns. In Sandy Kaminski Kessler's "Danger Danger," the robot famous for warning "danger, danger" on the television show Lost in Space appears to issue an environmental warning, as it's drawn on a topographical map. Kyle Milne's "Untitled Maps" features a mound of what appear to be gobs of tar on a mining map, creating an unnerving depiction of the waste left over from resource extraction. Thommy Conroy's "Diagram F" shows a cross-section in which sci-fi creatures battle on the surface while drilling contaminates the water supply.
Most compelling in the context of the exhibit are those works that address fracking more or less directly. David Pohl's "Let them drink benzene, toluene, xylene, and ehtylbenzene" is graphically strong, and the Marie Antoinette-inspired statement clearly condemns recklessness regarding the public's health. In "Fracking the Body," Maritza Mosquera likens the slow healing of the body after invasive surgery to the healing the earth requires after being cut into for fracking.
Also directly related to fracking is Bob Ziller's "Unicorn Love Cheney," ridiculing Dick Cheney's infamous "Halliburton loophole," which exempts fracking from regulation under the Safe Drinking Water Act. And Paul Kuhrman's modified baseball card "Ickey Rivers" manages to contain a fracking rig, a stream of chemical pollution, "oops," "ickey rivers," and "anger." That pretty well sums up the concerns here.
***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.
***Webinar on Divestment- Wednesdays-- Web Workshops will happen on the first Wednesday of every month, starting on May 7th.
How can fossil fuel divestment help get us where we need to go? What are the intersections with larger climate and social justice movements? What are the financial arguments for divestment? And how in the world do I get started on my own campaign? Each month, Fossil Free campaign staff & special guests will dive into strategies, arguments, and crucial skills.
The first Web Workshop will be on May 7th and explore the divestment "theory of change." That's wonky campaigner speech for "how does this thing we're doing make the change we want to see in the world." That's a question we get a lot at Fossil Free, and we're excited to explore it with all of you. Will you join us?
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:
***PCN TV Court Hearing- Act 13 –The remaining 4 issues (from Debbie)
The May 14th Commonwealth Court session from Philadelphia will air at 7:00 pm on Tuesday, May 27. It should also be posted to our website by mid-day Wednesday.
PCN (Pennsylvania Cable Network)
***Video Beaver Meeting –“Living in a Fracking Sacrifice Zone “
Panel with Yuri Gorbi, Bill Hughes, Jill Kriesky
***Dr. Jerome Paulson- LINKS BETWEEN UNCONVENTIONAL GAS EXTRACTION AND HUMAN HEALTH
Thank you to Bob Donnan for taping and getting this video on you tube
Jerome A. Paulson, MD, FAAP, is a Professor in the Department of Environmental & Occupational Health at The George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services, and a Professor in the Department of Pediatrics at The George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences.
Dr. Paulson is the chairperson of the executive committee of the Council on Environmental Health American Academy of Pediatrics, serves for the Children's Health Protection Advisory Committee for EPA and on the technical advisory board for the Blacksmith Institute. Dr. Paulson has served as a special assistant to the director of CDC's National Center on Environmental Health, again focusing on children, and in 2000 received a Soros Advocacy Fellowship for Physicians from the Open Society Institute working with the Children's Environmental Health Network.
At Children's National Medical Center, Dr. Paulson serves as the Medical Director for National and Global Affairs of the Child Health Advocacy Institute.
Dr. Paulson is an expert on the health effects of hydraulic fracturing and has presented and lectured frequently on the subject.
***Dr Ingraffea- The Intersection Between Hydraulic Fracturing and Climate Change
***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!”
See article about the lawsuit below.
***The Sky Is Pink --- 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/
All articles are excerpted. Please use links for the full article.
1. All Pipelines Are Not Created Equal
From a group member:
“Class 1 areas, which have less than 10 inhabited homes per mile of pipeline, have no routine inspections, and cheaper poorer quality pipe is allowed to be used per PHMSA. (US Dept of Transportation Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, jan) ”
2. Spike in Stillborn and Neonatal Deaths in Heavily Drilled Vernal, Utah
“A midwife in Vernal, Utah, has raised a red flag about a spike in the number of stillbirths and neonatal deaths in the small town in 2013.
