Westmoreland Marcellus Citizens’ Group Updates
July 10, 2014
* For articles and updates or to just vent, visit us on facebook;
* To view past updates, reports, general information, permanent documents, and meeting information http://westmorelandmarcellus.blogspot.com/
* Our email address: email@example.com
* To discuss candidates: http://www.facebook.com/groups/VoteProEarth/
* To contact your state legislator:
For the email address, click on the envelope under the photo
* For information on PA state gas legislation and local control: http://pajustpowers.org/aboutthebills.html-
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.
Thank You --Recent Donations
Thank you to April Jackman and the Shelton family for their donations that support our work to protect the health and environment of local communities.
A little Help Please --Take Action!!
***Tenaska Plant Seeks to Be Sited in South Huntingdon, Westmoreland County***
Just Use the Link
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.
*** Free Water Screening-TDS-Latrobe Farm Market July 15 and 22 , 2:00-4:00. We will have a table at the farm market at Legion Keener playground to offer free testing and information. TDS is an indicator of water problems that can be caused by fracking. Visit us at our table.
***EPA Restricting Carbon From Existing Power plants---Public Hearing Pittsburgh0-July 31
from Sierra Club
Register now –We need to have interested people at this hearing. The coal industry will be in full force!!
As a move to mitigate global warming, the EPA has proposed new rules for CO2 emissions from existing power plants. Hearings for public comment will be held in Atlanta, Denver, Pittsburgh, and Washington DC. The Pittsburgh hearing will be:
8:00 am to 9:00pm, Thursday, July 31, 2014
William S. Moorhead Federal Building
1000 Liberty Ave,
Pittsburgh Pa 15222
To testify and request a time: contact Pamela Garrett at 919-541-7966 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
NOTE: There will be a lunch break from 12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m. and a dinner break from 5:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.
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!
Supreme Court Supports EPA’s Right to Regulate Carbon Emissions from Industrial Sources
On June 23 the U.S. Supreme Court eased the way for President Obama to help mitigate climate change and create healthier air. Before the Court was the question whether the EPA has the authority under the Clean Air Act to regulate carbon dioxide emissions from stationary sources. In general, environmental groups welcomed the Court’s finding that the EPA has the authority to sought regulate carbon emissions from an estimated 83 pct of the stationary sources across the nation. Here are some major points:
*EPA’s authority to regulate CO2 emissions under Clean Air Act was re-affirmed.
*The Court somewhat chastised the EPA for trying to alter some standards in the Clean Air Act.
*EPA has the authority to regulate emissions that cross state borders. This is important for SW Pennsylvania.
*The Court dismissed EPA’s authority to regulate emissions on relatively small sources such as schools, apartment buildings, and shopping centers, which amount to about 3 pct of the total stationary sources in the country.
*Judge Scalia made it clear that the Court would not consider any future appeals regarding the use of the Clean Air Act for regulation of carbon emissions. This was a needed warning to Governors of coal-producing states such as Pennsylvania.
*The Court’s decision was generally accepted by both sides.
***Cove Point Rally This Sunday July 13
Go with Marcellus Outreach Butler (MOB) TO RALLY TO STOP FRACKED GAS EXPORTS!
WHEN: Sunday, July 13th, 12:30pm - 3:30pm
WHERE: Rally begins west of the U.S. Capitol Reflecting Pool on the National Mall. Meet at the intersection of 3rd St NW and Madison Drive NW, Washington, DC 20216.
MOB is organizing transportation to the rally. Email MOB at firstname.lastname@example.org to sign up to travel with us.
"It is clear that the Cove Point export facility will drive expansion of fracking for natural gas across the entire Chesapeake region in Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia and in Maryland, where no drilling has yet occurred. The export valve will open and the race to frack will explode."
Robin Broader, Waterkeepers Chesapeake stated the situation as clear as it could be stated--once the export facilities are operating, it's game over for those of us living in the shalefields. The industry will stop at nothing to get every bit of the gas beneath our feet regardless of what or who is in their way.
More fracking. Worsening climate change. Expanding pipelines. Unprecedented safety risks. Higher gas prices. The gas industry's rush to build 20 or more industrial facilities along our nation's coastlines to export fracked gas overseas would bring all of these impacts upon U.S. communities. It would move us in exactly the wrong direction when we urgently need to move forward in tackling the climate crisis.
On Sunday, July 13, thousands of people will gather in Washington, D.C. to rally and march against fracked gas exports at Cove Point and beyond.
Go with MOB. Email us at email@example.com to sign up to travel with us today.
Come join with fellow fracking fighters, movement leaders like Tim DeChristopher and Sandra Steingraber, mothers fending off compressor stations, fathers fighting pipelines – and everyday people demanding solutions to climate change – as we march together by the thousands. We'll call on President Obama and FERC to reject a gas export disaster, at Cove Point and beyond, and instead redouble investments in the wind, solar and energy efficiency technologies that will support good jobs and a stable climate for all.
Go with MOB. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to sign up to travel with us today.
***FranklinTownship Supervisors Meeting
Monday, July 14, 2014, 6:00 PM.
