Westmoreland Marcellus Citizens’ Group Updates
June 19, 2014
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* To contact your state legislator:
For the email address, click on the envelope under the photo
* For information on PA state gas legislation and local control: http://pajustpowers.org/aboutthebills.html-
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.
***Peters Twp. Workshop, June 25--Peters Twp is having a workshop on amending its oil and gas ordinance. Their Solicitor is John Smith who will be explaining zoning issues and the Supreme Court's decision on Act 13 and how it affects local oil and gas ordinances.
(John Smith is one of the key attorneys in the lawsuit against Act 13.)
7:30 PM Wed. June 25, 2014
Peters Township Municipal Building
610 E. McMurray Rd.
McMurray, PA 15317
The workshop is open to the public. However, Dave Ball would like a count of anyone interested in attending, largely for seating needs.
Please RSVP to:
***The Society of Environmental Journalists Presents (We just received this information):
The McCormick Specialized Reporting Institute on Shale Oil and Gas Development
Pittsburgh, PA;June 22-24, 2014
Carnegie Mellon University’s Wilton E. Scott Institute for Energy Innovation
Wyndham Pittsburgh University Center – 100 Lytton Avenue, Pittsburgh; (412) 682-6200
Sunday, June 22
5pm-6pm Reception, Hors d’oeuvres (Rooms 322 and 324 of the Faculty Conference Center, on the first floor of Posner Center at Carnegie Mellon)
5:45p-6pmWelcome from Carnegie Mellon University and Wilton E. Scott Institute for Energy Innovation
(Opening welcome reception and buffet dinner courtesy of Carnegie Mellon)
6pm-7pmPanel: “Overview of Shale Gas and Oil Development”
Jared L. Cohon; Former President, Carnegie Mellon University, Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering
Terry Engelder; Professor of Geoscience, The Pennsylvania State University
Scott Perry; Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection – Director, Oil and Gas Division
Stephen Cleghorn; Pennsylvania farmer opposing Marcellus Shale gas operations
7pm-8pm Buffet Dinner
Monday, June 23
7am-8am Breakfast, CMU’s Information Networking Institute (INI) Distributed Education Center
(All panels take place in the INI Distributed Education Center in the Robert Mehrabian Collaborative Innovation Center, located on Forbes Avenue on the Carnegie Mellon campus: 4720 Forbes Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15213 (412) 268-2000)
8am-9am Panel 1: “ABCs of Hydraulic Fracturing and Regional Differences”
Scott Blauvelt; Health and Environment Manager, shale development company JKLM, Inc.
Terry Engelder; Professor of Geoscience, The Pennsylvania State University
Anthony Ingraffea; Dwight C. Baum Professor of Engineering at Cornell University
9am-10am Panel 2: “The ABCs of the Health Impact: What we Know, Don’t Know”
Bernard D. Goldstein, MD;Faculty Emeritus, University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences; Former Dean, Graduate School of Public Health, University of Pittsburgh; formerly with the EPA
W. Michael Griffin; Associate Research Professor, Engineering and Public Policy – Carnegie Mellon University Tepper School of Business; Executive Director, Green Design Institute; Executive Director, Center for Climate and Energy Decision Making
Lisa McKenzie; Research Associate, Colorado School of Public Health at the University of Colorado
10:15am-10:45amSharon Friedman – Journalism Practices discussion
10:45am-11:45am Panel 3: “Policy, Transparency, Land Development, Infrastructure and More”
Ben Grumbles; President, U.S. Water Alliance; served as EPA’s Assistant Administrator of Water under President George W. Bush
Louis D’Amico; President and Executive Director, Pennsylvania Independent Oil and Gas Association
Scott Perry; Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection – Dept. Secretary, Oil and Gas Division
Andrew Place; Corporate Director, Energy and Environmental Policy, EQT Corporation
Deborah Lawrence Rogers; Executive Director, Energy Policy Forum
11:45am-Noon Relax, chat, pick up box lunch for keynote address
Noon-1pm Speaker – Sandra Steingraber; Biologist, author, cancer survivor. An expert on the environmental links to cancer and human health
1pm-2pm Panel 4: “Environmental Effects of Shale Oil and Gas Development”
Mark Brownstein; Associate Vice President, Chief Counsel, U.S. Climate and Energy Program, Environmental Defense Fund
Ben Grumbles;President, U.S. Water Alliance; served as EPA’s Assistant Administrator of Water under President George W. Bush
Louis D’Amico; President and Executive Director, Pennsylvania Independent Oil and Gas Association
Anthony Ingraffea; Dwight C. Baum Professor of Engineering at Cornell University
2pm-3pm Panel 5: “Federal, State and Local Legal Landscape”
John M. Smith; Pennsylvania-based natural resources lawyer for Smith, Butz LLC
Jason Hutt; Attorney, Bracewell and Giuliani
John Dernbach; Professor, Environmental Law – Widener University
Mark Brownstein; Chief Counsel, U.S. Climate and Energy Program, Environmental Defense Fund
3:15pm-4:30pm Panel 6: “Journalists Roundtable – The Challenges of Covering Shale Development”
Valerie Volcovici- Reuters
Bobby Magill;Climate Central
Kevin Begos; Associated Press, Pittsburgh
Reid Frazier; Allegheny Front
Bob Downing;Akron Beacon Journal
Tim Puko; Wall Street Journal, Energy reporter
4:30pm-5:30pm Pitch Slam: Journalists talk to editors
Jennifer Szweda Jordan; Host and Managing Editor, Allegheny Front
Brian Hyslop; Business Editor, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Jim Parsons; WTAE-TV
5:30pm-6:00pm Campus Tour
6:00pm-7:15pm Reception and tour, Phipps Conservatory’s “Center for Sustainable Landscapes”
7:30pm-9pm Dinner – ‘The Porch at Schenley,’ 221 SchenleyDrive (412) 687-6724
Tuesday, June 24
6am-7am Breakfast at Wyndham Hotel – bagels, yogurt, fruit
7:10a Bus departs hotel for Fracking site tour, airport drop-off
Noon Fellows dropped at Pittsburgh International Airport (PIT)
This Specialized Reporting Institute on Shale Development was made possible by a grant from:
SRI agenda chairs: Don Hopey, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and Carolyn Whetzel, Bloomberg BNA
SRI project manager: Dale Willman, Society of Environmental Journalists
Beth Parke, Executive Director, Society of Environmental Journalists
PO Box 2492, Jenkintown, PA USA 19046
215-884-8174 sej@sejorg http:www.sej.org
TAKE ACTION !!
