* 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/
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* To contact your state legislator:
For the email address, click on the envelope under the photo
* For information on PA state gas legislation and local control: http://pajustpowers.org/aboutthebills.html-
WMCG Thank Yous
Contributors To Our Updates
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, the Shelton family, and Marc Levine for their generous donations that support our work to protect the health and environment of local communities.
Tenaska Air Petitions—Please sign if you have not done so:
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. Email Jan for directions. All are very welcome to attend.
***Conference-Shale and Public Health Features Dr Paulson, Dr McKenzie, Dr Panettieri- Oct. 26/27
The League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania's Straight Scoop on Shale initiative will hold a conference "Shale and Public Health: Days of Discovery" on Sunday afternoon October 26 and Monday October 27 at the Pitt University Club.
Featured speakers on Monday October 27 include Dr. Jerome Paulson, Director of the Mid-Atlantic Center for Children's Health and the Environment (MACCHE), and Dr. Lisa McKenzie of the Colorado School of Public Health.
On Sunday afternoon October 26, Dr. Reynold Panettieri of the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine will present new research on the health impacts of shale gas development.
The conference is open to the public and free (with a small charge for lunch on October 27), but pre-registration is required.
For more information and to register, please visit our website, http://shale.palwv.org
***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:
*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
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
***For Health Care Professionals—Tell PA Dept of Health to Stop Ignoring Fracking Health complaints
***Toxic Tuesdays –Tell DEP’s Abruzzo--Do not approve paving with radioactive drill cuttings
“The next 4 Tuesdays, starting 8/26, are Toxic Tuesdays. They're the days we're going to call PA DEP Secretary Abruzzo to tell him that his agency should NEVER have approved Range Resources' permit to experiment with using drill cuttings as a paving material for well pads and access roads! We're going to tell him to reverse their decision.
The DEP gave Range Resources permission to experiment with using radioactive drill cutting to pave well pads and access roads. We have 30 days to appeal.
Call Sec Abruzzo to reverse the decision 717- 787- 2814”
From: Karen Feridan
***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!
***Food and Water Watch Asks For Your Story About Fracking Health Complaints Earlier this summer, StateImpact Pennsylvania reported that the Pennsylvania Department of Health (DOH) has been willfully ignoring the health concerns and complaints connected to drilling and hydraulic fracturing operations.
In response, Food & Water Watch and our coalition partners, including Berks Gas Truth, initiated a statewide listening project to collect the stories of impacted Pennsylvanians who have personally contacted DOH to report their families' health concerns. We have collected nearly a dozen stories from around Pennsylvania thus far, but we know we are just scratching the surface.
Have you been directly impacted by hydraulic fracturing? Did you reach out to DOH? Please let us know by filling out the survey
Tell us about your experience contacting Department of Health with a fracking-related health complaint. Please share as many details about your story as possible: When did you contact Dept. of Health? Why did you contact Dept. of Health? How did you contact Dept. of Health? Did you contact them once, or multiple times? Do you have any documentation of your attempts to contact?
***Clean Air Council--- Take the survey about the proposed Shell ethane cracker plant.
Health Impact Assessment: Ethane Cracker
Royal Dutch Shell has proposed a new natural gas and chemical processing station in Monaca, PA, outside Pittsburgh. The proposed site is currently held by Horsehead Corporation which owns the inactive zinc smelting facility. The proposed facility, known as a “cracker”, will separate natural gas and chemical feedstocks into different compounds used primarily in the manufacturing of plastics. Increased hydraulic fracturing and natural gas collection has led to increased ethane available for “cracking”.
The ethane cracker is one of a number of large projects that Shell is considering. Although, Shell has already secured feedstock agreements with multiple companies, and has bought other land near the site of the proposed “cracker”. Shell signed an additional option agreement with Horsehead, will pay for the demolition of the existing buildings, and be allowed to take more time before making a final decision. Considering these factors, and the fact that Shell recently scrapped plans for a similar cracker in the Gulf Coast that was competing for Shell’s capital resources, the likelihood of this project coming to fruition appears relatively high. Even if this particular project does not come to fruition, most industry experts agree that a cracker will be built in the region eventually.
In partnership with community residents, industry professionals, and academics, Clean Air Council is conducting a Health Impact Assessment of the environmental, social, public health, and economic impacts of such a facility.
Please take our anonymous public survey about the proposed cracker: www.surveymonkey.com/s/WZC3WX5
***Sign On To Letter To Gov. Corbett-- Urge Him to Implement De Pasquale’s Recommendations For DEP
“I know you are as concerned as I am about the recent news out of Harrisburg regarding the protection of our drinking water from the dangers of natural gas drilling. Then join me to take action now.
It started with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection’s (DEP) acknowledgment that there have been 209 known cases of water contamination from oil and gas operations since 2007. http://powersource.post-gazette.com/powersource/policy-powersource/2014/07/22/DEP-Oil-and-gas-endeavors-have-damaged-water-supply-209-times-since-07/stories/201407220069
If that wasn’t enough, Auditor General Eugene DePasquale also released his much anticipated audit http://www.auditorgen.state.pa.us/reports/performance/special/speDEP072114.pdf
of DEP’s ability to protect water quality in the wake of escalated Marcellus Shale drilling. The report shows how the explosive growth of shale development caught the DEP flat footed, how the agency is underfunded, and slow to respond to monitoring and accountability activities. Some of the more alarming findings where:
DEP would rather seek voluntary compliance and encouraging industry to work out a solution with impacted homeowners instead of issuing violations for cases where industry impacted a water supply.
There is no system in place for frequent inspections of drilling pads, especially during critical drilling operations much less during the lifetime of the well.
DEP relies on a voluntary system of reporting where and how fracking waste is disposed, instead of using a system, where regulators can see how waste is handled from well site to disposal.
DEP’s system to track complaints related to oil and gas development is “woefully inadequate.”
In addition to his findings, Auditor General DePasquale made 29 recommendations, 18 of which require no additional funding, for how DEP can address these issues and improve operations. Email Governor Corbett today and urge him to have DEP implement all 29 of the Auditor General’s recommendations.
These types of events shake the confidence Pennsylvanians like you have in our government’s ability to protect our drinking water. However, they also serve as a call to action. DEP owes it to you to do everything it can to protect water supplies and public health, Contact Governor Corbett TODAY and tell him to have DEP take steps to improve the protection of our drinking water from natural gas drilling.
Steve Hvozdovich - Campaign Coordinator
Pennsylvania Office, Clean Water Action http://org.salsalabs.com/o/2155/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=16207
***TRI (Toxic Release Inventory) Action Alert-Close the Loophole:
“We need your help!! Please send an email to the US EPA urging them to "Close the TRI Loophole that the oil and gas industry currently enjoys".
We all deserve to know exactly what these operations are releasing into our air, water and onto our land. Our goal is to guarantee the public’s right to know.
Please let the US EPA know how important TRI reporting will be to you and your community:
Mr. Gilbert Mears
Docket #: EPA-HQ-TRI-2013-0281 (must be included on all correspondence)
Some facts on Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) – what it is and why it’s important:
What is the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI)?
Industrial facilities report annually the amount and method (land, air, water, landfills) of each toxic
chemical they release or dispose of to the national Toxics Release Inventory.
Where can I find the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI)?
Once the industrial facilities submit their annual release data, the Environmental Protection Agency
makes it available to the public through the TRI’s free, searchable online database.
Why is this important?
The TRI provides communities and the public information needed to challenge permits or siting
decisions, provides regulators with necessary data to set proper controls, and encourages industrial
facilities to reduce their toxic releases.
Why does it matter for oil and natural gas?
The oil and gas extraction industry is one of the largest sources of toxic releases in the United
States. Yet, because of loopholes created by historical regulation and successful lobbying efforts,
this industry remains exempt from reporting to the TRI—even though they are second in toxic air
emissions behind power plants.
