Westmoreland Marcellus Citizens’ Group Updates
June 26, 2014
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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.
From Sierra Club:
***Speak out at Allegheny County Health Dept. (ACHD) meeting, July 2, http://alleghenysc.org/?p=18924
Add fracking to the survey of ACHD concerns NOW, http://alleghenysc.org/?p=18787
***Plan to take the bus to the Sept 21 Peoples Climate March http://alleghenysc.org/?p=18460
And lots of other happenings at the Special Events page
***Public Hearing on Restricting Carbon Pollution from Existing Power Plants-July 31
Thursday, July 31, 2014
9:00 a.m. - 8:00 p.m. (EST)
William S. Moorhead Federal Building, Room 1310
1000 Liberty Avenue Pittsburgh, PA 15222
At the request of the coal industry, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) plans to hold a hearing in Pittsburgh on July 31st about the new rule to restrict carbon pollution from existing power plants.
We can expect the coal industry to flood the hearing, so we will need to show the EPA - and the world - Pennsylvanian's support a strong carbon pollution rule.
HOW TO GET INVOLVED
Testify: Testify at the hearing and we will be available to help you with your testimony. To testify request a time: contact Pamela Garrett at 919-541-7966 or at email@example.com.
Come to the press conference!
LET'S MAKE THIS THE BIGGEST CLIMATE EVENT WE'VE EVER HAD IN PA!
For more information about the Thomas Merton Center Environmental Justice Committee, please contact Wanda Guthrie. Peace and thank you!
Forward this email
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!
***Peters Township Zoning Workshop ---Next Monday or Tuesday the video will be available on the Peters Township web site. I will post the link as soon as we get the word that it is up.
***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. Did Anyone Try To Contact PA Dept of Health? From Nick Kennedy
Food and Water Watch has asked me to reach out to see if we know anyone that tried to contact the Department of Health regarding fracking related health issues. Please let me know if you can think of anyone.
Nick Kennedy, Esq.
Mountain Watershed Association
724-455-4200 x 6
2. Hundreds Rally Against Fracking State Forests
“On June 17 hundreds of Pennsylvanians journeyed to Harrisburg, including a bus-load from Pittsburgh. They went to protest Governor Corbett’s move to fill a gap in the state budget with revenue from new natural gas leases in PA parks and forests. At a rally in the Capitol rotunda, scrolls containing close to 30,000 signatures were unfurled from the balcony. Later, constituents lobbied almost 100 legislators. Among the speakers at the rally were Sierra Club Chapter Chair Wendi Taylor and Chapter Director Joanne Kilgour.
“We – like the thousands of Pennsylvanians who have been struggling with the on-the-ground realities of natural gas development – KNOW that there is no such thing as non-surface impact drilling”, said Kilgour. “To suggest otherwise is a misrepresentation of reality, and an insult to those who have lived with wells on or near their property. From Sierra Club”
3. Hormone-Disrupting Frack Chemicals Worse Than Initial Research Findings
“Many chemicals used in fracking, can disrupt not only the human body's reproductive hormones but also the glucocorticoid and thyroid hormone receptors, which are necessary to maintain good health, a new study finds. The results were presented Monday at the joint meeting of the International Society of Endocrinology and the Endocrine Society: ICE/ENDO 2014 in Chicago.
"Among the chemicals that the fracking industry has reported using most often, all 24 that we have tested block the activity of one or more important hormone receptors," said the study's presenting author, Christopher Kassotis, a PhD student at the University of Missouri, Columbia. "The high levels of hormone disruption by endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) that we measured, have been associated with many poor health outcomes, such as infertility, cancer and birth defects."
Kassotis said spills of wastewater could contaminate surface and ground water.
In earlier research, this group found that water samples collected from sites with documented fracking spills in Garfield County, Colorado, had moderate to high levels of EDC activity that mimicked or blocked the effects of the female hormones (estrogens) and the male hormones (androgens) in human cells. However, water in areas away from these gas-drilling sites showed little EDC activity on these two reproductive hormones.