191 Election House Rd.
Prospect, PA 16052
There will be a public comment time from 6-7, and at 7pm the Supervisors will decide whether to approve the zoning changes which will allow natural gas drilling in all Agricultural- residential zoned areas in the township. Please attend and show your support for those of us who oppose these changes.
** Peoples’ Climate March-Take the Bus Sept 21
And lots of other happenings at the Special Events page
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
***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
“Sunoco has petitioned the 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 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-
A discussion of Township zoning options for gas drilling after the Act 13 ruling by the Pa Supreme Court.
Thank you to John Smith and David Ball, and to Bob Donnan for posting the video.
1:49:00 -- Select the HD setting for viewing
***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.
Special Thanks to Bob Donnan for photos.
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. WMCG Water Screening At Latrobe Farm Market
Our group will be at the farm market in Latrobe July 15 and 22, 2:00-4:00, to offer free TDS water testing. Bring your sample in a clean baggie or jar. Total dissolved solids are indicators of water problems that can be caused by fracking. There have been several cases of water contamination in the Derry- Ligonier area.
Southwest Health advises that residents start testing their water when fracking occurs within 3 miles of their home.
We will have informational handouts available including a list of certified water labs for those who would like to do further testing. Look for our table at Legion Keener Playground.
3. Families Cite Well Water Contamination From Frack Waste Pit
But DEP Permits Yet Another Well
Comment by group member:
Who cares that the three families' water was contaminated? Just issue the permit for another well!
By Don Hopey / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
“Route 711, designated a "Pennsylvania Scenic Byway," wends through the countryside south of Ligonier. The bends in the two-lane road mirror the twists that three families living along it have traveled in trying to replace water supplies contaminated by wastewater from Marcellus Shale gas drilling.
Although the state DEP has known about WPX Appalachia LLC's leaky wastewater impoundment next to its Kalp well pad for almost two years and verified well-water contamination at one of the three nearby homes more than a year ago, all of the families remain without permanent replacement water supplies, said Nick Kennedy, an attorney and community advocate for the Mountain Watershed Association.
"The DEP should be requiring the company to permanently replace the families' water with an adequate source, but it's moved slowly and without coordination," Mr. Kennedy said. "It's scary that there is this lack of oversight by the DEP."
Ralph Brown, who lives on a hill above the well pad, filed a complaint with the DEP in September 2012 stating that his 600-foot-deep well was contaminated by fracking wastewater that had leaked from the 3 million gallon impoundment.
The DEP in June 2013 determined that his well had been contaminated and a month later ordered the drilling company to permanently replace his water supply. A year later, he's still drawing water from a 2,500-gallon water tank that WPX pays $450 to fill each week.
"The Browns are definitely frustrated," said Jeffrey Mansell, a Pittsburgh attorney representing Mr. Brown in a lawsuit against WPX and its subcontractors. The suit alleges the contamination has reduced the value of the Browns' property and their ability to use and enjoy it, and is seeking damages."
According to DEP regulations, the department has 45 days from the date it does a water-quality test to make a contamination determination. If the department orders permanent water supply replacement, a company has 30 days to submit a replacement plan. After the DEP approves that plan, the company has 45 days to implement it.
DEP spokesman John Poister said the department and the company have missed those regulatory deadlines, but he added that the cases have been complicated by ongoing investigations of the impoundment leaks and groundwater contamination.
"Those investigations have not been finalized and because of that, we've had to move a little slower than we normally do," Mr. Poister said. "Our goal is to put together documents that can stand up to a challenge.
"Because this is a water-replacement situation, our orders will be scrutinized closely by the company and could be challenged. We're sympathetic in cases like these, but things are not as black and white as they appear on the surface."
The DEP did issue an order to WPX last week to replace the water for one of the three families, the Latins. It came almost seven months after the department's own testing lab concluded that the family's well water was contaminated.
The family has been using bottled water supplied by the company.
Another family, Ken and Mildred Geary, who live next door to the Latins, has well-water test results that identify similar and "parallel" chemical contaminants, Mr. Kennedy said, but the DEP ruled the results "inconclusive" in April. The department re-sampled the Gearys' water supply last week and expects to have results from that test in 30 days.
The Gearys' daughter, Dolly Coffman, said her parents, both in their 80s, started having water problems a year ago and filed an official complaint with the DEP in January.
"Their water has a foul, chemical odor to it and it's been smelly and bad like that for a year, but they didn't know what to do," said Ms. Coffman, who doesn't live at the house.
"WPX delivers bottled water as part of its 'Good Neighbor' policy but they still must use the bad well water to bathe and shower and wash their clothes."
Susan Oliver, a WPX spokeswoman, said the water contamination complaints at all three homes are still under investigation.
She said company representatives will meet with the Gearys soon to review and explain test results.
She cited a "well construction issue" that interfered with testing Mr. Brown's well and said the company has begun assessing whether an adjacent well, which she said collapsed before Mr. Brown moved into his home eight years ago, can serve as a potable water supply.
