* 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.
Latrobe Farm Market
Thank you to Mike Atherton and Cynthia Walter, Dorothy Pochet and Jan Milburn for working our TDS testing table at Latrobe Farm Market.
To Carol Cutler for a lovely job on creating the flyer, Mike Atherton for publicity, and Jan and Jack Milburn for posting flyers around the Latrobe area.
Thank You --Recent Donations
Thank you to April Jackman, the Shelton family, and Marc Levine for their generous donations that support our work to protect the health and environment of local communities.
We have been busy—The group has been incredibly busy. We: worked at the Latrobe Farm Market for two weeks testing water samples and sharing information about fracking, are working on distributing the Tenaska petitions, are preparing new handouts on data about fracking –including water pollution to the Yough River from the proposed Tenaska plant, worked to get a logo created to have our banner made-which we now have, continue to meet with grad students doing their research on various aspects of fracking, are talking to reporters as needed, are working on local zoning issues, are coordinating a session with Mt Watershed and Jim Rosenberg to learn how to search DEP enotices and permits, and many of us are preparing testimony for the Carbon hearings in Pittsburgh . We always need your support and could be present at more farm markets and events with more volunteers. Our success is limited only by the number of people who care enough to get involved and make a difference. We will continue informing the public, and fighting for the health and the environment of our 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.
*** WMCG Group Meeting We meet the second Tuesday of every month at 7:30 PM in Greensburg. August 12. Email Jan for directions. All are very welcome to attend.
***Fair Shake Gets 12% Profits at Wigle Whiskey -Monday, August 4 (6-9 PM)
2401 Smallman St.
Pittsburgh, PA 15222
You are invited.... and bring some friends...
12% of all sales will go to Fair Shake Environmental Legal Services.
"Fair Shake provides legal representation so that your health, your well-being, your work, and your environmental needs have a voice. No matter who you are. And we teach young attorneys how to do the same."
Attorney Jordan Yeager (of anti-Act 13 fame) is on Fair Shake's Board of Directors. Fair Shake is helping to provide legal services in the fight against fracking.
*** Learn how to better examine DEP e-notices and permits- August 5, 11:00, Mt Watershed Office Bring your laptop. There is limited room so let Jan or Nick at Mt Watershed know if you are interested. Jim Rosenberg will be our facilitator. Nick said they have a screen if some people do not have laptop.
***Boston Art Show Utilizes Local Voices-- July 11, 2014 through January 5, 2015
Open to the public, Boston Museum of Science
Several of us spoke to artist Anne Neeley about water contamination from fracking. Excerpts of what we said about our concerns regarding fracking will play in a loop along with music in the background as people view Anne’s murals of water. The show is not exclusively about the effect of fracking on water and includes other sources of pollution. (see sites below).
Some of us were fortunate to see photos of Anne’s murals. They are beautiful and very thought provoking. Jan
ANNE NEELY WATER STORIES PROJECT: A CONVERSATION IN PAINT AND SOUND
July 2014 – January 2015, Museum of Science, Boston
“Water Stories: A Conversation in Painting and Sound” is at the Museum of Science, Boston through January 2015. In recent years I have conveyed ideas about water and the phenomena of water through nature, the news, memory and imagination. These paintings explore the beauty and foreboding of water, related to central themes, mostly manmade and thru climate change affecting this country. Sound artist Halsey Burgund has created a 35 minute audio composition that accompanies the paintings, comprised of five sections grouped by thematic content: The Future, Stories, Bad Things, Science and Cherish. The voices are edited and combined with water sounds and musical elements and play in a continuous loop throughout the gallery. By placing this work in this Museum of Science there is an extraordinary opportunity to clarify and illuminate issues around water through visceral connections that paintings often elicit from viewers while raising public awareness. My hope is that this exhibition will spawn a new sense of ownership about not only the issues facing us about water but how we use water on a daily basis.”
"Together, Anne and I plan to explore big ideas about what’s happening with water in this country. In the 2014, the Museum will exhibit Anne’s work and host a series of related programs. At the Museum, we find that mixing art with our more typical educational approaches works well. The art opens people to ideas, emotion, scale, and import, in ways that more explicit techniques may not. It broadens the audience, welcomes people who learn differently, and adds dimensions of experience that are otherwise unavailable."
— David G. Rabkin, PhD, Director for Current Science and Technology, Museum of Science, Boston, MA
Visit these sites for images and more information:
TAKE ACTION !!
***Letters to the editor are important and one of the best ways to share information with the public. ***
***See Tenaska Petition at the top of the Updates
From Peter Wray, Sierra Club: MAJOR CLIMATE CHANGE ACTIONS COMING UP
We are organizing two buses from Pittsburgh to the PEOPLES CLIMATE MARCH in New York City, September 21. See http://alleghenysc.org/?p=19091.
*Join the People’s Climate March in New York City, Sept. 21. ACTION: Register now for a seat on one of the Pittsburgh buses. http://alleghenysc.org/?p=19091
And Other Sierra Club Posts:
*Divestment from Fossil Fuel Companies Gains Momentum. Churches and colleges withdrawing financial support. (July 12, 2014) http://alleghenysc.org/?p=19114
*Learn How Citizens Forced Coke Plant Cleanup in New York. Visitors will describe how they gained a record fine against polluting company, July 17 & 18. (July 10, 2014) http://alleghenysc.org/?p=19072
*Supreme Court Supports EPA’s Right to Regulate Carbon Emissions from Industrial Sources. Decision eases way for Obama’s Climate Action Plan. (June 27, 2014) http://alleghenysc.org/?p=18967
***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:
***Link to Shalefield Stories-Personal stories of those affected by fracking http://www.friendsoftheharmed.com/
***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 and condensed. Please use links for the full article.
Special Thanks to Bob Donnan for photos.
