* 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-
To read former Updates please visit our blogspot listed above.
WMCG Thank You
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.
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.
***Join the People’s Climate March in New York City, Sept. 21. Peoples Climate March: http://peoplesclimate.org/march/
On September 21 in New York City a quarter million citizens are expected to demand that the world's leaders take immediate action on climate change.
The Peoples Climate March will be held just before President Obama and his Chinese counterpart attend the UN Climate Summit, http://www.un.org/climatechange/summit/.
The Sierra Club and Thomas Merton Center have hired two buses to leave early on the Sunday morning and return late on Sunday night. If you are interested in reserving a seat on the bus, please contact Peter Wray with CLIMATE on the Subject line … firstname.lastname@example.org.
ACTION: Register now for a seat on one of the Pittsburgh buses.
Seats are Still Available for the Ride to the Historic March
Yes! We have filled two 56-seat buses with people of faith, Sierra Clubbers, SEIU members, and more than twenty students who want to be in the People’s Climate March and let the World’s leaders know that we need CLIMATE ACTION NOW.
In response to this demand, the Allegheny Group and Thomas Merton Center has just hired a THIRD BUS to travel to New York on Sunday. Why not join the thousands from across the country and help make history.
· The three buses will depart Edgewood Town Center (off the Parkway East) at 3 am.
· Arrive in New York in time for the 11:30 am start of the March.
· The March will be about three miles from Columbus Circle, going over to Sixth Ave, across 42nd Street and finishing on Eleventh Ave.
· Depart New York about 4 pm and arrive back in Pittsburgh shortly after Midnight.
· The fare is $68 per passenger. Some scholarships are available – contact Peter at email@example.com.
Before our third bus fills up, please RESERVE YOUR SEAT: http://events.r20.constantcontact.com/register/event?oeidk=a07e9guul4x5f430e46&llr=nreqd8cab
See the film “DISRUPTION – A Film About the People’s Climate March” at http://watchdisruption.com/
TELL YOU FRIENDS. SPREAD THE WORD
***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:
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
***- Pittsburgh’s Air At Stake- Please Comment
Send Statement/Comment To Restrict Carbon From Existing Power plants
Everyone Should Submit a Written Statement
We need to send a strong message to the EPA and Big Coal that there’s overwhelming public support for national climate action –NOW! Big Coal and their climate-denying allies are already trying to weaken the EPA’s historic climate protection efforts.
Comments on the Clean Power Plan Proposed Rule must be received by October 16, 2014. You do not have to write a long statement. Any statement of support for Carbon reduction is helpful and there’s lots of data, just google climate change—flooding, storms, effects on health, plant and animal adaptation, etc.
Send Your Comments To:
A: Comments on the EPA’s new rule covering the carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants may be submitted via Email to: A-and-R-Docket@epa.gov
With docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OAR-2013-0602 in the subject line of the message.
Be sure to reference Docket ID:
For information about the carbon reduction plan:
Opposition to the New EPA Rules
The Obama Administration clearly anticipates strong opposition to the new rules, and the fight will take place on several grounds. Despite strong public support for the EPA’s proposed rules, the climate change deniers were quick to claim the rules were unnecessary. The national Chamber of Commerce said the costs were exorbitant, but Nobelist Paul Krugman dismisses their argument. But it is the legal challenges that will perhaps slow-down the implementation of the EPA’s rules, a delay we cannot afford.
And From Public Citizen
See the top 10 FAQs on the carbon pollution reduction plan.
***For Health Care Professionals—Tell PA Dept of Health to Stop Ignoring Fracking Health Complaints
***Saving Pittsburgh Parks-
Needed: Registered voters in Allegheny County Who Will Help
Please read the message below and call me today to talk about this more:
Protect Our Parks submitted 5000 signatures to County Council on May 6, calling for a no vote on drilling under Deer Lakes. Unfortunately, council voted anyway to go ahead with County Executive Fitzgerald's proposal to drill under Deer Lakes Park.
Although we lost that battle, we have a new campaign to protect the other 8 county parks. And we need your help!!
This is basically a citizen’s initiative to require Council to vote on an ordinance -- not a resolution, but an ORDINANCE --which WE write. We've written an ordinance, to put a hold on activity in the other parks --which we believe will be attractive to some of the council members who voted yes last time. We need signatures on a petition from 500 (really 750) registered voters in Allegheny County.
Council will be required to hear public testimony and vote within 60 days.
For this campaign to be successful we need registered voters ( i.e. YOU) to circulate this ordinance/petition between October 17 and Nov. 4. And we need signatures from all over the county.
This petition is similar to the ones for elected officials -- if you've ever seen those. The signers must be registered votes in Allegheny County. And you must get your petitions notarized.