What is being done?
In 2012, the Environmental Integrity Project filed a petition on behalf of sixteen local, regional, and
national environmental groups, asking EPA to close this loophole and require the oil and gas
industries to report to the TRI. Although EPA has been carefully considering whether to act on the
petition, significant political and industrial pressure opposing such action exists.
What is the end goal?
Our goal is to guarantee the public’s right to know. TRI data will arm citizens with powerful data,
provide incentives for oil and gas operators to reduce toxic releases, and will provide a data-driven
foundation for responsible regulation.
What can you do?
You can help by immediately letting EPA know how important TRI reporting will be to you and your
Send written or email comments to:
Toxics Release Inventory Program Division, Environmental Protection Agency
1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20460
Docket #: EPA-HQ-TRI-2013-0281 (please be sure to include in all your correspondence)
From: Lisa Graves Marcucci
Environmental Integrity Project
PA Coordinator, Community Outreach
***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/
*** To See Water Test Results of the Beaver Run Reservoir
IUP students test for TDS, pH, metals- arsenic, chromium, and strontium.
A group member who checks the site still does not see testing for other frack chemicals including the BTEX group or cesium for example. Here is a link to the IUP site:
***Video of a Flare at a Pumping Station
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IWKye3OA90k Sunoco Pipeline/Sunoco Logistics flare at a high pressure pumping facility along the 3500 block of Watkins Road in Medina, Ohio. This video was from an approximate distance of 900 feet. The gas was being flared from ground level without a tower of any kind. They have since moved the flare to between the buildings. This video link below will show you just how loud and powerful the flaring of this product can be. Local residents say, “It sounds like a jet engine running.”
All articles are excerpted and condensed. Please use links for the full article. Special Thanks to Bob Donnan for many of the photos.
Operator Wpx Energy Appalachia Llc
Violation Type Environmental Health & Safety
Violation Date 2014-08-19
Violation Code OGA 3218(A) - Failure to restore or replace a public or private water supply affected by a well operator.
Violation ID 703144
Permit API 129-28611
Municipality Donegal Twp
Inspection Type Administrative/File Review
Inspection Date 2014-08-19
Comments No paper inspection report No paper inspection report
ID: 703144 Date: 2014-08-19 Type: Environmental Health & Safety
OGA 3218(A) - Failure to restore or replace a public or private water supply affected by a well operator.
314381 ADORD - Administrative Order
Comments from Group Members:
(Some of the most informed thoughts on zoning, fracking, and the politics of both, come from homeowners and parents in our area. If you want to know what is really going on in these townships, talk to the residents. You won’t get the full story from supervisors or council. Jan)
On Penn Township
“While our Penn Township ordinance isn't finalized it looks like Murrysville and PT are consulting the same firm to come up with rules/changes. Word has it PT is also considering "overlay" and they have changed the Agriculture zoning classification to Rural Resources in the proposed ordinance while on the zoning map it's called Rural Residential. How convenient for the drillers....AND we already have two areas for which sedimentation permits to the DEP have been applied. This is a precursor to MS drilling.”
--“Look to your Comprehensive Plan and also MPC for a definition of the terminology which, of course, permits mineral, gas/oil extraction. It's in both docs and the wording as I interpret, allows for drilling within a designated area, such as Agriculture, but our munies are using the word to name an entire zone (in my township's case, Agriculture) allowing drilling everywhere within that zone. Is the same engineering firm working on some of these ordinances?”
On Middlesex And Penn Twp.
--It looks like the smarmy middlesex township manager, who played a major role in "accessory to a farm" (he completely controlled the supervisors. He ran this twp) is leaving us in Middlesex and coming to Penn Township in public works.
--In addition, the data keep mounting that setbacks need to be 1/2 mile to a mile, (if not more) for safety and health. If that's the case, Murrysville would only have a handful of parcels, if that, where drilling could safely occur. There really should be no drilling in Murrysville for the same reason as Peters: it's too built out already. Sometimes it just seems so blindingly obvious.
--From what I understand, an overlay district should (must?) be compatible to the use already specified in the underlying zone. So, it seems that the overlay should be used for "greater protection", not lessor (which is what would happen by Murrysville overlaying an Industrial use onto a Residential - Agricultural zone.
Jim Morrison's statement that Murrysville's overlay is contiguous, makes no sense. So what if it is or isn't? And yesterday at the meeting, Joe Evans pulled up the Murrysville map and showed that it ISN'T contiguous.
Also, I am wondering about the situation in Peters. As I recall, they may be coming to the conclusion that even though they do have several small industrial zones, they may not have the necessary space to safely allow fracking.
--Amazing how poorly informed elective bodies are able to complicate districts… During the course I and our zoning officer completed (offered by The Pennsylvania Municipal Planning Education Institute) in my day, I learned that zoning districts should be kept to a minimal number, and each district should be used to achieve a community purpose under the Police Powers Safeguards (not capricious or arbitrary, must provide due process and equal protection!)
On Stahlstown and DEP Correspondence
If you read some of these letters sent from the DEP to people having contaminated water, it looks like a daytime soap opera that goes on and on without resolution. What do the people do in the meantime when tainted water continues over years with the DEP being the deciding factor and taking their "good old time" to resolve the issue? Another thing....I personally believe it might take longer than 6 months for contamination to show up and yet that is the allotted time for reporting water problems. (It absolutely can take longer than 6 months. Jan) Does anyone know the time period between initial drilling to when fracking actually occurs or when frackwater might be stored for use?
On Michael Krancer
Here is a goodie for all of you. Do you remember the name Michael Krancer? Our former head of the DEP is now one of the attorneys handling Sunoco's appeal that they should have the title of "public utility."
My GAWD can it be any more blatant?
***Frack Water Contaminates Well Near Stahlstown
“The PA DEP has officially determined that drinking water at a third residence is contaminated by WPX Appalachia LLC’s leaky Marcellus Shale gas drilling wastewater impoundment near Stahlstown, Westmoreland County.
Whether that gets any of the three families living along rural Route 711 south of Ligonier any closer to a permanent replacement water supply is another matter.
The DEP last week ordered WPX to restore or replace the water supply at the home of Ken and Mildred Geary, both in their 80s, who first complained that their water had a foul, chemical smell and taste a year ago. The order came down two years after the DEP first received a complaint about possible ground water contamination from the impoundment at WPX’s Kelp shale gas drilling pad.
The DEP made the contamination determination based on tests done in June, that showed the well water contained higher concentrations of chloride, barium, calcium, magnesium, manganese, strontium and total dissolved solids than it did prior to November 2011 when WPX drilled the Kelp well.
“In February, I believe the data was already there to show contamination,” said Nick Kennedy, an attorney with the Mountain Watershed Association, a local environmental advocacy group that has worked with the families. “This determination and order should have been made months ago.”
That’s when the DEP issued a determination that the water well used by Joseph and Sonja Latin, who live next door to the Gearys, had been contaminated by WPX and ordered the company to start the process of permanently replacing their water.
WPX appealed that order to the state Environmental Hearing Board. It has 30 days to appeal the Gearys’ order.
The third family, the Browns, filed a water quality complaint with the DEP in September 2012 and in July of last year the department ordered the company to permanently replace their water supply. A year later, the Browns are still drawing water from a 2,500-gallon plastic water tank, and have filed a lawsuit against the company and its subcontractors alleging damages to their property value.
Susan Oliver, A WPX spokeswoman, said she doesn’t know if the company plans to appeal the DEP order to replace the Geary’s water, but added that water tests are continuing and “until that’s done and finalized a determination on replacing the supplies can’t be made.”
John Poister, a DEP spokesman, said the process of permanently restoring water supplies for the families, though delayed by legal appeals and complications, is moving forward.