I have no report yet on the Wed night Mariner Pipeline Meeting in Delmont. I will include notes next week. Jan
1. Property Rights –Do No Harm To Your Neighbors
Justice Baer, PA Supreme Court:
"Pursuant to Article I, Section 1 of the Pennsylvania Constitution, and the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution, no person may be deprived of his private property without due process of law. In the early years of the Union, this constitutional guarantee translated into the general notion that a landowner had the right to do as he saw fit with his property. As modern American jurisprudence developed, however that constitutional guarantee developed an important limitation: sic utere tuo ut alienum non laedas - so use your own property as not to injure your neighbors." http://www.pacourts.us/courts/supreme-court/supreme-court-justices/justice-max-baer
John: “This is the basis for constitutional use of police powers and zoning to ensure your neighbor's use of his/her property is compatible with surrounding properties and is not used in a way that injures a neighboring property.”
Elizabeth D’s Comment---To be kept in mind when the air, water, soil of your property - not to mention the quiet rural setting you chose to live in - is being compromised by an industrial drilling site anywhere nearby. We each have the right to livable, safe conditions...rights that are not trumped by a neighbor's right to make money off the land they are living on. Land they should be stewards of, frankly.
2. Construction of $500M Power Plant in South Huntingdon
(Sign petition at the top of the Updates to oppose this permanent source of air pollution and water pollution which will go into the Yough. Jan)
“The enormous cost of building gas-fired power plants, coupled with regulatory complexities, may mean only one in five proposed plants ever will be built, says the regional grid operator that moves wholesale electricity in all or parts of 13 states and the District of Columbia.
But Ray Dotter, spokesman for PJM International, the Valley Forge transmission group, predicted a plan by Omaha-based Tenaska Inc. to build a $500 million power plant off Interstate 70 in South Huntingdon has a good shot because it has negotiated many obstacles.
“Less than 20 percent of proposals actually get built, but the Tenaska proposal has a higher probability,” Dotter said.
Tenaska purchased 400 acres to build a 930-megawatt plant and secured permits. It invested about $500,000 with the Westmoreland County Municipal Authority to reserve water for the plant.
Even so, Tenaska has delayed the start of construction until next year, partly because it hasn't penned long-term commitments to buy electricity necessary to recoup the cost of building.
The company is seeking 30-year contracts with power companies, said Michael C. Roth, Tenaska's director of development.
“It seems folks are looking for shorter tenure. We're trying to work through it,” Roth said. “We have seen growth for power, but it has been sluggish due to the economy. We have not seen the demand we expected, but we remain optimistic.”
It's optimism fueled by tightening federal emissions regulations forcing the planned deactivation or retirement of six coal plants in Pennsylvania by 2019.
Of the 32 gas-powered plants proposed for Pennsylvania, only one, by Texas-based Panda Power Projects, is under construction.
“You have to have customers to sell power,” said Jake Smeltz, president of the Harrisburg-based Electric Power Generating Association.
Once built, however, gas-powered plants are cheaper to operate than coal- or nuclear-fired plants, Smeltz said.
Panda's 829-megawatt plant in Asylum in Bradford County, will provide electricity to 1 million homes. Thirty months of construction began almost a year ago.
“The market needs power,” said Panda spokesman Bill Pentak. He said the plant's proximity to Marcellus shale-gas fields significantly lowers the company's operating costs.
But it wasn't a smooth road for Panda.
“It's not easy to finance,” he said. “It's very capital-intensive. There are so many requirements that the question is, ‘Can you take it to Wall Street?' ”
Two other plants planned for Western Pennsylvania are in development:
• Construction has not begun on a 900-megawatt unit proposed by New Jersey-based LSPower in North Beaver, Lawrence County. The state issued permits for the $750 million plant along the Mahoning River. Company officials did not return phone calls or emails seeking comment.
• A plan by Robinson Power/Beech Hollow Energy for a plant in Robinson, Washington County, has been delayed since its 2011 proposal. Company owner Ray Bologna, who could not be reached, told the Tribune-Review earlier that he would seek better technology for the plant.
Read more: http://triblive.com/state/pennsylvania/6328602-74/plant-power-plants#ixzz38npa0dju
3. Penn Trafford Drilling: Mlakar Says No Safe Zones Are Permitted by State Law
(Solicitor Mlakar said: “Because state law bars municipalities from creating a “safe zone” from drilling…,” Did anyone question Mlakar’s opinion since the PA Supreme Court ruled that fracking is an industrial process that doesn’t belong in residential areas? Is that not creating a safe zone? jan )
“As drillers show more interest in Penn Township land, municipal officials are planning to create an overlay zoning district that would allow oil and gas extraction from almost anywhere in the township but prohibit wells and other drilling structures in residential areas.
Township officials plan to meet with their consultant from the Olsen and Associates firm next week to continue revisions to a new zoning ordinance and zoning map. A new draft of the ordinance is expected to be posted to the township's website in August as officials prepare for second public hearing in September or October.
Because state law bars municipalities from creating a “safe zone” from drilling, township officials are discussing the size of “substantial, reasonable” setbacks necessary to limit the disturbance to residential areas while preserving oil and gas rights for property owners or lease holders, solicitor Les Mlakar said.