Please give me a call today if you will participate. October 17 is coming up soon.
***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
**Democracy Now! Naomi Klein discusses fossil fuels
She criticizes Nature Conservancy for drilling on “preserved” land.
***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 1400 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.”
***Video of Pipeline Incidents since 1986
All articles are excerpted and condensed. Please use links for the full article. Special Thanks to Bob Donnan for many of the photos.
***Another Violation At Beaver Run Reservoir
(Comments on the violation are made by a group member. jan)
Skytruth Alert: PA Permit Violation Issued to Cnx Gas Co Llc in Washington Twp, Westmoreland County 2014-08-11
Operator Cnx Gas Co Llc
Violation Type Administrative
Violation Date 2014-08-11
Violation Code 78.56(1) - Pit and tanks not constructed with sufficient capacity to contain pollutional substances.
Violation ID 702606
Permit API 129-28811
Municipality Washington Twp
Inspection Type Incident- Response to Accident or Event
Inspection Date 2014-08-11
Comments Inspection the result of a spill reported by the Operator on 8/10/2014 at 21:45. The Operator reported a unknown amount of flow back water spilled into containment, however the containment was compromised, which resulted in a spill to the ground. At the time of inspection the department observed a frac tank inside containment, The Operator pulled back the containment in the area of concern. The Operator excavated to remove approximately two 50 gallon drums of impacted material. The excavated area was already backfilled at the time of the inspection. No waterways appear to be impacted at this time. The Department suggests the Operator take samples of the contents of the frac tank located onsite, the impacted soil before and after excavation and a background sample to ensure the affected material has been removed.
(SUGGESTS??!!! Are you kidding??!!)
ID: 702606 Date: 2014-08-11 Type: Administrative
78.56(1) - Pit and tanks not constructed with sufficient capacity to contain pollutional substances.
314148 NOV - Notice of Violation
Monitor this location
View Nearby Alerts
Date: 2014-08-11 00:00:00
Location: 40.508225 -79.55868
Tags: PADEP, frack, violation, drilling
*** Grant Awarded WMCG was very pleased to be awarded a $2000 grant from the Mt Watershed Association which will allow us to further our efforts to educate the public about the harmful effects of fracking and to provide TDS and radioactivity screening for interested homeowners.
***Appeal Filed: Range Resources research that would lead to use of gas well drill cuttings in roads and well pads on gas sites
Delaware Riverkeeper Network, Lower Susquehanna Riverkeeper, and Earthworks File Appeal of PADEP General Permit Supporting Use of Drill Cuttings in Pavement
Organizations object to research and development by driller Range Resources that would lead to use of gas well drill cuttings in roads and well pads on gas sites
Harrisburg, PA - Delaware Riverkeeper Network, Lower Susquehanna Riverkeeper, and Earthworks filed an appeal on September 15 with the Pennsylvania Environmental Hearing Board (EHB) of a Residual Waste General Permit issued to Range Resources Appalachia and LAFARGE North America authorizing research and development activities to support the beneficial use of drill cuttings for pavement at gas well sites.
The General Permit allows the construction of a test well pad using drill cuttings in place of cement and could result in a beneficial use determination by PA Department of Environmental Protection (PADEP) that will allow its use in well pads and access roads at gas well sites in the state. The test pad is located uphill from two exceptional value streams, Larry’s Creek and Dog Run Creek.
The organizations petitioned the EHB based on the PADEP’s failure, among other things, to analyze and address the long-term impacts of the project on the community and the natural resources it depends upon and to review and address the long-term and cumulative risks to groundwater and surface water contamination. The petitioners asked the EHB to reverse PADEP’s approval.
A copy of the filing is available at: http://bit.ly/1oWAG7Y
Delaware Riverkeeper Network
925 Canal St., Suite 3701
Bristol PA 19007
Phone: 215.369.1188 ext 104
***Lawsuit: Kretschmann Farm Challenges Compressor Station Permit
“The owners of one of the region’s oldest and most successful organic farms in New Sewickley Township, Beaver County, are challenging the township land use ordinances that allowed a gas compressor station next to their farm.
Don and Rebecca Kretschmann, who have operated their 80-acre organic farm since 1979, filed the appeal in Beaver County Common Pleas Court Friday.
The appeal alleges that the township’s zoning and oil and gas ordinances fail to preserve and protect existing agricultural uses in the rural community 25 miles north of Pittsburgh, and rely on portions of state Act 13 -- the amendment to Pennsylvania’s oil and gas law -- that have been declared unconstitutional by the state Supreme Court.
Township supervisors voted 4-0 on Aug. 14, to approve a conditional use permit that will allow Cardinal Midstream LLC, to build and operate the compressor station in an area of the township zoned for agriculture.