***Letters to the editor are important and one of the best ways to share information with the public. ***
***Health Survey Allegheny County-What Are Your Concerns-Fracking
From Sierra Club: Our lead item this week is a call for people to urge the Allegheny County Health Department to include fracking of County Parks in the list of health concerns that need to be addressed.
The Allegheny County Health Department is conducting a survey through the end of June 2014 to determine County residents' concerns about public health matters. This is the same Health Department that refused to study the health effects of fracking before the County leased Deer Lakes Park by a 9-5 vote on May 6, 2014 to Range Resources. In fact, ACHD Director Dr. Karen Hacker stated at a County Council Parks Committee meeting on April 16, 2014 that as far as she knew, there were no scientific studies about fracking and public health.
Protect Our Parks (www.protectparks.org) is a broad coalition of individuals, grassroots groups, and environmental organizations working to prevent toxic fracking of the public parks in Allegheny County. Please take a few seconds to help us send a message to Dr. Karen Hacker about her responsibility to protect public health by answering her survey.
Here's how to do it:
• Go to www.achd.net/survey.html
• Click on "Take the survey." in the middle of the page.
• Because the survey doesn't list shale gas extraction as an option, find the box at the bottom for "Other (please specify)".
• Write a few words, something to the effect of "the dangers of leasing County Park land for fracking"
• Sign your name, type in your zip code, and click "Next" at the bottom of the page. You're done!
It's a simple as that. Once you've done it, please ask other Allegheny County residents to help, too.
Thanks for your support, Protect Our Parks
***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!
***Petition For Full Disclosure of Frack Chemicals
From Ron Slabe
I created a petition to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) which says:
"We, the undersigned, in conjunction with the public comment period currently underway, call on the EPA to conduct public hearings in areas where fracking operations are either occurring or have occurred so that we may voice our concerns over the lack of full disclosure of the fracking chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing. (Docket number EPA-HQ-OPPT-2011-1019)"
Will you sign this petition? Click here:
Thanks! Ron Slabe
***Don’t let Gov Corbett Frack More State Parks and Forests
Gov. Corbett just lifted the moratorium on leasing our state parks and forests for fracking. Our legislators could stop him--but only if you act now. Send a message to your legislators today.
Gov. Corbett just lifted a three-year moratorium on leasing of state forests and parks for gas drilling.
He is hoping we’ll all just forget about the ways fracking has already devastated Pennsylvania. We’re no fools. We know more drilling means more blowouts, more spills of toxic fracking wastewater, and more ruined landscapes.
The governor’s order will allow drilling under our state parks for the first time. The Legislature is the last line of defense for our state parks and forests--and that’s why I need you to act immediately.
Tell your state representative and state senator to fight Gov. Corbett’s effort to open more of our state parks and forests for fracking.
Already more than 700,000 acres of our state forests have been leased for gas drilling. That’s more than 40 percent of our existing state forestlands.
But the drillers want more--and sadly, Gov. Corbett is happy to hand it to them.
Tell the Legislature to stop this wrong-headed idea.
It just makes sense: Our parks are some of the best natural places in our state. They should not be sold off for private gain and put at risk.
We cannot stand back and watch as more of our state is opened to drilling.
Click here to stand up for our state parks and forests today.
***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:
***Cove Point Liquid Gas Facility--Petition
In order to ship natural gas overseas, you've got to liquefy it. The process is a very dangerous one. LNG facilities that serve domestic energy needs already exist. An incident at one of them in Plymouth, Washington in March forced everyone within a two-mile radius of the facility to evacuate. The risks it poses are not limited to the area surrounding the facility, however. Fracking to extract the gas from the shale and then moving it by pipeline to the LNG facility damage the environment and put health and safety at risk.
The Plymouth facility is located in a fairly remote area, however. The proposed Cove Point LNG export facility in Maryland is a different story. There are 360 homes within 4,500 feet of the facility and there's only one road in and one road out of the area. Oh, and the facility is adjacent to a public park. The Chesapeake Climate Action Network prepared a fact sheet on Cove Point with lots more information.