Like the draft township officials put out for public review in May, the new proposal would continue to allow extraction in residential areas — such as through horizontal drilling techniques — but prevent wells, sediment ponds or pumping or compressor stations in neighborhoods, Mlakar said.
“We're not calling them ‘permitted uses,'” Mlakar said about various operational facilities. “They're going to be special exceptions no matter what area, but we're trying to isolate the residential areas.”
Six of the 12 residents who commented during the May public hearing expressed worries about drilling affecting their general quality of life or the rural character of the township.
Officials of Apex Energy, a Marcellus shale-drilling company, are considering as many as eight projects in Penn Township. Company representatives have been soliciting residents in the Level Green area for baseline water-quality tests related to a possible drilling site in the township near the North Huntingdon and Trafford borders.
Earlier this year, Bow & Arrow, the land-procurement arm of the Huntley & Huntley drilling company, bought 219 acres off Pleasant Valley Road near the Murrysville border.
Mlakar updated the township's work on the zoning ordinance during a public meeting Monday night after residents Michael Bertonaschi, Marian Szmyd and Val Lamanna asked for answers about how township officials are responding to drilling.
Szmyd said she wants her well water to be protected and township officials to create substantial setbacks.
“You are the police state of this township; you make the rules,” she said. “I cannot do anything — add an addition (or) whatever — and you're going to welcome this industrial use into our township?”
Lamanna requested that township officials take greater efforts to inform residents about drilling activity.
“I talk to people, and they have no idea what I'm talking about,” Lamanna said. “They're like, ‘That's out in Washington County. There's not going to be drilling in Penn Township.'”
Like the residents, Commissioner Ed Sullivan described himself and his board colleagues as “concerned citizens” who don't have anything to gain from drilling activity in the township.
Sullivan said he even expects drilling to affect his quarter-acre residential lot, but he doesn't own the mineral rights.
“We don't oppose, necessarily, gas drilling,” Sullivan said of the commissioners' position, “but we want to make sure it's done responsibly.”
Chris Foreman is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-871-2363 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
4. Independent Judges Rule-- Sunoco Logistics
Pipeline Can’t Bypass Local Zoning Laws, But PUC Will Still Rule
“Sunoco Logistics can’t bypass local zoning laws to develop its natural gas liquids pipeline project known as Mariner East. That’s the word from a pair of independent administrative law judges for the state’s Public Utility Commission, or PUC.
Sunoco Logistics wants to build 18 pump and valve stations to keep natural gas liquids flowing along the pipeline’s 300-mile route from western Pennsylvania to Marcus Hook.
For months, the company has attempted to make the case – to local residents and to the PUC – that it is a public utility corporation, and that the pipeline itself offers a public utility service.
In a ruling issued Wednesday, the judges dismissed that claim, resulting in a win for residents who have teamed up with environmental groups to fight the project.
“We’re happy that it proves what we’ve been saying all along,” said Tom Casey, the head of a citizens’ advocacy group in Chester County.
However, Casey, a resident of West Goshen Township, could not officially declare victory.
The case will ultimately be decided by the five-member Public Utility Commission. A PUC spokeswoman said the commission can accept, reject or modify the judges’ decision.
Regardless of the outcome, the parties in the case can appeal to the state’s Commonwealth Court.
Jeff Shields, a spokesman for Sunoco Logistics, said the company believes the PUC will “continue to recognize that the proposed Mariner East service will result in numerous public benefits.”
PUC Chairman Robert Powelson was formerly the member of a group of key industry players and business leaders promoting energy projects in the Philadelphia region, leading some advocates to question his objectivity in the Sunoco Logistics case.
In May, Powelson stepped down from the group, he said, “to avoid even the appearance of bias.”
Lynda Farrel, executive director of the Chester County-based Pipeline Safety Coalition, believes Powelson should recuse himself from the Mariner East vote.
“Removing himself from the energy [team] was a passive way of admitting that he does have a bias,” she said.
When asked by StateImpact Pennsylvania previously, Powelson said he was not sure whether he would recuse himself, and that he was able to do his job by looking at the facts.
A PUC spokeswoman said the parties in the case will have through the end of August to file exceptions and replies if they disagree with the judges’ ruling. It is not clear when the five commissioners will take up the issue.”
5. Cecil Twp. Again Requests DEP Meeting
DEP’s Poister Defends Waste Pit
“Cecil Township officials sent a letter to local legislators after a letter to the DEP – requesting a meeting to discuss a Marcellus Shale water impoundment – went unanswered.
Township Manager Don Gennuso sent a letter to the DEP July 10, explaining the township had concerns and questions about Cecil Impoundment 23, formerly known as the Worstell impoundment. Some supervisors said they wanted the DEP to test groundwater at the impoundment in light of a leak at the Jon Day impoundment in Amwell Township.
Both impoundments are operated by Range Resources.
After two weeks had passed without a reply from the DEP, Gennuso sent a letter to state Sen. Tim Solobay, D-Canonsburg, and state Rep. Jesse White, D-Cecil, seeking assistance.
Gennuso wrote, “The lack of response is especially frustrating given the recent findings of Auditor General Eugene DePasquale regarding the DEP’s performance and responsiveness.”
The performance audit of the DEP, released last week, sharply criticized the DEP’s handling of oil and gas development and its “poor” communication with complainants.
“Given the recent high-profile problems at other similarly constructed wastewater impoundments in the area (Jon Day, Yeager, etc.), it is completely reasonable for Cecil Township to pursue their constitutional obligation to protect the health, safety and welfare of their residents by ensuring the integrity of the Worstell impoundment,” White said in a letter he sent to the DEP Monday.