”The Kretschmanns are concerned that the industrial operation which will house four 1,340-horsepower continuously operating compressors and emit 78 tons of nitrogen oxides, 24 tons of volatile organic compounds and 98 tons of carbon dioxide, will pollute the air, water and soil, and threaten the organic certification of their business which delivers produce to more than 1,000 customers in Allegheny, Beaver and Butler counties.
The appeal states the supervisors’ decision constitutes “spot zoning,” and is inconsistent with a stated objective of “A-1 agricultural districts to preserve environmentally sensitive lands.”
***DEP Approves Controversial Middlesex Permit Near Schools
“The drill site, owned by Bob and Kim Geyer, has been a source of controversy in the southern Butler County area, being only about three-quarters of a mile from the Mars
Area School District campus. Residents had been battling approval of the permits, saying that the well would endanger school children.
Amy Nassif, a member of the Mars Parents Group, said of the approval, “We are extremely disappointed. We worked very hard and we gave substantial research and information to the DEP that was basically ignored.”
Read more: http://triblive.com/news/adminpage/6784977-74/approval-area-energy#ixzz3D8MIZ8Gl
This message is from the Mars group:
Craig Lobins of DEP called a member of the Mars Parent Group
(www.marsparentgroup.com) to let her know the permits have been issued and he stressed that they are safe.
She reminded him of the one-mile evacuation last week in Mercer County due to a well fire: http://triblive.com/state/pennsylvania/6747150-74/story - axzz3D7XP0O9B
Please call Craig Lobins TODAY and ask him if the DEP GUARANTEES the safety of 5 schools in a known and recent evacuation zone? What about the kids with asthma? What about 10 yrs from now? What if there is a trucking accident? How can he guarantee their safety? We need answers.
Craig Lobins, Environmental Program Manager
***Gas Well Pad Approved in Butler, Residents Loudly Voice Opposition
Kim Paskorz, Butler Eagle Staff Writer
(The reasoning of the supervisors does not make sense. They are allowing a gas well in an area zoned residential yet they are saying they can do nothing without changing their ordinance. Jan)
“Rex Energy received approval Monday night to build a gas well pad on the property of Krendale Golf Course by a unanimous vote of the township commissioners.
However, that's not the same as saying the well pad got the board's blessing.
The vote followed more than an hour and a half of discussion among residents, commissioners and company representatives on the potential imminent and long-term dangers of a well pad as well as the proximity of it to homes, businesses and schools.
Representatives of Rex Energy said the pad would be accessed from Route 68 and would be capable of housing up to nine wells.
It will have no buildings and be on a portion of the 239 acres that is zoned multifamily residential and is not used by the golf course itself.
More than 60 people attended the meeting and 15 spoke. Of them, 14 spoke against the well pad, citing concerns about water, air and noise pollution as well as a probable increase in traffic.
Drive resident Richard Forsythe was the lone person to speak in favor of the wells, saying they were cleaner than other energy sources, like coal. “This is part of the free market,” Forsythe said.
Other speakers used words like “insane,” “crazy” and “disaster waiting to happen” to describe the plan. Occasionally people shouted negative remarks out of turn.
More people would have stepped up to the podium, but the commissioners declined to hear from people who do not live in the township.
“I'm mortified,” said Aaron Edwards, noting that his 9-month-old son attends school at the nearby Lifesteps building.
“Any damage caused by this pad will be directly linked to your ordinance,” warned resident Joseph McMurry.
Throughout the meeting, the commissioners expressed their individual concerns about the well pad but acknowledged in their vote that Rex's proposal meets all of the ordinance requirements.
“We want to change our ordinance, but it's too late for this one. Isn't it?” asked commissioners Chairman Joe Hasychak.
Township officials said they have hired a consultant to look at making changes to zoning ordinances. But solicitor Larry Lutz told the crowd it could be a complicated process because some property owners in the township already have made leases with oil and gas companies based on the ordinance, which was passed in December 2012.
The commissioners during the meeting quizzed the Rex Energy officials no fewer than three times about moving the location of the pad.
Duane Maust of Rex Energy said the location decision is based on geology, the amount of leases in the area, topography and the golf course owners' wishes. The pad will be on a 3-acre gravel area but will disturb about 14 acres.
Mark Krenitsky, one of the owners of the golf course, attended the meeting but did not speak. Afterward, he said that as it stands, the proposal will not affect the 27-hole golf course.
“This is on an unused piece of property,” Krenitsky said.
The proposal came to the commissioners without a recommendation from the township planning commission. The planning commissioners refused to vote in favor or against the project. Hasychak said the planning commission disappointed him by failing to vote.”
Kim Paskorz, Butler Eagle Staff Writer
*** Donegal Families Fight for Water
“From January to June, Ken and Mildred Geary had to use bottled water to cook, clean and shower because a leak from a gas drilling company's impoundment pond contaminated their well water.