At present, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) is considering what the environmental impacts of the Cove Point LNG facility might be. FERC is notorious for rubber-stamping projects and downplaying their environmental impacts. Just last week, a U.S. Circuit Court ruled that FERC acted improperly when it overlooked environmental impacts by looking at a proposed pipeline one segment at a time, rather than as a whole. It is a decision that is likely to have reverberations that are felt within the commission for some time.
The ruling comes at an important time because FERC is currently in the process of downplaying the environmental impacts of the proposed Cove Point LNG export facility. FERC is currently accepting comments on the environmental review of the Cove Point project. The Department of Environmental Protection and others called for an extension of the deadline, but FERC rejected their requests yesterday. The comment period ends on Monday.
That means we only have a few more days to flood FERC with comments telling them to conduct a full, comprehensive, and credible study called an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). Will you add your name to my petition and share it with your friends?
Here's the URL to the petition, just in case the link doesn't work. http://petitions.moveon.org/environmental-action/sign/say-no-to-the-cove-point
Thanks so much, as always!
***Link to Shalefield Stories-Personal stories of those affected by fracking http://www.friendsoftheharmed.com/
***PCN TV Court Hearing- Act 13 –The remaining 4 issues (from Debbie)
The May 14th Commonwealth Court session from Philadelphia aired Tuesday, May 27. Here is the link. It is now posted on the site but will only be available for about a month so watch it now.
***To sign up for Skytruth 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. From Josh Fox, Producer of Gasland
A Tribute to Terry Greenwood
June 13, 2014 at 2:04am
“Terry Greenwood was one of the most compelling people you could ever listen to. There was just something about the way he spoke, there was a decency and a positivity that shone through every word no matter how distressing or disturbing the subject matter was. It was as if when he spoke about the things that troubled him, he was still conferring a lightness to you, a gratitude to the person listening.
Some people just manage to bestow a great humanity and great respect onto you while they are talking. Terry was one of those people. When you listened to Terry you felt like a more generous person somehow, he just made you want to listen, and made you want to help.
Honesty, decency, generosity, care, love. These are the words that spring to mind when you listen to Terry. And his wife Kathy, will crack you up and then will feed you and feed you until you can barely get up off the chair. And those damn amazing red white and blue suspenders! You know you are the genuine article if you can get away with those.
I've never released this interview I did with Terry Greenwood in 2009 or 2010 but I am sure you will hear the tone that I am talking about in his voice. And I hope, it gives you a sense of the man and how much he loved his farm and his life.
He had been speaking openly and publicly about how 10 of the 18 calves that his cows gave birth to died just after birth or were stillborn and how he was very worried that it had something to do with the fact that fracking fluids and other substances had leaked into the pond where his cattle drank. I had head his story in the press and heard him speak about it in person, and I had heard of many stories of animals in heavily drilled areas from Arkansas to Colorado- of cows and goats who were failing to breed or who were having stillborn calves and kids. Terry was deeply troubled at the loss of so many of his calves, but more than that he was troubled by the fact that he felt his well water and springs had been contaminated by drilling, spills, leaks and fracking.
The interview speaks for itself. I am uploading it as a tribute to Terry and as a testament to everything he stood for. One of my favorite moments in any interview I've ever conducted is when Terry says "Money, money money! Our lifestyle wasn't about that. We worked hard for what we got, we didn't need it handed to us." It's a declaration of values that we can all only aspire to. Terry was saying what so many of us know and what we wish was more prevalent, that there are some things worth more than money, and one of them is decency.
When I heard, a few months ago that Terry had been diagnosed with brain cancer, I went to see him. In late March, he was having some trouble speaking, he was a bit weak, but his eyes were still telling you everything. He was still fighting, he was still positive, he was still going to find a way to make you smile. And as usual Kathy fed us amazing food until we could barely get up and packed the car with Western PA special buffalo chicken and pretzels n that n that n that.
In the last days, recently, when Terry was in the hospital, we were all asking what we could do to help. Terry simply said, "Tell my story."
So what does that mean? Does it mean tell the story of how gas companies barged onto his land? Does it mean speak about the water contamination they suffered, the insult added to injury when PA DEP ignored his complaints, the death of the cattle, his own death to cancer? Of course, that is part of the story.
But the bigger part of the story, it seems to me is of the man himself and of his family. To refuse greed. To speak truth. To act with such impassioned kindness, to try somehow to have some of that generous twinkle in the eye, to try to smile when you are talking and to make sure that you are appealing to that inside of us that is most sincere and honest. That's telling Terry's story.
This was a man who was truly brave, truly courageous in walking out into the public eye to tell his own story. And this was a man who did it without anger, although his anger would have been justified, who did it without self pity or depression, although no one would have blamed him for either. This was a man who could never prove all of what was done to him, but could only prove himself to be a good man, and he proved it with each sentence and in every gesture and smile. For us to tell it now is to try to be as brave, kind, straightforward and loving.
So when we tell Terry's story, try to find some of that mysterious positive charge, that brightness, that giving spirit that we will all miss so much.
We owe you Terry. We'll miss you brother.
God Speed and I damn sure hope there's Harleys out there where you are.
2. Landfill Expansion For Drill Cuttings, Mud and Frack Fluid
At Bulger Site and Yukon Landfill
By Anya Litvak / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
“Max Environmental Technologies, an Upper St. Clair firm that operates two landfills and provides half a dozen other services to the oil and gas industry, is planning a major expansion at its Bulger waste disposal site in Washington County.