The impoundment was the subject of several private meetings last year between supervisors and the DEP – and, separately, with Range Resources. It also caused an ideological divide on the board as to whether officials should accept a private meeting if it appeared to be the only way to get answers.
DEP spokesman John Poister said the impoundment can operate indefinitely as long as it is servicing wells. He said there have been no recent issues at the site.”
6. Geyer Family Plans To Frack Near School
“Kim and Bob Geyer have been in the center of a firestorm as a parents group fights Rex Energy's plans to drill for natural gas on the couple's 150-acre farm.
The Geyers say they have a constitutional right to lease their land — which stretches from their home in Adams into adjacent Middlesex — for a Marcellus shale drilling well pad.
“We've been doing this by the letter of the law through the (Department of Environmental Protection),” said Bob Geyer, 56, who owns a construction business.
He and his late father, Bill, signed a lease with Rex about five years ago. The Geyers declined to discuss the terms.
The DEP could decide within the next few weeks whether to grant Rex permits to drill on the farm at a site in Middlesex, three-quarters of a mile from Mars Area School District property in Adams.
The parents group is fighting to get a 2-mile buffer around the school campus where drilling and industrial development would be prohibited.
“It's about the safety and well-being of our children in our community,” said Amy Nassif, a member of the parents group.
The Geyers aren't buying the group's safety argument. The couple said there is no scientific data to support the need for a 2-mile prohibition.
Instead, the Geyers said, they believe that opponents are concerned about their property values.
“We've never really even discussed property values,” Nassif said.
The Geyers said they have lived their entire lives in southern Butler County, and their families go back in the area more than three generations. They care about children.
“These people are trying to tell me what to do with my property,” said Bob Geyer said of the opponents.
“It's setting precedence in not just gas-well drilling, but in defending private property rights,” Kim Geyer said. “It's an American, it's a constitutional thing.”
Kim Geyer, 51, secretary for Butler County Commissioner William Pinkerton, serves on XTO Energy's community advisory panel, a role she said educated her about the drilling industry.
She also is a former president of the Mars Area School Board.
Kim Geyer said her family believes that DEP rules and regulations governing drilling, including a 500-foot setback from schools, are enough protection.
Nassif said the group is not pointing fingers any one person.
“I don't think that anyone in the group personally knows the Geyers. It's not only about the Geyers, but everybody who wants to develop around the schools,” she said. “
Read more: http://triblive.com/news/butler/6486407-74/geyer-geyers-drilling#ixzz38ipE9dJ7
7. EPA Says Lead Exceeds Standards
From Bob S. via LAWPA
“EPA said today that in Potter, Center and Vanport Twps. the air lead concentrations exceed the Federal standards and pose a serious violation and health risks. The PaDEP will hold a public meeting on Sept. 3rd, 2014 at 1 PM , S.W. Regional Office Waterfront Drive Pittsburgh. This is the proposed CRACKER PLANT ZONE !”
8. Ruling: Public Safety Plan Will Not Be Public
“The Office of Open Records in Harrisburg sided with Chartiers Township and denied the Observer- Reporter’s appeal for access to the township’s evacuation plan.
Appeals Officer Benjamin Lorah ruled the evacuation plan is public safety information that is exempt under the Right to Know Law.
“Obviously, we are disappointed in the decision to deny our request for the evacuation plan,” said Lucy Northrop Corwin, the O- R’s director of news. “We feel the community is better served by having the information in advance of an actual emergency at the plant.”
The newspaper filed a Right to Know request for the evacuation plan two weeks after about 100 township residents were evacuated in May when lightning struck the MarkWest cryogenic plant on Western Avenue and caused a natural gas leak.
Chartiers Township Manager Jodi Noble denied the request, and the newspaper appealed the decision to the Office of Open Records June 25. The Observer- Reporter argued the evacuation plan should be made public because confusion ensued during the evacuation in May, and several residents self-evacuated before first responders arrived.
Several residents also complained that first responders did not immediately divulge what had happened.
The township, in its response to the newspaper’s appeal, argued the evacuation “ was performed calmly and professionally with no resulting injuries or panic.”
According to state law, documents pertaining to law enforcement or public safety can be kept private if releasing them would be “reasonably likely to jeopardize or threaten public safety.”
The Office of Open Records agreed with Chartiers Township that the exemption applied. The plan includes evacuation procedures, control points used to limit traffic and the planned stations of emergency personnel. It also includes information provided by Mark-West, such as power supply sources, access locations and site infrastructure.
Chartiers Township argued that releasing the evacuation plan would make evacuation routes “vulnerable to disruption” and also would make police officers vulnerable by disclosing their locations in the event of an emergency.
“It is Chartiers Township’s position that the disclosure of names, addresses and procedures in the event of an evacuation will create confusion among the general public and would threaten public safety and protection,” the township said in its response to the Observer-Reporter’s appeal.
A separate Right to Know request was submitted last October by township resident Erin Sethman, who lives across from the MarkWest plant. In her request, she wrote, “Our home is in very close proximity of the plant. … This request is reasonable due to small children and elderly living in harm’s way.”
The township also denied Sethman’s request.
Chartiers Township cannot be compelled to provide the plan, but Lorah cited a section of state law indicating that the township could opt to make an otherwise-exempt document public if the township “determines that the public interest favoring access outweighs any individual, agency or public interest that may favor restriction of access.”