The concern has arisen alongside explosive growth in drilling and fracking in the area. Energy companies have flocked to Vernal in the last few years to develop massive oil and gas fields beneath Uintah County.
The midwife, Donna Young, who has worked in the Vernal area for 19 years, delivered the first stillborn baby she's seen in all her years of practice in May 2013. Doctors could not determine a reason for the baby's death.
While visiting the local cemetery where the baby was buried, Young noticed other fresh graves of babies who were stillborn or who died shortly after birth.
Young started researching obituaries and mortuary records on stillbirths and neonatal deaths and found a large spike in the number of infant deaths in the Vernal area in recent years. She documented 11 other incidents in 2013 in which Vernal mothers had given birth to stillborn babies or in which babies died within a few days of being born. Vernal's full-time population is only about 9,800.
Young found that the rate of neonatal deaths in Vernal has climbed from about equivalent to the national average in 2010 to six times the national average in 2013.
Along with the surge in oil and gas drilling in the Vernal area in the last few years, the winter air in the Uintah basin, where Vernal sits, has become dense with industrial smog generated by drilling rigs, pipelines, wells and increased traffic.
Utah's state Department of Health has said it will foot the bill to study the spike in neonatal deaths in Vernal, but area residents are skeptical the state may use outdated statistics or otherwise design the study to fail amid political pressure to abandon the research.
A similar situation occurred in nearby Garfield County, Colo., in April 2014 when the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment said it would conduct a similar study on an abnormally high rate of fetal abnormalities found in heavily drilled Garfield County, on Colorado's western slope.
Less than a month after the agency announced it would undertake the study, the department quietly issued a report saying it found no link between the fetal abnormalities and drilling activity in Garfield County.
But the Colorado study had glaring gaps.
For example, the agency failed to analyze the air or water in subjects' homes for volatile organic compounds (VOCs) or other contaminants emitted by drilling operations, pipelines or storage facilities. The report looked only at the distance the subjects lived from active wells, without considering the proximity of their homes to drilling-related equipment and facilities known to vent or leak VOCs, such as finished wells, pipelines, storage tanks and compressors.
The study also failed to consider a significant leak of hydrocarbons into Parachute Creek, near the west end of Garfield County, which occurred in late 2012 and early 2013. In that event, an estimated 40,000 gallons of hydrocarbons evaporated into the air, and 10,000 gallons of liquid hydrocarbons spilled into Parchute Creek, which empties into the Colorado River.
The Utah Department of Health gave no indication of whether it intends to test for drilling-related chemical contamination in homes of the mothers of stillborn babies or when the study might be completed.
Drilling Industry Blocked a Previous Proposed Study of Air Quality in Vernal
Citizens have been trying to address the worsening air pollution in the Uintah Basin for years.
In 2007, the Western Energy Alliance, formerly the Petroleum Association of Mountain States, succeeded in killing a proposal by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to study the effects of thousands of new oil and gas wells on air pollution in the Vernal area. Industry documents show that Bill Stringer, who then headed BLM's Vernal office, pushed to have an industry-controlled study substituted for the BLM study. That study was released in 2009 and concluded, not unexpectedly, that drilling had “no unacceptable effects on human health” in the Vernal area.
See Photo: Active natural gas drilling in the Uintah Basin in northeast Utah, east of the town of Ouray. Drilling locations appear as bright spots, each typically 1.5 to 3 acres in size, connected by a network of gravel roads and pipeline corridors. The rectangular ponds handle the wastewater produced during drilling and fracking operations.
Stringer's industry-friendly Vernal BLM office approved an average of 555 new oil and gas wells in the Vernal area each year.
By early 2010, air monitors in the Vernal area were registering ozone levels among the worst in the country, on par with Los Angeles.
In 2012, a coalition of conservation and public health groups sued the U.S. EPA for failing to protect the Uintah Basin's air from increasingly high levels of ozone.
The next move in the battle over the Uintah Basin's air quality now lies squarely in the lap of the Utah Department of Health.
We'll have to wait and see what the agency will conclude about what appears to be an unusually high leap in stillbirths and neonatal deaths in the Vernal area.
They may find the incidents are purely coincidental, just like in Colorado.”
3. Industry Wants to Use Drill Cuttings In Construction
SCOTT DETROW / STATEIMPACT PENNSYLVANIA
“The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports the Pennsylvania Independent Oil and Gas Association (PIOGA) wants the state DEP to allow companies to reuse drill cuttings – rocks and dirt that are pried loose when a well is drilled – for construction and remediation projects.