The new project, which is still several years from breaking ground, would cost about $20 million to complete and is being driven by the needs of companies tapping the Marcellus Shale in southwestern Pennsylvania.
Carl Spadaro, environmental general manager at Max, said he expects more than 75% of the waste at the proposed landfill would come in the shape of drill cuttings, drilling mud and fluids.
“We think it’s substantial, and that [the] need will be sustained certainly for the next 10 to 15 years,” he said.
The future 21-acre Bulger landfill is envisioned as a one-stop shop for oil and gas companies, Mr. Spadaro said. It will accept solid waste and solidify some liquid waste, in addition to leasing a portion of its land to a flowback water recycling company, TerrAqua Rsource Management. But the plan never materialized as Max shifted priorities to nonhazardous waste.
The current effort is a resurrection of that plan, but with non-hazardous residual waste, mostly from oil and gas activity.
Max has been targeting shale gas drilling operations for years and has retooled itself as an oil and gas service company. It now rents equipment to drilling operations, cleans their trucks, provides warehouse space and offers transportation services.
It’s in the process of expanding its Yukon landfill in Westmoreland County to accommodate more drilling waste and petitioned the DEP in 2012 to remove a restriction on accepting radioactive waste.
Drill cuttings from shale wells bring up radioactive elements that had been trapped underground. Some such waste loads have tripped radioactivity alarms at landfills.
Mr. Spadaro said he’s not concerned about radioactivity.
“We’ve been doing a fair amount of drilling waste disposal activity over past 10 to 12 months. Since we’ve had that radiation limit change last year, we haven’t had one incident of any truck with drilling waste triggering a radiation alarm at the Yukon facility,” he said.
In 2011, Max asked the DEP for permission to accept some liquid waste from Marcellus Shale operators that it would then solidify and place in its landfill. The process of getting that permit took two and a half years. Earlier this year, the company received approval to do the same at its current Bulger facility.
Max is even looking to mine limestone and sandstone at its Yukon landfill, which it would sell to drillers for road and well-pad construction.
Still, the company’s biggest revenue generator is Max’s landfill business and will remain so for some time, Mr. Spadaro said.
In 2013, oil and gas operators trucked more than a million tons of drilling waste produced in Pennsylvania to landfills across four states. Max’s Bulger facility accepted 22,000 tons of that waste.
The company’s Yukon landfill, an 18-acre site, in 2013 took in 75,000 tons.
The other major waste product coming out of shale wells is millions of gallons of flowback water and production brine. Last year, TerrAqua’s frack water treatment plant in Williamsport processed 171,298 barrels of this water, less than a quarter of the volume pulsing through it in its heyday in 2011, according to DEP records.
Back then, the Lycoming County plant was bustling with trucks lined up waiting to dump off their waste and lug treated water back to well sites to be used in more fracking. “There was lots of water needs and lots of demand,” said Mike Nerbas, vice president of U.S. operations at Newalta, a Calgary-based company that’s part owner of TerrAqua’s facility. “They wanted back every drop that they brought.”
But drilling activity, especially in the northeastern part of the state, tempered as gas prices tumbled below $2 per million cubic feet in 2012 and drilling dry gas wells became less economical. Now, the Williamsport plant is “well under” capacity, Mr. Nerbas said.
It functions more like a water warehouse, he said. Companies may have wastewater to drop off but they may not be fracking more wells fast enough to need treated water immediately. So TerrAqua sells their treated water to other producers.
The company’s interest in southwestern Pennsylvania follows oil and gas operators shifting more resources to this part of the Marcellus Shale, where much of the gas is rich with valuable liquids. This region is also closer to activity in the Utica Shale, currently most active in eastern Ohio.
“One of the biggest things we're looking to accomplish at this site is to manage their logistics as much as water quality,” Mr. Nerbas said. “Transportation's having such a huge impact [on] the overall cost to the customer, there's a real value of being close.”
That applies to TerrAqua as well, which needs to dispose of solids in the flowback water it treats. Being next door to a landfill will eliminate trucking costs.
Mr. Nerbas estimated the wastewater treatment facility will cost between $3 million and $5 million to build and employ five people per shift.
TerrAqua plans to lease land from Max to build it, but Mr. Nerbas described the arrangement as less a real estate transaction than a strategic partnership.
“Their sales group and our sales group will work together,” he said, to bring clients into the facility and leverage each others’ business.”
3. Rulings: Range Resources Should Disclose Chemicals
(Range submitted only 7 chemicals for testing saying only 7 out of more than 100 chemicals posed any threat. Jan)
AMWELL – Range Resources will be held responsible for disclosing a full list of products and chemicals it used at a gas-drilling site in Amwell Township, according to a pair of recent rulings.
Both a state Environmental Hearing Board judge and Washington County President Judge Debbie O’Dell Seneca ruled last week Range Resources is in the best position to obtain the list of chemicals, including proprietary substances, from its manufacturers. A Washington County Court order in November 2013 required Range Resources’ suppliers – about 40 contractors and subcontractors – to provide that list. According to O’Dell Seneca, the suppliers could not or would not comply.
`Range Resources is the defendant in a lawsuit filed by three Amwell Township families who claimed they suffered health problems attributed to drilling activity and an impoundment at the company’s Yeager well site on McAdams Road.