In response to the Observer- Reporter’s appeal, Chartiers Township provided a copy of the “basic plan” portion of the emergency response plan but said the “incident specific” evacuation plan was not public. The basic plan includes a safety checklist and several blank forms that would be used in the event of an emergency.”
9. Colorado Judge Strikes Down Longmont’s Fracking Ban “Boulder County District Court Judge D.D. Mallard decision regarding Longmont, CO’s fracking ban includes no ambiguity. Instead it clearly states that concerns about health risks to residents don’t quite stack up against Colorado’s stake in the oil and gas industries.
“While the court appreciates the Longmont citizens’ sincerely held beliefs about risks to their health and safety, the court does not find this is sufficient to completely devalue the state’s interest,” Mallard wrote in the decision. Voters approved the ban in 2012, but the Colorado Oil and Gas Association never stopped fighting to overturn it. Earthworks, the Sierra Club, Our Health, Our Future, Our Longmont and the other environmental groups listed as defendants plan on appealing the decision. The judge ruled that the ban can remain in place while an appeal is considered.
A judge’s decision favoring Colorado’s fracking industry makes it clear that residential safety isn’t as much of a priority.
“While we respectfully disagree with the court’s final decision, [Mallard] was correct that we were asking this Court, in part, to place protection from the health, safety and environmental risks from fracking over the development of mineral resources,” Kaye Fissinger, president of Our Health, Our Future, Our Longmont, said in a statement on Earthworks’ website.
“It’s tragic that the judge views the current law in Colorado is one in which fracking is more important than public health; reversing that backwards priority is a long-term battle that we’re determined to continue.”
According to the Post, the City of Longmont had spent $116,324 defending the ban as of June 30. Though the groups argued that the language the industry relied on to get its desired result was written far before modern practices like fracking, Mallard said the issue should be taken up with a higher court or state legislators.
“This decision means two things: The judge has invited us to seek the change we need either through the higher courts or the legislature,” said Bruce Baizel, Earthworks Energy Program director. “We fully intend to pursue the former on appeal, while the latter underscores the need for the citizens of Colorado to get out and support the Environmental Bill of Rights ballot measure this Fall.”
Brandon Baker | July 25, 2014 10:17 am | Comments
10. Huge Loss of Jobs Forecast for Europe Due To US Shale Boom
“The U.S. shale-gas boom is placing 30 million jobs at risk in Europe as companies with greater reliance on energy contend with higher fuel prices than their American counterparts, the International Energy Agency said.
Manufacturers of petrochemicals, aluminum, fertilizers and plastics are leaving Europe to take advantage of booming U.S. production of natural gas from shale rock formations, Fatih Birol, chief economist for the International Energy Agency, a Paris-based adviser to 29 nations, said at a conference in London today.
“Many petrochemicals companies in central Europe are moving out,” Birol said. “Thirty million jobs are in danger.”
The U.S. has become the world’s largest producer of oil and gas as hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling help producers extract resources from shale rock. The country’s refineries processed a record volume of crude last week as plants took advantage of cheaper domestic crudes. Chemical makers from Germany’s BASF SE to Brazil’s Braskem SA plan to invest as much as $72 billion in U.S. plants to take advantage of low-cost natural gas feedstock.
U.S. refineries are competing for market share and benefiting from margins that exceed those of European competitors by as much as $10 a barrel because of cheaper crude, Hermes Commodities said in a report today.”
Comment by Duane Nichols: By continuing to ignore all of the environmental impacts and secondary costs of “shale fracking,” the U. S. is sowing the seeds of major societal disruption around the world. And, how can we in all conscience refuse to adopt very strong programs to abate “climate change” as well as global “plastics pollution.” Our oceans and sea creatures are already plasticized. The future of Earth is in the balance now!
11. Federal Report Details Chemicals Used At Frack Site
MONROE COUNTY, Ohio – “For the first time, we are learning some of the chemicals used to frack an oil and natural gas well that was involved in a huge fire June 28 in Monroe County.
But we're learning about the chemicals the hard way, after those products and trucks staged to hydraulically fracture oil and natural wells went up in a giant inferno.
An investigation in the explosion and fire is still ongoing, but NBC4's Rick Reitzel was able to get some of those details from the U.S. EPA. The fire was so large it could be seen across the Ohio River in West Virginia. The smoke from it was so thick the Monroe County EMA Director, Phil Keevert said firefighters had to be pulled back three times and it took more than 24 hours to extinguish.
First responders poured in from around Monroe and Belmont counties and from West Virginia to attack the fire. In all, Keevert said 12 fire departments and other state, federal and private agency assisted. The report states more than 300,000 gallons of water were poured onto the burning well pad.
On the site there were sixteen different chemicals were staged in trucks ready to frack wells. Along with those chemicals we have learned were three radiological sources, called Cesium-137, shaped charges, primer cord and detonators.
NBC4: "Do you feel satisfied that you knew enough about what was going on there to keep fire fighters safe?
"There were some questionable moments not have a full list of the chemicals," said Phil Keevert, Monroe County EMA Director.
He said a Halliburton representative told him about the chemicals at the fire scene. As to the radiological sources, “we were told about the three boxes on site," Keevert said. But none of the 12 fire departments knew what chemicals, radiological and explosives they were encountering before they arrived at the emergency.
"Where has the state been on all of this," said Dr. Juilie Weatherington-Rice. She is a geologist, soil scientist and Adjunct Professor at The Ohio State University.
She said fire departments should have a list of chemicals and an emergency plan for each site before an emergency.