However, PIOGA’s members have mostly ignored a call from the trade group to submit samples for a study.
Response to the 2011 solicitation has been, frankly, “pretty pitiful,” said Kevin Moody, vice president and general counsel with the association.
In 2012, 15 companies volunteered samples. In 2013, four did so.
So far this year, not one has participated.
The organization would like to have at least 30 samples, equally split between horizontal shale wells, vertical shale wells, and conventional oil and gas wells.
Drill cuttings can contain naturally occurring radioactive materials (NORM) and have been known to trigger radioactivity alarms when disposed of at landfills. NORM can become technologically enhanced naturally occurring radioactive material (TENORM) when materials are mixed together, moved, or otherwise changed.
The DEP is examining drill cuttings as part of its ongoing study on radiation associated with oil and gas development launched last spring.
In an e-mail, DEP spokesperson Morgan Wagner said the agency has issued a research and development permit to the Williamsport-based waste processing firm Clean Earth Inc. “to determine the viability of using processed drill cuttings from gas wells for construction purposes.” Cuttings that are free of TENORM are chemically analyzed and mixed with cement for use at remediation sites under the state’s Land Recycling Program.
The DEP is considering a similar permit application from Range Resources. The company wants permission to research using drill cuttings to build new well pads.”
4. DEP Permit Allows Frack Waste Storage in Backyards
Closed Loop Systems Results In Spills, Equipment Failure, Torn Liners
Please See Public Herald for the entire article –Several Pictures and Documents Accompany this article
Written by Joshua Pribanic & Amanda Gillooly for PublicHerald.org
“Nine East Smithfield Township natural gas leaseholders have banded together to fight a new permit from the state Department of Environmental Protection that allows more than 700,000 gallons of toxic waste to be stored in backyards for years.
Driven with frustration by Chesapeake Energy and DEP’s lack of communication to the township, a nine-member group of residents, represented by spokesman Dick Stedge, formed and filed an appeal to a WMGR123 permit approved in March.
The permit allows Chesapeake Energy to store 756,000 gallons of oil and gas liquid waste in tanks for six years on a tract of land owned by Lamb’s Farm Storage.
The group, accompanied by like-minded residents and two consultants, packed three open meetings over three months (March-May) to voice their concerns, citing 12 objections listed in their appeal.
“The Department of Environmental Protection’s issuance of the permit was an arbitrary, unreasonable, contrary to law and the issuance was made without adequate investigation and disclosure of facts to the people,” Stedge said during a township meeting in May.
A second appeal was also filed by the three-member board of township supervisors after receiving pressure from residents during an April meeting. But supervisors Jacqueline Kingsley and John Allford repeatedly downplayed safety concerns at the May 13th meeting.
“These fluids are being brought up on every well pad in the area and no one has said a word about these same fluids,” said Kingsley. “Am I concerned about it? Yes, I’m concerned about the whole process. But, why are we singling out this facility?”
“Like it said in the [local] paper, we all did this to ourselves. Not 100 percent of us, but majority of us signed gas leases. We let these people in here and we gotta deal with it,” asserted Allford.
But a grandmother argued, “I’m raising both my grandchildren there and we have a pond right below the site that you people are discussing. Children swim in it.”
The supervisors maintained, “DEP authorized the permit. DEP are the environmental experts. They’re the ones who need to answer your questions.”
“I was never given notice,” the grandmother retorted. “If there’s runoff from the top of the hill, I’m not gonna know anything until they get cancer.”
While the DEP classifies the permit as a “Processing and Beneficial Use of Oil and Gas Waste,” the group maintained that it’s a “deceptive” name, adding Chesapeake has not fully disclosed the intended use of the facility.
If the storage area is permitted for six years, said the group, the site will be, in actuality, a “wastewater recycling facility in our backyards.”
East Smithfield Township officials were notified of the approved permit in a two-page certified letter in March, yet provided little information to concerned residents in April or May. This prompted residents to question the motive for the supervisors’ appeal.
“It makes a hell of a difference whether you guys are on board or not with us,” said Tom Donnelly. Residents stressed they appealed the permit to prevent long-term waste storage facilities in backyards, but supervisors said they entered the appeal as a means to “glean more facts.”