The DEP has ruled their well was contaminated by a nearby WPX fracking operation.
Mildred Geary first noticed the tap water smelled rotten and felt slimy. Running hot water in the kitchen would fill the interior of their home along Route 711 in Donegal Township with a horrible odor, she said.
WPX eventually agreed to supply them with cases of bottled water.
“It was a pain. We had to keep a big bottle of water handy all the time,” said Geary, 76. “We couldn't shower or anything because we didn't have decent water. We used the bottled water and just washed off.”
Since 2007, natural gas drilling has contaminated 243 wells in Pennsylvania, according to DEP.
The department has ordered WPX to provide the Gearys and two other affected households with a permanent source of clean water, finding that “WPX is responsible for the pollution of the water supply” and failure to provide an alternate source constitutes “a public nuisance and unlawful conduct.”
The Gearys are the third family to receive a report from the state that their well water was contaminated by a leak in WPX's impoundment pond, on the Kalp well pad. The DEP ruled the impoundment contaminated the water of Joseph and Sonja Latin, who live next door to the Gearys, and of Ralph and Sonya Brown. The homeowners and WPX are battling on multiple fronts, including lawsuits in Westmoreland County Common Pleas Court and an appeal before the state Environmental Hearing Board.
In its appeal of the Latins' ruling, WPX claims the water quality is “naturally resolving over time without the need for intervention or permanent replacement” and supplying bottled water “is adequate for the purposes served by the water supply.”
“We want (each family) to have access to water in their house, turning on taps. ... Nothing short of that is acceptable,” said John Poister, a DEP spokesman.
WPX forwarded a statement prepared in July, in which spokeswoman Susan Oliver said the company is working with the families and the DEP, but contesting DEP's test results on the water quality.
She claimed the company's water tests show the Latins' and Gearys' water had “issues of odor, taste and visual appeal; (but) at no time were the families facing a health impact concern.”
The impoundment pond, closed and filled in, held recycled water the company used in hydraulic fracking in 2011.
In September 2012, the Browns' water was found to be contaminated with various pollutants, including manganese and sodium, according to a lawsuit the couple filed in September 2013 against WPX and its subcontractors.
While humans need small amounts of manganese and sodium daily, studies show exposure to high levels of manganese can cause damage to the central nervous system in adults and can lead to cognitive impairment in children, who are more sensitive to the element, according to reports prepared for the federal government. Continued exposure to high levels of sodium can lead to high blood pressure, according to a report to the Environmental Protection Agency.
The Browns' suit, which is pending, claims the contamination caused their property value to decrease while inflicting personal discomfort and annoyance. The Browns have been receiving water through an outdoor water tank supplied by WPX, according to the company.
The Latins filed a lawsuit against WPX and its subcontractors on Sept. 4. It claims that last year their water was contaminated with manganese. The suit makes similar claims regarding decreased property values and quality of life.
For now, the Gearys have a large round water tank behind their house that connects to faucets and showers. The tank, in use since June, is filled weekly at WPX's expense, at about $500 a week, said Dolly Coffman, a daughter who is helping the Gearys navigate the process of winning back clean water.
“That's not a way of living,” Coffman said. “All they want is good water. It ain't like they want a million dollars.”
Permanent outdoor water tanks are not an acceptable fix, Poister said.
“An important thing to realize is that bottled water is not an answer,” Dr. Cynthia Walter, an associate professor of biology at St. Vincent College. Walter said. If people shower in contaminated water, “you end up breathing water droplets and any contamination in the water enters your lungs.”
Read more: http://triblive.com/news/westmoreland/6758466-74/wpx-company-contaminated#ixzz3DisVQGwM
***DEP Fines Range Resources $4.15 Million for Violating Environmental Regulations
Consent order and agreement will close five Washington County impoundments
“ The DEP today announced it has signed a wide-ranging consent order and agreement with Range Resources for violations at six of its Washington County impoundments.
The consent order requires the company to pay a $4.15 million fine, the largest against an oil and gas operator in the state’s shale drilling era, close five impoundments and upgrade two other impoundments to meet heightened “next generation” standards currently under development at DEP.
“This action reaffirms the administration’s unwavering commitment to protecting Pennsylvania’s soil and water resources,” DEP Secretary E. Christopher Abruzzo said. “This landmark consent order establishes a new, higher benchmark for companies to meet when designing future impoundments, which is an environmental win for Pennsylvania.”
Violations at the impoundments include various releases of contaminants, such as leaking flowback that affected soil and groundwater.
To date there has been no impact on drinking water from any of these impoundments.