“DEP has determined that WPX’s activity has impacted these water supplies and have issued a unilateral order to permanently replace the three water supplies,” he said in a written response to questions. “We realize that this is a serious issue for these homeowners. If WPX fails to comply with this order it will result in enforcement actions, which could include an immediate permitting freeze until the issue is addressed.”
Mr. Poister said that while WPX has provided the affected families with bottled water and other temporary water sources, “it’s not a replacement for clean running water in the home.”
Don Hopey: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1983.
DEP Orders Drilling Company To Clean Up Water Supply In Stahlstown
August 27, 2014 5:12 PM
“STAHLSTOWN (KDKA) — The EP has put a drilling company on notice after drinking water was contaminated by gas drilling wastewater in Westmoreland County.
For some of the folks living in Stahlstown, clean water was never a problem; their wells produced it. But then another kind of well was drilled nearby, and now they say their water is polluted.
Ken Geary, 81, says he lives in some beautiful country. His only suggestion is, don’t drink the water.
“It stinks, stinks real bad, and you can’t drink it,” says Geary.
Geary is one of a handful of residents who says his water became polluted when WPX Appalachia put a well pad in nearby.
“I had good water before they messed around,” he says.
“We know what was in the impoundment, and we can trace those same contaminants to the families’ water supplies,” Nick Kennedy, of the Mountain Watershed Association, said
The DEP says water tests show high levels of chloride, barium, calcium, magnesium, manganese and strontium in the water supply to Geary and at least two other neighbors.
The DEP has ordered WPX to reinstate Geary’s water service.
Regarding that, WPX spokeswoman Susan Oliver said, “The investigation is ongoing and the process has been thorough. The company is providing water. At no time have the families been without drinking water.”
“They’re giving them temporary water right now. So that would be water buffaloes and bottled water to the families. But that’s not a permanent source,” says Kennedy.
Meanwhile, the DEP issued a statement saying the company must comply with the order.
“If WPX fails to comply with this order, it will result in enforcement actions, which could include an immediate [permit] freeze until the issue is addressed,” says DEP officials.
Until then, Geary and neighbors have to wait for a truck to bring in what nature gave them for decades.
“I’ve been living here over 50 years. Had five kids, we had good water,” he says.
The gas company has an option. They can appeal the DEP’s order to restore Geary’s water supply to its original state, but they must do it in the next 30 days.
***DEP Releases Details of Drinking Water Contamination From Drilling
“Pennsylvania has for the first time released details of 243 cases in which fracking companies were found by the DEP to have contaminated private drinking water wells.
The Associated Press and other news outlets have filed lawsuits and numerous open-records requests during the past several years seeking records of investigations into gas-drilling complaints.
Pennsylvania's auditor general said in a report last month that DEP's system for handling complaints “was woefully inadequate” and that investigators could not even determine whether all complaints were actually entered into a reporting system.
DEP didn't immediately issue a statement with the online release, but posted the links on the same day that seven environmental groups sent a letter urging the agency to heed the auditor general's 29 recommendations for improvement.
“I guess this is a step in the right direction,” Thomas Au of the Pennsylvania Sierra Club chapter said of the public release of documents on drinking well problems. “But this is something that should have been made public a long time ago.”
The 243 cases, from 2008 to 2014, include some where a single drilling operation impacted multiple water wells. The problems listed in the documents include methane gas contamination, spills of wastewater and other pollutants, and wells that went dry or were otherwise undrinkable. Some of the problems were temporary, but the names of landowners were redacted, so it was not clear if the problems were resolved to their satisfaction. Other complaints are being investigated.
The documents released on Thursday listed drilling-related water well problems in 22 counties, with most cases in Susquehanna, Tioga, Lycoming, and Bradford counties in the northeast portion of the state.
Coalition President Dave Spigelmyer said in a statement that Pennsylvania “has longstanding water well-related challenges, a function of our region's unique geology — where stray methane gas is frequently present in and around shallow aquifers.” He said many of the problems were related to surface spills, not drilling.”
Read more: http://triblive.com/news/adminpage/6696428-74/wells-released-gas#ixzz3Bkqv6mXm
Here’s the link to the documents:
***When Will We Say ‘Enough’ to Drillers’ Mistakes?
August 25, 2014 12:00 AM
As a lifelong resident of Washington County, I was not surprised to read the article “Fracking Waste Tainted Groundwater Soil at Three Washington County Sites” (Aug. 6). Companies are moving into this area and setting up their drilling rigs. So many homes and local farms have been bought out by these companies to use their land for drilling, for a pretty penny I might add.
This article explains that there have been leaks of fracking wastewater at three Range Resources sites that have contaminated groundwater and soil.
There have been numerous other industrial accidents resulting in poisoned drinking water and other undesirable accidents from large gas drilling companies in this area. I wonder how many of these accidents go unreported.
How many more of these incidents are we going to let happen in our area before someone realizes that maybe the oil and gas industry has overstayed its welcome? It is unacceptable that these companies are now not only affecting the area we live in but also making sloppy mistakes that could possibly harm someone.
***Pulaski Township And Supervisors Sued over Gas Drilling
We all knew it was just a matter of time until someone sued for protection of residentially zoned areas. Jan
A western Pennsylvania couple is suing their township, claiming that supervisors improperly approved natural gas drilling in a residential area.
The lawsuit against Pulaski Township was filed by Timothy Chito and Elizabeth Kesner. The lawsuit says the couple purchased a home in the area in 1996, but that recent drilling about 1500 feet away is affecting their property and quality of life. The area is about 60 miles northwest of Pittsburgh.
The lawsuit seeks damages and to have the township amend its local zoning laws so that drilling is only allowed in industrial areas.
***Murrysville Drilling Ordinance Discussion Closed To Public
“The Marcellus shale task force was reconvened earlier this year after council decided to re-evaluate the municipal drilling ordinance after the state Supreme Court overruled portions of Act 13, the state drilling regulations.
Those meetings haven't been opened to the public.
“It's a volatile issue,” chief administrator Jim Morrison said. “We're very appreciative of our volunteers, and we have an obligation to let them do their work.”
That doesn't exempt the committee from following the state Sunshine Act, said Melissa Melewsky, media law counsel for the Pennsylvania Newsmedia Association, a nonprofit trade group in Harrisburg.
The act requires all committee meetings to be open to the public, Melewsky said.
“They are a body created to render advice on a matter of agency business,” Melewsky said. “There are no general exceptions that a committee gets to have a private meeting.
They are stepping into the shoes and role of council.”
“There's no decision-making happening. They are just making a recommendation,” Morrison said.
Municipal Solicitor George Kotjarapoglus said he thinks the court is on Murrysville's side.
“If the product being delivered is something that is ripe for ‘immediate action' by the governing body, then the court may well view matter as agency providing ‘advice for action,' in which case Sunshine will likely be applied,” Kotjarapoglus wrote in an email.
“At the other end of the continuum on these ‘advise for action' cases, you have the Murrysville Task Force. Its review and report back to Council will NOT be a product that … will be received an acted upon without benefit of deliberations and a vote in an open meeting. ... there will be ample deliberations in our open meeting process no matter what the Task Force reports back.”
A similar issue arose in 2010, when the task force originally was formed. Those meetings, along with meetings of the municipal comprehensive-plan committee, were open to the public.
Councilman Dave Perry serves on the committee and agreed the meetings should be public.
“I think deliberations associated with ordinances should be a public discussion,” Perry said.
Resident Alyson Holt questioned why the meetings are closed during last week's council meeting after a private conversation with Morrison.
“(Morrison) emailed me back that the task force meetings were not open to the public and that public updates on the progress of the committee would be made at council meetings,” Holt said. “I am disappointed by this answer.”
Melewsky said it's important for residents to be able to attend committee meetings to learn about topics, especially controversial ones.
“The committee is doing all of the legwork. That's where the meat gets discussed,” she said. “If you cut off public access to committee meetings, there's no real account of why borough council is making the decision.”