The new study extended the analysis to learn whether high-use fracking chemicals changed other key hormone receptors besides the estrogen and androgen receptors. (Receptors are proteins in cells that the hormone binds to in order to perform its function.) Specifically, the researchers also looked at the receptor for a female reproductive hormone, progesterone, as well as those for glucocorticoid—a hormone important to the immune system, which also plays a role in reproduction and fertility—and for thyroid hormone. The latter hormone helps control metabolism, normal brain development and other functions needed for good health.
Among 24 common fracking chemicals that Kassotis and his colleagues repeatedly tested for EDC activity in human cells, 20 blocked the estrogen receptor, preventing estrogen from binding to the receptor and being able to have its natural biological response, he reported. In addition, 17 chemicals inhibited the androgen receptor, 10 hindered the progesterone receptor, 10 blocked the glucocorticoid receptor and 7 inhibited the thyroid hormone receptor.
Kassotis cautioned that they have not measured these chemicals in local water samples, and it is likely that the high chemical concentrations tested would not show up in drinking water near drilling. However, he said mixtures of these chemicals act together to make their hormone-disrupting effects worse than any one chemical alone, and tested drinking water normally contains mixtures of EDCs.
"We don't know what the adverse health consequences might be in humans and animals exposed to these chemicals," Kassotis said, "but infants and children would be most vulnerable because they are smaller, and infants lack the ability to break down these chemicals."
Source: The Endocrine Society http://www.sciencecodex.com/hormonedisrupting_activity_of_fracking_chemicals_worse_than_initially_found-136137
4. Coal Mining and Fracking Less Than 0.6% of PA Employment
“Just to put things in perspective for those hearing the concern trolling from the coal, oil, and natural gas industries that implementing new federal emissions regulations and a state severance tax on shale gas production will have serious consequences for jobs and economic growth, the Bureau of Labor Statistics says Mining and Logging (which includes all natural gas employment, all coal employment, and employment in all the other extractive industries) accounts for about 0.6% of employment in PA.
There are about 37,500 people employed in the extractive sector, out of 6,680,500 people employed in Pennsylvania – about 0.6%.
That’s not nothing, but we’re talking about a very tiny segment of the labor force. If you look at the industries that most Pennsylvanians are sorted into, you’ll see the state economy is overwhelmingly a service economy, and extractive industry isn’t really that significant of an employer in comparison.
This is also significant for the alcohol reform debate, where the 3000 or so full-time state store clerks make up about 0.05% of state employment. Neither the EPA emissions or the severance tax or privatizing the state liquor stores are going to have an important macro impact on the state employment picture.
And that’s just talking about the cost side. If you consider the employment upside for renewable energy firms, grocery stores, and new liquor stores we’re probably talking about breaking even or even gaining jobs on net.”
This entry was posted in Miscellany. http://www.keystonepolitics.com/2014/06/coal-mining-fracking-responsible-less-0-6-pa-employment/
5. Scientists Predict More Rain and Flooding
More Widespread Pollution From Fracking
By Walter Brasch
“….Both Knight and Dr. Katz say floods will be more frequent. The industrialization and urbanization of America has led to more trees being cut down; the consequences are greater erosion and more open areas to allow rainwater to flow into streams and rivers. Waterway hazards, because of flooding and increased river flow, will cause additional problems. Heavy rains will cause increased pollution, washing off fertilizer on farmlands into the surface water supply, extending into the Chesapeake Bay. Sprays on plants and agricultural crops to reduce attacks by numerous insects, which would normally stay localized, will now be washed into streams and rivers, says Knight.
Pollution will also disrupt the aquatic ecosystem, likely leading to a decrease in the fishing industry because of increased disease and death among fish and other marine mammals, says Dr. Katz.
Another consequence of increased rainfall is a wider spread of pollution from fracking operations, especially in the Marcellus Shale.
Most of the 1,000 chemicals that can be used in drilling operations, in the concentrations used, are toxic carcinogens; because of various geological factors, each company using horizontal fracturing can use a mixture of dozens of those chemicals at any one well site to drill as much as two miles deep into the earth.