"WPX is working cooperatively and openly with the DEP and the three families to evaluate their private water supplies and to reach a conclusion that provides each family with a permanent potable water source once the investigation is completed," Ms. Oliver wrote in an email.
WPX drilled its first Kalp well in November 2011 and hydraulically fractured the mile-deep underground shale formation to release the gas in May 2012.
In January, the DEP approved a drilling permit for a second well on the Kalp pad.”
Don Hopey: email@example.com or 412-263-1983. Madeline R. Conway contributed.
Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/local/westmoreland/2014/07/05/Families-well-water-disrupted-near-Ligonier/stories/201407050100#ixzz36ZRaetX7
4. Apex Energy Considering Penn Township Drilling Sites
Penn Twp. Plans To Allow Fracking In All 5 Districts
By Chris Foreman and Daveen Rae Kurutz
“Apex is considering as many as eight projects in Penn Township, municipal and company officials said.
Representatives of Apex Energy, which received state permits this year to drill in three Armstrong County locations, have met with officials in Penn Township and Murrysville as they evaluate several potential drilling sites in the region.
Mark Rothenberg, CEO of Apex Energy, confirmed that one of the targeted locations is “real close” to the Penn Township-Murrysville border. Some residents in both municipalities are supposed to receive letters requesting water-quality testing in case properties near them are used for drilling, he said.
Leasing agents working on behalf of the Pine Township-based company have been talking to people in Penn Township and Murrysville about obtaining mineral rights.
“We have people leasing and are constantly looking at projects in Southwestern Pennsylvania,” Rothenberg said. “We have no bull's-eye on any singular township out there or a single county.”
Though Apex officials didn't divulge many details about potential sites in Penn Township, they mentioned interest in as many as eight projects within the next year, said Dallas Leonard, the township's community-development director. Proposed changes to the township's zoning ordinance that are being considered would permit oil and natural gas extraction in all five of the proposed zoning districts, though some conditions would apply.
“There's no question, they're looking at all the communities around,” Leonard said.
As of Tuesday morning, the only potential Apex site in Penn Township that is listed on the state DEP's website is a family farm near the North Huntingdon and Trafford borders. To date, Apex has requested only an expedited permit for erosion and sediment control, DEP records show.
Meanwhile, Murrysville chief administrator Jim Morrison said Apex applied for an erosion-and-sediment-control permit with the state for Marcellus shale activity in the municipality. But the property along Lyons Run Road isn't located within the municipal drilling district, he said.
“We told them that whatever they think they might do there, it is not a permitted use,” Morrison said. “They said their plans were preliminary.”
Apex's interest in part of Murrysville surprised homeowner Jeanne Zombek, who lives about a quarter of a mile from the Murrysville Swim Club. She said a New York-based agent inquired about a lease on her property, which she described as being “in the heart of Murrysville.”
“It's not something we would have even done if we were interested in drilling,” Zombek said.
As for the water-quality testing letters, DEP spokesman John Poister said that is something that some drilling companies do as a good practice. The state agency advises companies to do the testing but doesn't require it.
“That way, when there is a question (about water quality), they have a baseline to work off of,” Poister said.
Chris Foreman and Daveen Rae Kurutz are staff writers for Trib Total Media. Foreman can be reached at 412-871-2363 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Kurutz at 412-871-2365 or email@example.com.
Read more: http://triblive.com/neighborhoods/yourpenntrafford/yourpenntraffordmore/6372011-74/township-drilling-apex#ixzz375yXavvq
5. Murrysville Officials Will Spend A Year Reviewing Drilling Map
Company spends $2.4M on land
Murrysville residents aren't the only people who have reason to consider where surface drilling can occur. So does a Monroeville-based drilling company.
A search of deeds filed in Westmoreland County showed that Huntley & Huntley has spent $1.26 million to buy land in the Murrysville drilling district over the past 18 months. One of its largest Murrysville purchases, the 101.6 acre Caywood property, is adjacent to Murrysville Community Park – one of two parks included in the district. Municipal officials recently rejected an offer to lease the gas rights under that park from the driller.
Bow & Arrow, the land procurement arm of Huntley & Huntley, recently spent $1.2 million to buy 219 acres of land in Penn Township off Pleasant Valley Road near the Murrysville border. That purchase is next to Murrysville's drilling district.
Representatives from Huntley & Huntley were unable to be reached for comment.
Murrysville officials are reconsidering where surface activity for Marcellus shale drilling can take place.
Officials will spend the next 12 months reviewing the municipal oil and gas regulations, including an overlay district that is the only area surface drilling could take place.
“The map – that's one thing that has come forward a lot,” planner Allen Cohen said. “The map should be examined with criteria developed during the comprehensive plan process. There are areas with sensitive environmental features and concerns over private water systems over property. We're looking at that map to decide how much of the community should be included.”
In 2010, Murrysville officials began developing a set of oil and gas regulations. Officials adopted a drilling district that included more than 8,000 square feet of the municipality.
That district is the only part of the municipality where surface activity — the construction of well pads and compressor stations, for instance — can take place. Because the fracking process enables horizontal as well as vertical drilling, officials said, underground gas pockets from anywhere in the municipality could be accessed through surface drilling in the district.