Daveen Rae Kurutz is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-871-2365, or email@example.com.
Read more: http://triblive.com/neighborhoods/yourmurrysville/yourmurrysvillemore/6655237-74/meetings-committee-public#ixzz3BeRVq2B8
***Well Site Permit Cancelled Due To Legal Challenge
Delaware Riverkeeper again fights for protection of water. jan
“The Delaware Riverkeeper Network and concerned residents in Franklin Township brought our legal challenge to protect the Lake Arthur watershed and its communities from the damage that would inevitably result from the proposed shale gas drilling site and also because we were concerned about the dangerous precedent this project would set regarding DEP well site approvals.
Unfortunately once again DEP failed to protect our communities and environment when it failed to assess the risk of surface and groundwater contamination prior to issuing its approvals for the XTO project.
In so doing, DEP violated its public trust obligations under Article I, Section 27 and issued approvals for the XTO well site that violated our constitutionally protected rights to clean air, pure water, and the preservation of, among other values, the natural, scenic, and esthetic values of our environment,” said Maya van Rossum, the Delaware Riverkeeper.
***Kiski Township Approves Drilling
(It appears these supervisors have not read much from the research and reports published on the effects of fracking. Do they really think this extensive emphasis on sound makes much of a difference in the overall environmental, health, and property value effects of fracking? The real problems are serious air pollution from all aspects of frack operations, water contamination, spills and leaks and devaluation of property values. These most serious issues they ignore completely. Jan)
“Kiski Township has opened its doors for oil and natural gas exploration.
Township supervisors on Wednesday enacted an ordinance that allows, for the first time, drilling and natural gas operations in the township.
It was approved 4-0, with Supervisor Michael Bash absent.
According to supervisors Chairman Jack Wilmot, the ordinance was put in play weeks ago to accommodate gas companies' growing interest in Kiski Township's farmland and sprawling rural property.
“We've had several drilling representatives over the past couple months inquiring about an ordinance,” Wilmot said. “We're confident now that we're going to begin seeing some offers pretty soon. “That's money that goes to better roads, police protection, fire services and right on down the line.”
Kiski Township's 13-page ordinance allows for the “reasonable development of land for oil and gas drilling while providing adequate health, safety and general welfare protections of the township's residents.”
Restrictions on the site, noise level and traffic of the operations in question are chief among the provisions included in the ordinance to protect township residents.
The ordinance, for example, relegates all well sites, compressor stations and processing plants to industrial, agricultural and agricultural residential zoning districts. Areas zoned residential, business and suburban residential are off limits.
Drilling rigs also would be set back a minimum of 1.5 times their height from any property line. All operation sites are prohibited anywhere within 200 feet of buildings registered or eligible for the national or Pennsylvania Register of Historic Places.
To minimize the disturbance of nearby residents, all production equipment must emit an ambient noise level no more than 55 weighed decibels beyond 100 feet. According to the California Department of Transportation, that noise level falls somewhere between a dishwasher running in the next room and the sounds of a large business office.
The township will provide between 5 and 10 decibels of leeway during drilling activities, hydraulic fracturing — or fracking — operations and for 10-minute intervals at compressor stations and processing plants during each one-hour period.
Any noise complaints from residents must be addressed within 24 hours by the energy company. Following a complaint, company officials will continuously monitor for 48 hours the noise level from the nearest property line or 100 feet of the site to ensure it complies with the ordinance. All findings must be approved by the township.
Whenever possible, energy companies will be required to access their gas or oil well sites from a collector street, a low-to-moderate capacity road which connects traffic from local streets to arterial roads. The companies must also pay road bonds when deemed necessary and agree to “promptly” clear the roadways of any mud, debris or dirt as a result of drilling or natural gas operations.
There's a $500 fine for each day the operation site is not brought into compliance.
The ordinance took effect on Wednesday.
Township supervisors held a public hearing on the ordinance last month to field residents' input.
“No one spoke out about it,” Wilmot said. “Everyone seems pleased with the language to protect their rights and excited to get on board.”
Read more: http://triblive.com/neighborhoods/yourallekiskivalley/yourallekiskivalleymore/6648422-74/township-drilling-ordinance#ixzz3BWPd0ftr
***Danger Beneath: 'Fracking', Pipes Threaten Rural Residents
BY LISA RIORDAN SEVILLE
“A construction boom of pipelines carrying explosive oil and gas from “fracking” fields to market -- pipes that are bigger and more dangerous than their predecessors -– poses a safety threat in rural areas, where they sometimes run within feet or yards of homes with little or no safety oversight, an NBC News investigation has found.
The rapidly expanding network of pipes, known as “gathering lines,” carry oil and gas from fracking fields in many parts of the country to storage facilities and major “transmission lines.” They are subject to the same risks – corrosion, earthquakes, sabotage and construction accidents -- as transmission lines. But unlike those pipelines, about 90 percent of gathering lines do not fall under federal safety or construction regulations because they run through rural areas, the Government Accountability Office reported in 2012.
Safety advocates and regulators have called for new regulations on the pipelines, but energy industry interests have pushed back. Any changes could be years away, if they happen at all, according to an analysis from the Congressional Research
The risk didn’t become apparent to Dave and Cheryl Goble, who live in rural Wyoming County, Pennsylvania, until long after a pipeline company land man knocked on their door in 2010 and offered to pay them to run a natural gas pipe across their property.
The Gobles signed a contract after being shown a plan where the line would run straight across their property, some distance from the house. But the pipe was ultimately buried in a trench that curves around their home, within feet of their porch, shaking their sense of well-being: If it were to fail, they now realize, their home could be destroyed.
“We’d never do it again, money or no money,” said Cheryl Goble, 53, who grew up just down the dirt road where she still lives. “They think they can do anything that they want to. As long as you sign papers, they don’t care about you afterward. They’re gone.”
The lack of oversight on rural gathering lines – historically low-pressure steel lines up to 12 inches around – was long justified by the perception that the risk of accidents was minimal. But the fracking boom has led to construction of new gathering lines that are both bigger and under higher pressure, making them virtually identical to transmission lines.
More than 240,000 miles of gathering lines already exist in the U.S., moving oil and natural gas from wells and nearby storage areas to processing plants and transmission lines. And pipeline companies are rushing to get lines in the ground to meet the boom brought by the growth in fracking, Some 414,000 additional miles of gathering lines could be built by 2035, found a 2011 report by the Interstate Natural Gas Association of America. The Marcellus shale field, which extends across Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Ohio, accounts for 40 percent of the shale gas being produced in the U.S., according to the federal Energy Information Administration. Much of that is coming from the more than 7,000 wells drilled in Pennsylvania since 2004. Infrastructure to move it lags behind, so industry representatives arrive daily at the doors of rural Pennsylvanians, pipeline contracts in hand.
“There is tremendous growth going on, and the reality is that it’s really not regulated well,” said Richard Kuprewicz, an independent engineer who has worked in the oil and gas industry for decades. “A 30-inch gathering rupture -- that can kill a lot of people.”
Federal pipeline safety officials, however, have called for better oversight of the lines.
“What keeps me up at night? Gathering lines,” Linda Daugherty, deputy associate administrator for field operations at the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), the federal agency that regulates pipelines, said at a 2012 conference. “There are no safety standards applicable to those lines, and no safety agents or regulators looking at them.”
Transmission lines must meet construction and welding standards, and be periodically inspected, cleaned and tested. Operators also must report all deaths and injuries and maintain integrity management plans.
Gathering lines in more populated areas or close to facilities like schools are subject to many of the same standards, but their country cousins are not. Gathering lines in “Class 1” areas like the one where the Gobles live -- defined as having fewer than 10 habitable dwellings per mile within 220 yards of pipe’s center line -- are subject to none of these rules. While states can pass their own regulations, most have not.