Last year, drilling companies created more than 300 billion gallons of flowback from fracking operations in the United States. (Each well requires an average of 3–5 million gallons of water, up to 100,000 gallons of chemicals, and as much as 10 tons of silica sand. Flowback is what is brought up after the initial destruction of the shale. Most of that flowback, which once was placed in open air pits lined with plastic that can tear and leak, are now primarily placed into 22,000 gallon steel trailers, which can leak. In Pennsylvania, drillers are still allowed to mix up to 10 percent of the volume of large freshwater pits with flowback water.
In March 2013, Carizo Oil and Gas was responsible for an accidental spill of 227,000 gallons of wastewater, leading to the evacuation of four homes in Wyoming County, Pa. Two months later, a malfunction at a well, also in Wyoming County, sent 9,000 gallons of flowback onto the farm and into the basement of a nearby resident.
Rain, snow, and wind in the case of a spill can move that toxic soup into groundwater, streams, and rivers. In addition to any of dozens of toxic salts, metals, and dissolvable organic chemicals, flowback contains radioactive elements brought up from deep in the earth; among them are Uranium-238, Thorium-232, and radium, which decays into radon, one of the most radioactive and toxic gases. Radon is the second highest cause of lung cancer, after cigarettes, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
A U.S. Geological Survey analysis of well samples (brine samples, jan http://www.dispatch.com/content/stories/local/2012/09/03/gas-well-waste-full-of-radium.html) collected in Pennsylvania and New York between 2009 and 2011 revealed that 37 of the 52 samples had Radium-226 and Radium-228 levels that were 242 times higher than the standard for drinking water. One sample, from Tioga County, Pa., was 3,609 times the federal standard for safe drinking water, and 300 times the federal industrial standard.
Radium-226, 200 times higher than acceptable background levels, was detected in Blacklick Creek, a 30-mile long tributary of the Conemaugh River near Johnstown, Pa. The radium, which had been embedded deep in the earth but was brought up in flowback waters (during the drilling process, jan), was part of a discharge from the Josephine Brine Treatment Facility, according to research published in the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Science & Technology.
Increased rainfall also increases the probability of pollution from spills from the nation’s decaying pipeline systems. About half of all oil and gas pipelines are at least a half-century old. There were more than 6,000 spills from pipelines last year. Among those spills were almost 300,000 gallons of heavy Canadian crude oil from a pipe in Arkansas, and 100,000 gallons of oil and other chemicals in Colorado.
Increased truck and train traffic to move oil and gas from the drilling fields to refineries along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts has led to increased accidents. Railroad accidents in the United States last year accounted for about 1.15 million gallons of spilled crude oil, more than all spills in the 40 years since the federal government began collecting data, according to the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration. Many of the spills were in wetlands or into groundwater and streams.
A primary reason for increased rainfall (as well as increases in hurricanes, tornadoes, ocean water rises, and other long-term weather phenomenon) is because of man-made climate change, the result of increased carbon dioxide from fossil fuel extraction and burning. It’s not a myth. It’s not a far-fetched liberal hoax invented by Al Gore. About 97 percent of the world’s climate scientists agree we are experiencing climate change, and that the world is at a critical change; if the steady and predictable increase in climate change, which affects the protection of the ozone layer, is not reduced within two decades, it will not be reversible. Increased rainfall and pollution will be only a part of the global meltdown.”
[Dr. Brasch is an award-winning journalist and emeritus professor. He is a syndicated columnist, radio commentator, and the author of 20 books, the latest of which is the critically-acclaimed Fracking Pennsylvania, an overall look at the effects of horizontal fracturing. He is a former newspaper and magazine reporter and editor and multimedia writer-producer.]
6. Range Resources Fracks Here-Ships There
“Range Resources Corp. is lining up deals to ship natural gas and ethane it's pulling from the Marcellus shale to export terminals and proposed petrochemical plants.
The Fort Worth-based energy company, which has a large presence in Pennsylvania, announced Thursday it signed several agreements involving planned pipeline projects, terminals and ethane crackers. The agreements would last between five and 20 years.
The projects include:
• Energy Transfer Partners' Rover Pipeline, which is expected to connect the Marcellus and Utica shale fields in Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia with Canada and the Gulf Coast by 2017
• The Sabine Pass LNG terminal in Cameron Parish, La., where Cheniere Energy Inc. is building a liquefaction plant
• An unnamed, planned liquefied natural gas terminal
• A proposed petrochemical plant that an affiliate of Sasol Ltd. might build near Lake Charles, La.