"Why don't people know ahead of time, because we can't make the assumption this will never happen, because guess what it did," she said.
Weatherington-Rice said she hopes first responders on the scene were wearing breathing masks. Because some of the chemicals consumed in the fire were toxic and could make you sick, others more hazardous could kill you. The affects, she said, might not be realized immediately. The report states 70,000 fish were killed in Opossum Creek which leads into the Ohio River. There is no evidence of whether fish were killed in the river. Contrary to what the well owner StatOil said after the fire, the US EPA report shows flowback water also poured out of one of the seven well on the site, in the creek.
Dr. Weatherington-Rice said she is concerned about the state being our watchdog.
"It does not appear to be as concerned about protecting the people of Ohio as it appears to be concerned about promoting oil and gas drilling," she said.
ODNR Spokesman Mark Bruce said the investigation into the fire is still ongoing and they cannot comment about it. But said state and federal laws ensure first responders and investigators were aware of the hazards onsite.”
Reading the EPA Report is an eye opener.
To read the PDF of the Report: http://ftpcontent5.worldnow.com/wcmh/pdf/eisenbarth_well_pad_fire.pdf?referrerDomain=www.nbc4i.com
188.8.131.52 Description of Threat:
“Over 16 different chemicals products were staged on the Pad at the time of the explosion and subsequent fire. Materials present on the Pad included but was not limited to: diesel fuel, hydraulic oil, motor oil, hydrochloric acid, cesium-137 sources, hydrotreated light petroleum distillates, terpenes, terpenoids, isoproponal, ethylene glycol, paraffinic solvents, sodium persulfate, tributyl tetradecyl phosphonium chloride and proprietary components. As a result of fire-fighting efforts and flow back from the well head, significant quantities of water and unknown quantities of products on the well pad left the Site and entered an unnamed tributary of Opossum Creek that ultimately discharges to the Ohio River. Runoff left the pad at various locations via sheet flow as well as by two catch basins located at the northwest and southeast corners of the well pad.
Opossum Creek discharges to the Ohio River 1.7 miles upstream of a public water intake on the West Virginia side of the river. There are also protected species located down steam of the Opossum Creek confluence with the Ohio River.
1.1.3 Preliminary Removal Assessment/Removal Site Inspection Results
The fire and explosion that occurred on the Eisenbarth Well Pad involved more than 25,000 gallons of various products that were staged and/or in use on the site. Upon USEPA arrival at approximately 2000 hours on June 28, 2104, numerous fires continued to burn on the well pad, uncontained run-off was exiting the site and entering an unnamed tributary of Opossum Creek to the south and west and flowback water from the Eisenbarth Well #7 was spilling onto the well pad. Initial air monitoring did not detect any concentrations of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in the community downwind of the site. Initial inspections in the early hours of June 29, 2014 of Opossum Creek approximately 3.5 miles downstream of the site identified dead fish in the creek.
Initial reports identified the following products were involved and lost in the fire: ~250 gallons of hydrochloric acid (28%), ~7,040 gallons of GasPerm 1000 (terpenes, terpenoids, isopropanol, citrus extract, proprietary components), ~330 gallons of LCA-1 (paraffinic solvents), ~ 1900 gallons of LGC-36 UC (hydrotreated light petroleum distillate, guar gum), ~1000 gallons of BC-140 (monoethanolamine borate, ethylene glycol), ~3300 gallons of BE-9 (tributyl tetradecyl phosphonium chloride), ~30,000 gallons of WG-36 (polysaccharide gel), ~1,000 gallons of FR- 66 (hydrotreated light petroleum distillate), ~9000 gallons of diesel fuel, ~300 gallons of motor and hydraulic oil.
Additionally, there was an inventory of shaped charges, primer cord and detonators on the site as well as three Cesium-137 radiological sources (2-100 millicurie and 1-55 millicurie) with unknown disposition as a result of the fire.
2.1---- 1-mile evacuation notice was issued for the area surrounding the Site affecting 25 residences. At approximately 1900, fire departments ceased fire-fighting efforts and left the scene. A water curtain was maintained, using pump lines on site, to prevent the fire from spreading to a trailer containing 1100 pounds of SP Breaker (an oxidizer), 200 pounds of soda ash and compressed gas cylinders of oxygen (3-2000 lb.), acetylene (2-2000 lb.), propane (6-20 lb.), among miscellaneous aerosol cans.
2.1.2 Response Actions to Date
June 28--Upon arrival, USEPA observed uncontrolled runoff of liquids from the Eisenbarth Well Pad from the south and west sides of the site. Numerous fires were observed across the well pad and a well head was observed releasing flowback water. All runoff from the Site flowed downhill to the south and west and entered an unnamed tributary to Opossum Creek which discharges to the Ohio River. At least 16 different products were present on the well pad and most were lost in the fire. The chemicals present in the aforementioned products included but is not limited to the following: hydrotreated light petroleum distillates, terpenes, terpenoids, isoproponal, ethylene glycol, paraffinic solvents, sodium persulfate, tributyl tetradecyl phosphonium chloride and proprietary components among others. In addition, three Cesium-137 radiological sources were present on the pad as part of densometers and shaped charges, primer cord and detonators were present for use in the perforating guns.
June 29-There was concern over the ability to analyze for and detect the primary component of BE-9 [tributyl tetradecyl phosphonium chloride (TTPC)] for which there is no approved standard method to detect.
