Friday, November 14, 2014

Westmoreland Marcellus Citizens’ Group Updates November 6 & 13


 *  For articles and updates or to just vent, visit us on facebook;
*  To view past updates, reports, general information, permanent documents, and                meeting information
*  Email address:
*  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:      

WMCG     Thank You
               Contributors To Our Updates

A little Help Please --Take Action!!

 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.

The action to Tenaska and State Reps:

The hearing request to DEP:

               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 usually meet the second Tuesday of every month at 7:30 PM in Greensburg.  Recently we have adjusted this schedule. Email Jan for details and directions.  All are very welcome to attend.

***Rally to Clean Up Fracking in PA- Nov 18, 12:00
Join local activists in and the newly created coalition ‘Pennsylvanians Against Fracking’ at a rally to be held in Harrisburg:
Noon to 2:00 pm, Tuesday, November 18
N. 3rd Street    Harrisburg, PA 17120
Contact Diane Sipe at < > to get plugged into carpools with Marcellus Outreach Butler and Marcellus Protest.
               “Tom Wolf just won the election to be Pennsylvania’s next Governor. As Governor, Wolf will have the power to halt fracking. However, we know it is going to take a lot of pressure to win a statewide moratorium.
               “That pressure starts November 18th in Harrisburg. We’ll use a big box of cleaning supply to show the next Governor how to clean up our state. Please also bring your own cleaning tools- brooms, mops, sponges- get creative! We’ll also bring some homemade solar panels to shine sunlight- the best disinfectant- on the Capitol.

Sponsors include Berks Gas Truth, Delaware Riverkeeper Network, Marcellus Outreach Butler, Marcellus Protest, PennEnvironment and Pennsylvania Alliance for Clean Water and Air

***Program to document impacts of Fracking Near National       Parks- Nov 12, Phipps Conservatory
               Next week, NPCA will unveil a new initiative focused on protecting our parks in Pennsylvania. They have teamed up with FracTracker Alliance on a new smartphone app that enables citizens to document the impacts "fracking" has had in their communities and near our national parks. We'll also discuss opportunities created by the change in the governor's office.
               We started documenting many impacts of fracking occurring near our beloved Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota, and now we are bringing those photos and videos, along with expert panelists, to Pennsylvania to raise awareness about the potential impacts fracking could have on our parks.  
               Act now to join us in Pittsburgh on November 12 and learn from the experts, see bird's-eye views of landscapes affected by fracking, and discuss how the practice could affect national park communities in Pennsylvania. We'll also share ways citizens like you can help protect our parks.
               Will you join us? Time is running out, so RSVP now to
Event Details
WHAT: An expert panel and group discussion about protecting our parks from the impacts of hydraulic fracturing.
WHO: Brook Lenker, executive director, FracTracker Alliance; Nick Lund, landscape conservation program manager, NPCA; Valerie Naylor, National Park Service (retired), superintendent of Theodore Roosevelt National Park (2003-2014); Jan Swenson, executive director, Badlands Conservation Alliance.
Wednesday, November 12, from 6 - 8 p.m. at the Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, One Schenley Park, Pittsburgh, PA 15213. We'll be meeting in Botany Hall.
Thursday, November 13, from 6 - 8 p.m. at The Hub, CityView, 30 S. 17th Street, #1410, Philadelphia, PA 19103. We'll be meeting in the "Sky" room.
RSVP: Please RSVP to Matt Elliott at or 215.327.2529.
OTHER DETAILS: Events are free, and light refreshments will be provided. Parking is available at both locations. For Pittsburgh, metered parking (free after 6 p.m.) is available along Schenley Drive; parking is also available at the nearby Carnegie museums. For Philadelphia, Liberty Place garage is located at 44 S. 16th Street. The nearest SEPTA stop is Suburban Station.
I hope to see you there!
Sincerely, Matt Elliott
Pennsylvania and Delaware Program Manager

***Boston Art Show Uses 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
July 2014 – January 2015, Museum of Science, Boston
                    David G. Rabkin, PhD, Director for Current Science and Technology, Museum of Science, Boston, MA
Visit these sites for images and more information:

***Letters to the editor are important and one of the best ways to share information with the public. *** 

***Comment Period Ends Nov 18 on DEP's Marcellus Violation             Standards
               The DEP has taken much flack for "inadequate inspections" of the oil & gas industry. That policy is now under review. The Public Comment Period will end on November 18         
That is your last chance to weigh in regarding their policy of identifying, tracking and resolving violations.
See comments on DEP's proposal at
               We feel that DEP must "follow the book". Their guidelines should be followed in actual practice, not just as "aspirational goals".
               You can find many "talking points" in the newspaper article. The Auditor General's comments are excellent and should be mentioned.  We feel that as a minimum there should be at least one inspection prior to drilling and a clearly- mandated minimum total of at least six inspections per well.   The ability of DEP to inspect wells must not be overwhelmed by the number of permits issued.
Many thanks to Emily Krafjack and  C.O.G.E.N.T. for providing this information.
Submit your comments via e-mail:
Subject line:
Comments on Standards for Identifying Tracking and Resolving Violations
You may want to CC your State Senator and Representative.

DEP Address:
John Ryder,  DEP
PO BOX 8467
Harrisburg PA 17105-8467
Be sure to include your full name and address.

R.Martin    Coordinator
p.s.  Do not sign on to any form letters; they will be ignored by DEP

***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:
 Gilbert Mears
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
412-653-4328 (Direct)
412-897-0569 (Cell)

Frack Links
***Cool Video--Colbert and Neil Young Sing About Fracking

***Link to DEP’s  Water Violation List
“The link lists 250 water supplies across PA compromised by fracking...the tip of the iceberg, since the DEP can't be depended on to know about or report on the actual number of spills. The spread of fracking across the state is reflected in when and where these spills occur, so you'll find the arrival of fracking (and the inevitable spills) here in Westmoreland County on page six, with spills in Donegal in 2013 and 2014.”

***Link to Shalefield Stories-Personal stories of those affected by fracking

***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.

Frack News
There is so much going on right now with our Ligonier Township zoning code being completely revised that I am getting the Updates out every 2 weeks instead of weekly. That means the Updates will be longer. It also means I need the info about events you want to be shared with the group to be submitted a little earlier.  Thx, jan

***Zoning Corner

Comment by Area Councilman
               “These folks are still treating the decision as to if and where to allow drilling as a purely policy decision.  It is not.  Allowing an industrial operation in a zoning district in which it is a use incompatible with existing and permitted uses is a constitutional violation.  It is not a decision in which the Supervisors have any discretion.  There’s no “balancing” to be done.  The zoning either does or does not permit drilling.  Conditional use does not change or modify the underlying zoning.”

 ***Parents Fight For Schools Safe From Fracking
               “Locals say their health concerns over wells and waste pits are ignored by oil and gas companies and state authorities
               Amy Nassif thought petitioning her Pennsylvania school board to vote against drilling near her two children’s school would be enough — but even without the board’s approval, the DEP approved the permits.
               “I was completely shocked at the total disregard for the safety of the community,” she said. “They have active-shooter drills at the school, they have drug free zones, but we can’t protect our kids from this.”
               In March the Pennsylvania-based company Rex Energy proposed drilling for gas under the Mars Area School District’s campus, where about 3,200 elementary, middle and high school students attend.
               “We knew the benefit of the drilling would be money for the school district, and that’s a great thing, but at what cost?” Nassif said. “The chemicals, the VOCs [volatile organic compounds], the diesel exhaust … Distance is really the only thing you can provide as a buffer.”
               She petitioned her school board to vote against the drilling, but before the school board voted on the proposal, Rex went ahead and began the permitting process to get six wells drilled less than a mile from the school. The DEP issued a permit for Rex Energy’s facilities last month.
               The natural gas formation under the schools won’t be accessed, but the gas from surrounding properties will.
               “DEP conducted an extremely thorough review of the permit, considering all public comments, and is confident that the proposed well pad does not pose any threat to the health or safety of local residents,” DEP spokeswoman Morgan Wagner said in an email.     “There is no legal basis for dismissing the permit application.”
               Rex Energy declined to comment for this story
               Stories like Nassif’s are increasingly common as fracking infrastructure expands across the U.S. into places once largely untouched by the oil and gas industry, where many proposed wells, waste sites and compressor stations are running into community opposition.
               That opposition is strongest where oil and gas infrastructure abuts places children congregate — schools, family-friendly neighborhoods and playgrounds. From Pennsylvania to Texas, Colorado to Ohio, parents and other concerned citizens are banding together to voice concern about the potential health impacts of drilling and its associated processes.
               Scientific data about the potential health effects of fracking is limited, but a growing body of studies points to decreased air quality and an increased presence of carcinogens near gas wells and infrastructure.
               But there’s often little local citizens and their municipalities can do to ameliorate their concerns about this ever-growing web of wells, pits, pipelines and compressor stations as they grapple with outdated zoning laws and underfunded and understaffed environmental protection departments.
               “Maybe what we need is more coordinated oversight of these types of operations,” said Patty Robertson, the chief prosecutor for statewide environmental crimes in Texas, where many communities are pushing back against drilling. “You’ve got one agency saying, “We don’t regulate that” and one saying, “Well, we do what we can,” and nobody is taking the bull by the horns and running with it. So we fall back on the EPA and rely on them, but they’re hampered also.”
               That lack of coordination was on display this year in Nordheim, Texas, a town of about 300 people 75 miles southeast of San Antonio where a local waste company, Pyote Water Systems, is planning to build three solid-waste disposal pits that will store fracking waste less than a mile from Nordheim's school. The waste pits will take up as much space as nine city blocks — nearly the size of Nordheim itself — and can hold 720,000 cubic yards of waste, according to the investigative nonprofit the Center for Public Integrity, which originally reported on the controversy last month.
               Pytoe Water Systems did not return calls for comment for this story.
               In 1988 oil and gas companies successfully lobbied to protect most kinds of oil and gas waste from the federal government's hazardous waste regulations. That has enabled companies to dispose of fracking waste — mostly dirt and rock mixed with leftover chemicals and traces of gas — in open-air pits essentially wherever the companies can find enough land to build them. In 27 states (including Pennsylvania, Texas and Colorado) air monitoring isn’t required at the sites.
               In an email EPA spokeswomen Rachel Deitz said the agency is reviewing a petition from the National Resources Defense Council to revoke the oil and gas waste exemption.
               One study from the University of Pittsburgh in 2013 found fracking waste to contain barium, strontium, bromides and benzene — which can cause cancer. A study from the University of Missouri in 2013 found that groundwater near hydraulic fracturing sites in Colorado had elevated levels of endocrine-disrupting chemicals, which can cause birth defects. Another Colorado study, released this year from the Colorado School of Public Health, found an association between the density of fracking wells and congenital heart defects in infants.
               In communities close to fracking sites in Pennsylvania, the state’s DEP found in 2013 that levels of carbon dioxide as well as nitrogen dioxide and other pollutants in the air were several times higher than the state’s average. Higher levels of those compounds can cause respiratory issues. And in Utah a 2014 study from the University of Colorado at Boulder found high levels of benzene, toluene and other volatile organic compounds in the air in communities with active fracking.
               Denton, Texas, a city of about 100,000 just north of Dallas, is surrounded by oil and gas operations. The city has the worst air quality in all of Texas, and the area’s childhood asthma rates are six to nine times higher than the state average, according to the nonprofit organization the Center for Children’s Health.
               One playground in Denton is just 520 feet from a drilling site. There benzene, ethyl acetate, n-hexane and toluene — all of which can cause various health effects, from vision problems to muscle weakness — were found coating playground equipment in a recent lab test by the nonprofit organization ShaleTest.
               Denton residents found there was little they could do at the state level to fix the problem. Realizing state zoning and environmental protection laws would be of little help, residents formed the Denton Drilling Awareness Group and gathered enough signatures to get a city fracking ban placed on this November’s ballot.
                    Rhonda Love, one of the members of the group, said that she’s not against oil and gas drilling but that they had no other option but to push for the ban.
                    Even if the ban passes, it probably won’t apply to wells already in Denton, and Love says it will likely be challenged. But after years of worry, even the prospect of the ban’s passing has given residents some hope.
                    “We would travel to Austin to pressure them, but they said there’s nothing they can do,” Love said. “So instead of driving up and down I-35 forever, we focused here.”