• The Ascent ethane cracker that Odebrecht proposes to build in Parkersburg, W. Va.
“The Rover pipeline provides Range flexibility in selling natural gas to high demand markets in Canada and the Gulf Coast, while the LNG and ethane supply agreements further diversify and strengthen our customer base with industry leading companies,” Range CEO Jeff Ventura said in an announcement.”
Read more: http://triblive.com/news/adminpage/6350727-74/ethane-gas-range#ixzz35mOaiN9C
7. Two Top Range Resources Execs Dump More Than Half Their Stock
Two of Range Resources’ top executives have sold more than half of the stock they owned in the corporation earlier this month, the Mideast Times has reported.
The executive, Chief Operating Officer Ray Walker Jr., sold 17,322 shares for more than $1.5 million. Walker still owns 15,975 shares of the company’s stock, valued at more than $1.4 million, according to the report.
On the same day, Range Resources Vice President David P. Poole sold 13,864 shares of the company’s stock for just more than $1.2 million, according to the news organization.
Following that sale, Poole now directly owns 8,796 shares in the company, valued at approximately $773,608.
The sale was disclosed in a legal filing with the SEC, which is available at this link.”
Editor’s Note: Thoughts on the stock sale? Could it have anything to do with all the high-profile litigation in which the company is embroiled? Leave me a comment and let me know what you think. -amanda
8. Fracking Produces More Radioactive Waste than Nuclear Power Plants
“……..With all that press you may have missed another cause for alarm: radiation risks. The oil and gas-drilling boom, aided by the practice of fracking, has unleashed billions of gallons and millions of tons of hazardous radioactive waste into our environment – on a daily basis.
Fracking can bring to the surface water that is laced with radioactive materials that were in the shale. In small, dispersed quantities low-level radiation is not life threatening, but what happens when those quantities are recycled, processed and start increasing in the environment, and getting into the water we drink, the fish we eat, and the soil in which our food grows?
Scientists are trying to figure that out. But it’s a difficult process to track since fracking isn’t regulated under most federal environmental laws like the Safe Drinking Water Act and the Clean Water Act. That means industry is charge of policing itself a lot of the time.
Another problem is that it’s really hard to keep track of all the stuff that may become tainted by radioactive materials in the drilling process. Millions of gallons of soupy wastewater that flow back from wells after drilling and fracking can end up in a number of places. Sometimes the wastewater is simply left in lined or unlined pits to either evaporate or sink back into the ground. Other times it is sent to water treatment plants and eventually released back into rivers and streams. At times it is simply spilled or illegally dumped. It also ends up contaminating drilling mud (a more solid waste from the process), storage tanks, and equipment.
“Radionuclides in these wastes are primarily radium-226, radium-228, and radon gas,” reports the EPA. “The radon is released to the atmosphere, while the produced water and mud containing radium are placed in ponds or pits for evaporation, reuse, or recovery.”
The fact that drilling for oil or gas increases radiation is not news. Avner Vengosh, a professor of geochemistry at Duke University told Bloomberg News that we’ve know that since the 1970s, but the pace and intensity of drilling now, combined with the huge amount of wastewater, is taking the issue to a new level of concern. “We are actually building up a legacy of radioactivity in hundreds of points where people have had leaks or spills around the country,” he said.
Vengosh was part of team of researchers that turned up some troubling findings in ennsylvania, ground zero for hydraulic fracturing in the Marcellus Shale. Their study, published in the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Science & Technology, took samples over a two-year period from Blacklick Creek just below the discharge from the Josephine Brine Treatment Facility, which accepted water from drilling operations. They found that radium levels of wastewater from fracking operations had been reduced in treatment by about 90 percent, but what was coming out of the plant still exceeded upstream levels by 200 times.
“Such elevated levels of radioactivity are above regulated levels and would normally be seen at licensed radioactive disposal facilities, according to the scientists at Duke University’s Nicholas school of the environment in North Carolina,” reported Felicity Carus for the Guardian.
The biggest threat is the bioaccumulation of radium. Small quantities can build up in the environment, eventually posing a health hazard (especially if it ends up in food we eat).