Water samples of runoff indicated the presence of TPH, 2-butanone, acetone, benzene, ethylbenzene, xylenes, toluene, bis(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate, phenanthrene, pyrene, phenol, and chlorides. Surface water sampling results indicated the presence of TPH, acetone, o-Cresol, bis(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate and chlorides downstream of the well pad.
June 30- ODNR Division of Wildlife completed their in stream assessment of the fish kill and reported an estimated 70,000 dead fish from an approximately 5 mile stretch extending from the unnamed tributary just west of the Eisenbarth Well Pad to Opossum Creek just before its confluence with the Ohio River. No fish kills were reported on the Ohio River.
Water samples of runoff indicated the presence of TPH, 2-butanone, acetone, benzene, xylenes, toluene, bis(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate, 1-methylnapthalene, 2-methylnapthalene, o-Cresol, m&pCresol, naphthalene, phenol, and chlorides. Surface water sampling results indicated the presence of TPH, acetone, bis(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate, phenol and chlorides downstream of the well pad.
July 2-Fires continued to rekindle on the pad and spread. Several options were evaluated and Statoil worked with Monroe County EMA to smother the fire with earthen material.
July 30--Hot spots on the well pad continue to smolder and are addressed as needed if open flames are observed. The tank full of WG-36 also continues to burn. Plans to extinguish it are being developed.
Work was again halted on the pad after an inventory reconciliation determined that additional explosives remained somewhere on the pad. All 5 missing “barrels” were located and removed by Horizontal.
Plans to assess surround drinking water wells are being developed. Statoil has previously sampled all wells within 5,000 feet of well head prior to commencing operations.
July 5 Fish collection was completed. In total, 11,116 dead fish were collected (20 different species), 3,519 crustaceans, 7 frogs and 20 salamanders. Due to the warm weather, number of days the fish were in the creek, scavenging, etc., the fish recovered were in advanced states of decomposition. Following the removal of this biomass, in stream dissolved oxygen readings began to return to normal after several days of low readings.
A visual inspection of the creek by USEPA and OEPA noted continued presence of some dead fish. Also noted was the presence of minnows and small mouth bass in portions of the creek. Caddisflies, mayflies and a dobsonfly larvae (of significant size) was noted in the lower reaches of Opossum creek. Also algae and snails were also noted returning to the creek.
12. Halliburton Misplaced Radioactive Cylinder: ‘Do Not Handle’-Texas
(I copied this article because it provides some information about a radioactive tool used in fracking. Jan)
“The radioactive cylinder that Halliburton lost in West Texas is similar to the device pictured, according …
Somewhere in West Texas is a 7-inch radioactive cylinder that Halliburton would like to find. Anyone who comes across it is advised to keep their distance.
The oil field services company lost track of the device, which is used to assess potential sites for hydraulic fracturing, on Tuesday (Sept. 11) while trying to transport it from Pecos to a well site near Odessa 130 miles away. A special unit of the Texas National Guard has now stepped in to aid Halliburton in a search for the cylinder, according to Bloomberg.
"It's not something that produces radiation in an extremely dangerous form," said Chris Van Deusen, a spokesman for the Texas Department of State Health Services. "But it’s best for people to stay back, 20 or 25 feet."
The tool that Halliburton lost contains a mixture of beryllium and americium-241, the same radioactive isotope of americium that is found in very small quantities in a common type of smoke detector.
"In the presence of beryllium, the alpha particles [emitted by americium-241] will react to form neutrons," explained Tom Hei, associate director of Columbia University's Center for Radiological Research. "For alpha particles, you can put a piece of paper in front of it and will provide adequate shielding. Such is not the case for neutrons, which require significantly more shielding or a longer distance from the source for adequate protection."
The neutrons emitted by the cylinder have a biological impact 10 times more powerful than X-rays and the distance at which they would be dangerous to humans would depend on how much of the radioactive material is contained in the device, Hei told Life's Little Mysteries.
According to the International Atomic Energy Agency's five-tier scale for categorizing radioactive sources, the americium-241/beryllium neutron sources used for assessing hydraulic fracturing sites are classified as Category 3 sources (Category 1 is the most dangerous).
The agency's explanation of a Category 3 source that hasn't been dispersed by fire or explosion reads: "This source, if not safely managed or securely protected, could cause permanent injury to a person who handled it or who was otherwise in contact with it for some hours. It could possibly — although it would be unlikely — be fatal to be close to this amount of unshielded radioactive material for a period of days to weeks."
The Texas health department says the cylinder is stamped with the words “danger radioactive” and “do not handle” along with a radiation warning symbol. Anyone who sees it is advised by the department to keep away and notify local law enforcement.”
13. PA Health Dept. Does Not Instill Confidence
Write nurses RUTH McDERMOTT-LEVY and NINA M. KAKTINS
“Imagine you’re a parent living near a natural-gas fracking site in Pennsylvania when suddenly your child begins having nose bleeds and skin rashes. The pediatrician suspects some type of exposure from the nearby well, and you’ve heard stories on the news and from neighbors about health issues related to fracking. You decide to call the health department, a trusted source of information. But no one returns your calls and your questions remain unanswered.
The Pennsylvania Department of Health is charged with ensuring and protecting the health of all state residents. It fulfills this obligation by partnering with communities to monitor existing and emerging health problems and to establish programs that prevent disease and injury.
Recent revelations and allegations indicate the health department may not be serving all Pennsylvanians as it claims.
As reported by NPR’s StateImpact Pennsylvania, two former health department employees say staff were given a list of “buzzwords,” such as “fracking,” “Marcellus Shale” and “drilling,” and instructed not to respond to health complaints containing these words but instead to refer them to the department’s Bureau of Epidemiology. This practice was different from how they handled all other health issues throughout their extensive careers at the department.