The state Supreme Court's 2013 ruling that overturned large portions of Act 13, the state's oil and gas law, gives local governments more power to regulate drilling, Cohen said.
“The decision on Act 13 provided one of the strongest defenses of comprehensive planning in the history of PA Supreme Court decisions,” Cohen said. “We need to take advantage of it.”
Several local residents have urged council to reconsider the map's territory. Resident Alyson Holt suggested looking at the number of wells that could be accommodated rather than square-footage alone.
“We should designate a maximum total operating number and maximum operation density for the municipality as well,” said Holt, expressing worries about drilling in nearby communities. “Let's look at how many and how close they are to a given location.”
Deciding the map's fate — and that of the municipal regulations — will take a lot of time and input, Cohen said.
“It's not going to happen in one month, or two months – closer to 12 months,” Cohen said. “There's a task force that had some great minds that should be tapped.”
Daveen Rae Kurutz is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 8627, firstname.lastname@example.org.
6. Will Conventional Drillers Be Permitted to Ignore Environmental Regs?
Scarnati Attacks Again
Thank you to Vitali for his efforts to Protect the Environment
July 05, 2014|Paul Carpenter
“With apologies to Charles Dickens, it was the best of times (for Texas and Oklahoma gas industry aristocrats), it was the worst of times (for the Pennsylvania rabble suffering from the exploitation and destruction of their environment).
In a tale of two legislators, we have PA Senate President pro Tem Joe Scarnati, R-Jefferson, valiantly fighting to protect the first group, and state Rep. Greg Vitali, D- Delaware, scheming to advance the cause of the second, who are in the winter of despair.
The latest chapter in the Frack Revolution involves proposed state legislation to let non-fracking gas drillers off the hook when it comes to environmental rules, although supporters of Senate Bill 1378 and the identical House Bill 2350 might not put it precisely that way.
The first page of Scarnati's bill states that "conventional" oil and gas drilling "has had a benign impact … on the environment." That, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, was "even as [state] DEP records show traditional oil and gas producers regularly fall short of the current rules and laws."
(Common Cause Pennsylvania says Scarnati is second only to Gov. Tom Corbett when it comes to "political campaign contributions" from the drilling cartel.)
On the other side of the dispute is Vitali, one of Pennsylvania's leading champions of environmental causes. (He has a large collection of awards from environmental groups, including his designation as legislator of the year, bestowed by the Pennsylvania chapter of the Sierra Club.)
Last year, Vitali introduced a bill to ban additional drilling leases on state forest land. His bill went nowhere and, in May, Corbett issued an executive order opening up new areas of forest land for drilling.
"This executive order will expand fracking in and around our state forests and parks, putting thousands of acres of Pennsylvania's forests at risk, including critically important headwaters and wild landscapes. It is shockingly short-sighted," said Robert Gardner of the Sierra Club.
Gardner noted that outdoor recreation generates 219,000 state jobs, countering Corbett's claim that his laissez-faire gas-drilling policies create jobs.
In particular, I wanted to ask about one of the last passages in his bill, which seemed a little ambiguous. "This act shall apply to regulations promulgated on or after the effective date of this section," it says.
Does that mean regulations promulgated prior to the date of his measure's enactment might be nullified? If so, Vitali would be right about the drilling industry getting carte blanche when it comes to environmental rules, at least for a while.
As it is, DEP gas-drilling inspectors may not be cracking down on environmental wrongdoing as much as they once did.
As reported a couple of years ago, Corbett's DEP hierarchy issued a secret directive saying no gas-drilling company could be cited for violations unless the action was cleared by the agency's top political operatives. "Any waiver from this directive will not be acceptable," said a memo from Deputy DEP Secretary John Himes, which somehow found its way to the Philadelphia Inquirer.
I have a feeling that if Corbett finds out who leaked that memo, he or she will wind up in dire straits, consoled only by saying, as Dickens would put it: "It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done."
The Morning Call Lehigh Valley
7. Cecil Township Requests Testing Of Worstell Impoundment
Poister Says the Pit Can Remain Indefinitely
(Comment By PA Rep. Jesse White: “This ought to be interesting. When both the Cecil Supervisors and I presented DEP officials with documents obtained during a file review at the DEP office showing strong evidence of groundwater contamination at the Worstell Impoundment, they evaded and lied their way through an explanation. Now in light of the massive contamination at the Jon Day Impoundment, which is of similar design and construction, it may be harder to avoid answering the tough questions we've been asking for over a year now.”)
“The Worstell impoundment has again resurfaced as a topic of discussion in Cecil Township. Range Resources continues to use its wastewater impoundment on Swihart Road to service additional wells, and some residents want testing to prove the liner is secure.
Township supervisors Monday unanimously voted to write a letter to the state DEP requesting soil and groundwater testing at the impoundment, which was renamed Cecil Township 23 impoundment.