From: Amy Nassif, Mars Parent Group To DEP
Subject: PA DEP studies
“Mr. Lobins,
               Through continued research, the Mars Parent Group is now aware that the PA DEP studies referenced in your letter to the group on September 15, 2014 are inaccurate, incomplete, and do not consider vulnerable populations like children.  These studies were referenced to justify your position on granting the Geyer site well permits near the Mars Area School District.
               As a parent, it is alarming that you clearly stated to me, "this is safe", during your courtesy call prior to issuing the Geyer permits.  When you are referencing 3,200 children and "safety", please be properly informed on the accuracy and relevance of the research you use to justify your decisions regarding permitting well sites.  
               I will also point out a recent incident at a gas well site that mandated a two mile evacuation.  In this instance, the local high school was outside the 2-mile zone and was closed for a day to accept evacuees. In our local case, all 3,200 children in the Mars Area School District are clearly now within an evacuation zone of your permitted Geyer well site.  As a parent, it is disconcerting that the PA DEP does not consider this information.
               Our group focus remains on safety and quality of life for our children in school and in the community as shale development encroaches on our schools and densely populated areas.
The Mars Parent Group requests that this also be a primary focus for the PA DEP.
Amy Nassif
Mars Parent Group

And the GOOD NEWS:
  ***Legal challenges Result in Stay On fracking near           Middlesex Township Schools

               “Rex Energy will not proceed with drilling operations on their Geyer well pad, a controversial cluster of six wells located about a half mile away from 3,200 students at the Mars Area School District campus. Rex Energy recently sent gas leaseholders a letter explaining how the stay will prevent the company from further development of the Geyer well pad during the time that the legal challenges are heard.
               Last month, parents in Middlesex Township, along with environmental groups Clean Air Council and Delaware Riverkeeper Network, filed multiple challenges related to the Geyer well. The parents and groups filed a substantive validity challenge to an overhaul of Middlesex Township’s zoning, which opens up the Township to drilling and related facilities. The challengers appealed the land use permit issued by Middlesex Township, and the well permits issued by the PA DEP.  The challengers argued that the amendment and related permits violate the people’s right to pure water, clean air, a healthy environment, and fail to protect public health, safety, and welfare. The challenge to the ordinance and land use permit automatically imposed a stay on further site development. According to area residents, Rex Energy violated the stay shortly after October 10th.
               Rex Energy had planned to begin drilling the Geyer wells as early as January or February 2015, but the legal actions require that Rex Energy halt all well pad development. Rex Energy petitioned Middlesex Township to allow it to complete the well pad under the pretext that full cessation could cause soil erosion. The Township agreed to allow Rex Energy to finish constructing the well pad, but barred it from pursuing any further development at the site, including drilling and fracking.
               Amy Nassif leads the Mars Parent Group, a local group of Mars Area School District parents concerned about the proximity of drilling near the school. "Speaking as a parent, it is extremely disappointing to learn that industry is allowed to make their own rules and break the law,” said Nassif. “Their actions further erode confidence in their procedures and operations as they encroach on schools and densely populated areas," Nassif added.
               Joseph Otis Minott is Chief Counsel and Executive Director for Clean Air Council. “While it’s a win for residents and school children that Rex is not allowed to drill during the course of the legal hearings, it is a major blow to the community that Rex began substantial earth disturbance when they knew full well that the permits would be challenged, and continued construction of the well pad once the stay was in effect,” said Minott. “Rex Energy claimed that stopping construction would pose imminent peril to the environment, but Rex was solely responsible for any alleged peril. Rex ignored the stay, caused further earth disturbance that would heighten the peril, then lobbied Middlesex Township to receive special permission to proceed with construction of the well pad,” added Minott.
               “Rex Energy is not above the law,” said Maya van Rossum, the Delaware Riverkeeper.  “Sadly their blatant violation of the stay on construction of their well pad is a sign of the times in Pennsylvania — the drilling industry seems to have been given license by local and state officials to inflict whatever harms they want on our kids, communities and environment.  That is why the Delaware Riverkeeper Network, the Clean Air Council and members of the Mars Parent Group are pursuing our legal action — because clearly if we don’t enforce our rights to a healthy environment and safe communities, no one will,” added van Rossum.
Clean Air Council is a member- supported, non-profit environmental organization dedicated to protecting everyone's right to breathe clean air. The Council has over 8,000 members and works in Pennsylvania, Delaware and New Jersey on public education, community advocacy, and legal oversight and enforcement of environmental laws. The Council is a founding member of Protect Our Children, a coalition of parents, concerned citizens, and advocacy organizations, dedicated to protecting school children from the health risks of shale gas drilling and infrastructure.

Delaware Riverkeeper Network (DRN) is a nonprofit membership organization working throughout the entire Delaware River Watershed including Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware and New York. DRN provides effective environmental advocacy, volunteer monitoring programs, stream restoration projects, public education, and legal enforcement of environmental safety laws.  The Delaware Riverkeeper Network’s Generations Project was initiated in response to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court decision the organization helped secure, Robinson Township, Delaware Riverkeeper Network, et al. v. Commonwealth, 83 A.3d 901. (Pa. 2013), in order to advance the Constitutional Environmental Rights of people in Pennsylvania, in states across the nation and at the federal level.

                    Matt Walker
Clean Air Council
Community Outreach Director
215-567-4004 ext. 121
Facebook: Clean Air Council
Twitter: @cleanaircouncil, @cleanairmatt

***Letter To Rep. Dunbar and Penn Township Officials
From A Group Member
“Representative Dunbar and PENN Township elected officials,
               In the current Dominion ROW that runs through our PT neighborhoods, wherein Dominion installed a 24" line, we also have the Sunoco Logistics LNG line running parallel with talk of two more Sunoco lines to be installed within that same ROW.  I personally believe part of Sunoco's second line has already gone in since Sunoco has been securing more ROW's to nearby lands and they were recently reworking the same grounds.   Now we have this in the works!!!
               What with the our recently proposed PT Ordinance and more notifications such as in this article, our Penn Township grounds will be forever changed into one big fracking industrial zone with accompanying condenser stations and whatever additional facilities the companies need to operate.
               Who, among you is providing oversight as we residents are kept in the dark???
               Thank you,
Citizen’s Name
Penn Township Resident”

***Subject: Donegal Township Meeting

An Unholy Experiment-That Should Be Illegal
          At the regularly scheduled Nov. 12 Donegal Township, Washington County, Board of Supervisors meeting, Range Resources Local Government Spokesperson and two Range Resources employees, one from the Land Division and one from Finishing, addressed  the Board to inform them of the scheduled flaring of  Claysville Sportsman’s Club Unit 11H on Hicks Lane, Donegal Township.
The flaring is to begin December 7, will burn 24/7 and will last 7 to 10 days.
According to Range, the stack will be 100’ high, the flame 60’ to 80’ high and would be visible for about 10 miles. A 95 decibel noise level at the pad is anticipated for the duration of the burn, and the sound would be heard for about 2 miles.
               This flaring is considered a “big burn” and according to Range is necessitated as this is Range’s first experience with a Utica well in Washington County.  It was stated that the burn is to determine the size of the gas reservoir; and as this Utica is a “dry” gas, it will be a “clean” burn with no other products of combustion.
               Range stated that they will close Hicks Lane, except to local traffic, and close the Sportsman’s Club, but club members will be able to use the shooting range.  Range has also alerted 911 and County Emergency Response of the dates of the flaring and will post signs on Route 40.
               It was noted by members of the audience that 95 decibels is the noise level of a fire siren,  that there are homes within a ¼ mile of the flare site, and the high elevation of the site will make it visible over a greater area. “   Submitted by Group Member

***Trout Unlimited Selects Laurel Highlands As One of 10           Special Places

“Crowned by three ridges along southwestern Pennsylvania’s skyline, the Laurel Highlands is home to eight of the state’s 10 highest summits, including the highest, Mt. Davis, at 3,200 feet above sea level. From mountain laurel thickets, cool headwaters percolate through more than 200 square miles of mostly state parks and forestlands. Class A Wild Trout Streams, such as Camp Run and Laurel Run and dozens of other popular fisheries, form the Laurel Highlands Trout Trail, a 70-mile region attracting anglers from nearby Pittsburgh and neighboring states to fish for trout and take in the scenery.
The hunting heritage runs deep in the Laurel Highlands region. With an ample supply of public hunting grounds, including more than 138,000 acres of state forest and parks, and more than 25,000 acres of state game lands, the Laurel Highlands provide ample deer, bear, turkey, ruffed grouse and small-game hunting opportunities.
The Threat
               Natural resource extraction is not new to the Laurel Highlands. Coal mining’s legacy lingers. After decades of restoration work by anglers and conservation groups, many of the region’s streams are on the road to recovery from pollution caused by coal mining. Today, the energy industry is seeking to develop gas resources that lie beneath some of the few remaining public hunting and fishing lands in southwest Pennsylvania — premier recreation areas for hunters, anglers and outdoor enthusiasts alike. Ohiopyle State Park, Forbes State Forest and other state parks, forests and game lands within the Laurel Highlands region sit atop some of southwest Pennsylvania’s more productive shale gas areas.
               Well pad construction, gas transportation lines and access roads will require additional land disturbances, much of which is expected to occur in the intact forest stands and the very areas where stream restoration efforts have taken place to correct the damage caused by previous resource extraction. Among the many impacts of shale gas drilling on Pennsylvania’s streams, impacts from road sedimentation is often the most pronounced in steep terrain, such as the Laurel Highlands.”