PHMSA closed comments on its proposal to collect such data in 2012. There has been no action on the plan since.
Despite new pipeline rules passed in Pennsylvania in 2012, Class 1 lines remain unregulated, leaving landowners like the Gobles and their neighbors at risk.” First published August 25th 2014, 4:32 amhttp://www.nbcnews.com/news/investigations/danger-beneath-fracking-gas-oil-pipes-threaten-rural-residents-n187021
***Carnegie Mellon’s Jared Cohon Advised Tobacco Group Now Puts Spin On Fracking
By Kevin Conner of the Public Accountability Initiative
“Before Jared Cohon became the president of Carnegie Mellon, he advised a tobacco industry front group designed to manipulate public opinion about secondhand smoke.
The nonprofit watchdog group I direct, the Public Accountability Initiative, reported this for the first time in a recent report on the Center for Sustainable Shale Development, which provides environmental certifications for fracking operations, and which Mr. Cohon chairs.
Our report suggested that CSSD bore the hallmarks of an industry front group designed to put an environmentally friendly spin on fracking — similar to the tobacco group that Mr. Cohon advised. If Mr. Cohon was complicit in an industry effort to downplay smoking hazards, would he do the same for fracking?
An Aug. 10 editorial (“Sloppy Screed”) in response to our report failed to consider this question, offered no criticism of Mr. Cohon and instead criticized PAI for not mentioning his career at Carnegie Mellon early enough. It is an absurd charge, like saying that all context must be conveyed in an article’s lead.
The editorial ignored ethical questions throughout the piece, deploying overheated rhetoric and similarly weak “gotchas.” A CSSD funder should not have been criticized for oil and gas ties because it gives to other causes, it argued — as if Philip Morris absolved itself of guilt for manipulating tobacco science by giving to the arts. Its director should not be criticized for having been an oil and gas attorney because she once worked for the EPA — for four years in the 1970s, before she began suing the EPA on behalf of polluters.
Nonprofit Quarterly took issue with the editorial and defended our disclosures, calling them “tiny counterweights to the deep-pocketed industry’s role in the Center’s research and advocacy.”
The Post-Gazette has attacked our work on CSSD before. Last year, the editorial board said PAI went “to extremes” in our criticism of the conflict of interest of former Heinz Endowments president Robert Vagt, who both chaired CSSD at the time and sat on the board of a gas pipeline company. Heinz disagreed: Mr. Vagt resigned and the foundation withdrew from CSSD. The editorial made no mention of this.
From tobacco to fracking, industry misinformation efforts rely on a pliant press to boost their messages. A little common sense and journalistic gumption can stop them in their tracks. I remain hopeful that the editorial board can find some and turn a critical eye on the Center for Sustainable Shale Development.”
Kevin Connor is director of the Public Accountability Initiative (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/opinion/Op-Ed/2014/08/27/Jared-Cohon-s-fracking-role-raises-concern-CSSD/stories/201408270015#ixzz3BcucvTVc
***A Big Fracking Lie-The Exporting of the Gas That Contaminates Our Air and Water
“If you want to know just how bad an idea it is for America to ship “fracked” natural gas to overseas markets, travel to Cove Point in southern Maryland.
Right on the Chesapeake Bay, the Obama administration wants to give fast-track approval to a $3.8 billion facility to liquefy gas from all across Appalachia. The new plant, proposed by Virginia-based Dominion Resources, would somehow be built right between a coveted state park and a stretch of sleepy beach communities, with a smattering of Little League baseball fields just down the road. Along the Chesapeake itself, endangered tiger beetles cling to the shore while Maryland “watermen” hunt crabs and oysters in age-old fashion.
Right here, Dominion wants build a utility-scale power plant (130 megawatts) just to power the enormous “liquefaction” process for the fracked gas. The company will then build an industrial-scale compressor, a massive refrigeration system and an adjacent, surreal six-story-tall “sound wall” to protect humans and wildlife from the thunderous noise. The facility as a whole would chill the gas—extracted from fracking wells as far away as New York—to 260 degrees below zero so it can be poured onto huge tankers (with Coast Guard escort due to terrorism risks) and then shipped more than 6,000 miles to India and Japan.
Sound good yet? There’s more: The Cove Point plant in Maryland is just one of more than 20 such “liquefaction” plants now proposed—but not yet built—for coastal areas nationwide. They are intended, as an emerging facet of U.S. energy policy, to double down on the highly controversial hydraulic fracturing drilling boom across the country. But like the Keystone XL pipeline for tar sands oil and the proposed export of dirty-burning coal through new terminals in the Pacific Northwest, this liquefied gas plan is bad in almost every way.
Simply put, this gas needs to stay in the ground. If it’s dug up and exported, it will directly harm just about everyone in the U.S. economy while simultaneously making global warming worse. How much worse? Imagine adding the equivalent of more than 100 coal plants to U.S. pollution output or putting 78 million more cars on our roads. Yes, supporters say, but this gas would be replacing a lot of coal use overseas. And they’d be right. The only problem is we’d be replacing that coal with aggregate “life-cycle” emissions from gas that are almost certainly worse than coal, creating new net damage for the global atmosphere (more on this later).
Ironically, a recent sea-level rise report commissioned by Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, reportedly a presidential hopeful, shows that climate change could soon wipe out the peninsula of Cove Point itself. The very point of land next to Dominion’s proposed facility—the whitewashed lighthouse, the country roads and homes and forests—would all drown if the world continues to combust oil, coal and natural gas at current rates, according to the Maryland report.
The “inconvenient truths” on liquefied gas also come—in different forms—from the U.S. Department of Energy, the U.S. EPA and elsewhere. On the economic side, a study commissioned by the DOE last spring found that exporting U.S. gas would raise the fuel’s price here at home. It’s basic supply and demand. More buyers overseas will drive up our domestic price by as much as 27 percent, according to the DOE. And that increase will reduce incomes for virtually every sector of the U.S. economy, from agriculture to manufacturing to services to transportation. No wonder manufacturers like Dow and Alcoa are resisting this emerging U.S. export policy for gas, forming a coalition called “America’s Energy Advantage” to push back.
The DOE found that only one economic sector wins from gas exports. You guessed it: the gas industry! This one special interest wins so big—hundreds of billions in profits—that the DOE now basically argues that it offsets the pain for everyone else, creating a perverse and tiny net bump in the nation’s GDP. If you’re a farmer or wage-earner, too bad. Dominion’s profits at Cove Point are more important than the financial lives of already-struggling average Americans.
The gas export calculations grow even more insane when you factor in climate change. The industry bombards the public with ads saying natural gas is 50 percent cleaner than coal. But the claim is totally false. Gas is cleaner only at the point of combustion. If you calculate the greenhouse gas pollution emitted at every stage of the production process— drilling, piping, compression—it’s essentially just coal by another name. Indeed, the methane (the key ingredient in natural gas) that constantly and inevitably leaks from wells and pipelines is 84 times more powerful at trapping heat in the atmosphere than CO2 over a 20-year period, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.”
Bill McKibben founder of 350.org.
Mike Tidwell is director of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network.
Read more: http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2014/01/fracking-natural-gas-exports-climate-change-102452.html#ixzz3BSMfZn19
***PA Environmental Organizations Challenge DEP Response
“Environmental and citizen organizations sent DEP Secretary, Chris Abruzzo a letter challenging the agency’s response to issues raised in Auditor General Eugene DePasquale’s DEP Performance Audit, released on July 22nd. The audit identified serious flaws in the DEP’s oil and gas monitoring and enforcement programs.
A copy of the letter can be downloaded at http://bit.ly/1qDS7OB. The organizations take issue with DEP’s claim that flaws in the agency’s programs have been fixed and details critical gaps that put water quality and health at risk. In addition, the organizations express disappointment with DEP’s rejection of all of the eight key deficiencies uncovered in the Performance Audit. Although DEP simultaneously agreed with all or parts of 22 of the 29 related recommendations from the Auditor General, the agency has yet to provide any evidence of how they intend to implement the recommendations.