DEP spokesman John Poister said the impoundment has no outstanding compliance issues. He said the most recent enforcement action dates to 2011, when a barrel of flowback water leaked from a pipe, which he said was cleaned up and remedied.
Vice Chairwoman Cindy Fisher said the township just wants to be safe, especially in light of the news that a leak at Range Resource’s Jon Day impoundment in Amwell Township contaminated groundwater with chloride. More than 10,000 tons of soil have been removed from the site since April.
A permit was issued to Range Resources to drill another well on the Engel well pad in Cecil Township, and Fisher said she worries about the continued use of the impoundment without prior testing.
“The fact that they’ve issued yet another drilling permit without ever taking the opportunity to check Worstell … is kind of baffling to me,” Fisher said.
The Worstell impoundment has been a contentious issue for more than year, and has been the subject of several meetings – some behind closed doors – with Range Resources and the DEP.
Some residents and officials challenged the DEP’s assertion that the impoundment could operate indefinitely. Poister said Range would be required to restore the impoundment if its use is discontinued for nine months.
“The (impoundment) permit actually is for an indefinite period of time, and they can add well sites at any time, as long as they feel it’s feasible,” Poister said. “And we don’t object to that as long as the impoundment is secure and as long as it meets our standards.”
8. Ethics Commission Probes Allegheny Councilman Nick Futules
Futules is a Leaser Who Pushed Deer Lakes Drilling
PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Shouts of “shame, shame, shame” followed Allegheny County Council’s approval in May of shale gas drilling below its 1,200-acre Deer Lakes Park.
By a 9-5 majority, the lease was approved despite a petition garnered by environmentalists and an ethics complaint they filed against Councilman Nick Futules, whom they said has a business relationship with one of the drilling companies.
“Well that’s a direct conflict of interest, and we filed a complaint with the state Ethics Board,” said Mel Packer, of the Coalition to Protect Parks.
In the past two weeks, state ethics investigators have interviewed the filers of the petitions, other council members and grilled Futules himself last Friday for several hours.
They asked him about a family-owned gas well in Oakmont drilled by Huntley and Huntley, which was granted to the Deer Lakes lease along with Range Resources.
Futules said he had no conflict of interest since he stood to gain nothing financially for his yes vote on the lease.
“The fact that I have a gas well and I know the safety factors and the dangers, I was comfortable with the fact that I thought it was a good investment for the county to move forward,” said Futules.
But environmentalist went further, accusing Futules of moving the lease bill out of his Parks and Recreation Committee without allowing dissent.
“That’s not an independent hearing, and Nick Futules is responsible for that,” said Packer.
“I did not steer votes. In fact, I told all the individual council members that votes would be their own individual decision and I had no bearing on that whatsoever,” Futules said.
Regardless of how the Ethics Commission rules, it’s not likely to affect drilling outside of Deer Lakes; although, controversy about the decision is far from settled.
9. 70-Year-Old Deputy Sheriff Polices Fracking Waste
“Deputy Sheriff Hector Zertuche doesn't let big oil and gas get away with illegal dumping.
As the oil and natural gas industries continue to boom in Texas, someone needs to fight on the side of the environment — especially when these industries (intentionally or not) cause big, messy spills.
The unlikely green crusader in resource-rich Jim Wells county? Seventy-year-old deputy sheriff Hector Zertuche, who’s patrolling against the illegal dumping of fracking waste, Inside Climate News reports.
We’ve already mentioned that fracking, which has caused drilling to spike across the country, is a health and environmental nightmare. This controversial process uses a highly pressurized mix of water, chemicals and sand to release gas and oil from rock formations — but in the process, it also creates millions of barrels of toxic waste a day. Even scarier, there’s really no good way of getting rid of this sludge: the corrosive and chemically-laden byproduct, if disposed of “correctly,” can either go into underground wells, treatment plants or other means. Unfortunately, much too often, the waste water gets spilled onto the open road.
And that’s where Zertuche comes in.
As Inside Climate News puts it, because Texas’ environmental agencies aren’t very effective at policing spills, it falls on Zertuche’s lone shoulders to make sure these offenders don’t get away with it.
This year alone, the septuagenarian has reportedly taken about a dozen violators to court for reasons such as transporting waste without a permit, illegal dumping on the roads or carrying waste in an unmarked truck. Drivers are slapped with a $1,000 fine and 10 days in jail per violation. In 2013, he allegedly cited up to 10 trucks per day for a variety of violations.
Pretty incredible for someone who’s well past retirement age. But as he told the publication, it’s all in a day’s work.
“I want to make a difference for the people who live here,” Zertuche said. “If I can make this a better place for people to live, then I have done my job.”
Read more: http://nationswell.com/deputy-sheriff-hector-zertuche-polices-fracking-waste/#ixzz3720dQSYj
10. British Study Maps Fracking Methane Risk To Drinking Water
By Davd Shukman Science editor, BBC News
“A major study into the potential of fracking to contaminate drinking water with methane has been published. The British Geological Survey and the Environment Agency have mapped where key aquifers in England and Wales coincide with locations of shale.
The research reveals this occurs under nearly half of the area containing the principal natural stores of water.