For the PDF:

***Dominion Submits Request To FERC            
               “Dominion submitted a pre-filing request to FERC, asking regulators to begin an environmental review of its proposed $500 million Supply Header project in Pennsylvania and West Virginia.
               The Supply Header project calls for construction of about 34 miles of natural gas pipeline loop along existing rights-of-way. About four miles of 30-inch diameter pipeline would be built in Westmoreland County, PA, along with 30 miles of 36-inch diameter pipeline in West Virginia’s Doddridge, Harrison, Tyler and Wetzel counties.
               The project also calls for modifications and upgrades at two existing Dominion compressor stations in Pennsylvania (JB Tonkin Station in Westmoreland County and Crayne Station in Greene County), and two in West Virginia (Mockingbird Hill Station in Wetzel County and Burch Ridge Station in Marshall County). The modifications will result in approximately 75,000 hp of additional compression.
               A Dominion subsidiary, Dominion Transmission Inc., would build and operate the Supply Header project, which would provide an additional 1.5 Bcf/d of firm transportation. One of the project’s main customers would be Atlantic Coast Pipeline LLC, a joint venture of Dominion, Duke Energy, Piedmont Natural Gas and AGL Resources.”
By Charles Passut, Natural Gas Intelligence, November 5, 2014

***PA Full of Frack Pits-529
          DEP Can’t Provide The Data On Pits
               “In 2005, Pennsylvania had 11 frack water pits. Just eight years later, aerial maps show that number has jumped to 529. It’s unclear how many of these sites store fresh water used for fracking, and how many store the toxic wastewater that results from oil and gas drilling operations. The DEP could not provide the data to public health researchers working with Geisenger on an NIH funded health impact study. So the researchers turned to the nonprofit data sleuths from SkyTruth, who have documented the impoundments with the help of NASA’s satellite imagery and citizen scientists from around the world. recently reported on how the project was initiated by public health researchers from Johns Hopkins:
               Brian Schwartz, an environmental epidemiologist at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and his colleagues have teamed up with Geisinger Health System, a health services organization in Pennsylvania, to analyze the digital medical records of more than 400,000 patients in the state in order to assess the impacts of fracking on neonatal and                respiratory health.
               While the scientists will track where these people live, says Schwartz, state regulators cannot tell them where the active well pads and waste pits are located. Officials at DEP say that they have simply never compiled a comprehensive list.
               A spokesman for DEP told the Observer-Reporter that the department can’t produce a list of impoundments that include smaller wastewater storage sites because they have a different classification. The DEP sent the reporter to another nonprofit that tries to fill the state’s data and information gap – FracTracker.
               Since state regulators have no reliable knowledge of where these sites are located, volunteers from across the globe studied the aerial images from 2005, 2008, 2010 and 2013. The accuracy of the data was carefully vetted by SkyTruth’s methodology, which included training on how to distinguish a frack pond from a duck pond. But the organization has not yet figured out how to distinguish the toxic from the non-toxic fresh water holding ponds.
“It is an important distinction that we’re looking into,” wrote SkyTruth’s David Manthos in an email, “but not one we were ready to make yet.”
Manthos continued:
               “Between the backlog of reporting, and these smaller impoundments that also hold toxic chemicals but which DEP classifies differently, the location of these features is effectively a mystery to the general public and researchers who are trying to measure the potential health impacts of [those] living near drilling sites and drilling-waste impoundments.
               Skytruth researchers also documented the increase in the size of these impoundments over the last eight years.
               From 2010 to 2013 the median area of drilling impoundments more than tripled, and the average area (which also includes small fluid reserve pits located right on the wellpad) more than doubled. As of 2013, the total impoundment surface area measures nearly four million square meters, scattered across the Commonwealth. (New York’s Central Park measures 3.4 million square meters.)
               Many of these impoundments are reclaimed after a period of time. For example, the 2010 maps showed 581 frack water storage facilities, while in 2013, Skytruth documented 529. The data is now searchable through an interactive map on the Skytruth website. The project was conceived to help Hopkins researchers link possible health impacts to the wastewater ponds, which contain toxic chemicals that can emit dangerous air pollutants.
               The DEP has also documented leaks from these sites. In October, the DEP fined EQT corporation a record $4.5 million dollars for a leaking impoundment. The Attorney General has also filed criminal charges against the driller. In September, DEP handed Range Resources a $4.15 million fine for violations at six wastewater impoundments in Washington County.
               Open storage pits containing gas drilling waste water have to be double-lined in Pennsylvania, and include a leak-detection system. The industry standard advocated by the Center for Sustainable Shale Development, whose members include the recently sanctioned shale driller EQT, says hydrocarbons should be removed from the wastewater before storage.”
***Voters Approve Bans
San Benito County, CA
San Benito County voters appeared to be backing a groundbreaking ballot measure that would outlaw the controversial oil extraction technique known as fracking.
In early returns, county voters were supporting Measure J by a 55 percent to 45 percent margin.
Denton, Texas
 The North Texas town of Denton is the first city in the Lone Star State to outlaw the oil and
gas extraction technique behind the U.S. energy boom.
    The vote in the city of 123,000 was highly symbolic because fracking, is widely used in Texas, the top crude producer in the United States.
Athens, Ohio
Issue 7, which will ban the process of fracking, in Athens, received 2,245 votes, versus the 623 votes against it.
The Athens Bill of Rights Committee, which was behind the initiative, believes that the chemicals used in fracking can be harmful to water sources and air quality, which in turn, could negatively affect resident health.

I have included several articles on the recent research on toxic chemicals found in the air near fracking. Each article includes additional details. Jan

***Toxic Chemicals, Carcinogens Skyrocket Near Fracking Sites
               “The spikes almost certainly will lead to a cancer increase in surrounding areas, a study author says.
               Oil and gas wells across the country are spewing “dangerous" cancer-causing chemicals into the air, according to a new study that further corroborates reports of health problems around frack sites.
               This is a significant public health risk,” says Dr. David Carpenter, director of the Institute for Health and the Environment at the University at Albany-State University of New York and lead author of the study, which was published in the journal Environmental Health. “Cancer has a long latency, so you’re not seeing an elevation in cancer in these communities. But five, 10, 15 years from now, elevation in cancer is almost certain to happen.”
               Eight poisonous chemicals were found near wells and fracking sites in Arkansas, Colorado, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Wyoming at levels that far exceeded recommended federal limits. Benzene, a carcinogen, was the most common, as was formaldehyde, which also has been linked to cancer. Hydrogen sulfide, which smells like rotten eggs and can affect the brain and upper-respiratory system, also was found.
               “I was amazed,” Carpenter says. “Five orders of magnitude over federal limits for benzene at one site – that’s just incredible. You could practically just light a match and have an explosion with that concentration.
“It’s an indication of how leaky these systems are.”
               [READ: Respiratory, Skin Problems Soar Near Gas Wells, Study Says]
               The health effects of living near a fracking site have been felt elsewhere, according to separate research. A study published last month by researchers from the University of Washington and Yale University found residents within a kilometer of a well had up to twice the number of health problems as those living at least 2 kilometers away.
               “The way fracking’s being done in these five states, it’s not being done safely,” Carpenter says.
               For Carpenter's study, trained volunteers living near the wells conducted air measurements, taking 35 “grab air” samples during heavy industrial activity or when they felt symptoms such as dizziness, nausea or headaches. Another 41 “passive” tests – meaning samples were taken during a designated period, not merely when levels spiked – were conducted to monitor for formaldehyde. The tests were then sent to accredited labs.
               Not every sample exceeded the recommended limits. But in those that did – slightly less than half the samples taken – benzene levels were 35 to 770,000 times greater than normal concentrations, or up to 33 times the exposure a driver might get while fueling his or her car. Similarly, hydrogen sulfide levels above federal standards were 90 to 60,000 times higher than normal – enough to cause eye and respiratory irritation, fatigue, irritability, poor memory and dizziness after just one hour of exposure.
               Excessive formaldehyde levels were 30 to 240 times higher than normal, which a statement on the study described as “more than twice the formaldehyde concentration that occurs in rooms where medical students are dissecting human cadavers, and where most students report respiratory irritation.”
               A law passed in 2005 by Congress included what's commonly known as the "Halliburton loophole," which exempts oil and gas companies from federal regulations involving the monitoring and disclosure of fracking chemicals.
               “It’s the gift that keeps on giving, the longer you’re exposed to these things,” says Wyoming resident Deb Thomas, who saw a well open across the road from her in 1999 and helped collect air samples for Carpenter’s study. “I had an asthmatic episode – I’ve never had any asthma, I don’t have a history of asthma. I ended up at the hospital where they gave me breathing treatments. I’ve had really bad rashes.”
               Thomas has come across similar symptoms at other unconventional oil and gas sites across the country, where as executive director of the nonprofit group ShaleTest, she’s helped take air samples for low-income families and communities affected by fracking.
“We see a lot of cognitive difficulties,” she says. “People get asthma or breathing difficulty or nose polyps or something with their eyes or their ears ring – the sorts of things that come on very subtly, but you start to notice them.”
               However, it’s difficult to determine which health issues are a result of oil and gas operations and which stem from other factors, because symptoms often start only gradually and government air quality studies have proved limited in scope.
                The chemicals may pose major risks to oil and gas workers, too.
               “The occupational exposures we’re not even talking about,” Carpenter says. “If anybody is exposed at the levels our results show, these workers are exposed at tremendous levels.”
               [ALSO: Booming Natural Gas Won't Slow Global Warming]

Fracking Emits More Formaldehyde Than Medical         Students Experience From Dead Bodies
By Sarah Knapton, Science Editor
               “Fracking can pollute the air with carcinogenic formaldehyde at levels twice as high as medical students experience when dissecting dead bodies, a new report has found.