"PADEP has fallen down on the job despite their attempts to favorably spin the critical analysis laid out so graphically by the Auditor General's performance audit. The Auditor General explains how the agency simply isn't effectively serving the public in its oversight responsibilities of shale gas development and DEP defensively responded with lots of weak excuses. The people of Pennsylvania and our clean water and air are paying the price of DEP's failings and until they make fundamental changes they will continue to contribute to the shale gas problems communities are experiencing," said Tracy Carluccio, Deputy Director, Delaware Riverkeeper Network.
“We’ve met with DEP, analyzed the response to the Auditor General, and conducted our own research with one central goal in mind: to help Pennsylvania’s regulators step up and protect the environment and health,” said Nadia Steinzor, Eastern Program Coordinator for Earthworks and author of the Blackout report. “DEP should stop refuting strong evidence of problems and start advocating for more agency resources and stronger industry oversight. Only then will it be able to fulfill its mandate and serve the public”
“We wholeheartedly agree with the overall conclusions of the Performance Audit and the Blackout in the Gas Patch report,” said Steve Hvozdovich, Marcellus Shale Policy Associate, Clean Water Action. “If these reports validate anything, it is the message we have been publicly delivering for over a year now that DEP is underfunded, understaffed, and does not have sufficient policies in place to meet the continuing demands placed upon it by expanded shale gas development and to protect the environment and health.”
The organizations believe the reforms adopted by DEP and outlined in the comment response section of the Performance Audit are insufficient. Their letter details steps DEP needs to take in five key areas, including transparency of information; communication with citizens; tracking of complaints and agency responses; tracking of oil and gas field waste; and the frequency of well inspections. The organizations hope these comments will spur DEP to provide clarification and enhance measures to solve and prevent environmental and health impacts associated with oil and gas operations, and to be more responsive to the public it serves.
“The DEP’s attempts to shirk all negative critiques make our calls for greater transparency louder. It is time for the DEP to own up to its flaws and start a real dialogue with the public. Our organizations will not stop applying pressure until the DEP institutes essential department-wide reform,” said Nick Kennedy, Community Advocate, Mountain Watershed Association.
“Unfortunately for Pennsylvania’s environment and the health of the state’s residents, the AG’s report validated many of the deficiencies that citizens and experts in the field already knew about the DEP’s oversight of fracking in the Commonwealth,” stated Kristen Cevoli, Fracking Program Director of PennEnvironment. “For the health of Pennsylvania’s citizen’s and its environment, it is critical that the DEP, as well as our elected officials in Harrisburg, embrace the recommendations laid out by the Auditor General’s office. If not, fracking will leave Pennsylvania with the same toxic legacy as the coal industry before it, and future generations will be left footing the bill and doing the cleanup.”
Tracy Carluccio, Delaware Riverkeeper Network, 215-369-1188 ext. 104
Nadia Steinzor, Earthworks Oil and Gas Accountability Project, 202-887-1872 ext. 109
Steve Hvozdovich, Clean Water Action, 412-765-3053 x 210
Karen Feridun, Berks Gas Truth, 610-678-7726
Thomas Au, Sierra Club Pennsylvania Chapter, 717-234-7445
Nick Kennedy, Mountain Watershed Association, 724-455-4200
Kristen Cevoli, PennEnvironment, 215-732-5897 ext. 4
***Maryland Takes A Public Health Approach On Fracking That PA Did Not
“Trucks drive down Towanda's main drag. Truck traffic is one driver of increased air pollution from unconventional natural gas drilling.
Air pollution is among one of the greatest public health concerns related to Marcellus Shale drilling, according to a new health impact assessment released this week by the University of Maryland School of Public Health and Commissioned by the Maryland Department of Public Health through an executive order by Gov. Martin O’Malley.. The report comes at a time when healthcare workers and environmental groups are calling for an investigation into the PA Department of Health’s handling of Marcellus Shale-related complaints. And it stands in contrast to how Pennsylvania has addressed health concerns related to Marcellus Shale.
A health impact assessment starts with what is called “scoping,” reaching out into the community to find out what concerns and questions already exist. Then it gathers baseline public health information on the community. It looks at all the available epidemiological studies that form the basis of potential health concerns. In this case, the researchers then rated these concerns, with air pollution topping the list. Pennsylvania never did a similar health impact assessment for Marcellus Shale drilling. It would be impossible to do one now because the drilling boom began almost 10 years ago.
It’s important to note that the report was limited by the available research. The researchers did not rank water pollution as a high public health concern simply because they say there’s not enough data available to draw strong conclusions.
The DEP is doing a long-term ambient air quality study in Washington County, and the results are due out at the end of October. But Milton says the available literature on air quality and natural gas development is pretty clear.
“Air pollution will be a problem,” said Milton. Part of the Maryland study’s recommendations include a 2,000-foot setback from well pads and compressor stations to occupied buildings based on air pollution concerns. Pennsylvania has no such requirements.
The conclusions on air quality are not a surprise to Joe Minott, who runs the environmental group Clean Air Council.
“There is no step in the natural gas processing and transportation that doesn’t release air pollution,” said Minott. Minott is critical of the Pennsylvania DEP, saying its current study is too little too late.
“The biggest difference is that the state of Maryland wanted to know what the impact of unconventional gas drilling would be on the citizens of Maryland,” said Minott.”
***Fracking’s Link To Birth Defects Probed
“The first research into the effects of oil and gas development on babies born near wells has found potential health risks. Government officials, industry advocates and the researchers themselves say more studies are needed before drawing conclusions.
“It’s not really well understood how the environment interacts with genetics to produce these birth defects,” said Lisa McKenzie of the Colorado School of Public Health, who conducted research published in January in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives. “We really need to do more study to see what the association is, if any, with natural gas development.”
McKenzie and her colleagues discovered more congenital heart defects in babies born to mothers living near gas wells in Colorado. Two studies, which have not been peer reviewed, showed infants born near fracking sites in Pennsylvania were more likely to have low birth weight, a sign of developmental problems. In Utah, local authorities are investigating a spate of stillbirths after tests found dangerous levels of air pollution from the oil and gas industry.
In published research, McKenzie and her colleagues found that babies born to mothers living with more than 125 wells within a mile (1.6 km) of their homes showed a 30 percent increase in congenital heart defects compared with those with no wells within 10 miles. The abnormalities, based on 59 available cases in Colorado, ranged in severity and could have resulted from genes or environmental causes other than fossil-fuel extraction, according to McKenzie.
Two Pennsylvania studies, however, found increases in low birth weight near gas drilling. They haven’t been published in peer-reviewed journals.
Infants born within 2.5 kilometers (1.6 miles) of fracking sites were about 60 percent more likely to have low birth weight, according to a review of Pennsylvania birth records from 2004 to 2011 by researchers from Princeton University, Columbia University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The study was presented at the annual meeting of the American Economic Association in January.
The research echoed a December working paper by Elaine Hill, then an economics graduate student at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, which found that babies born to mothers living within 2.5 kilometers of a gas well during pregnancy had lower average birth weights after drilling than before. The results were consistent between piped public water and well water, suggesting the exposure came from air pollution or stress, Hill said in the paper.
Previous research has shown a link between air pollution and low birth weight in general, Hill said in the study.
In Utah’s Uintah Basin, where at least 17 drillers operate, the air has dangerously high levels of ozone and other toxins from oil and gas emissions, according to measurements by researchers at the University of Colorado at Boulder in the first two months of 2012 and 2013.
The rural area’s air pollution was equivalent to the annual exhaust of 100 million cars and worse than Los Angeles’s smog in the summer, according to the article. High ozone levels are known to cause breathing problems and early death, the researchers said.