The risk of methane being released into drinking water has long been one of the most sensitive questions over fracking. The study highlights where the rock layers may be too close to the aquifers for fracking to go ahead.
It finds that the Bowland Shale in northern England - the first to be investigated for shale gas potential - runs below no fewer than six major aquifers.
However, the study also says that almost all of this geological formation - 92% of it - is at least 800m below the water-bearing rocks.
Industry officials have always argued that a separation of that size between a shale layer and an aquifer should make any contamination virtually impossible.
They say that wells are sealed with steel and concrete as they pass through water-bearing rocks and that any fissures created by fracking far below would be highly unlikely to spread through hundreds of meters of rock.
Environmentalists say that the processes of drilling and of fracturing rock inherently carry the risk of polluting a vital resource.
Analysis of the Weald Basin in southern England shows that the uppermost layer of oil-bearing shale is at least 650m below a major aquifer.
Dr John Bloomfield, of the British Geological Survey, said the maps could serve as a guide for regulators and planners.
"We've identified areas where aquifers are in relatively close proximity to shale units and any developments would have to be looked at particularly carefully," he said.
"It's no surprise that the same system of sedimentation that produces shale also produces limestone which is excellent for storing water."
Aquifers such as the Oolite, which runs from Yorkshire through the East Midlands to the south coast of England, are often in direct contact with a shale layer.
Interactive maps showing the relative proximity of shale layers and aquifers are available on the British Geological Survey website.
So far, no definitive distance for separation between shale and aquifers has been set but a limit of 400m has been suggested because water from below that depth is rarely considered drinkable.
In some areas, shale layers rise closer to the surface - and the assumption is that these would be ruled off-limits.
The Environment Agency says it will not allow developments to go ahead if they are too close to supplies of drinking water. Meanwhile, the BGS has carried out a survey of methane in drinking water in all areas of the country where fracking may happen.
Low levels of the gas occur either naturally - from bacterial activity - or from manmade sources such as landfill sites.
Dr Rob Ward, director of groundwater science at the BGS, said the aim was to provide a baseline understanding before any fracking starts.
"In the United States, they didn't carry out a baseline survey before the industry took place and that has resulted in controversy and uncertainty about the source of methane in drinking water," he said.
"We now have a window of opportunity to collect data on methane before any industry goes ahead. If we see increases in methane in groundwater which may be attributed to shale gas, we'll be able to spot those."
11. Fish Kill After Frack Site Fire-Ohio
“The state is investigating a fish kill in an eastern Ohio creek near where a fire occurred at a shale-well fracking site on Saturday.
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources learned yesterday of the fish kill in Possum Creek in Monroe County, said Jason Fallon, an agency spokesman. Fallon said he did not have details about the extent of the kill. “I can’t confirm if it’s related to the gas-well fire,” he said.
Phillip Keevert, director of the Monroe County Emergency Management Agency, said Division of Wildlife agents were inspecting the creek yesterday and confirmed that a kill occurred.
The Eisenbarth well pad caught fire on Saturday because of a malfunction in hydraulic tubing, authorities said. Fire spread to about 20 trucks used for fracking that were lined up on the well pad, triggering explosions that spewed clouds of black smoke. Statoil North America operates eight wells on the pad.
At the height of the fire, 20 to 25 families that live within a mile of the site were evacuated. They were allowed to return home on Saturday evening.
A number of area residents reported the fish kill yesterday. Jack Shaner, deputy director of the Ohio Environmental Council, said he has been told that the kill stretched for a few miles.
Shaner said he suspects that chemicals used in fracking ran into the creek when firefighters extinguished the blaze.
“It sounds like it was not just smoke and not just fire, but a major fish kill,” he said. “Both the company and state agencies owe the public a full public accounting of what went wrong and how they are going to prevent future occurrences.”
Statoil North America officials could not be reached for comment.
All 17 of the company’s Ohio wells are in Monroe County, state records show.
12. Lessors Sue Chesapeake Energy for $5 Billion
By ERIN MCAULEY
HARRISBURG, Pa. (CN) - Chesapeake Energy Corp. and its subsidiary Access Midstream Partners cheated Pennsylvania landowners of more than $5 billion in gas and oil royalties through inflated and unreasonable fees, a RICO class action claims in Federal Court.
Lead plaintiff, the Suessenbach Family Limited Partnership, seeks damages for racketeering, unjust enrichment, mail fraud, wire fraud, honest services fraud, conversion and civil conspiracy.
Chesapeake is the nation's second-largest producer of natural gas.
The complaint states: "Since at least 2010 Chesapeake engaged in unlawful conduct to improperly extract billions of dollars in royalties owed to plaintiffs and other lessors by artificially manipulating and deducting from royalty payments the cost of 'marketing,' 'gathering,' and 'transporting' natural gas. The marketing, gathering and transportation deductions at issue in this action were both unreasonable and inflated."
The Suessenbachs claim that "Chesapeake's subsidiaries have paid fees, which are then charged to lessors, for gas pipeline transport to Access Midstream that are many multiples of Access Midstream's actual costs."