O’Dell Seneca waited to give her opinion until a related decision was filed by Judge Thomas W. Renwand through the Environmental Hearing Board.
Renwand wrote in his opinion last week that Range Resources is in noncompliance with a July 2013 board order to release any and all products used at the Yeager site. He said Range Resources is “in the best position” to obtain information from its manufacturers because the company purchased the products and “exercised control over their usage.”
Renwand said the board believes Range put a “minimum of effort” into obtaining the list of products.
“A company with the status and size of Range could have exercised much more influence with its suppliers to obtain information about the chemical composition of products it uses at its operation,” Renwand wrote in his opinion.
He said the board finds it “particularly troubling that neither Range nor the DEP is fully aware of the chemical composition of products being used during gas drilling and hydraulic fracturing operations.”
Renwand said Range Resources provided a list of products in April 2014 that covered “a more limited scope” than what was ordered by the board last summer. The company hired forensic company R.J. Lee Group to determine the chemical make-up of products used at the Yeager site through reverse engineering.
According to the board opinion, R.J. Lee analyzed seven products out of the more than 100 products that were identified as potentially being used at the Yeager site.
Those seven products, according to Range in the court opinion, were the only ones that “potentially contained a hazardous constituent” and also were identified as proprietary by the manufacturer. According to Range, those products were not used as hydraulic fracturing additives.
“Ultimately, however, R.J. Lee was able to analyze only one of the seven products it identified as being potentially hazardous,” Renwand wrote. “The other six products are either no longer manufactured or have been relabeled. For two of the products that are no longer available, R.J. Lee analyzed what it deemed to be a ‘comparable product’ but not the original.”
Range Resources spokesman Matt Pitzarella said the fact that some chemical products have changed is not unique to natural gas drilling.
Pitzarella said the company has released all chemicals it uses in the hydraulic fracturing process and is reviewing its options to appeal the court’s decision.
Some Marcellus Shale manufacturers have argued that Act 13, the state’s law governing oil and gas drilling, serves as legal protection for proprietary information or trade secrets. The state Supreme Court in December ruled that zoning provisions of Act 13 were unconstitutional, but the validity of key provisions of the law are currently being considered in Commonwealth Court.
One major provision heading back to the lower court involves a medical gag rule restricting the information doctors can relay to patients about the potential health effects of natural gas drilling.
4. Former State Health Employees Say They Were Silenced On Drilling Health Problems
June 19, 2014 | 5:00 AM
“Two retirees from the Pennsylvania Department of Health say its employees were silenced on the issue of Marcellus Shale drilling.
One veteran employee says she was instructed not to return phone calls from residents who expressed health concerns about natural gas development.
“We were absolutely not allowed to talk to them,” said Tammi Stuck, who worked as a community health nurse in Fayette County for nearly 36 years.
Another retired employee, Marshall P. Deasy III, confirmed that. Deasy, a former program specialist with the Bureau of Epidemiology, said the department also began requiring field staff to get permission to attend any meetings outside the department. This happened, he said, after an agency consultant made comments about drilling at a community meeting.
In the more than 20 years he worked for the department, Deasy said, “community health wasn’t told to be silent on any other topic that I can think of.”
.Amid the record-breaking development, public health advocates have expressed concern that Pennsylvania has not funded research to examine the potential health impacts of the shale boom.
Doctors have said that some people who live near natural gas development sites – including well pads and compressor stations – have suffered from skin rashes, nausea, nosebleeds and other ailments. Some residents believe their ill health is linked to drilling, but doctors say they simply don’t have the data or research – from the state or other sources – to confirm that.
A state Department of Health spokesperson denied that employees were told not to return calls. Aimee Tysarczyk said all complaints related to shale gas drilling are sent to the Bureau of Epidemiology. Since 2011, she said, the agency has logged 51 complaints, but has found no link between drilling and illness.
Tammi Stuck has been retired for just over two years. She still remembers a piece of paper she kept in her desk after her supervisor distributed it to Stuck and other employees of the state health center in Uniontown in 2011.
It was not unusual, Stuck said, for department brass to send out written talking points on certain issues, such as the H1N1 or “swine flu” virus, meant to guide staff in answering questions from the public.
This was different.
“There was a list of buzzwords we had gotten,” Stuck said. “There were some obvious ones like fracking, gas, soil contamination. There were probably 15 to 20 words and short phrases that were on this list. If anybody from the public called in and that was part of the conversation, we were not allowed to talk to them.”
Normally, when fielding calls, Stuck would discuss the caller’s problem, ask about symptoms, and explain what services the department or other agencies could offer.
However, for drilling-related calls, Stuck said she and her fellow employees were told just to take the caller’s name and number and forward the information to a supervisor.
“And somebody was supposed to call them back and address their concerns,” she said, adding that she never knew whether these callbacks occurred.
Sometimes, Stuck said, people would call again, angry they had not heard back from anyone from the department.
Stuck did not usually answer the phone at the Uniontown office. But on the few occasions when she did pick up and the caller was making a drilling-related complaint, she never found out what happened after she passed the information on to her supervisor.
Stuck said she has spoken to employees working in other state health centers who received the same list of buzzwords and the same instructions on how to deal with drilling-related calls.
“People were saying: Where’s the Department of Health on all this?” Stuck said. “The bottom line was we weren’t allowed to say anything. It’s not that we weren’t interested.”