               Tests around shale gas wells in the US also found that levels of benzene were up to 770,000 higher than usual background quantities.
               The quantities were up to 33 times the concentration that drivers can smell when filling up with fuel at a petrol station.
               Levels of hydrogen sulfide were also up to 60,000 times an acceptable odor threshold.
               The exposure a person would get in five minutes at one Wyoming site is equivalent to that living in Los Angeles for two years or Beijing for eight and half months.
               Tests have shown that one hour of exposure to chemicals at that level would cause fatigue, loss of appetite, headache, irritability, poor memory and dizziness. Both benzene and formaldehyde cause cancer.
               "Community-based monitoring near unconventional oil and gas operations has found dangerous elevations in concentration of hazardous air pollutants under a range of circumstances,” said Lead researcher, David Carpenter from the University at Albany in New York.
               “Our findings can be used to inform and calibrate state monitoring and research programs."
                Communities in Britain have reacted with anger to plans for fracking,
However experts claim that Britain would monitor sites more thoroughly than in the US and that companies which allowed ‘fugitive emissions’ would face prosecution under the Clean Air Act.
               Prof Paul Monks, Professor of Atmospheric Chemistry and Earth Observation Science at the University of Leicester, said:
               “Recent UK work looking at Lancashire shales has shown significantly lower concentrations of these air toxins such as benzene.”
               “For example, DECC has determined that (except as a safety precaution in emergencies) all UK shale gas wells will have to capture and process or treat all gases released rather than venting or flaring them as is customary in the USA and Canada.
               “Furthermore, at all UK sites the water required for fracking will have to be stored, between fracking operations, in enclosed tanks rather than in open 'lagoons'.
               Prof Andrew Aplin, Professor of Unconventional Petroleum at Durham University, said: “Whilst pollutants such as benzene and toluene occur in the atmosphere of every urban environment, this study shows that very high concentrations of hydrocarbons and hydrogen sulphide were found in the very local vicinity of some specific oil and gas operations in the US.
               “Poor industrial practice and insufficient regulation can of course result in locally elevated concentrations of atmospheric pollutants in many urban and industrial situations - this is why the UK passed the Clean Air Act in 1956.
               The fracking industry also said it was unlikely that dangerous chemicals would be vented into the atmosphere.
               Ken Cronin, chief executive of UK Onshore Oil & Gas (UKOOG), the industry trade body: “In the UK, at all sites where drilling for shale gas will take place, air quality will be monitored before, during and after any activity, with strict controls on emissions overseen by the Environment Agency.
               The research was published in the journal Environmental Health.”

Study Finds Carcinogen Risk Near Fracking
Unsafe levels of Formaldehyde at 2591 Feet, Benzene at 885 feet
               Tests of air around homes near natural gas drilling wells and other production equipment in five states found potentially carcinogenic levels of chemicals, according to a study that involved a researcher from the University at Albany.
               The study was published  in the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Health. It examined air pollution around gas production sites in Pennsylvania, where hydrofracking has boomed for seven years, as well as Wyoming, Arkansas, Colorado and Ohio.
               "All the attention being paid just to pollution to water from fracking has been misplaced," said David Carpenter, lead author of the study and director of the Institute for Health & The Environment at the University at Albany. "Our tests show that the air around gas sites is much more dangerous."
               Carpenter is a former dean of the School of Public Health and director of the Wadsworth Center for Laboratories and Research of the state Health Department. He has been a health researcher in the Capital Region for more than three decades and has more than 350 publications in environmental journals.
               "We explored air quality at a previously neglected scale: near a range of unconventional oil and gas development and production sites that are the focus of community concern," Carpenter said. He was lead author on a study that relied on 35 air samples taken from 11 sites at homes and farms near fracking sites in the five states.          Sixteen of the samples found unsafe levels of two carcinogenic chemicals — benzene and formaldehyde, as well as hydrogen sulfide.
               In addition, 41 stations were set up near well sites to test for formaldehyde, and 14 of the 41 tests exceeded safety standards of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the U.S. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry.
               The samples were collected by trained, local grass-roots citizens groups during times of heavy industrial activity or when experiencing headaches, nausea or dizziness. Seven samples were taken in Susquehanna and Washington counties in Pennsylvania, in the heart of the state's fracking region. The area contains hundreds of gas wells, and compressor stations that pressurize gas so it can travel through pipelines. Six of the samples were taken near compressor stations and all contained formaldehyde levels with increased lifetime cancer risks, according to the study.
               The study was also supported by the Center for Health, Science and Public Policy at Brooklyn Law School; as well as the not-for-profit groups Global Community Monitor, of Richmond, Calif.; Environmental Law Alliance, of Eugene, Ore.; Center for Environmental Health, of Oakland, Calif.; and Powder River Basin Council, of Clark, Wyo..
               "While these are not that many samples, what was striking was how high those levels could be in those areas," Carpenter said. Prolonged exposure to benzene and formaldehyde are known to cause cancer in humans.
               Unsafe benzene levels ranged from 35 times to more than 777,000 times normal levels, according to the study. Carpenter said at the worst site near a Wyoming gas well, the benzene level for five minutes was equivalent to what an average Los Angeles resident is exposed to two years. In heavily polluted Beijing, it would take a resident nearly nine months to breath in that much benzene. Formaldehyde levels were between 30 and 240 times normal levels.
               Both chemicals can cause cancers that take years to develop, Carpenter said. Test results show that buffer zones around natural gas wells — distances between gas equipment and places where people live, as well as drinking water sources — need to be expanded, he said.
               Called setbacks, such zones are currently established by states, not by the federal government, because of 2005 exemptions from federal pollution rules adopted by Congress.
In the five states, setbacks from gas wells to homes and other occupied buildings range from 150 to 500 feet. The study found unsafe concentrations of formaldehyde at distances as great as 2,591 feet and of benzene up to 885 feet.
               Six of the samples were taken near compressor stations and all contained formaldehyde levels with increased lifetime cancer risks, according to the study.
New York is still weighing whether to allow hydrofracking. In draft regulations on fracking issued in 2012, the state Department of Environmental Conservation proposed setbacks of 500 feet between gas wells and an "inhabited dwelling" or "place of assembly."
               States set such rules because of a vote by Congress — at the behest of then Vice President Dick Cheney, a former CEO of gas drilling company Halliburton — to exempt fracking from regulation under the Safe Drinking Water Act. Other exemptions were added to the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act.
               "Our study focuses on complex mixtures of chemicals that can persist at ground level in air that residents routinely breathe. This includes spots that are a considerable distance from well pads, and beyond prevailing setback requirements," said study co-author Gregg Macey, an associate law professor at Brooklyn Law School.
               He is chairman of the American Bar Association's Environmental Justice Committee.
               High Levels of Dangerous Chemicals Found in Air Near Oil and Gas Sites
A five-state study raises new questions about the health impacts of the U.S. energy boom.