Concerns surfaced this summer that the pollution might contribute to infant deaths in Vernal, a city of about 10,000 in the Uintah Basin.
Last year, a midwife named Donna Young delivered a stillborn baby for the first time in 19 years. At the funeral, she said she noticed the cemetery had a number of recent graves with single dates.
Official figures on infant mortality in 2013 aren’t yet available, according to the state’s Office of Vital Records and Statistics. So Young examined obituaries, counting 12 deaths in 2013, up from four a year earlier, three in 2011 and two in 2010. The rate appears to be six times the national average, according to Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment.
“Whenever you see a pollution nightmare, if you look hard enough you’re going to have a public health nightmare,” said Brian Moench, a Salt Lake City anesthesiologist and president of the physicians’ group. “There’s enough evidence to suggest that this is a serious problem.”
To contact the reporter on this story: Isaac Arnsdorf in New York at email@example.com
***Woman Sells Public Water To Frack Companies
Comment of Group Member: Doesn't this water belong to the citizens of PA?
How can she be allowed to sell OUR water?
“Ms. Pawlick’s company, Frac Water Resources, sits on the bank of the Monongahela River in Allenport, Pa. On any given day it provides between 50 to 200 trucks with water to be used for fracking shale wells. Its main customer is Pittsburgh-based EQT Corp.
Last year, more than 1,200 unconventional wells were drilled in Pennsylvania, and that means a lot of water. The average horizontal shale well requires about five million gallons of water to frack.
Ms. Pawlick also ended up paying $40,000 for an equipment upgrade when she discovered that she didn’t have the right system.
As she spoke, Jim Bumbarger from Allison Crane and Rigging filled up a bright red vacuum truck from one of the company’s six frack tanks, which hold up to 21,000 gallons of water. To get the water to the tanks, the company uses a concrete wet well.
Ms. Pawlick said this site was ideal for the company’s headquarters. She is able to supply water to companies with operations in Greene, Washington, Allegheny, Fayette and Westmoreland counties, and does not have to worry about noise pollution.
“A lot of the other places along the river, where people do have water takeout points, have neighbors,” she said. “This is a 24/7 operation. It’s loud, and it’s lit up at night. This was the perfect spot for a loud trucking operation to go on.”
In addition to Frac Water Resources, Ms. Pawlick also serves as the executive director of the Middle Monongahela Industrial Development Association.
Frac Water Resources is currently the only company that has permission from the DEP to drain water from that particular part of the Monongahela River. Any company that pulls more than 10,000 gallons of water from a public water source per day must obtain a permit from the DEP.
Ms. Pawlick worked with KLH Engineers to obtain a permit and the DEP allows the company to pull two million gallons of water per day.
There is no charge to pull untreated water from the state’s streams, creeks and rivers, according to Mr. Poister.
The DEP considers water withdrawal requests in conjunction with other requests to the same water source and requires companies to have a water management plan, DEP spokeswoman, Morgan Wagner, said in an e-mail. The management plan identifies the body of water used in fracking and what the expected impacts of the withdrawals will be, Ms. Wagner said in an e-mail.
There are certain things Frac Water Resources has to monitor in order to withdraw water from the river, Ms. Pawlick said.
“We have to know where every gallon of water goes, what time it leaves, who the driver is, what the trucking company is, what the size of the truck is, where they took the water, and what time.”
All of the water gathered for Frac Water Resources is fresh, Mr. Waller said.
“There's no dirty water that comes back into this facility,” he said. “It's all clean water, one way out.”
Frac Water Resources is one among several business, including Aqua America and Pennsylvania American Water, that provide water to oil and gas companies.
Bryn Mawr-based Aqua America, which gets its water from the west branch of the Susquehanna River, has worked with companies such as Southwestern Energy, Range Resources, Shell Appalachia and EXCO Resources, Donna Alston, a spokeswoman, said in an e-mail.
Hershey-based Pennsylvania American Water sold 375 million gallons of water to gas producers in 2013, Gary Lobaugh, a company spokesman, said in an e-mail. Mr. Lobaugh said his company does not disclose specific information about customers.
Ms. Pawlick said many oil and gas companies still get their frack water on their own. However, by working with her, they can double the capacity of water they can take.
Madasyn Czebiniak: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1269. Twitter: @PG_Czebiniak
Correction (Posted Aug. 19, 2014) An earlier of this version incorrectly identified the company that acquired Consolidated Natural Gas. In addition, information from Pennsylvania American Water and Aqua America was attributed to the wrong company.
***Fracking Threat Wiped £ 535,000 Off Home's Value
(About $887, 000 in US currency. Jan)
Article from England
“The potentially massive impact of fracking on house prices was revealed yesterday – with one woman saying the value of her home has been cut by £535,000.
Dianne Westgarth told how the price of her five-bedroom house had plummeted by over 70% as a result of a proposed fracking site nearby- just 300 yards from her home.
In 2012, the property – which comes with two-and-a-half acres of land – was valued at £725,000.
‘The new valuation came in at 190,000 pounds, she said. ‘Two other estate agents said they would rather not even comment, because the possibility of fracking meant they couldn’t actually say if it was worth anything at all.’
‘I’m directing all my efforts at ensuring the site near my home doesn’t get permission,’ she added. ‘Currently, my house is worth next to nothing.’
She spoke out as it emerged that the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) – which values properties for council tax – had admitted that commercial activities such as fracking could cause their estimates to be downgraded.
James Nisbet, who lives near another potential drilling site near Blackpool, said a would-be purchaser pulled out of buying his £375,000 house after hearing about the plan.
‘I’ve been a Conservative voter since I was 18,’ he said. ‘I’m now 60 but it’s the last time I will vote Conservative because they have sold Lancashire down the swanny with no regard for people’s health and well-being.’
Chris Hebert, of Hampton’s estate agency in nearby Haslemere, said: ‘If someone’s got something going on 24/7, people will not buy their house.’
The revelations come just weeks after the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs was accused of a fracking ‘cover-up’ after it censored a key report on the topic no less than 63 times in 13 pages.
The chapter examining the effect of drilling on house prices had three sections redacted – although it did acknowledge a study, which found the value of properties near a well in Texas had fallen by up to 14 per cent.
However both the VOA and the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) yesterday insisted there was no evidence to link fracking with falling house prices.
‘There is no evidence that house prices have been affected in over half a century of oil and gas exploration in the UK or evidence that this would be the case with shale,’ a spokesman for the DECC said.”
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2733336/Fracking-threat-wiped-535-000-home-s-value-Five-bedroom-home-valued-190-000-drilling-site-proposed-nearby.html#ixzz3BYXHSNyb
***Enviros Will Be Blamed for Bursting Frack Bubble
Here’s The Script, in four despicable acts:
Act 1. Fracking boom goes bust as production from shale gas and tight oil wells stalls out and lurches into decline.
Act 2. Oil and gas industry loudly blames anti-fracking environmentalists and restrictive regulations.
Act 3. Congress rolls back environmental laws.
Act 4. Loosened regulations do little to boost actual oil and gas production, which continues to tank, but the industry wins the right to exploit marginal resources a little more cheaply than would otherwise have been the case.
It’s fairly clear that the fracking bubble will burst soon—almost certainly within the decade. Our ongoing analysis at Post Carbon Institute documents the high per-well decline rates (a typical well’s production drops 70 percent during the first year), the high variability of production potential within geological formations being tapped and the dwindling number of remaining drilling sites in the few “sweet spots” that offer vaguely profitable drilling potential. Meanwhile, as the Energy Information Administration (EIA) has recently documented, the balance sheets of fracking companies are loaded with debt while surprisingly short on profits from sales of product—with real profits coming mostly from sales of assets (drilling leases).