Marshall Deasy worked in the Bureau of Epidemiology in Harrisburg for more than 20 years, retiring last June. Deasy was a primary investigator of food- and waterborne outbreaks and his work put him in contact with community health nurses across the state, such as Tammi Stuck.
He said some nurses told him they were not allowed to respond to complaints about gas drilling.
In his office in Harrisburg, Deasy said the subject of gas development was considered “taboo” and was not openly discussed among fellow employees.
However, he was aware that a colleague in the Bureau of Epidemiology was maintaining a list of drilling-related calls. When reached by StateImpact Pennsylvania, that person declined to comment.
The Department of Health confirmed that all complaints related to natural gas drilling are sent to the Bureau of Epidemiology where they are logged in a database.
Spokesperson Aimee Tysarczyk said that a “buzzwords” list was never circulated and disputed Stuck’s account that nurses were instructed not to return calls.
“Typically, the protocol is that when a call comes in, they log the information and they contact the Bureau of Epidemiology here who follows up directly with that individual,” Tysarczyk said. “If there’s a physician involved, then they will follow up with the physician.”
Both Marshall Deasy and Tammi Stuck recall an incident that had a chilling effect on employees.
In 2011, a consultant for the department was attending a community meeting in an official capacity. The subject of gas drilling came up and her comments on the matter got back to officials in Harrisburg.
According to Deasy, the consultant still works for the department, but she “was made plain that wasn’t going to be repeated, that nobody’s going to be out discussing shale or drilling from the Department of Health.”
Not long afterwards, the agency instituted a new policy: To attend any meetings, on any topic, all nurses, consultants and other employees of state health centers and district offices would have to get permission from the office of the director of the Bureau of Community Health in Harrisburg.
“There was a form that had to be filled out at least a month ahead of time,” Stuck said.
For instance, to go the meeting of the local diabetes task force, a community health nurse would be required to submit a form detailing the topics to be discussed, who would be attending and the role of the nurse at that meeting.
Stuck said another nurse she knew was forced to step down from the infection control committee at a local hospital. She was no longer allowed to attend the meetings.
Tysarczyk, the department spokesperson, said employees are not required to fill out a form to get permission, but “it’s not unusual to know where our staff is going to ensure that the appropriate resources are being allocated and that they’re speaking on behalf of the department and our priorities from a public health standpoint.”
That did not stop Marshall Deasy from bending the rules.
Last spring, just a few weeks shy of his retirement, Deasy invited Dr. Bernard Goldstein, professor emeritus with the University of Pittsburgh’s Graduate School of Public Health, to speak to more than 100 employees at their Quarterly Epidemiology meeting about his work on shale drilling and health.
Deasy gave Goldstein one condition:
“He needed to make sure that we had a title [for the presentation] that didn’t say ‘shale gas,’” Goldstein said. “If it did, he was concerned that the Pennsylvania Department of Health political leadership would cancel the meeting because they didn’t want this kind of topic on their agenda.”
Goldstein agreed. He gave a talk about lessons learned from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill to environmental epidemiology.
He also spoke about the need for the state Department of Health to monitor the impacts of Marcellus Shale drilling.
“And no one said, “No, no, Dr. Goldstein, you’re wrong. We’re actually doing it.’”
Goldstein has criticized Gov. Tom Corbett’s administration for not giving the Department of Health a bigger role in overseeing the growing shale gas industry.
A spokesman for Gov. Corbett declined to comment for this story.
Act 13, the 2012 overhaul of the state’s oil and gas law, created an impact fee, which has generated more than $630 million over the last three years. The money goes back to local governments and to various state agencies involved in regulating drilling, including the Department of Environmental Protection.
“Not one penny goes to the Department of Health,” Goldstein said.
5. Allegheny Co. Dept of Health Director Touts Economic Benefits of Fracking
“The new Director of the Allegheny County Health Dept claims the benefits of fracking outweigh the risks and also touts the economic benefits of fracking. What? Since when is the person allegedly watching out for public health supposed to raise the economic benefits over the health of residents? In case you were hoping that the Health Dept was actually going to work for AC residents instead of Fitzgerald and his corporate backers, your hopes are now officially smashed. “
6. Butler Twp. Residents Voice Concerns About Drilling in Residential Areas
GG By Will DeShong,
Eagle Staff Writer
“BUTLER TWP — Several residents voiced concerns Monday night at the commissioners meeting about natural gas well pads in residential zones of the township.
The township commissioners approved in April an XTO Energy pad on a more than 30-acre property on Schaffner Road.
The property is less than a half mile from Preston Park and a little more than a mile from the Butler Intermediate High School.
Residents voiced concerns about potential health risks associated with unconventional drilling as well as decreases in property values.
“It’s just plain stupid,” said Joe McMurry. “I hope at the very least the commissioners get drilling out of residential zones. It’s just the right thing to do.”
McMurry argued that natural gas drilling is an industrial activity and should be left out of residential zones.
“To turn the whole township into a massive industrial zone is unconstitutional,” he said, adding the township could be open to potential lawsuits.
It was a claim township solicitor Lawrence Lutz disagreed with.
“The township can be sued by anyone for any reason at any time,” he said. “But we have an ordinance that does regulate drilling in compliance with the law.”
Sam Hoszwa argued the proximity of the property to homes and Preston Park puts people in danger of health issues.