Published October 30, 2014
               “Dirk DeTurck had a years-old rash that wouldn't go away, his wife's hair came out in chunks, and anytime they lingered outside their house for more than an hour, splitting headaches set in.
               They were certain the cause was simply breathing the air in Greenbrier, Arkansas, the rural community to which they'd retired a decade ago. They blamed the gas wells around them. But state officials didn't investigate.
               So DeTurck leapt at the chance to help with research that posed a pressing question: What's in the air near oil and gas production sites?
               The answer—in many of the areas monitored for the peer-reviewed study, published today in the journal Environmental Health—is "potentially dangerous compounds and chemical mixtures" that can make people feel ill and raise their risk of getting cancer.
               "The implications for health effects are just enormous," said David O. Carpenter, the paper's senior author and director of the University at Albany's Institute for Health and the Environment.
               The study monitored air at locations in five states: Arkansas, Colorado, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wyoming.
               In 40 % of the air samples, laboratory tests found benzene, formaldehyde, or other toxic substances associated with oil and gas production that were above levels the federal government considers safe for brief or longer-term exposure. Far above, in some cases.
               The study comes amid a growing body of research suggesting that the country's ballooning oil and gas production—often next to homes and schools—could be endangering the health of people living or working nearby. For the past 18 months, the Center for Public Integrity and InsideClimate News have been investigating this topic, focusing mainly on the Eagle Ford Shale formation of south Texas.
               A study published in Environmental Health Studies in September found that Pennsylvania residents living less than two-thirds of a mile from natural gas wells were much more likely to report skin and upper-respiratory problems than people living farther away.
               A Colorado School of Public Health analysis published in April found 30 percent more congenital heart defects in babies born to mothers in parts of that state with lots of gas wells than in babies born to mothers with no wells within ten miles of their homes.
               And a 2013 study (Mccawley) done for the state of West Virginia found benzene, a carcinogen, above levels considered safe by the federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry near four of seven gas-well pads where air was sampled.
               Researchers associated with the September and April studies, for instance, noted that their findings don't prove that gas production caused the health problems but instead flag a potential link that needs further investigation.
               "Part of the problem seems to be a concerted effort, up until recently, to avoid asking the question," said environmental physician Bernard Goldstein, a faculty emeritus at the University of Pittsburgh who served as an U.S. Environmental Protection Agency official during the Reagan Administration.
               But a shift is under way. The National Institutes of Health's National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences says it's supporting nine studies that are in progress, from an analysis of asthma near shale-gas sites to an examination of local residents' health before, during, and after a multiwell pad is constructed. The agency is also conducting its own studies on chemical exposures that could be an issue for gas-extraction workers and people living near such sites.
               The industry has been largely dismissive of the research already released.
               For the new Environmental Health study, academics teamed up with Global Community Monitor (GCM) and volunteers it trained. The group, founded 13 years ago, had developed a process that enabled residents to sample the air in their own neighborhoods.
               That's an unusual setup for a peer-reviewed study, but it was by design, said the University at Albany's Carpenter. Deploying residents allowed for quick monitoring in places where a problem was suspected, based on, for example, bad odors or symptoms such as nausea.
               Energy in Depth, which has criticized other studies that looked at potential health effects near oil and gas production, focused on Global Community Monitor rather than the findings.
               The study's sampling was done as a snapshot—air at one moment in time or, in the case of formaldehyde, over the course of at least eight hours. Carpenter said that's not how states have typically handled their own monitoring, the results of which have suggested there was little cause for alarm or weren't detailed enough to determine whether a health risk existed.
               By averaging the results over days, weeks, or months, he said, state monitors risk missing the sporadic emission spikes that can harm exposed people. As Carpenter noted, "Our results indicate that the longer-term monitoring misses peak concentrations, which may be very important."
               Toxic substances in 20 percent of the 76 samples taken for the study exceeded safe levels for brief exposure; another 20 percent exceeded standards for longer-term exposure.
The study's authors said they thought both were appropriate measurements, in part because residents picked areas to sample where odors and health complaints were common.
               The study sampled air near a mix of sites, including compressor stations, production pads, and condensate tank farms. Some, though not all, of the sampling sites were associated with hydraulic fracturing.
               When the EPA indicated to Wyoming officials in 2011 that fracking had likely contaminated groundwater near the tiny community of Pavillion, the reaction was horror—at the potential impact on fracking.
               Thomas Doll, then the state's oil and gas supervisor, testified on Capitol Hill several months later that Wyoming had received about two billion dollars in taxes and royalties during fiscal year 2010 from oil and natural gas work. Almost all of that was connected to fracking, and he blasted the EPA for what he called the "questionable" science of its nearly three-year review.
               after a year and a half of sustained political pressure following its draft review, EPA turned the investigation over to the state.
               Wyoming’s  investigation received funding from Encana, the energy company residents had accused of contaminating the water.
               EPA spokesman Rich Mylott said the agency stands by the work it did in Pavillion "but recognized the state's commitment to additional investigation to advance the understanding of groundwater quality in the area."
               A draft report of the first stage of that study said there was no evidence tying gas wells to the fouled water. Two other avenues of investigation continue.
               People were driven to help with the air-emissions study in the five states—including Wyoming—by a deep suspicion that their state governments were failing to protect public health.
               Deb Thomas, who, at 60, has spent years working as a community organizer on pollution matters in Wyoming, said concerns about air followed the water worries. People told her they'd lost their sense of smell and taste. She heard complaints about headaches and breathing problems as well as reports of miscarriages, neuropathy, unusual cancers, and autoimmune diseases.
Starting in 2007, she pressed for state air monitoring in Pavillion. The state brought in a mobile monitor designed primarily to measure ozone, not the specific types and amounts of harmful volatile organic compounds that might be in the air.
               Keith Guille, a spokesman for the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality, said that volatiles contribute to ozone and that a year of monitoring had found no ozone problems.
               Thomas—then at the conservation-focused Powder River Basin Resource Council and now director of ShaleTest, an environmental-data-collection nonprofit based in Texas—wasn't satisfied. "We knew people were getting really sick, and more and more data started coming out about air issues, and the state refused to do any real testing," she said.
               "And so we decided we would start doing some testing ourselves.
She called Global Community Monitor. The group told her about a study just getting under way. Would she like to participate?
               Thomas rounded up people to collect samples in four areas and ended up as a co-author on the study. It found that many of the Wyoming samples contained volatile organic compounds above safe levels—particularly hydrogen sulfide, a naturally occurring gas that can be released by drilling and can cause headaches, dizziness, nausea, and, in sufficient concentration, death.
               She expected to find problems in Pavillion. What startled her were the results around her own town, Clark, where tests of the air samples showed high levels of benzene, a chemical that can be emitted by oil and gas production.
               The worst sample had 110,000 micrograms per cubic meter of air, 12,000 times the safe level for brief exposure set by the federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. Several other Wyoming samples also tested high for benzene, though far lower than the worst one.
               A 2006 blowout at a gas well near Clark had made Thomas seriously concerned about air problems: She'd ended up in the emergency room a few days later with her first, and only, asthmatic episode. But she said she didn't expect much in the way of dangerous compounds there years later.
               "In the area where I live, there's only six wells producing right now ... and they're very low producers," she said. "I thought, Oh, we're not going to find anything here because there's not much going on. And then it was off the charts."
               In Pennsylvania's Susquehanna County, six of the air samples shipped off for testing contained high levels of formaldehyde, classified as a carcinogen by the World Health Organization. All had been taken near compressor stations, which pressurize natural gas so that it can flow through pipelines. Formaldehyde can be a by-product of the facilities' engines.
               Breathe Easy Susquehanna County coordinated the local sampling. Rebecca Roter founded the grassroots group last year to lobby gas companies for better pollution controls, and she knew data would be critical. Air sampling the state had done in her county had struck her as woefully inadequate.
               "It was too late for a baseline, because we're seven years into shale development in Susquehanna County, so we were desperately trying to do what we could to document anything," said Roter, 53, who lives in Brooklyn, Pennsylvania. "The best way to have a real discussion about what's really happening is to have the facts."
               Three years ago, when she first smelled a bad odor drifting from a compressor station several miles from her home, she filed a complaint with the Pennsylvania DEP. By the time a field agent got back to her a week later, she said, the smell was gone, and he wasn't interested—an experience she said has proved typical in the state, even though not all chemicals and gases have an odor.
"The field rep said, Well, if it doesn't smell, it's a dead end," Roter said. "And he accused me of driving around to find smells."
               Colleen Connolly, a spokeswoman for DEP, said agency employees recall an inspector going to Roter's home and noticing no odor, but they haven't been able to locate the complaint record.
               Connolly said by email that the state has air-monitoring units in two towns, one of which is in Roter's county, that take air samples once a week near compressor stations. She noted that the agency doesn't monitor near gas wells except after complaints. "It is up to the individual gas company to monitor for VOC ... emissions [and] report those findings to DEP," she said.
               Emily Lane, an Arkansas graduate student who helped with the air monitoring in her state, hopes the emissions study will spur Arkansas to do its own monitoring at all oil and gas sites. She said that a top official at the state Department of Environmental Quality agreed to meet with her about the findings if they were published in a scientific journal.
               Lane wishes the air-sample results themselves, available in March, had been reason enough for the state to look more closely, since they showed high levels of formaldehyde.
Katherine Benenati, a spokeswoman for the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality, said the agency is happy to review outside data once a study is completed—and peer reviewed.

               When the agency did its own gas-site monitoring in 2010 and 2011, it measured total volatile organic compounds but not the individual types or amounts. That made it impossible for the researchers to say whether any posed a hazard.
               Their report concluded, "Future studies should monitor air quality with instruments that can detect lower concentrations of pollutants and identify individual VOC compounds to determine if the emissions from gas sites are potentially harmful to public health and welfare."
               According to the agency, no follow-up studies have been launched in the three years since, and none are planned.
               "The statement in the executive summary is an indication of a limitation of the data that was gathered in the study," Benenati said in an email. "It was not meant to suggest that additional data gathering was being recommended."
               DeTurck, the Arkansas retiree, has his own take on that: "There's no problem if you never really look for it."
               He said he and other residents have spent three years asking state officials to do something in Greenbrier. The state did shut down injection wells blamed for setting off more than a thousand small earthquakes in his county, he said, but that was it.
               "The state's all in on this industry," said DeTurck, who's 59. "One legislator ... told me to my face, If you don't like it, move, because that's the future."
               DeTurck followed that advice, though it took three years to find a buyer. He and his wife, Eva, moved 12 miles south in December. Given the direction the winds blow there, they figured that was enough distance to get cleaner air.
               DeTurck said his wife's hair loss, ringing in the ears, and headaches stopped within two weeks. His rash cleared up several months later, he added, and his other symptoms dissipated too.
               "I don't miss those headaches and nosebleeds and the rash and the smell-the putrid smell," he said. "Every morning, every night."

This story was published by the Center for Public Integrity, a nonprofit, nonpartisan investigative news organization in Washington, D.C.

Toxic Chemicals Exceed Federal Guidelines-
            Excerpts From the Research Study
Research: Macey, Gregg, Breech, Chernaik, Cox, Larson, Thomas , Carpenter
Affiliations: Center for Health, Science, and Public Policy, Brooklyn Law School, Brooklyn, New York, USA;  Global Community Monitor, Richmond, California, USA; Environmental Law Alliance Worldwide, Eugene, Oregon, USA;  Center for Environmental Health, Oakland, California, USA;  Powder River Basin Resource Council, Clark, Wyoming, USA,,Institute for Health and the Environment, University at Albany, Rensselaer, New York, USA

               Levels of eight volatile chemicals exceeded federal guidelines under several operational circumstances. Benzene, formaldehyde, and hydrogen sulfide were the most common compounds to exceed acute and other health-based risk levels.

               Air concentrations of potentially dangerous compounds and chemical mixtures are frequently present near oil and gas production sites. Community-based research can provide an important supplement to state air quality monitoring programs.
Pennsylvania (Susquehanna County)
               One of the four grab samples contained benzene at concentrations that exceeded the EPA 1/100,000 cancer risk level. Six of the ten passive samples contained formaldehyde at levels that exceeded ATSDR MRLs or EPA IRIS risk levels. Two of the samples exceeded both the acute MRL and the 1/10,000 cancer risk level (Table 5, Figure 4).
               Air contaminants
We identified unique chemical mixtures at each sample location (see Tables S1 through S5 in Additional file 1). In addition, we identified eight volatile compounds at concentrations that exceeded ATSDR minimal risk levels (MRLs) or EPA Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) cancer risk levels (see Table 2). Although our samples represent a single point in time, we compared concentrations to acute as well as chronic risk levels as many of the activities that generate volatile compounds near UOG operations are long-duration (the life cycle of an unconventional natural gas well can span several decades) [16]. Residents chose sample locations where odors and symptoms were the “norm” for the area, not a one-time event. In addition, a growing body of research suggests that peak (e.g., 1-hr. maximum), rather than average exposure to air emissions may better capture certain risks to human health [55-57].

Table 2. ATSDR minimal risk levels and EPA IRIS cancer risk levels for chemicals of concern (all data in μg/m3)
Sixteen of the 35 grab samples, and 14 of the 41 passive samples, had concentrations of volatiles that exceeded ATSDR and/or EPA IRIS levels. ATSDR MRLs and EPA IRIS levels for chemicals of concern are provided in Table 2. The chemicals that most commonly exceeded these levels were hydrogen sulfide, formaldehyde, and benzene. Background levels for these chemicals are 0.15 μg/m3 for hydrogen sulfide, 0.25 μg/m3 for formaldehyde, and 0.15 μg/m3 for benzene [58-60]. Our samples that exceeded health-based risk levels were 90–66,000× background levels for hydrogen sulfide, 30-240× background levels for formaldehyde, and 35–770,000× background levels for benzene. Details of our results are presented in Tables 3, 4, and 5 and in Figures 2, 3, and 4 (greater detail is provided in Additional file 1). A state-by-state summary follows.
Table 5. Concentrations of volatile compounds exceeding health-based risk levels in samples collected in Pennsylvania
Figure 4. Concentrations of volatile compounds exceeding health-based risk levels in samples collected in Pennsylvania.