Under the consent order, Range Resources will immediately begin the closure of the Hopewell Township 11 (Lowry), Cecil Township 23 (Worstell), and Kearns impoundments. Range Resources will also continue the closure of the Yeager impoundment. The company must close the Hopewell Township 12 (Bednarski) impoundment by April 1, 2015.
Additionally, the consent order also directs Range Resources to upgrade two other impoundments. The liner systems at the Chartiers Township 16 (Carol Baker) and Amwell Township 15 (Jon Day) impoundments will be completely redesigned and rebuilt to meet “next generation” standards currently under development at DEP.
When upgrading the two impoundments, Range Resources will install thicker liners than are currently required, an electrically conductive geomembrane that will allow better identification of potential leaks and a real-time leak detection system. Range will also fully investigate and remediate any groundwater contamination caused by the previous operation of the impoundments.
Another impoundment, Mount Pleasant Township 17 (Carter), will be limited to storing only fresh water for as long as it remains in service. Range will also install a groundwater monitoring well network at the impoundment now and will perform an environmental site assessment at this impoundment once it is permanently closed.
The company will be required to report to DEP quarterly on the progress of the shutdown and remediation of the sites.
The consent order also requires Range Resources to immediately begin soil and groundwater investigations at each of the closed impoundments to determine what, if any, impact there was from their operation of the impoundments. If contamination is found, the company is required to remediate the sites.”
E. Christopher Abruzzo
***Those Living Near Fracking Report Health Problems
“Stephanie Tiongco, of New Milford, PA, says she knew something was wrong when her long, chestnut hair started falling out. Around the same time, she says, seven alpacas on her small farm mysteriously died.
She blames both problems on one thing, an industry that’s contentious in her rural town and in Washington: fracking. “I used to sit on my front porch and look out at all this beautiful country. Now all I see is a gas pad.”
Tiongco, 57, recently filed a lawsuit against Arkansas-based Southwestern Energy that drills land a quarter-mile from her property. Southwestern Energy, she said, moved in two years ago and swiftly destroyed her livelihood: the alpaca farm and the dolls she handcrafts from alpaca fleece.
Southwestern Energy spokesperson Christina Fowler would not comment on the lawsuit but said the company “meets or exceeds” federal standards.
“I can’t relax ever,” Tiongco says. “They’re tearing everything up. They’re putting something in the water that hurt my hair and killed my animals.” She’s seeking at least $75,000 in damages.
The National Institutes of Health unveiled the largest independent study to investigate the impact of fracking on nearby residents. The survey of residents of southern Pennsylvania found that people with ground-fed water wells living near hydraulic fracturing sites are twice as likely to report skin and respiratory problems.
The survey does not establish causation —Among the most common complaints in these areas: unexplained hair loss, persistent rashes, sore throats and nosebleeds.
Fracking proponents call the Yale-led study baseless.
Residents less than a mile from fracking sites, researchers found, sought more medical attention for skin and respiratory maladies than those who live farther away.
And it may provide some explanation for why doctors found undiagnosable skin lesions in Avella, Pennsylvania, to name one prominent example.
“This is just the start,” Stowe said. “More research is needed down the road.”
Recently in Texas, a family wracked with migraines and nausea won $2.9 million in an unprecedented fracking lawsuit. Tiongco hopes her court battle, one of several in Pennsylvania, will help her move.
She’s trying to sell her farm but worries that the fracking next door has reduced its value. At a local hair stylist’s recommendation, she recently installed a $1,500 water filter. Still, Tiongco dreads showering and drinks only bottled water.
“I can’t believe I have to live like this,” she said, “but I don’t trust what comes from the ground anymore.”
She gave the rest of her alpacas to friends in upstate New York. Luckily, her barn contains enough fleece to stock her Etsy shop with dolls for the next two years.
By then, she plans to live on new land.”
***Waste Firm Agrees to Stop Discharging Frack Waste Water Into Allegheny River
Thank you Clean Water Action
“The Allegheny River is the drinking water source for 560,000 people, including the city of Pittsburgh.
Thank you, Clean Water Action, for continuing to pursue this when DEP dropped the ball.
A Warren County waste treatment firm has agreed to build a state-of-the-art treatment facility to settle a federal lawsuit alleging it had illegally and repeatedly discharged Marcellus Shale gas drilling wastewater containing high concentrations of salts, heavy metals and radioactive compounds into the Allegheny.
Under terms of the settlement agreement with Clean Water Action, a statewide environmental organization, Waste Treatment Corp. has agreed to stop discharging up to 200,000 gallons a day of shale gas drilling wastewater. Within eight months, it will build the new treatment facility that will have the ability to remove more than 99 percent of the pollutants...
“Part of the reason we continued to pursue our suit was that DEP was dragging its feet and we couldn’t wait for them to actually follow through and address the contamination,” Myron Arnowitt said in the group’s news release.