That’s when Stedge again stood up clutching a copy of a certified letter from Chesapeake Energy sent to the township in October 2013 informing the supervisors of the permit for the proposed storage facility.
Dick Stedge put the East Township supervisors on the spot for not disclosing a certified letter from Chesapeake Energy regarding a waste permit application. “We screwed up — we missed a piece of paper,” said Kingsley. “You want us to undo it? How about we all undo it, and we undo our gas leases. The gas company will go away, our problems will go away, and we will all get along.” Several in the audience applauded.
Kingsley added that the type of permit issued to Chesapeake was “nothing new,” which sparked a renewed debate.
Knapp confirmed that the storage facility indeed was something new, with only four issued in Bradford County and 28 permitted in the entire state.
“Waste from this industry is one of the biggest issues around. They don’t know what to do with it. They don’t know where to put it, and it is highly radioactive,” spoke Knapp.
To reduce off-site disposal at waste injection wells or treatment facilities and use of centralized wastewater impoundments, industry leaders in Pennsylvania are moving to on-site treatment and recycling of waste, an alternative often quoted as being safer for everyone and known more commonly as ‘closed-loop systems’ which the WMGR123 allows.
In March 2012 DEP created the WMGR123 permit, a move that merged three redundant permits into one, “providing clarity for the regulated community, general public and the department.”
In a public notice from DEP, “WMGR123 encourages the reuse of liquid wastes generated on oil and gas well sites and related infrastructure through a closed loop process that allows the return of treated liquid waste to oil and gas well sites for reuse, thereby minimizing water withdrawals and impacts on this Commonwealth’s valuable water resources. Solids generated by the treatment process are residual wastes and must be managed in accordance with the residual waste regulations.”
But on-site treatment is not without problems. Recent DEP file reviews on closed-loop systems by Public Herald found repeated spills, equipment failures and torn protection liners.
One concerned resident advocated for local zoning to give the supervisors power over oil and gas operations, noting that the township had an ordinance to regulate mobile homes but not frack waste trailers.
“What is the difference between a mobile home and a 70-some foot trailer?” the man asked. “I know you said that they’re already there, so we can’t stop them. But why can’t we stop ones in the future? Can we put ordinances in to prevent another one from going in?”
The solicitor responded, “In the state, you can’t just single out a particular industry and regulate it so that it’s ‘not in my backyard.’”
The resident replied, “We’ll, let’s not single out just one.”
“Does Ulster not have an ordinance? It’s my understanding that’s why it’s in East Smithfield instead of Ulster,” another resident said.
Sixty percent of Pennsylvania municipalities have zoning ordinances on the books, giving them an extra layer of protection for residents who live near oil and gas operations.
In Cecil Township of Washington County, a community just south of Pittsburgh, zoning regulations prohibited a natural gas compressor station from being constructed even after the industry contested the decision.
Since Cecil Township had local rules governing land use, the company seeking to build the compressor station, MarkWest, was required to appear before the community’s zoning board to gain approval for the project. The company presented plans to the board at several public hearings — meetings which the board and Cecil residents were able to ask MarkWest representatives questions and pose their concerns.
Ultimately, Cecil’s zoning board denied MarkWest’s request for an exception to allow it to construct the compressor station, ruling the company had not sufficiently proven the facility wouldn’t be a detriment to the community.
“Essentially, zoning is a mechanism to protect people from uses that are not compatible with each other,” said John Smith, Cecil’s solicitor, and one of the attorneys who successfully argued parts of Act 13, Pennsylvania’s law governing Marcellus Shale drilling, were unconstitutional due to its ability to negate local zoning laws. ”In communities that have zoning, it allows the local governmental bodies to make sure proposed uses are appropriate and compatible with the surrounding population and uses. If they find the uses are not appropriate or compatible, they can deny permits.”
For supervisors like Kingsley, who in the bygone days of fracking saw no need for oil and gas zoning, there’s a new unrest among residents who disagree.
Melissa Troutman contributed to this report.
5. 26 Million Gallons of Fluid Spilled in 15 States
60% increase in PA Spills Questioned
By John Upton
“ The booming gas/oil industry spilled 26 million gallons of oil, fracking fluid, fracking wastewater, and other toxic substances during 7,662 accidents spills, blowouts, leaks and other mishaps in just 15 states last year.