The industry continues to claim that tight oil and shale gas are “game changers” and that these resources will last many decades if not centuries. Though the CEOs of companies engaged in shale gas and tight oil drilling are undoubtedly aware of what’s going on in their own balance sheets, hype is an essential part of their business model—which can be summarized as follows:
Step 1. Borrow money and use it to lease thousands of acres for drilling.
Step 2. Borrow more money and drill as many wells as you can, as quickly as you can.
Step 3. Tell everyone within shouting distance that this is just the beginning of a production boom that will continue for the remainder of our lives and the lives of our children and that everyone who invests will get rich.
Step 4. Sell drilling leases to other (gullible) companies at a profit, raise funds through Initial Public Offerings or bond sales, and use the proceeds to hide financial losses from your drilling and production operations.
In the financial industry this would be recognized as a variation on the old “pump and dump” scam, yet the U.S. government’s own EIA has just quietly confirmed that this is standard practice in the companies responsible for the “miraculous” U.S. oil and gas renaissance that other departments of government are relying on for job creation projections, future tax revenues and (reputed) energy export clout in the new cold war against Russia.
The bursting of the fracking bubble will have almost nothing to do with environmentalists, but they have deliberately and courageously put themselves in harm’s way. Fracking has terrible impacts on water, air, soil, human health, the welfare of livestock and wildlife and the climate.
Hundreds of local anti-fracking groups have sprung up across the country in recent years, often started by ordinary citizens who suddenly found their wells fouled, their livestock sickened, or their children suffering from headaches and nosebleeds as a result of nearby fracking operations. Yet it has often been difficult for environmental scientists to document such impacts, due to deliberate efforts on the part of industry to impede studies and publications (for example, requiring non-disclosure agreements where complaints are met with cash settlements); indeed, industry spokespeople continue to deny that fracking is responsible for any environmental or human health problems. The industry despises environmentalists. But the real motivation for The Script is not petulance or revenge.
No, this is all business. Environmentalists will merely be handy scapegoats. Blaming environmentalists for the bursting of the fracking bubble will divert public attention from the industry’s own bad business practices. But even more usefully, telling receptive members of Congress that falling oil and gas production rates are due to anti-fracking, fear-mongering, business-hating enviros will set the stage for new and powerful calls to roll back local, state and national regulations. Congress’s likely response: “Poor you! What can we do to help? How about some further exemptions to the Clean Air and Clean Water acts? Maybe a preemption of local fracking ordinances with a new industry-friendly national rule? Would you care for some drilling leases on millions of acres of federal land as an appetizer, while you’re waiting? They’re on the house.”
The industry has a lot to gain by portraying itself as the victim of powerful environmental interests. But will this gambit actually initiate a new round of oil and gas production growth? That’s remotely possible, since there are still billions of tons of low-grade hydrocarbon resources trapped beneath American soil. But don’t count on it. It takes money to drill, even if it’s other people’s money. As the quality of available resources declines, the amount of money needed to yield each new increment of energy from those resources grows. The industry will have to find and persuade a new flock of investors, which is likely to be difficult once shale gas and tight oil production is clearly headed south with an accelerating trend. Carrying loads of debt has been relatively easy due to ultra-low interest rates; if the Federal Reserve decides to let rates drift back upward, this alone could be a stake through the industry’s heart.
Here’s an open plea to EIA officials: Please follow the evidence and tell public officials and the American people the real story of what’s happening as the national fracking boom turns to bust. You’re the authority everyone looks to.”
***Flaring =Wasted Gas and Air Pollution- Eagle Ford, Texas
“A yearlong investigation by the San Antonio Express-News shows that gas flares spreading across the Eagle Ford Shale are burning and wasting billions of cubic feet of natural gas. The Express-News analyzed the state's own records and found no other region in Texas is flaring as much gas as the Eagle Ford Shale. From 2009 to 2012, flares burned enough gas to supply every household that uses the fossil fuel in the San Antonio area – for a full year. The raw gas coming out of flares isn't the clean-burning methane found in your kitchen. Gas flares released more than 15,000 tons of volatile organic compounds and other contaminants into the air in 2012, according to state pollution estimates obtained by the Express-News.
Despite the state's assurances that flaring is well regulated, the Express-News discovered that some of the top sources of flaring in the shale failed to obtain the necessary permits from the Railroad Commission of Texas, which oversees the oil/ gas industry.
"That amount of gas is horrible," said Sister Elizabeth Riebschlaeger, a nun with the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word who lives in South Texas and speaks out for residents who believe they've been harmed by rising levels of pollution in the Eagle Ford. "I would use the word disastrous."
Riebschlaeger, who works out of her Honda Civic as she drives the back roads of the shale, said she's seen flares burning "day and night" and emitting plumes of black smoke that indicate the flames are burning inefficiently and releasing air pollutants.
"It's an environmental tragedy," Riebschlaeger said. "There are lots of people who bought nice, quiet country places who now find that same quiet environment destroyed."
"There will, ultimately, be pipelines built to reduce this flaring," Smitherman told the Express-News. "We're just in a transition period right now where the price of oil is so high, everybody's chasing after liquids. And when they find liquids in the Eagle Ford, they also find gas." The full findings of this investigation can be read at ExpressNews.com.
***Grass-Roots Opposition Threat to Booming Shale Business
(Sorry for all the hyphens. I could find no way to re-format this article. Jan)
“A fight over fracking is looming in Texas. Another stand-off is shaping up in Colorado. Yet drillers’ reactions couldn’t be more different.
In Texas, drillers are doing their noisy, in-your-face fracking as usual. On a small farm about an hour from the Colorado Rocky Mountains, the oil industry is giving fracking a makeover, cutting back on rumbling trucks and tamping down on pollution.
Oil companies in Colorado are responding to a rising tide of resentment, as local communities and environmental activists vie to impose measures to ban fracking or restrict drilling.
A series of ballot initiatives and other grass-roots opposition around the country is seen as threatening the booming shale industry, even in oil-friendly Texas, where the U.S. energy renaissance began. If those initiatives “continue to proliferate, then companies lose access to those resources,” said David Spence, professor of law, politics and regulation at the University of Texas School of Law, who researches fracking and drilling rules.
Cities and counties nationwide have so far passed 430 measures to control or ban fracking, the controversial technique of cracking subterranean rocks to release oil and natural gas, according to a running list kept by Food & Water Watch, a Washington-based environmental advocacy group.
The industry’s newfound concern and sensitivity in some states represents a shift in tactics, as companies seek to avoid taking the issue to the voting booth, where success for activists holds the potential of slowing the U.S. drilling bonanza.
At an Anadarko Petroleum drilling site near Dacono, Colo., swarms of trucks and flood lights are hidden behind a wall of hay bales, which soften the roar of diesel engines. Giant pits of murky wastewater have been eliminated using recycling and pipelines. The number of trucks and tanks needed in some locations has plunged to 50 from 400 in 2011.
Thanks in part to these measures, a last-minute deal state officials made with environmental activists helped Colorado avert an anti-fracking vote earlier this month.
No such compromise was reached about 800 miles away in Denton, Texas, near the birthplace of the U.S. energy boom. Some residents there say they are exasperated with the unwillingness of producers to listen to their pleas to avoid late-night drilling and put wells far away from where children play. They’re aiming to ban all fracking in a vote this November.
Companies have alienated some voters with an attitude suggesting “this is just the way that it is in Texas, and if you don’t like it, that’s just too bad,” said Denton resident Cathy McMullen, who started pushing for more regulations after wells were drilled by a park near her home. “As far as the industry goes in Texas, there is no give-and-take. There is just ‘we give, and they take.‘ “
The latest two fracking battles — one in the heart of Texas oil country, where support for drilling is generally assumed — underscore the progress that fracking opponents are making at the local level after striking out to gain more state or federal control over the industry.
Fed up residents launched a campaign to draft a fracking ban in February and gathered enough votes on a petition to take the question to voters Nov. 4.