It also means that even if you don’t have a drilling rig in your backyard or even your neighborhood, you may still face some risks. As Carus wrote:
From January to June 2013, the 4,197 unconventional gas wells in Pennsylvania reported 3.5m barrels of fluid waste and 10.7m barrels of “produced” fluid. Most of that waste is disposed of within Pennsylvania, but some of it is also went to other states, such as Ohio and New York despite its moratorium on shale gas exploration. In July, a treatment company in New York State pleaded guilty to falsifying more than 3,000 water tests.
The Duke study came just two years after the New York Times did an exhaustive search of thousands of government and industry documents to try and assess how risky radioactive wastewater from fracking may be.
“The documents reveal that the wastewater, which is sometimes hauled to sewage plants not designed to treat it and then discharged into rivers that supply drinking water, contains radioactivity at levels higher than previously known, and far higher than the level that federal regulators say is safe for these treatment plants to handle,” Ian Urbina wrote for the Times.
“The Times also found never-reported studies by the EPA and a confidential study by the drilling industry that all concluded that radioactivity in drilling waste cannot be fully diluted in rivers and other waterways.” They found that 116 wells produced wastewater with levels more than 100 times higher than safe drinking water standards, and 15 wells were more than 1,000 times above the limit.
“The radioactivity in the wastewater is not necessarily dangerous to people who are near it. It can be blocked by thin barriers, including skin, so exposure is generally harmless,” wrote Urbina. “Rather, E.P.A. and industry researchers say, the bigger danger of radioactive wastewater is its potential to contaminate drinking water or enter the food chain through fish or farming. Once radium enters a person’s body, by eating, drinking or breathing, it can cause cancer and other health problems, many federal studies show.”
The Duke study and the Times’ research both focused on Pennsylvania, but the Marcellus region is not the only experiencing problems with radioactive waste. In February, an abandoned building in Noonan, North Dakota was found to contain bags of illegally dumped “filter socks” which are used by the industry to filter liquids during oil production. The radiation level from the material wasn’t high enough to be a health hazard unless people ventured into the building but it signals a growing problem for boomtowns, the likes of which have emerged across North Dakota’s Bakken shale. It’s not the first time this kind of waste has been dumped — and the booming Bakken is producing around 27 tons of filter socks a day, by one estimate.
And the problem persists across the country.
“While it’s unclear how much drilling waste is produced nationally, state totals are rising. West Virginia landfills accepted 721,000 tons of drilling debris in 2013, a figure that doesn’t include loads rejected because they topped radiation limits,” wrote Alex Nussbaum for Bloomberg. “The per-month tonnage more than tripled from July 2012, when records were first kept, through last December. In Pennsylvania, epicenter of the Marcellus boom, the oil and gas industry sent 1.3 million tons to landfills last year.” Are those facilities equipped to monitor and handle radioactive waste?
So the problem is not solved, it’s simply trucked from one state to the next — increasing the area that may be affected and the number of people. Meanwhile the grand experiment of fracking’s effects on human health continues.”
http://www.alternet.org/environment/fracking-can-expose-you-radioactive-waste-even-youre-far-away-drilling-site?akid=11773.1242108.f57YDQ&rd=1&src=newsletter988709&t=3&paging=off¤t_page=1 - bookmark
Tara Lohan is a freelance writer and former senior editor at AlterNet. She is the editor of two books on the global water crisis, including Water Matters: Why We Need to Act Now to Save Our Most Critical Resource. Follow her on Twitter @TaraLohan or visit her website, taralohan.com.
9. 4 in 10 Higher Risk Oil and Gas Wells Aren’t Inspected By Feds
“Four in 10 new oil and gas wells near national forests and fragile watersheds or otherwise identified as higher pollution risks escape federal inspection, unchecked by an agency struggling to keep pace with America's drilling boom, according to an Associated Press review that shows wide state-by-state disparities in safety checks.
Roughly half or more of wells on federal and Indian lands weren't checked in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming, despite potential harm that has led to effort in some communities to ban new drilling.