He claimed that his family has experienced burning throats and blames the condition on pads in the township.
He said his home is more than three miles from the current pads, whereas the closest home to the proposed Schaffner Road pad would be about 1,200 feet.
He called XTO’s safety record “abysmal,” citing past violations the state Department of Environmental Protect had against the company.
“People in Butler Township expect a relatively reasonable amount of protection regarding their families’ health and safety,” he said. “These expectations are shattered by gas wells in residential areas.”
Hoszwa and numerous other residents also said property values would decrease with gas wells near homes.
Lutz said the meetings in which the well pads were approved were open to the public, but no one showed up and voiced opposition to the plans at that time.
He said it is too late for the township to reverse its stance on already approved pads.
“I don’t think (the commissioners) have that ability,” he said. “That would probably be a big lawsuit.”
Lutz said the township will continue to listen to arguments from residents on the issue of drilling.
“We always try to maintain a balance in the township,” he said. “Some people are very favorable to the gas industry.”
Joe Hasychak, president of the commissioners, said the board was aware of the controversy around the drilling.
“We’re aware of the issues out there,” he said. “It’s not news to us.”
Hasychak said he was happy to hear from the public on the matter, but said a better time would have been at the meeting when the pad was approved.
The commissioners took no action on natural gas drilling Monday night.
7. 1000 Show Up At Pipeline Open House -Millersville
“Actually, 1,100 was just the number of people who signed in when they entered the gym at Millersville University’s Student Memorial Center. Many more didn’t bother for the long wait to sign up.
It was one of the largest turnouts ever seen by the Oklahoma-based Williams, the nation’s largest pipeline owner.
“This is very important and emotions are very high. People feel very passionate about it,” observed Chris Stockton, one of no less than 75 engineers, land routers and other Williams representatives brought in from as far away as Oklahoma for what was billed as an informal open house.
Many, no doubt, were among the 350 landowners who could be affected by the pipeline that would run for 35 miles through the townships of Conestoga, Drumore, Martic, Manor, West Hempfield, East Donegal and Mount Joy townships.
On largescale aerial maps spread across 672 feet of tables, they could see where the pipeline might run through their properties. The pipeline corridor shown was 600 feet wide, wide enough to allow some tweaking by the time a 50-foot right of way is selected, noted Stockton.
But in addition to those whose very land would be affected, many more came in anger over a proposed route that would affect large swaths of forestland and natural areas in the River Hills along the Susquehanna.
“Plus, this is running through the middle of Manor Township. This is the world’s best farmland. It’s poor stewardship,” fumed John Swanson of Conestoga. Williams has said it temporarily removes the topsoil and places it back once the pipeline is in place but Swanson said “it’s not the same ground it was.”
The current route would come within 100 yards of his wife’s homestead that has been in the family since the Civil War.
The pipeline, he said, “is a huge impact. You can’t build over it. I see this as robbing from everybody here and lining Williams’ pockets, and believe me, I’m a free market guy.
“It’s a hare-brained idea and we’ll fight it for all we’re worth.”
The pipeline would gather natural gas fracked in the Marcellus Shale region of Pennsylvania and transport it via a shortcut through Lancaster County to Williams’ Transco pipeline. The gas would end up in markets along the Eastern Seaboard and some of it could end up overseas. None would be used in Lancaster County.
About halfway through the open house, supporters of the Lancaster Against Pipeline citizens group staged a sit-in in the middle of the auditorium.
Speakers were critical of the open house format and the lack of a chance for citizens as a group to ask Williams questions about their concerns.
An attempt was made to get a Williams representative to come over and field questions. None did.
“If you choose not to answer our concerns, then you don’t care about the communities along this pipeline at all,” said Kevin Hurst.
Tim Spiese shouted to about 50 people sitting on the wooden gym floor, “This is about a democracy. We want the meeting to be on our terms.”
The group was eventually asked by Millersville security to not block the tables and they filed out, chanting, “Go home Williams!”
At least one landowner left somewhat relieved. Rick Faulkner of Pequea, his wife and two daughters came believing the pipeline might go right along their property line.
But after examining a map, the corridor was shown farther away than the map initially sent to them.
Still, Faulkner had mixed feelings. “I’m sad,” he said. “It is on someone else’s ground now.”
Among those in attendance were two community coordinators for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the body that will ultimately rule on the pipeline. They were there to explain the permitting process and how the public can submit comments on the project.
FERC will hold its own public hearing later this summer.”
"By any responsible account, the exploitation of the Marcellus Shale Formation will produce a detrimental effect on the environment, on the people, their children, and the future generations, and potentially on the public purse, perhaps rivaling the environmental effects of coal extraction." PA Supreme Court Chief Justice Ronald Castille, December 19, 2013
8. Do Private Well Owners Have the Right To Be Notified Of Frack Contamination
(This article from April, 2014 relates to the case just argued in the Commonwealth Court regarding whether private well owners right to be notified. Jan)
“One of the key questions that remain about the law, known as Act 13, is whether it is a “special law” crafted for the oil and gas industry. Act 13 requires the DEP to notify public water suppliers about pollution incidents, but not private well owners. Attorneys for the municipalities that challenged the law argue that makes an “unconstitutional distinction” between public and private drinking water supplies, according to briefs filed with the Commonwealth Court on Tuesday. To read the briefs, please see the end of this story.