In one case, the family claims, the markup was more than 3,000 percent.
"These deductions were inflated, improper, completely unrelated to the 'cost of services,' did not serve to enhance the marketability of gas, and instead, merely served to enrich the co-conspirators who devised the scheme," the complaint states.
It continues: "The benefit to Access Midstream is clear. Access Midstream's predominant source of revenue is gathering fees and Chesapeake accounts for approximately 84 percent of Access Midstream's business."
According to ProPublica, an independent, nonprofit news source cited in the complaint, a rival company executive described the gas-gathering agreements this way: "Chesapeake had found a way to make the landowners pay the principal and interest on what amounts to a multi-billion loan to the company from Access Midstream."
ProPublica reported in March this year that "Chesapeake executed an adroit escape, raising nearly $5 billion ... [b]y gouging many rural landowners out of royalty payments they were supposed to receive."
From courthouse news service, June 25 By ERIN MCAULEY
13. Radiation In The Marcellus
“At the Chemung County landfill in Elmira, New York, piles of drill cuttings from Pennsylvania shale oil wells are scattered around the yard. The cuttings look like heaps of wet black sand, wrapped in a black plastic liner — and they're radioactive.
Those radioactive drill cuttings — the waste pulled to the surface when a new well is drilled — are opening a new front in the already-contentious battle over fracking.
All rocks have some radiation in them, explains Matt Richmond, a reporter for WSKG and the Allegheny Front, who has been following the story. But the Marcellus Shale in the eastern US, one of the regions where fracking is booming, is an unusually radioactive underground formation. A recent study found radiation levels three times higher than in other rock layers.
States in and around the fracking boom are trying to figure out what to do about all this naturally radioactive waste from drilling. Pennsylvania is conducting a study of radiation in the Marcellus Shale. West Virginia passed a law to segregate drill cuttings within landfills. New York State has a moratorium on fracking, but it accepts radioactive drilling waste from nearby Pennsylvania — and that has touched off an intense debate.
Larry Shilling, vice-president of Casella Waste Systems, which operates the Chemung County landfill, says the site has never accepted a load of cuttings that exceeded acceptable levels of radiation. In fact, he wants New York State regulators to allow the company to accept even more cuttings from Pennsylvania.
But not everyone is convinced this landfill is taking sufficient precautions. Gary Abraham, an environmental lawyer in Western New York who is working to block Casella from expanding its landfills, says there’s so much radiation in the deep shale rocks that it must inevitability be entering landfills.
He points to radioactivity readings taken by New York State regulators of the salty water found in the Marcellus Shale. This water, which comes up during and after fracking, is called brine. “The radioactivity of the brine is as high as 15,000 picocuries per liter,” Abraham says. “The background radiation at the surface of the earth in New York is about 1 picocurie per liter.”
Larry Shilling, however, argues that while brine can be radioactive, the drill cuttings he accepts at his site are benign. In fact, he says, testing his site commissioned on the Marcellus cuttings showed very little radiation. “The highest reading we got from any of those four samples was 4.3 picocuries per gram, still under the cleanup standard that EPA set for cleaning up sites,” he says.
Part of the difficulty with this debate is that the parties are talking past each other: Abraham is looking at the brine associated with the Marcellus Shale and raising the red flag; Shilling is focused on the rock and giving the green light.
Avner Vengosh, a geochemist at Duke University, looks at both sides. He says there’s a risk that, once radium locked deep underground gets into streams and rivers, it will make its way into fish and eventually into people.
The particular form of radium found in the Marcellus Shale, radium-226, has a half-life of more than 5,000 years. Once it gets into the environment, it’s there for good.
“Radium is very similar to calcium,” Vengosh says. “As a result, it would accumulate in the bone ... which would lead to bone cancer.” In a stream near one plant that processes fracking wastewater in Pennsylvania, Vengosh has found radium at 200 times the background level. Since contaminants started showing up in streams, Pennsylvania has tightened restrictions.
Since contaminants started showing up in streams, Pennsylvania has tightened restrictions on the disposal of wastewater. But the treatment of solid waste at places like the Chemung County landfill in New York concerns Vengosh.
“Every contaminant that’s being disposed into landfills — the solids — are subject to numerous attacks of acids and different chemicals, different solutions within the landfill,” says Vengosh. “And they’re creating what we call leachate.”
Leachate is basically "garbage tea." Anything that’s in the landfill, like radium, can get into it. What happens to leachate? It ends up at wastewater treatment plants — but the Chemung County plant that serves the Casella landfill can't test for radium.
Casella does its own quarterly radiation test of its leachate. Results showed low levels of radium-226, but each testing showed a small increase.
Fracking is still a relatively new technology and its rapid expansion has outpaced the ability of regulators and activists to track its effects on the environment. It may be years before researchers can gather enough data to draw firm conclusions.