In New Castle, a tiny Colorado River valley community, homeowners expressed chagrin at the large number of uninspected wells, many on federal land, that dot the steep hillsides and rocky landscape. Like elsewhere in the West, water is a precious commodity in this Colorado town, and some residents worry about the potential health hazards of any leaks from wells and drilling.
"Nobody wants to live by an oil rig. We surely didn't want to," said Joann Jaramillo, 54.
Even if the wells were inspected, she questioned whether that would ensure their safety. She said many view the oil and gas industry as self-policing and nontransparent.
"Who are they going to report to?" she asked.
Government data obtained by the AP point to the Bureau of Land Management as so overwhelmed by a boom in a drilling technique known as fracking, that it has been unable to keep up with inspections of some of the highest priority wells. That's an agency designation based on a greater need to protect against possible water contamination and other environmental and safety issues.
"There certainly wasn't a shortage of spills, leaks, pipeline failures and other problems," said Mr. Willis, who now does consulting work for conservation and other groups.
"It's a disaster waiting to happen," he said.
Officials noted that money provided by Congress for oil and gas operations has declined since 2007. During that period, the number of wells drilled on federal and Indian lands has increased by roughly one-third.
"We're trying to do the best we can with limited resources," Ms. Lance said.”
Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/powersource/latest-oil-and-gas/2014/06/15/4-in-10-higher-risk-oil-gas-wells-aren-t-inspected-by-feds/stories/201406150176#ixzz35fBG6COd
10. Thousands of Abandoned Oil/Gas Wells in Pennsylvania May Be Leaking Methane
“Study finds abandoned wells could be bigger climate change contributor than thought, reports Climate Central.
A study of abandoned oil and gas wells in Pennsylvania finds that the hundreds of thousands of such wells in the state may be leaking methane, suggesting that
abandoned wells across the country could be a bigger source of climate changing greenhouse gases than thought.
The study by Mary Kang, a Princeton University scientist, looked at 19 wells and found that these oft-forgotten wells are leaking various amounts of methane. There are hundreds of thousands of such oil and gas wells, long abandoned and plugged, in Pennsylvania alone, and countless more in oil and gas fields across the country. These wells go mostly unmonitored, and rarely, if ever, checked for such leaks.
A growing list of studies conducted over the past three years has suggested that crude oil and natural gas development, particularly in shale formations, are significant sources of methane leaks — emissions not fully included in US EPA greenhouse gas inventories because they are rarely monitored. Scientists say there is inadequate data available for them to know where all the leaks are and how much methane is leaking.
Methane is about 34 times as potent as a climate change-fueling greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide over a span of 100 years. Over 20 years, it’s 86 times more potent. Of all the greenhouse gases emitted by humans worldwide, methane contributes more than 40 percent of all radiative forcing, a measure of trapped heat in the atmosphere and a measuring stick of a changing climate.
Kang directly measured leaks from the abandoned wells and found that all 19 wells in the study tested positive for methane leaks, some more than others.
She found that overall, the wells leak so much methane that if leaks from all the abandoned wells in Pennsylvania are added up, the leaks could account for between 4 percent and 13 percent of human-caused methane emissions in the state.
But because of significant uncertainty about the total number of abandoned and plugged wells that exist in Pennsylvania, more study is needed to fully understand how common leaking abandoned wells are in the state and how much methane they may emit.
Nobody knows exactly how many abandoned oil and gas wells exist in Pennsylvania, but the study says that historical records show there are between 280,000 and 970,000 abandoned oil and gas wells.
Kang’s study found that state regulations do not appear to be effective at controlling methane emissions from abandoned wells because the rules focus on containing fluids, not gases, and the plugged wells are not required to be monitored closely over time.
More study is needed of similar abandoned and plugged oil and gas wells in other states for scientists to be able to estimate methane emissions from similar wells elsewhere, Kang’s study says.
Kang declined to comment because the study is currently under review by a scientific journal and may be published later this summer.
Kang’s is one of the few studies to clearly demonstrate and quantify methane leaks from abandoned and plugged wells, said Cornell University biogeochemistry professor Robert Howarth, who is known for his research into methane emissions from natural gas operations.