That’s according to an analysis by EnergyWire, which studied state data to conclude that the number of spills was up 18 % from the year before:
Many of the spills were small. But their combined volume totaled more than 26 million gallons … That’s the same volume as what gushed four years ago from BP PLC’s ruptured Gulf of Mexico oil well in 11 days.
Some of the increase may have come from changes in spill reporting practices in a handful of states, but the number of spills and other mishaps rose even without counting those states.
Some of the biggest jumps were in the booming Bakken Shale. North Dakota, which is already contending with flaring and urban woes in its once sparsely populated western end, saw spills jump 42 percent even though the average number of rigs working in the state dropped 8 percent.
Spill reports in Pennsylvania jumped 61 %, but state officials say much of the increase came because of new rules setting a lower threshold for reporting spills that took effect in September. "The policy encouraged operators to report all spills," said PA DEP spokeswoman Morgan Wagner. "Thus, the department is receiving many more reported spills. The department is confident that no other state has such a low reporting threshold."
But people who follow shale drilling issues in Pennsylvania find it odd that rules enacted in September would drive such large change.
"So that big ramp-up in 2013 all happened in the final three months of the year as a result of this new policy?" asked John Amos, president of the environmental research group Skytruth. "What are all of these new spills that are being reported, that were apparently happening all along?"
Louisiana and Pennsylvania officials said they had no list of spills. Pennsylvania could provide only a bulk figure without dates or company names.
Since Pennsylvania officials don't provide data on spills beyond a raw number for the calendar year, there is no way to assess whether companies are reporting smaller amounts or just having more spills.
Pennsylvania's new threshold is 5 gallons. North Dakota's threshold is 1 barrel, or 42 gallons. Companies that drill there have said that counts of raw spill numbers can make them look worse because the state requires reporting of smaller spills. In Texas, the threshold is 5 barrels. And in Oklahoma and Montana, it's 10 barrels.
There's also disagreement on how to measure industry activity. The Baker Hughes Rig Count has long been the standard measure. It was down last year in many states, including North Dakota and Pennsylvania.
It’s called economic development.”
6. Fatalities Linked to Frack Fluid Exposure During ‘Flowback,' -NIOSH Report
“Initial government field studies on hydraulic fracturing operations suggest that workers could be exposed to hazardous levels of volatile hydrocarbons from used fracking fluids, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health said May 19.
At least four workers have died since 2010, apparently from acute chemical exposures during flowback operations, which involve transferring, storing and measuring fluids that return to the surface after fracking, NIOSH said in a blog post.
The institute assessed worker exposure to other chemicals mixed into fluids that are injected into the earth during fracking, said Max Kiefer, director of NIOSH Western States Office. Those findings will be detailed in later publications, including a peer-reviewed case study this summer, Kiefer said.
“But right now, the exposures of concern from a worker standpoint are from endogenous hydrocarbons that can be emitted from returned flowback fluids, not from other chemicals,” Kiefer told Bloomberg BNA May 19. The liquid that flows back can contain volatile hydrocarbons picked up from the shale formations, NIOSH found.
NIOSH highlighted how little is known about the potential health hazards associated with fracking, such as chemical exposure, in contrast to the well-developed knowledge about safety hazards from accidents common to oil and gas extraction.
The institute has studied the health hazards of silica exposure at fracking well pads, but its research thus far into flowback operations is far less comprehensive, Kiefer said.
Kiefer said reports from media sources and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration about fatalities triggered the research into flowback operations. Some of the fatality investigations are incomplete, but thus far the workers likely were gauging flowback or production tanks, or transferring flowback fluids, NIOSH said in the blog post. The workers, who were located at well sites in the Williston Basin in North Dakota and Montana, often died when working alone.
Dan Neal, director of Equality State Policy Center in Wyoming, said health hazards pose a particular risk to fracking workers—known as roughnecks—because the work is temporary, and the worksites are transient.
A roughneck could get sick after work with a company has finished, plus it could be difficult to establish a causal connection between exposure at a particular site and an illness, Neal said. These factors could conspire to make worker compensation impossible to obtain, he said.
“Roughnecks are sort of your ultimate temp worker,” Neal told Bloomberg BNA May 19. “Fracking doesn't fit the traditional employment model, which is what safety and health regulations are built around.”