Among its 16 attached exhibits, the brief included 12 pages of sworn deposition testimony by Alan Eichler, DEP oil and gas program manager, who said the department “didn’t typically issue Notices of Violation,” or assess fines or issued determination letters when water contamination complaints were privately settled. And as a result the public has no way to know if, when or where private water supplies might be contaminated or at risk of contamination.
The brief used the deposition testimony to illustrate that private water supply users faced health risks without a legal requirement that DEP notify private water supply users of contamination affecting their water supplies. More than 3 million Pennsylvania residents rely on private well water for drinking and everyday use, according U.S. Census Bureau statistics cited in the brief.
Mr. Eichler was asked, during his deposition Jan. 29 for a water contamination case involving Range Resources’ Yeager drilling operation in Amwell, if an individual could find out if his neighbor’s well water had been contaminated if his neighbor and the shale gas drilling company had settled the complaint.
According to the deposition transcript from that case, now before the state Environmental Hearing Board, Mr. Eichler said, “Well … no, when I think about what information we have on file and what (the plaintiff neighbor) would have access to it’s not clear to me how he might become aware of a problem at the Yeager water supply.”
9. Commentary by Bob Donnan
“Beautiful sunny day here in SW Pennsylvania! However, going out to get the newspaper moments ago, the first thing I noticed was a stench in the air, even though sunny weather is better for clean air than cloudy days, but we have calm winds this morning.
The smell reminds me of when I grew up in Washington, and we had a couple steel mills and some other factories. People burned coal to heat their homes. The small black B-B’s of coal residue were memorable as they blew around the sidewalks on the walk to school. It smells to me like a coal burning power plant, yet several have been shuttered.
Post Gazette newspaper showed yesterday’s air quality just into the moderately unhealthy range, with today’s forecast for the middle of that moderate range. Southeasterly winds of 5mph this afternoon will blow in the pollution from Fayette and Westmoreland Counties, tonight’s light southerly winds will blow in all the Greene County bad air, and tomorrow night’s southwesterly winds will bring us the air pollution from the Panhandle of WV and the Ohio Valley under cloudy skies.
Isn’t it great how our air quality has
improved gotten worse with fracking??
Anyone else smell the air out there this morning???
How would you describe it???
A friend suggests these large gas plants do “air dumps” on Saturday nights while the DEP is curled up in bed snoozing. Another tells me the air around the Trax Farm drilling site is getting worse, smelling more “acrid.”
What’s that funny commercial; “Gotta go, gotta go, gotta go!” Time to move.”
10. PA State Mapping Tool
PA Oil & Gas Mapping-
This mapping system allows you to measure distances from well pad to you. See the map below with the measured distance between Connoquenessing School and the nearest well pad.
11. Letter to the Editor
“What chance do citizens have against drillers’ cash?
June 15, 2014 12:00 AM
I read with great interest your article “Range Resources’ John Day Waste Impoundment Leak a Bigger Problem” (June 12). Wastewater that leaked from one Range Resources facility has contaminated groundwater and more than 650 truckloads of soil. Matt Pitzarella, Range spokesman, was quoted elsewhere previously saying, “There’s no reason to believe there is a notable threat to the environment, and [there’s] no threat to the community.” Mr. Pitzarella is so right. This leak is not a threat, it is a reality.
The citizens of Pennsylvania have no choice but to rely upon their elected officials to protect their interests in their environment. Unfortunately, the elected officials (from the county executive to the governor) are motivated primarily by the money they need to be (re-)elected. Companies like Range Resources have found that money spent on politicians is a tremendous investment. It pays off many times over in terms of savings that come from industry-friendly legislation and enforcement. Average citizens are essentially helpless in the battle for the loyalty of elected politicians.
In the long run, big money will win as usual. Pennsylvanians should roll over and get ready, because like Range says, “Drilling is just the beginning.”
12. Gas Money for Corbett and Wolf
“It should come as no surprise that donations from people associated with the natural gas industry are beginning to flow into Gov. Tom Corbett's re-election effort. Gas donors were a major part of Corbett's war chest four years ago.
The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that this year many gas industry donations are reaching Corbett through a circuitous route: through the Republican Governors' Association, which has established a separate political action committee in Pennsylvania.
According to the Inquirer:
Jon Thompson, spokesman for the association, said donors don't know which Republican governors race their money will benefit. However, almost the entirety of some individual contributions are flowing into Pennsylvania, no matter what industry the donor is in.
"We don't tell people their money is going to only reelect Gov. Corbett or another candidate," Thompson said. But he added: "There's no secret that we're playing very heavy defense this year [in Pennsylvania]."
Democrat Tom Wolf has been accepting gas cash as well.
Last week a coalition of anti-fracking groups led by The Food & Water Watch Fund called on Wolf to return approximately $273,000 he's already accepted from people associated with the industry.
"Our analysis reveals that Tom Wolf is setting himself up to be controlled by the fracking industry, just like Governor Corbett," said Sam Bernhardt, Senior Pennsylvania Organizer for Food & Water Watch Fund. "To truly be the alternative of Tom Corbett, Wolf must return the contributions he has received from the fracking industry, and avoid accepting any future contributions from industry-associated groups or individuals."
Wolf has thus far ignored the Democratic Party Platform, which calls for a moratorium on drilling and fracking in Pennsylvania.”