In 2011, the DEP fined Waste Treatment $100,000 for violating its water discharge permit, which does not permit it to treat oil and gas wastewater. And in 2012, DEP water testing found levels of chloride, bromide, lithium, strontium, radium-226 and radium-228 downriver from the treatment plant that were more than 100 times higher than those found upriver from the plant.”
***Mercer County Well Forces Evacuation Of Homes
“A Saturday morning fire at a Mercer County gas well forced the evacuation of more than a dozen homes, an emergency dispatch supervisor reported.
The fire started around 5:45 a.m. at a Hilcorp Energy well pad in Shenango, the supervisor said.
A separator at the well site ignited, said Justin Furnace, corporate manager, external affairs. A separator, used to separate oil, gas and water, was housed in a metal building at the edge of the well pad, he said.
Shenango firefighters extinguished the fire by 8:20 a.m. The fire was confined to the separator, the company said. No injuries were reported.
Emergency workers temporarily evacuated 15 to 20 residents located within a 1-mile radius of the site. Those residents since have returned home.
Houston-based Hilcorp has a field office in New Castle. Furnace said the cause of the fire is undetermined, and it is investigating. The state DEP has been notified.” http://triblive.com/state/pennsylvania/6747150-74/story#axzz3D7XP0O9B
***The Urgent Case For a Ban On Fracking
“The term “fracking” has come to mean far more than just the specific process of extracting gas by injecting large volumes of water, sand and chemicals deep underground, at extreme pressure, to create fractures in targeted rock formations. Today, the term “fracking” represents the host of problems that this dangerous practice entails. This report details evidence on the many reasons why fracking should be banned, including:
Producing massive volumes of toxic and radioactive waste.- The unregulated disposal of this waste is causing earthquakes and putting drinking water resources at risk.
Pumping hazardous pollutants into the air. Fracking utilizes over 100 dangerous chemicals known to cause life-threatening illnesses, including cancer.
Destabilizing the climate.- Fracking wells release large amounts of methane gas, which is known to trap 87 times more heat than carbon in the atmosphere and contributes greatly to global warming.
Disrupting local communities.- Fracking presents a broad number of consequences for people living in areas where it is occurring, including damage to public roads, declines in property value, increased crime and an increased demand on emergency services.
Turning homes into explosive hazards.- Contaminating water wells with methane and other flammable gases from fracking puts families’ health, safety and property at high risk.
Causing thousands of accidents, leaks and spills.- More than 7,500 accidents related to fracking occurred in 2013, negatively impacting water quality in rivers, streams and shallow aquifers.”
***Michigan Landfill Taking Rejected PA Radioactive Waste Has History Of Violations
“Wayne Disposal’s owner, USEcology, cited its record of “safe, secure and compliant disposal” as a reason why it’s an appropriate site for out-of-state, radioactive fracking waste.
But violations cited by regulators from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality and the EPA, revealed incidents including a leak in the hazardous waste landfill’s primary protective liner; toxic leachate spills into surface water; improper venting and monitoring of stored underground hazardous waste; disposing of hazardous waste in nonhazardous landfill locations, and failing to control chemical reactions during processing that caused fires on-site. DEQ records show at least nine fires have started in Michigan Disposal’s processing facility in the past nine years as a result of toxic chemicals reacting with each other during treatment.
Despite the violations and mishaps, the Wayne Disposal landfill got DEQ permission in 2012 to just about double its size, to a total capacity of nearly 22.5 million cubic yards.
The landfill drew attention with the revelation last month that it planned to receive up to 36 tons of low-activity, radioactive fracking sludge from a Pennsylvania oil and gas driller. The waste had earlier been rejected by landfills in both Pennsylvania and West Virginia.
The current standard for placing TENORM in landfills is to reduce its radioactivity to 50 picocuries per gram or less. USEcology has asked the DEQ to revise its waste analysis plan to allow it to increase the radiation limit tenfold, to 500 picocuries per gram. The DEQ is analyzing the request.
Wayne Disposal is one of 17 hazardous waste-permitted facilities in the country — and one of only three east of the Mississippi River.
But fires have been an alarmingly regular occurrence at USEcology’s Van Buren Township facilities — at least nine fires in the past nine years, ranging from small, candle-like flames in a treatment tank where hazardous waste was being mixed, to an Aug. 9, 2005, explosion and fire that burned for three days and forced the evacuation of about 900 homes in nearby Romulus and Wayne. The latter explosion rained small pellets of metal and other material from the landfill down on homes and yards within a mile radius.
In another fire in the fall of 2010, hazardous waste being dumped from a trailer truck into a treatment tank at Michigan Disposal reacted chemically and caught fire, burning the tank and truck.