Moreover, Neal questioned whether health hazards from chemical exposure is something the industry has examined.
Many oil and gas operators and contractors are involved with OSHA in the National Service, Transmission, Exploration and Production Safety Network, which looks for opportunities to improve environmental, safety and health issues, Bennett told Bloomberg BNA May 19.”
To contact the reporter on this story: Robert Iafolla in Washington at email@example.com
The NIOSH blog post on flowback operations is available at http://blogs.cdc.gov/niosh-science-blog/2014/05/19/flowback/.
7. Methane Again Cited for Being Worse Than Coal For Climate Change
Robert W. Howarth, PhD
Article first published online: 15 MAY 2014
In April 2011, we published the first peer-reviewed analysis of the greenhouse gas footprint (GHG) of shale gas, concluding that the climate impact of shale gas may be worse than that of other fossil fuels such as coal and oil because of methane emissions. We noted the poor quality of publicly available data to support our analysis and called for further research. Our paper spurred a large increase in research and analysis, including several new studies that have better measured methane emissions from natural gas systems. Here, I review this new research in the context of our 2011 paper and the fifth assessment from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released in 2013.
The best data available now indicate that our estimates of methane emission from both shale gas and conventional natural gas were relatively robust. Using these new, best available data and a 20-year time period for comparing the warming potential of methane to carbon dioxide, the conclusion stands that both shale gas and conventional natural gas have a larger GHG than do coal or oil, for any possible use of natural gas and particularly for the primary uses of residential and commercial heating. The 20-year time period is appropriate because of the urgent need to reduce methane emissions over the coming 15–35 years.”
8. More on the Parr Lawsuit
Parr Family Sickened by Fracking- Wins $2.9 Million Lawsuit
“Lisa’s doctor found 20 chemicals in her body and told her to move immediately or she would wind up on chemotherapy and possibly dead.”
Dallas, TX: On April 22 - which coincidentally happened to be Earth Day - a Dallas jury awarded a Texas family $2.9 million in the nuisance claim they brought against Aurba Petroleum Inc. It is the first fracking lawsuit to result in a jury award and likely good news for other families who have been sickened by contaminated water and fracking chemicals.
The Parr family also sued several other drilling companies nearby: all but one of those suits was settled out of court (one was dismissed). Aruba Petroleum possibly made an expensive mistake by not offering to settle.
Aruba Petroleum’s closest natural gas well was just 791 feet away from the Parrs’ property. It also had 22 gas wells within a two-mile radius, three of which were close to the family home. The lawsuit alleged that Aruba created a “private nuisance” to the Parr family as a result of poor management and lack of emission controls: it produced harmful air pollution and exposed them to harmful emissions of volatile organic compounds, toxic air pollutants and diesel exhaust.
The Parr family began to have serious health issues back in 2008 but had no idea it was caused by multitudes of drilling operations springing up near their home, mainly because the wells were not on their property. According to CNN, Lisa Parr’s first symptoms were migraine headaches and flu-like issues, but by 2009 her central nervous system was affected to the point that her vision was impaired and she was vomiting white foam. Her husband, Robert, and daughter then became ill with nosebleeds, rashes and blood pressure problems.
By the summer of 2010, Lisa Parr knew the “loud operation” close by was toxic. She told CNN that “One night, our whole house was vibrating and shaking. We lease that property for our cattle and so I went over to make sure our cattle wasn’t around there, and when I went over there my nose and throat started burning.”
Lisa’s doctor found 20 chemicals in her body and told her to move immediately or she would wind up on chemotherapy and possibly dead. He advised her to seek an environmental health doctor. In 2011, the Parrs filed fracking lawsuits against nine drilling companies asking for $66 million in damages.
Since hearing this verdict, Cathy (not her real name) is considering filing a nuisance claim against Chesapeake Energy. “We live just across the street from their fracking operation,” she says. “My whole family is suffering from rashes and nausea. I had to put one of our cats to sleep and the other is very sick. Our neighbor has similar symptoms - this is awful. It really hurts when your kids hurt.”