We identified significant concentrations of four well-characterized chemicals: benzene, formaldehyde, hexane, and hydrogen sulfide. Benzene was detected at sample locations in Pennsylvania and Wyoming. Concentrations exceeded health-based risk levels by as many as several orders of magnitude. Previous studies similarly found benzene concentrations near oil and gas development [10,11]. Our monitors detected benzene at higher concentrations (5.7 – 110,000 μg/m3) than those found in the published literature. The results are of concern given their proximity to subdivisions, homes, and farms. In Wyoming, multiple samples with high benzene concentrations were taken on residential property 30–350 yards from the nearest well, or on farmland along the perimeter of a well pad. Equipment included separators, compressor stations, discharge canals, and pipeline cleaning operations. The results suggest that existing regulatory setback distances from wells to residences may not be adequate to reduce human health risks [61]. Setbacks from wellheads to homes and other occupied structures cluster around the 150 to 500 feet range in the five states (see Table 1). We found high concentrations of volatile compounds at greater distances, including formaldehyde (up to 2,591 feet) and benzene (up to 885 feet). High levels of benzene near oil production wells indicate that EPA should revisit the extent to which oil wells are addressed in its new source performance standards [62].
               Benzene is a known human carcinogen. Chronic exposure to benzene increases the risk of leukemia [63]. The increased risk occurs at low levels of exposure with no evidence of threshold level [64]. Benzene exposure increases risk of birth defects [65], including neural tube and other defects found near natural gas development [24]. Respiratory effects include pulmonary edema, acute granular tracheitis, laryngitis, and bronchitis [60].
UOG fields present multiple sources and exposure routes for benzene. Benzene occurs naturally in shale and other hydrocarbon deposits, and is vented, flared, or released as fugitive emissions along numerous points of production, such as wells, production tanks, compressors, and pipelines [6]. It can volatize and disperse from flowback and produced water at drilling sites and remain in the air for several days [66]. It was among the first pollutants found in air samples near shale gas operations [67]. Previous studies found benzene to be the largest contributor to excess lifetime cancer risk near gas fields [12]. Residents exposed to VOCs including benzene experience immediate health symptoms and illness. Within days after a flaring event at a Texas City refinery, children exhibited altered blood profiles, liver enzymes, and somatic symptoms [68]. Future research is needed to determine whether the concentrations of benzene we measured are due to continuous releases or flaring, fugitive emissions, or facility upsets.

Formaldehyde is another volatile compound that exceeded health-based risk levels near compressor stations in Arkansas, Pennsylvania, and Wyoming. As with benzene, there are known sources of formaldehyde emissions along the production chain. Formaldehyde is a product of incomplete combustion emitted by natural gas-fired reciprocating engines at compressor stations [69]. Formaldehyde is also formed from methane in the presence of sunlight, which may be an important source given significant amounts of methane that are known to escape from UOG sites [70]. But air monitoring studies, particularly in shale gas regions, either do not measure for formaldehyde [12,14] or find it at lower concentrations. For example, the Barnett Shale Energy Education Council [71] found levels that did not pose a risk to human health. Colborn et al. [10] found formaldehyde and acetaldehyde in each of 46 samples with a mean of 1.0 part per billion by volume. In contrast, our CBPR framework resulted in the targeting of compressor stations for passive sampling, where diesel emissions likely account for the higher levels that we found. Our results are similar to the Fort Worth Natural Gas Air Quality Study, which found formaldehyde concentrations in areas with multiple large compressor engines [72]. We found high concentrations of formaldehyde near fourteen compressor stations in three states.

               Formaldehyde is a suspected human carcinogen [73]. It can affect nearly every tissue in the human body, leading to acute (dermal allergies, asthma) and chronic (neuro-, reproductive, hematopoietic, genetic and pulmonary toxicity and cellular damage) health effects [74]. The science of childhood exposure to formaldehyde is progressing rapidly [75]. State agencies and international organizations continue to lower exposure limit values and guidelines for formaldehyde [76]. Our results exceed those guidelines. Symptoms reported by community members mirror the effects of acute formaldehyde exposure, which causes irritation of the eyes, nose, throat, and skin.
               Other volatiles of concern included hexane and hydrogen sulfide. Hexane detects were most prevalent near oil and gas operations in Wyoming near well pads, compressor stations, separators, and produced water discharges. Other studies in oil and gas regions found hexane, but at low concentrations [10,12]. The circumstances under which high concentrations of hexane were found in Wyoming suggest a combination of leaks, spills, and fugitive emissions as potential causes. Acute exposure to hexane affects the central nervous system, causing dizziness, nausea, and headache. Chronic effects include neurotoxicity [77].
               We also found elevated levels of hydrogen sulfide in Wyoming along the chain of production (pump jacks, produced water discharge impoundments, discharge canals) and near a well pad in Colorado. Hydrogen sulfide is a broad-spectrum toxicant that can impact most organ systems [78]. As such, it contributes to a range of short- and long-term neurological, upper respiratory, and blood-related symptoms, including those that were prevalent among community samplers in Wyoming (headaches, dizziness, eye irritation, fatigue) [79]. Hydrogen sulfide is a natural component of crude oil and natural gas [5] and is released during many industrial processes. In addition, five samples from Wyoming exceeded ATSDR health-based risk levels for toluene and xylenes.
               Health-based risk levels provide only a limited sense of potential human health impacts from air emissions. They do not fully account for vulnerable subpopulations, and toxicity values are available for a comparatively small number of compounds. The levels that we found for the above chemicals of concern suggest that state monitoring studies are incomplete. Recent state-funded projects found air volatiles at UOG sites that were either near detection limits or within acceptable limits to protect the public [80-82]. One area of agreement between our community-based and state monitoring studies concerns the presence of complex chemical mixtures. These mixtures demonstrate the contingent nature of ambient air quality near UOG infrastructure.
               For example, one sample, taken midday in early winter near a well pad in Wyoming with clicking pneumatic pumps, found high concentrations of hydrogen sulfide, hexane, benzene, and xylenes. It also captured cyclohexane, heptane, octane, ethylbenzene, nonane, 1,2,4-trimethylbenzene, and 15 tentatively identified compounds (TICs). TICs are compounds that a device or analytic process is not designed to measure. Total VOC concentrations in the sample exceeded 1.6 million μg/m3, excluding methane. While toxicity values are not available for every TIC in our samples, they exceeded reference concentrations available for related compounds such as hexane [77]. Another sample taken in Arkansas, during autumn in the afternoon near a compressor station, captured 17 volatile compounds and five TICs. A third sample, near a separator shed in Wyoming in late autumn at midday, showed spikes in hydrogen sulfide, benzene, and hexane, 19 additional VOCs, and 15 TICs, with total VOC concentrations exceeding 25 million μg/m3, excluding methane. These and other complex mixtures are provided in Additional file 1.
               The mixtures that we identified are related to sources commonly used in well pad preparation, drilling, well completion, and production, such as produced water tanks, glycol dehydrators, phase separators, compressors, pipelines, and diesel trucks [14]. They can be released during normal operating conditions and persist near ground level, especially in regions where topography encourages air inversions [83]. The toxicity of some constituents is well known, while others have little or no toxicity information available. Our findings of chemical mixtures are of clinical significance, even absent spikes in chemicals of concern. The chemical mixtures that we identified should be further investigated for their primary emissions sources as well as their potential cumulative and synergistic effects [84]. Clinical and subclinical effects of hydrocarbons such as benzene are increasingly found at low doses [85]. Chronic and subchronic exposure to chemical mixtures is of particular concern to vulnerable subpopulations, including children, pregnant women, and senior citizens [86].
               Apart from chemicals of concern (including known and suspected human carcinogens) and chronic exposure to complex mixtures, our findings point to the value of community-based research to inform state testing protocols. Air quality near the diverse range of equipment and stages of UOG development is inherently complex. While states sometimes rely on state-of-the-art technologies such as wireless sensors to characterize local air quality, they continue to collect only a “snapshot” of near-field conditions. For example, Arkansas carried out a technologically ambitious program, placing multi-sensor gas monitors on five-foot tripods along each perimeter of a well pad at several sites. AreaRAEs (the trade name for a wireless monitor produced by RAE Systems) use electrochemical sensors to measure nitrous oxides and a photoionization detector to determine VOC concentration. The continuous monitors wirelessly transmitted data at five-second intervals over a four- to six-hour period (see Table 6). In addition, Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) personnel carried handheld versions of the AreaRAE along the perimeter of the sites every one or two hours. While the study did not identify individual VOCs, it found that total VOC emissions at the edge of a well pad fluctuate wildly over a five-hour period. The agency concluded, “The spatial and temporal distribution of VOC concentrations at most drilling sites was significantly affected by monitor location, wind, and the interaction between location and wind direction” [81]. Other studies noted similar variation, although the extent to which short-term spikes and unique chemical mixtures might pose a risk to human health was not considered.
               Community-based research can improve the spatial and temporal resolution of air quality data [87] while adhering to established methods. Our findings can inform and calibrate state monitoring and research programs. Additional file 1: Table S6 gives a more in-depth overview of community monitoring in action, including sample site selection factors, sources of public health concern at each site, and the range of infrastructure present and life cycle stage when samples were taken. For example, grab samples in Wyoming with some of the highest VOC concentrations were collected during production, as opposed to well completion (see Table S6, Additional file 1). The timing and location of our samples were driven by two primary factors: local knowledge gleaned from daily routines, and a history of chronic or subchronic symptoms reported by nearby residents. For example, a separator shed was targeted because of subchronic symptoms (dizziness, nausea, tight chest, nose and throat problems, metallic taste, and sweet smell) and loud sounds nearby (“hissing, clicking, and whooshing”). Well pads were selected based on impacts to livestock, pasture degradation from produced water, and observations of residents and farmers. Other samples were driven by observations of fugitive emissions, including vapor clouds, deposition, discoloration, and sounds (see Table S6 in Additional file 1).
               Community-based research can identify mixtures, and their potential emissions sources, to prioritize for study of their additive, cumulative, and synergistic effects [88]. The mixtures can be used to determine source signatures [14] and isolate well pads for more intensive monitoring. Symptom-driven samples can define the proper length of a sampling period, which is often limited to days or weeks. They can inform equipment placement for continuous monitoring and facilitate a transition from exploratory to more purposive sampling. Testing informed by human health impacts, and more precise knowledge of the mix and spacing of sources that may contribute to them, contrasts with state efforts, which are limited by access to property, sources of electrical power, fixed monitoring sites, and the cooperation of well pad owners and operators. In these ways, community-based monitoring can extend the reach of limited public resources.