It takes thousands of years for radium 226’s radioactivity, the kind found in TENORM waste, to reduce itself back down to a natural background level, Lodge said.”
***Fracking's Financial Losers: Local Governments
Localities are forced to deal with much of the problems associated with fracking, while states and the federal government rake in all the revenue.
“The shale gas market is an economic boon for the 30-odd states that permit fracking. The severance tax states impose on the process adds up. In 2010, it generated more than $11 billion. The flow of that revenue goes straight into state and federal piggy banks, as does increased corporate income tax revenue from energy companies profiting from fracking.
Localities, however, enjoy no such benefits. Instead, they get stuck with all the fracking problems: noise from blasting, storage of toxic chemicals, degraded water sources and heavy truck traffic, as well as the rising costs of cleaning up the detritus fracking leaves behind. North Dakota counties affected by hydraulic fracturing have reported to the state Department of Mineral Resources’ Oil and Gas Division that traffic, air pollution, jobsite and highway accidents, sexual assaults, bar fights, prostitution and drunk driving have all increased.
In addition, fracking, in many cases, negatively impacts property values, which in turn depresses property tax revenue. For property owners who own the rights to the oil and gas on their land, the effects of drilling can be offset by royalty payments. But localities have no revenue offset if properties lose value.
The financial risks posed by fracking have become significant enough to capture the attention of mortgage bankers and insurers, who appear to be adopting guidelines that forbid mortgage loans or insurance coverage on properties affected by drilling. According to a 2013 survey by business researchers at the University of Denver, persons bidding on homes near fracking locations reduced their offers by as much as 25 percent. In North Texas, the Wise County Central Appraisal Review Board reduced the appraised value of a family’s home and 10-acre ranchette more than 70 percent. The board agreed to the extraordinary reduction as a result of numerous environmental problems related to fracking just one year after the first drilling rig went up on the property.
While a number of states continue to push to expand fracking, localities have some leverage. They control land use policies, zoning and property rights. Ironically, one of the earliest local-state challenges came from Exxon’s CEO. As a homeowner in an upscale community in Bartonville, Texas, the CEO found himself at odds with a local fracking operation.
He filed suit to block construction of a water tower near his home -- a tower that would increase fracking in the area -- alleging it would create “a noise nuisance and traffic hazards.”
The dispute in Texas is only the tip of the derrick, as it were. In New York, the state’s highest court upheld the right of two local governments to establish zoning laws that keep out fracking companies. The court’s 5-2 decision was based solely on reaffirming the towns’ rights to make their own zoning choices. In its ruling, the majority noted that the towns had engaged in a “reasonable exercise” of their zoning authority, that they had “studied the issue and acted within their home-rule powers in determining that gas drilling would permanently alter and adversely affect the deliberately cultivated small-town character of their communities.”
In Colorado, where the cities of Boulder, Broomfield, Fort Collins and Lafayette have adopted antifracking measures, Gov. John Hickenlooper recently announced the appointment of a task force to develop recommendations that would reduce land use conflicts when oil and gas facilities are located near homes, schools, businesses and recreation areas. He would also ask the Colorado Oil & Gas Conservation Commission to dismiss litigation challenging the city of Longmont’s ban on hydraulic fracturing and call on all parties to withdraw ballot initiatives on the topic. The task force will make recommendations to the legislature and issue majority and minority opinions.”
***State Department Sold Fracking to the World
A trove of secret documents details the US government's global push for shale gas.
“ The State Department hosted conferences on fracking from Thailand to Botswana. It sent US experts to work alongside foreign officials as they developed shale gas programs. And it arranged for dozens of foreign delegations to visit the United States to attend workshops and meet with industry consultants—as well as with environmental groups, in some cases.
US oil giants, meanwhile, were snapping up gas leases in far-flung places. By 2012, Chevron had large shale concessions in Argentina, Australia, Canada, China, and South Africa, as well as in Eastern Europe, which was in the midst of a claim-staking spree; Poland alone had granted more than 100 shale concessions covering nearly a third of its territory. When it lit its first gas flare atop a Halliburton-drilled well that fall, the state-owned gas company ran full-page ads in the country's largest newspapers showing a spindly rig rising above the hills in the tiny village of Lubocino, alongside the tagline: "Don't put out the flame of hope." Politicians promised that Poland would soon break free of its nemesis, Russia, which supplies the lion's share of its gas. "After years of dependence on our large neighbor, today we can say that my generation will see the day when we will be independent in the area of natural gas," Prime Minister Donald Tusk declared. "And we will be setting terms."