And even then, given the polarized state of the wider environmental debate, we may never agree on what those conclusions suggest we should do.” http://www.pri.org/stories/2014-07-09/heres-another-complication-fracking-radioactive-waste
14. Soil Pollution From Frack Fluid
Fracking fluid spills increase risk of contaminated groundwater
A research group at Cornell University studied the effects of hydraulic fracturing flowback fluid on soil and water retention of pollutants and found that a high percentage of pollutants and heavy metals in the soil leach into groundwater when exposed to flowback fluid.
A study conducted on flowback fluid, or wastewater, from hydraulic fracturing shows that the fluid causes the release of particles in soil that bind to pollutants. When water runs through such soil, the particles unbind from the soil and are released with the water, contaminating groundwater with pollutants.
The particles in question are called colloids. They are microscopic particles that are larger than a molecule and tend to bind to soil and sand grains because of the colloids' electric charge.
A laboratory at Cornell University's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences published its findings in the American Chemical Society's journal, Environmental Science & Technology.
The study attempts to understand the prevalence of colloids in groundwater from soils exposed to flowback fluid via accidental "hydrofracking" spills. They filled tubes with soil mixed with synthetic colloids that shined red under a bright light microscope. In one tube, the researchers poured deionized water. In the other tube, they poured flowback fluid from a drilling site at the Marcellus Shale.
Fewer than 5% of the colloids were leached out of the soil with the deionized water when it was released. But 32-36% of the colloids were released with the flowback fluid.
The authors of the paper believe the cause to be the chemical properties of the flowback fluid, which is used to extract the natural gas from shale. The fluid most likely reduces the binding forces between the colloids and the soil. Any colloids that bind to the soil when the flowback fluid spills into it will be leached, along with bound pollutants and heavy metals, into the groundwater.
The researchers will obtain more data to understand how natural colloids in the soil are affected by flowback fluid. Previous studies found that 10-40% of the fracking fluid used to extract natural gas flows back to the surface, resulting in colloid contamination such as what is seen in this study.
Cathelijne Stoof, a postdoctoral associate at Cornell and the corresponding author of the paper, says, "Sustainable development of any resource requires facts about its potential impacts, so legislators can make informed decisions about whether and where it can and cannot be allowed, and to develop guidelines in case it goes wrong. In case of spills, you want to know what happens when the fluid moves through the soil."
15. Fear of Fracking
“The trouble, of course, is that much of Europe, especially the western half, doesn’t want to frack. France (which has considerable reserves) has banned it, Germany has effectively done the same, and Mr. Cameron’s enthusiasm has been slowed in the United Kingdom by not-in-my-backyard environmental protests. As Conservative MP Nick Herbert put it last year, fracking has sparked a “fear of the unknown.”
An eight-month investigation by the Center for Public Integrity, InsideClimate News and the Weather Channel found that in Texas, the top oil- and gas-producing state, the air-monitoring system in a major fracking region known as the Eagle Ford Shale “is so flawed that the state knows almost nothing about the extent of the [air] pollution” in the area.
Fragments of data on fracking do exist. For example, a new study by British and American academics in the journal Marine and Petroleum Geology calculates that 6.3 percent of 8,030 inspected gas wells in Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale experienced structural problems between 2005 and 2013. That’s useful information, but it takes account of only one state and one type of problem (albeit an important one).
The U.S.EPA expects to complete a study of how fracking impacts water in 2016, two years behind schedule. It will include consolidated information on spills of fracking-related fluid, meaning problems like leaking storage pits and spills from trucks.
This is material we need, but even the EPA is finding it hard to pull the data together, according to its latest progress report. For example, in frack-frenzied Texas no database exists on accidents related to hydraulic fracturing. Oil and gas regulators keep data on spills such as the recent Galveston barge collision, but they do not tally chemical spills linked to fracking, according to the EPA report.
Wyoming and Colorado, among others, do not break out hydraulic fracturing data on accidents either. An industry website, FracFocus.org, contains some information about fracked wells (unrelated to accidents), but it is partial — especially as it relates to chemical disclosures — as well as voluntary and difficult to pull data sets from.
The influence of oil and gas money has a long reach into academic institutes, not to mention state government. “’Frackademia’ has become the preferred term to describe the new partnerships forming between academia and the fracking industry,” Cary Nelson, a professor at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, wrote in the Times Higher Education last year. (Similarly, the industry challenges studies in which academics are perceived to have an environmentalist bias.)
When I covered oil and gas in Texas between 2010 and 2013, one of the hot topics was the amount of water used in fracking. Fracking can use 4 million to 6 million gallons of water per well, or more, so at a time when drought was hitting Texas hard, that naturally came under scrutiny. For journalists, it was frustrating that the major study on the subject (performed by University of Texas researchers) was funded by an oil and gas association.
My great hope is to get beyond the juvenile conversation we’re having now — the echoes of which are heard worldwide — in which environmentalists holler loosely, “Fracking contaminates groundwater!” To which the industry — taking the term “fracking” to mean the specific process of rock-breaking, perhaps the least of the risks — responds, “No, it doesn’t!”
Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/opinion/Op-Ed/2014/04/13/Fear-of-Russia-fear-of-fracking-KATE-GALBRAITH/stories/201404130016#ixzz36SwrPXir