Although the state health department initially denied the list existed, it has since acknowledged that it did but said it was intended only as a guide. The Bureau of Epidemiology maintains it is investigating health complaints related to fracking, but, unlike in other states, in Pennsylvania complaints of potential fracking-related health problems are not made public.
In the face of these allegations and the fact that public information is not available about how thoroughly complaints are being investigated by the Bureau of Epidemiology, it is difficult to tell whether the Pennsylvania Department of Health is fulfilling its mission. We depend on the department to put the health of Pennsylvanians’ first and base its practices on science, not politics.
This concern was heightened Tuesday when Auditor General Eugene DePasquale issued a scorching review of how another state agency, the Department of Environmental Protection, is overseeing the shale gas industry and responding to citizens' complaints that drilling has affected their drinking water.
There is certainly reason to worry about the health impacts of fracking, with mounting evidence of both water and air contamination.
The Post-Gazette revealed Tuesday that the DEP is about to report that oil and gas operations have damaged Pennsylvania water supplies 209 times since the end of 2007. A document released to the newspaper did not detail which companies were involved, what pollutants were found or why the problems occurred.
We do know that methane migration has affected groundwater and that discharge of under-treated waste has affected surface waters. Increased particulate matter and ground-level ozone have affected local triggers for asthma attacks, cardiac problems and the exacerbation of respiratory ailments.
People living in fracking areas have experienced various illnesses, and there is potential for long-term effects. We have a dynamic public health issue growing in our state, but the state health department does not seem to have adapted to meet the health needs of Pennsylvanians.
Since the department has failed to provide a public registry of fracking-related complaints, there is no way to determine whether it is adequately monitoring and investigating fracking’s health effects. Additionally, unlike some other states, the commonwealth has never conducted a health impact assessment to identify the health risks for Pennsylvanians in drilling areas.
In the absence of a public registry of illnesses or considerations of risk, the health department and the shale gas industry can more easily suggest there’s a lack of evidence that fracking can cause health problems. We ask the health department to publicly report complaints of potential fracking-related health problems, status reports and conclusions of complaint investigations, and recommendations made to address illnesses and prevent them in the future.
This seems a reasonable request since information on other public health investigations is posted for the public on the health department’s website. Why should fracking investigations be treated differently?
Furthermore, the health department has neglected to provide educational and public health information on identified risks in fracking areas, such as general ways to avoid air pollution and address water-quality concerns. A review of the department’s website shows no information or links for health information related to fracking, natural gas or the Marcellus Shale. Pennsylvanians are not able to turn to their state health department to make informed decisions or to learn safe practices to reduce health risks related to fracking.
The allegations by the former health department employees and the lack of public evidence that the health department is seriously addressing fracking as a public health issue should matter to all of us, even if we don’t live near natural-gas operations. Might the department be sitting on information about other public health issues? Perhaps to further political agendas?
As health care professionals, we ask our legislators for an independent investigation of the health department. We hope other Pennsylvanians will ask the same of their representatives.”
Ruth McDermott-Levy is an assistant professor at Villanova University who specializes in global and public health nursing. Nina M. Kaktins is a registered nurse and adjunct professor at Chatham University. They are writing in a personal capacity on behalf of the Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments (www.envirn.org).
Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/opinion/Op-Ed/2014/07/27/Is-the-Pa-health-department-fracko-phobic-Its-actions-don-t-instill-confidence-that-it-is-protecting-us-write-nurses-RUTH-McDERMOTT-LEVY-and-NINA-M-KAKTINS/stories/201407230019#ixzz38jFuSoUY
14. EPA Extreme Says The Heritage Foundation
“A Discussion on Federal Overreach, Regulation Costs, and Climate Realities
The Heritage Foundation is sponsoring an event at their Lehrman Auditorium to discuss EPA’s move to limit Carbon. (Note that Rep. Mike Kelly-R of PA is featured in this event that declares the science of climate change to be questionable. Jan)
Featuring: Congressman Mike Kelly (R-PA)
Followed by a discussion with
Senior Fellow, Competitive Enterprise Institute
David Kreutzer, Ph.D.
Research Fellow in Energy Economics and Climate Change,
Center for Data Analysis, The Heritage Foundation
Herbert and Joyce Morgan Fellow, The Heritage Foundation
On June 2, the Environmental Protection Agency proposed the next step in its climate change agenda with a draft rule that would cap carbon dioxide emissions and greenhouse gases from existing power plants. In doing so, the Heritage Foundation says the EPA used questionable science, ignored climate realities, and discounted major investments around the world to build power plants. This rule will significantly reduce the use of coal as an efficient and inexpensive source of reliable power in America, if the EPA is allowed to succeed in finalizing it in addition to other climate change regulations already in the books or on the way. The consequences will be lost jobs and higher energy costs for American families and businesses with no meaningful reduction in global emissions or temperatures.
During the final week of July, the EPA will be holding its public hearings on the proposed rule in three different states throughout the nation, as well as the District of Colombia. At the beginning of this crucial week, join us as we discuss climate realities and fallacies, the EPA’s war on coal, and efforts to stop the EPA’s unchecked climate change regulation. Leading the discussion will be a special address by Representative Mike Kelly of Pennsylvania’s 3rd District, whose successful fight against federal overreach in the private sector led him to Washington and motivates his ongoing effort to stop such regulatory extremism.”