But shale was not the godsend that industry leaders and foreign governments had hoped it would be. For one, new research from the US Geological Survey suggested that the EIA assessments had grossly overestimated shale deposits: The recoverable shale gas estimate for Poland shrank from 187 trillion cubic feet to 1.3 trillion cubic feet, a 99 percent drop. Geological conditions and other factors in Europe and Asia also made fracking more arduous and expensive; one industry study estimated that drilling shale gas in Poland would cost three times what it does in the United States.
By 2013, US oil giants were abandoning their Polish shale plays. "The expectations for global shale gas were extremely high," says the State Department's Hueper. "But the geological limitations and aboveground challenges are immense. A handful of countries have the potential for a boom, but there may never be a global shale gas revolution."
"They're desperate," says Antoine Simon of Friends of the Earth Europe. "It's the last push to continue their fossil fuel development."
The politics of fracking overseas were also fraught. According to Susan Sakmar, a visiting law professor at the University of Houston who has studied fracking regulation, the United States is one of the only nations where individual landowners own the mineral rights. "In most, perhaps all, other countries of the world, the underground resources belong to the crown or the government," she explains. The fact that property owners didn't stand to profit from drilling on their land ignited public outrage in some parts of the world, especially Eastern Europe. US officials speculate that Russia also had a hand in fomenting protests there. "The perception among diplomats in the region was that Russia was protecting its interests," says Mark Gitenstein, the former US ambassador to Romania. "It didn't want shale gas for obvious reasons."
Faced with these obstacles, US and European energy companies launched a lobbying blitz targeting the European Union. They formed faux grassroots organizations, plied lawmakers with industry-funded studies, and hosted lavish dinners and conferences for regulators. The website for one industry confab—which, according to Friends of the Earth Europe, featured presentations from Exxon Mobil, Total, and Halliburton—warned that failure to develop shale gas "will have damaging consequences on European energy security and prosperity" and urged European governments to "allow shale gas exploration to advance" so they could "fully understand the scale of the opportunity."
. ….These strategies appeared to pay off: The commission's recently released framework for regulating fracking includes recommendations for governments but not firm requirements. "They chose the weakest option they had," says Simon of Friends of the Earth Europe. "People at the highest level of the commission are in the industry's pocket."
Goldwyn was also busy promoting fracking overseas—this time on behalf of industry. Between January and October 2012, his firm organized a series of workshops on fracking for officials in Bulgaria, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, and Ukraine, all of them funded by Chevron. The events were closed to the public—when Romanian journalist Vlad Ursulean tried to attend the Romanian gathering, he says Goldwyn personally saw to it that he was escorted out.
In some cases, the State Department had a direct hand in negotiating the deals. Gitenstein, then the ambassador to Romania, met with Chevron executives and Romanian officials and pressed them to hand over millions of acres of shale concessions. "The Romanians were just sitting on the leases, and Chevron was upset. So I intervened," says Gitenstein, whose State Department tenure has been bookended by stints at Mayer Brown, a law and lobbying firm that has represented Chevron. "This is traditionally what ambassadors do on behalf of American companies." In the end, Romania signed a 30-year deal with Chevron, which helped set off massive, nationwide protests.
….The strategy did little to soothe the public's ire. When Chevron finally did attempt to install the rig in late 2013, residents—including elderly villagers who arrived in horse-drawn carts—blockaded the planned drilling sites. The Romanian Orthodox Church rallied behind them, with one local priest likening Chevron to enemy "invaders." Soon, anti-fracking protests were cropping up from Poland to the United Kingdom. But Chevron didn't back down. Along with other American energy firms, it lobbied to insert language in a proposed US-EU trade agreement allowing US companies to haul European governments before international arbitration panels for any actions threatening their investments. Chevron argued this was necessary to protect shareholders against "arbitrary" and "unfair" treatment by local authorities. But environmental groups say it would stymie fracking regulation and point to a $250 million lawsuit Delaware-based Lone Pine Resources has filed against the Canadian province of Quebec for temporarily banning fracking near a key source of drinking water. The case hinges on a similar trade provision.
Despite the public outcry in Europe, the State Department has stayed the course. Clinton's successor as secretary of state, John Kerry, views natural gas as a key part of his push against climate change. Under Kerry, State has ramped up investment in its shale gas initiative and is planning to expand it to 30 more countries, from Cambodia to Papua New Guinea.
Following the Crimea crisis, the Obama administration has also been pressing Eastern European countries to fast-track their fracking initiatives so as to be less dependent on Russia. During an April visit to Ukraine, which has granted concessions to Chevron and Royal Dutch Shell, Vice President Joe Biden announced that the United States would bring in technical experts to speed up its shale gas development. "We stand ready to assist you," promised Biden, whose son Hunter has since joined the board of a Ukrainian energy company. "Imagine where you'd be today if you were able to tell Russia: 'Keep your gas.' It would be a very different world."
This story was supported by the Fund for Investigative Journalism.