Texas Family Wins Landmark $3-Million Verdict Against
“The Parrs filed a private nuisance claim, alleging that Aruba Petroleum engages in activity that interferes with the plaintiff’s right to enjoy his property. A land owner is entitled to a certain level of comfort that is free from interference while on his private property. Private nuisance can come in the form of physical damage to the property or the disturbance of comfort. According to laws.com, in order for a defendant’s interference to be considered a nuisance, it must be both substantial and unreasonable. The interference must cause substantial damage to the plaintiff, and the interference with the plaintiff’s comfort must be greater than the benefits of the defendant’s conduct.
Brad Gilde, the Parrs’ attorney, believes this verdict marks an important precedent for the future of natural gas production. “Because of their courage and determination for justice, the Parrs have successfully held Aruba Petroleum Inc. accountable for their careless and reckless behavior,” he told CNN. Opponents of hydraulic fracking call the verdict a landmark and game changer, particularly because it involves all the operations that go along with the oil and gas industry, and not just fracking.
Hydraulic Fracturing Legal Help
If you or a loved one have suffered losses in this case, please click the link below and your complaint will be sent to an environmental lawyer who may evaluate your Hydraulic Fracturing claim at no cost or obligation.”
9. N.C. Bill Would Make It A Felony To Disclose Frack Chemicals
Mike Lee, E&E reporter
EnergyWire: Friday, May 16, 2014
“People who disclose confidential information about hydraulic fracturing chemicals in North Carolina would be subject to criminal penalties and civil damages, under a bill in the state Legislature.
The "Energy Modernization Act," (HA!) which was introduced yesterday, would make it a Class I felony to disclose trade secrets related to hydraulic fracturing, while spelling out how the information is supposed to be provided to emergency workers. Class I is the lowest-level felony, punishable by a few months' imprisonment.
"It is very concerning," said Hope Taylor, executive director of Clean Water North Carolina. "That could have a very chilling effect on folks in the agencies who want to help emergency responders."
The bill would pre-empt local communities from passing ordinances to control drilling and fracking. It also would limit the amount of water testing before drilling happens.
"The bill just helps to highlight all the problems that fracking would bring to North Carolina," said Elizabeth Ouzts, state director for Environment North Carolina.
The bill was sponsored by three Republican state senators. “http://www.eenews.net/stories/1059999688/print
10. Butler Well Fire
“A fire at a Rex Energy Corp. well site burned for about an hour on Tuesday until Butler County firefighters put it out with a chemical agent, officials said.
An evacuation was not ordered, authorities said.
The fire was reported about 6:45 p.m. at the Lynn well pad on Meridian Road at the intersection of Powder Mill Road in Butler Township.
The fire involved a storage tank at the well head, said Steve Bicehouse, county emergency services director. The tank stored about 200 barrels of a natural gas byproduct, said Butler Township fire Chief Toby Wehr. There were no injuries.
Preliminary indications are that a valve on a production tank might have malfunctioned, a company spokesman said.
The state DEP is investigating.”
Read more: http://triblive.com/news/adminpage/6148093-74/county-fire-butler#ixzz32POOGFYg
Comment from a Group member: More wells and higher gas and electric rates for us! Who is the government trying to snow when they call gas a bridge product?
‘On May 16th, 2014 GDF SUEZ and the Japanese utility company Tohoku signed a long term LNG sale and purchase Heads of Agreement. Under this new agreement GDF SUEZ commits to deliver 270,000 tons per year of LNG to Tohoku Electric Power. The long term contract will start in 2018 and last for a 20-year period. The LNG will be supplied from the Cameron LNG proposed export facilities in Hackberry, Louisiana. The U.S. Energy Department has conditionally authorized Cameron LNG to Export to Non-Free Trade agreement countries. In January Japan's Toho Gas Co. announced the company signed a 20-year contract to purchase 300,000 tons of LNG per year produced at the Cameron LNG terminal. In March CB&I and Chiyoda Corporation announced a joint venture between CB&I and Chiyoda International Corporation and a contract valued at approximately $6 billion by Cameron LNG to construct the Cameron Liquefaction Project . Jean-Marie Dauger, Executive Vice-President of GDF SUEZ in charge of the Global Gas & LNG business said, “This sales agreement seals our first long term LNG sale with a Japanese partner, as well as the emergence of US LNG contributing to Japan energy supply, thanks to the benefit of the shale gas revolution in America. Such a contract shows how GDF SUEZ strategy is right in the heart of the present world energy challenges.”