When estimating greenhouse gas emissions in the US, the EPA estimates gas leakage from individual of oil and gas equipment during each step in the oil and gas exploration and production process. That method is called a “bottom-up” approach, which estimates emissions being emitted on the ground. The opposite method, called a “top-down” approach, estimates emissions based on aerial measurements taken from above sources of greenhouse gas emissions.
A “bottom-up” approach is often flawed because it leaves out certain sources of greenhouse gases that may leak from unexpected places, Howarth said.
“This new study shows one of these left-out sources: the plugged and abandoned wells,” he said.
Kang’s study “supports what I and many others have been saying for many years, and that’s this: There is methane leaking from oil and gas wells. Period,” said Cornell University environmental engineering professor Anthony Ingraffea, who has collaborated with Howarth on methane emissions research and is currently analyzing Kang’s work.
The study is further evidence that there is too little data available for scientists to fully understand how much methane is leaking from oil and gas fields in the US, both from producing wells and abandoned wells in addition to natural gas distribution systems, he said.”
11. Any Shale Fracked Below Elk Sandstones Is Unconventional
Weakens Environmental Regs
“The PA DEP regulations say any shale well drilled and fracked below the Elk sandstones, a stack of sand formations found above the Marcellus Shale in the western Pennsylvania, is unconventional.
The Elk sandstones were deposited about 375 million years ago, the and have served as a border for the past several years between the traditional oil and gas industry in PA and the growing Marcellus activity that the DEP was figuring out how to regulate. That definition didn’t make everyone happy. Geologists, for example, were trained to judge an unconventional well by the nature of the rock it penetrates, not by where it sits relative to a particular deposit.
Penneco Oil Co. in Delmont, Horizontal Exploration in Indiana, Pa., and Warren County-based Pennsylvania General Energy are among a handful of companies targeting sandstone formations above the Elk with techniques currently common in unconventional wells.
Because these formations are under less pressure, they require less power and fracking fluid to develop. These wells are regulated as conventional — they pay less money to the state and have a less stringent environmental burden placed on them than fracked shale wells.
The effort to keep it that way has become more urgent as traditional oil and gas producers fight to stave off the recent regulations enacted to target Marcellus and other shale development, such as tighter environmental controls, more aggressive reporting requirements and fees. Last month, a group of Pennsylvania senators introduced legislation to define conventional wells based on PIOGA’s suggested definition and to expressly exclude them from regulations governing unconventional wells.
But the industry has evolved since day one, argues John Walliser, vice president of legal and government affairs with the Pennsylvania Environmental Council. Drilling horizontally at shallower depth increases the risk of encountering abandoned and unplugged wells, he said, which could allow gas and fluids to migrate into drinking water aquifers or to the surface. There are also fewer barriers between the activity in the well and the surface with a shallower well, he argued. Defining everything above the Elk as conventional could mean all such wells would face lower thresholds for environmental protection and accountability.
“Any operator, regardless of the size of the company, could conduct high-volume fracturing at shallow depths and still be deemed ‘conventional’ — and thus subject to reduced protection standards,” he wrote opposing the Senate bill in May.”
12. Earthquake Strikes CO Area Second Time in One Month Wastewater Injection Operation Halted
“The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COOGC) has directed High Sierra Water Services to stop disposing wastewater into a Weld County injection well as a result of a 2.6 magnitude earthquake striking the area Monday morning, about five miles away from Greeley, CO, the Colorado Independent reported. The earthquake marked the second one in just one month.
High Sierra agreed to a 20-day halt after University of Colorado seismologists found evidence of low-level seismic activity near the injection site, including a 2.6-magnitude quake.
“In light of the findings of CU’s team, we think it’s important we review additional data, bring in additional expertise and closely review the history of injection at this site in order to more fully understand any potential link to seismicity and use of this disposal well,” COGCC Director Matt Lepore said.
To environmentalists, the connection between injection and earthquakes is as indisputable now as it was following the event on May 31.
“Better safe than sorry—injecting fracking wastewater has definitely caused earthquakes in other states and it could be the cause here too, so it’s smart of COGCC to halt this activity,” said Gary Wockner, an environmental activist based in Fort Collins, CO.
There are more than 24,000 wells in Weld County. In the past 18 months, six cities with more than 400,000 citizens have approved fracking bans or moratoriums.”