Community-based monitoring near unconventional oil and gas operations demonstrates elevations in concentrations of hazardous air pollutants under a range of circumstances. Of special concern are high concentrations of benzene, hydrogen sulfide, and formaldehyde, as well as chemical mixtures linked to operations with observed impacts to resident quality of life.

Environ Health Perspect 2013, 121:6-8. Publisher Full Text
The resource list for this study is comprehensive and a good reference if you are looking for research. jan

***FERC Blockade
Thank you Veronica Coptis, Maggie Henry, Diane Sipe and All the Others Who           Stood for Our Environmental Rights
By Ted Glick  who was one of the organizers of Beyond Extreme Energy, representing the Chesapeake Climate Action Network. Past writings and other information can be found at, and at twitter at

“The people gonna rise like the waters,
Gonna calm this crisis down.
               I hear the voice of my great granddaughter Saying shut FERC down right now.”
Who would have thought it? On Friday morning, November 7th, for 2 ½ hours, the determined and courageous nonviolent activists of Beyond Extreme Energy shut down the DC headquarters of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, FERC.
All three entrances to the building were successfully blockaded, and virtually no one was getting in.
               By 9 am there were about 150 FERC employees massed on the sidewalks in front of FERC, waiting for the police to clear away five fracking fighters who had successfully locked down at 7 am with lock boxes across the driveway into the FERC parking garage. The driveway had been the route used by police to funnel FERC employees into the building for the four days previous when BXE activists had successfully blockaded the two pedestrian entrances.
               For short periods of time during those four days, no more than for maybe 20 minutes at a time, we had been able to prevent pedestrian use of that driveway (we prevented car use for the entire week). We did so by forming a long enough line of people to prevent anyone getting through, until the cops moved in and made arrests after their required three warnings. About 70 people were arrested over the course of the week.
But Friday morning was different. And because of the successful lock box action and total blockade, it was different in a way none of the BXE organizers had even thought about.
               Friday was the day for additional fracktivists and extractivists from the severely fracked-up state of Pennsylvania to join BXE. So as those
150 FERC employees waited to get into the building, we organized a teach-in on the front sidewalk, right in the midst of the employees.
               For fifteen or twenty minutes people like Maggie Henry and Veronica Coptis spoke from the heart, shedding tears but fighting through them, to let the silent and listening FERC employees know the human toll that their support of the gas rush has caused. There were no catcalls, no boos, no one publicly questioning the truth of what was being said.
It was a very special moment.
               We had been talking with and distributing material to FERC employees and others passing by all week. The leaflet we distributed to FERC employees said, in part:
“We apologize for any disruption to your work day, but that’s what we’re here for—to disrupt the workings of FERC, which continues to approve gas infrastructure projects that threaten the health and quality of life for millions of Americans and the whole planet through increased greenhouse gas emissions.
               “Many of you work at FERC because you think it does a good job of balancing the needs of industry and economic development with the health and environmental challenges of impacted communities. But the Obama Administration’s ‘all of the above’ strategy is condemning us to runaway climate chaos while condemning families in fracking’s path to a hellish existence. FERC should be prioritizing the emergence of renewable energy as a growing sources of our electrical power.”
               We found surprisingly little hostility from the close to 2,000 people we distributed our flyers to. We even found, to our surprise, indications of support from some of the Federal Protective Services and DC Metro police who were doing their best to keep FERC open despite our blockading. Going into the week, our lawyer had said to us that he expected that they would get more aggressive as the week went by, but that turned out, in general and with exceptions, not to be the case.
               Exceptions included a couple of people tasered on Friday (including Diane Sipe of MOB) after we heard talk of it earlier in the week, several people falsely charged with “assault” for standing their nonviolent ground as part of a blockade and some police assistance to a small number of aggressive FERC employees who tried to push through us.
               Central to the success of this action were the sisters and brothers from the Great March for Climate Action who were there for all, or most, of the week. The decision to do this action during election week had a lot to do with the plan of the Great March to arrive in DC on November 1, ending on that day their eight month walk across the United States. Many of us not part of that march were impressed by the depth of commitment and soulful strength and organizing smarts they collectively brought to the November 1-7 week.
               We received more than a little bit of criticism about our decision to do this week during election week, and we understood why. We were not doing this to make a statement about how messed up our electoral system is and that people should forget voting—not at all. In our call to action we said, right up at the top, “vote we must, but we must also do more.”  If the Great March had not been arriving on November 1 we probably would have moved things back a week or two.
               But as it turns out, it was very timely that Beyond Extreme Energy did happen during election week, during a week when the Republicans took back the Senate and Democrats generally did pretty badly—in large part because of the willingness of far too many, once again, to be Republicans-lite.
               It is time, in 2015 and 2016, for many, many more of us to “vote” with our whole lives through massive, serious, strategic nonviolent direct action campaigns that are as coordinated as we can make them.
               Investors in the fossil fuel industry, Democrats and others who want our votes, members of the mass media and the American people generally need to get it that the climate justice movement, increasingly aligned with other movements for progressive social change, refuses to accept “all of the above” and “business as usual.” We know what time it is—there is little time left—and we are the leaders we have been waiting for. Now must be, has to be, our time to rise up in large numbers and with a spirit of love, a nonviolent discipline and a willingness to sacrifice that cannot be ignored.”
               Ted Glick was one of the organizers of Beyond Extreme Energy, representing the Chesapeake Climate Action Network. Past writings and other information can be found at, and at twitter at

***Convent May Become Frack Boarding House
            The businessman who wants to convert a former convent into a boarding house for Marcellus Shale workers will argue in court next month that Washington officials are illegally blocking his development.
               Lawyers for Robert Starr of Phive Starr Properties filed a brief in Washington County Court last month appealing the city’s decision earlier this year to reject proposed changes to the zoning code that would allow a boarding house at the convent on North Franklin Street formerly owned by Immaculate Conception Parish.
               The proposal by Starr to renovate the aging building so it could house up to 28 people temporarily working in the area was met with stiff resistance from parishioners who said they were concerned about the transient nature of those tenants.
               “Their testimony was entirely anecdotal, based on vague speculation, and unsupported by any facts,” the brief reads. “Such testimony cannot be credited as establishing a basis for justifying the total exclusion of an identifiable form of housing throughout the city.”
               Oral arguments between the two sides before Judge Katherine Emery are scheduled for Dec. 5.
               In Washington’s counterclaim against Phive Starr filed Oct. 28, city solicitor Jack Cambest writes there is nothing restricting a boarding house, but the city rejected Starr’s development because it had specific concerns in the application. The city also claims it has no reason to tweak its ordinance.
               “An ordinance is not required to provide for every conceivable subcategory of potential use,” the city’s brief states.
               The city also called Starr’s contention that his plans to run a boarding house is similar to an apartment complex “a desperate analogy at best.”

***Fracking Brings Pipelines and Compressor Stations
               Homeowners and communities are unprepared for an invasion of their cherished private yards and public spaces.
               The Mid-Atlantic region is facing an expansion of  gas transport infrastructure that threatens communities' health, safety and homes. With increased  “fracking” and plans to export liquefied natural gas (LNG), the gas industry needs supporting infrastructure. Beyond drilling wells, energy companies are building compressor stations and laying thousands of miles of pipelines.
               The Interstate Natural Gas Association of America has estimated that from 2011 to 2035, the industry must build nearly 15,000 miles of subsidiary lines — each year.
               It is hard to ignore the compressors and pipelines extending quickly through the region. Last month, Dominion Power gained the approval of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for a plan to convert a dormant LNG import facility at Cove Point on the Chesapeake Bay into a major exporting facility for fracked gas. With the FERC's green light, Dominion will start exports from the facility in Lusby, Md., in 2017.
               Now, residents are engaged in battles to protect their families and neighborhoods: Until 2012, Lusby was a peaceful town of more than 20,000 people who happily raised children in a safe and quiet environment. Dominion's plans will turn their lives upside down, threatening quality of life, health, safety and property values.
               Families are distraught. About 360 homes lie within 4,500 feet of the site, to which large trucks will regularly haul heavy equipment and construction will generate noise.                While an increase in pollution is undisputed, Dominion has easily satisfied the FERC's pollution-abatement requirement by buying clean-air credits from elsewhere in Maryland — which will not alleviate the toxic conditions around the facility.
               Moreover, the possibility of an explosion is undeniable. Homeowners
know that, unlike with oil-based fires that burn locally, an LNG fire could trigger an explosion that could race along the pipeline.
               In Myersville, Md., citizens learned in 2011 that Dominion Transmission Inc. (DTI) proposed to build a noisy compressor station less than a mile from the town's only elementary school. The 16,000-horsepower compressor is expected to emit 23.5 tons of nitrogen oxide and 53,892 tons of greenhouse gas every year.
               Myersville's residents and officials have been battling to stop the compressor. The town's council rejected DTI's request for a zoning variance, but the FERC authorized the project.
               Communities must mobilize to protect themselves. If your home or town lies in the path of pipelines or near a planned compressor, you will have little warning: Lusby's residents did not see the notice of Dominion's application in the Federal Register, and it allowed parties only two weeks to intervene. To be sure, corporations have rights, and businesses may pursue profits. But the playing field should be level for homeowners.
               Communities must wrest back local control. They must demand that states repeal laws that enable the gas industry to invade private property and challenge state laws pre-empting local lawmaking. They should pass bills making sure people's rights trump corporate privileges. Unless we rise up and are vigilant, this might be in our own backyards soon.
               Marcia Greenberg, a lawyer, has worked on U.S.-funded democracy programs and local economic development in Eastern Europe.”
Read more:

***Frack-Well Blowout in Eastern Ohio
By Laura Arenschield
The Columbus Dispatch
               “From his fishing boat on a rural Jefferson County pond, Mike Poole could see the natural-gas wellhead owned by American Energy Parners, less than a tenth of a mile away.
               Poole, who lives above the Mingo Sportsmans Club less than a mile from the well, was one of about 400 families to be evacuated after the well ruptured spewing natural gas and methane into the air.
               Jefferson County’s emergency-management officials worried about what those gases could do to people and homes. Methane can become explosive in small amounts and can cause headaches and dizziness.
                              “What if I had been out there fishing and this thing had blown up?” Poole asked. “I’d have been instantly dead.”
                the company brought in Boots and Coots, a well emergency-response company owned by Halliburton and based in Texas, to shut down the well and stop the gases from leaking into the air.
               Poole spent the night with family in a nearby village. The experience left him worried for his home and for the woods and lakes where he likes to hunt, hike and fish.
               “They’re telling everybody, ‘Oh, this is perfectly, 100 percent safe, it’s safe safe safe safe, it’s not hurting the water, it’s not hurting the air,’  ” he said. “Well, why were we evacuated last night?”
               He questioned why American Energy Partners hadn’t trained emergency responders in Ohio, rather than relying on a team that had to be flown in from Texas.
               In Ohio alone in the past year, residents near fracked wells and injection wells — the wells where fracking waste is dumped — have experienced earthquakes and have been evacuated because of fires. Chemicals have spilled into streams and rivers, in some cases killing fish for miles.
               Tuesday’s incident was the third in three days tied to fracking operations in eastern Ohio. On Sunday, a worker at a fracking site in Guernsey County was burned in a fire. On Monday, a pipeline carrying natural-gas condensate ruptured in Monroe County, igniting several acres of woods.
               “We need a moratorium on drilling in Ohio until the state and the industry can figure out how to prevent these things from happening,” said Teresa Mills, an environmental activist and Ohio organizer with the Center for Health, Environment and Justice. “It seems like the more they’re drilling, the more accidents and incidents that are occurring. Maybe the state needs to seriously look at the laws and figure out how to prevent these accidents from happening.”
               Shawn Bennett, senior vice president of the Ohio Oil and Gas Association, said in an email that a moratorium is extreme.

***12 People Blockade Entrance to NY Compressor          Station   Protesting Methane Gas Storage Project
               “A dozen people put their bodies on the line in a last-resort protest to stop a major gas storage expansion project that has been authorized to begin construction on the shore of Seneca Lake, the largest of New York’s Finger Lakes. The protesters formed a human blockade in front of the Texas-based Crestwood Midstream company gate, shutting down the Finger Lakes facility from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. today.
               The “WE ARE SENECA LAKE” actions are taking place to protest the methane gas storage expansion project that will store highly pressurized, explosive gas in abandoned salt caverns on the west side of Seneca Lake.
               Seneca Lake is a source of drinking water for 100,000 people and a source of economic prosperity for the whole region, not a gas station for fracking operations,” said renowned biologist and author Sandra Steingraber, PhD, one of the residents participating in the human blockade. “It’s a place for tourists, wineries, farms and families. Speaking with our bodies in an act of civil disobedience is a measure of last recourse to protect our home, our water, and our local economy—with our bodies and our voices, telling Texas-based Crestwood to go home!”
               This proposed project has faced unparalleled public opposition due to unresolved questions about geological instabilities, fault lines, possible salinization of the lake and public health concerns. Even though Capital New York investigation revealed this month that Gov. Cuomo’s Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) excised references to the risks of underground gas storage from a 2011 federal report on methane contamination of drinking water and has allowed key data to remain hidden, Crestwood still received federal approval to move forward with the construction of this methane gas storage project.
               Protestors are outraged that Crestwood was given approval by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to store two billion cubic feet of methane (natural gas) in the caverns along the western shore of Seneca Lake where the New York State DEC temporarily halted plans to stockpile propane and butane (LPG) due to ongoing concerns for safety, health and the environment.
               The project is opposed by more than 200 businesses, more than 60 wineries, 11 municipalities (including neighboring Watkins Glen) and thousands and thousands of residents in the Finger Lakes region who are concerned about the threat it poses to human health, drinking water and the local economy, including the tourism industry. A recent report on the state’s grape and wine industry showed that it contributes $4.8 billion to the New York State economy every year and generates more than 5.2 million wine-related tourism visits.
               “As we literally put our bodies on the line, we once again call on President Obama, Governor Cuomo, Senator Schumer, Senator Gillibrand and Congressman Reed to do what’s right and step in and stop this terrible project from ruining the heart of the Finger Lakes,” said Watkins Glen resident Lyn Gerry who participated in today’s blockade.

***Future of Fracking Not As Bright As Forecasted
Post Carbon Institute has published a report calling into question the production statistics touted by promoters of fracking. By calculating the production numbers on a well-by-well basis for shale gas and tight oil fields throughout the U.S., Post

The report, Drilling Deeper: A Reality Check on U.S. Government Forecasts for a Lasting Tight Oil & Shale Gas Boom, authored by Post Carbon fellow J. David Hughes, updates an earlier report he authored for Post Carbon in 2012.
               “Hughes analyzed the production stats for seven tight oil basins and seven gas basins, which account for 88 percent and 89 percent of current shale gas production.
Among the key findings:
               By 2040, production rates from the Bakken Shale and Eagle Ford Shale will be less than a tenth of that projected by the Energy Department. For the top three shale gas fields—the Marcellus Shale, Eagle Ford and Bakken—production rates from these plays will be about a third of the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) forecast.
               The three year average well decline rates for the seven shale oil basins measured for the report range from an astounding 60 percent to 91 percent. That means over those three years, the amount of oil coming out of the wells decreases by that percentage. This translates to 43 percent to 64 percent of their estimated ultimate recovery dug out during the first three years of the well’s existence.
               Four of the seven shale gas basins are already in terminal decline in terms of their well productivity: the Haynesville Shale, Fayetteville Shale, Woodford Shale and Barnett              The three year average well decline rates for the seven shale gas basins measured for the report ranges between 74 percent to 82 percent.
               The average annual decline rates in the seven shale gas basins examined equals between 23 percent and 49 percent. Translation: between one-quarter and one-half of all production in each basin must be replaced annually just to keep running at the same pace on the drilling treadmill and keep getting the same amount of gas out of the earth.
               The report’s findings differ vastly from the forward-looking projections published by the EIA, a statistical sub-unit of the U.S.Department of Energy (DOE).
               The findings also come just days after Houston Chronicle reporter Jennifer Dlouhy reported that in a briefing over the summer, EIA Administrator Adam Sieminski told her it was EIA’s job to “tell the industry story” about tight oil and shale gas production.
               “We want to be able to tell, in a sense, the industry story,” Sieminski told Dlouhy, as reported in the Chronicle. “This is a huge success story in many ways for the companies and the nation, and having that kind of lag in such a rapidly moving area just simply isn’t allowing that full story to be told.”
The independent story, though, opens up a window to tell a different tale.
               “The Department of Energy’s forecasts—the ones everyone is relying on to guide our energy policy and planning—are overly optimistic based on what the actual well data are telling us,” Hughes—a geoscientist who formerly analyzed energy resources for over three decades for the Geological Survey of Canada—said in a press release about the reporting’s findings.
               “By asking the right questions you soon realize that if the future of U.S. oil and natural gas production depends on resources in the country’s deep shale deposits … we are in for a big disappointment in the longer term.”
               According to Hughes’ number-crunching, four of the top seven shale gas fields have already peaked: the Haynesville, Barnett, Woodford and Fayetteville. But three of those are actually doing the opposite and increasing their production: the Marcellus, Eagle Ford and Bakken, though the latter two are primarily fracked oil fields.
               Further, the report points to the phenomenon first discussed in the original Post Carbon report back in 2012: that of the “drilling treadmill,” or having to drill more and more wells just to keep production levels flat. The report argues that drillers hit the “sweet spots” first to maximize their production, do so for a few years until production begins to decline terminally, and then start drilling in spaces with less rich oil and gas bounties.
               A case in point: Post Carbon projects the Bakken and Eagle Ford Shale basins—the two most productive oil plays—will produce 730,000 barrels of oil per day in 2040. EIA, meanwhile, says 1.04 million barrels per day of oil will be pumped from the ground at that point.
               “One of the keys to the so-called ‘shale revolution’ is supposed to be technological innovation, making plays ever-more productive in the face of the steep well decline rates and the move from ‘sweet spots’ to lower quality parts of plays,” wrote Post Carbon in an introduction to the report for members of the media. “But despite years of concerted efforts, average well productivity has gone flat in all the major shale gas plays except the Marcellus.”
The Bakken and Eagle Ford serve as Exhibit A and Exhibit B of the mechanics of how the “sweet spot” phenomenon works in action.
“Field declines from the Bakken and Eagle Ford are 45% and 38% per year, respectively,” wrote Hughes in the executive summary. “This is the amount of production that must be replaced each year with more drilling in order to maintain production at current levels.”
For gas, it’s the same story, centering around “sweet spots” and the “drilling treadmill.”
               So where do the EIA’s rosy statistics originate? Post Carbon Institute posed its own questions directly to the EIA, while also saying one has to look at the difference between proven and unproven reserves to understand EIA’s data.
               “Shale gas producers and the EIA report ‘proved reserves,’ a definition with legal weight describing hydrocarbon deposits recoverable with current technology under current economic conditions,” they write. “The EIA also estimates ‘unproved technically recoverable resources’ which have loose geological constraints and no implied price required for extraction, and hence are uncertain.”
               Also implicit in the rosy numbers and figures is that cash will continue to be injected into capital-intensive shale gas and oil production operations.
               So far, the industry and its financiers have received a blessing from the U.S.Federal Reserve: zero percent interest rates to obtain junk debt bonds to finance fracking since 2008. But with the Federal Reserve considering hiking rates, economics could change quickly on the feasibility of continued unfettered shale oil and gas extraction.
Hughes said his findings are based on “best case scenarios” and rule out external conditions that could reverse the drilling treadmill, including hiked interest rates.
               Other factors that could limit production are public pushback as a result of health and environmental concerns, and capital constraints that could result from lower oil or gas prices or higher interest rates,” he wrote. “As such factors have not been included in this analysis, the findings of this report represent a ‘best case’ scenario for market, capital, and political conditions.”

***Bob Donnan on Kiskadden Case
(Bob always includes details of a case that you probably won’t read in the newspapers. Jan)
               I’ve spent a half dozen days over the past month attending an Environmental Hearing Board (EHB) hearing in Pittsburgh: Kiskadden vs. Range Resources & Pa. DEP. Range and the DEP made a determination that denied Buzz Kiskadden replacement water, with them both concluding that Range Resources’ activities did not contaminate his water well. The volume of documented evidence is quite damning however. Judge Renwand stated yesterday that this is the oldest case on his docket, probably to illustrate it is moving much too slowly, as attorneys were going over water tests and documents dating back to 2010 and 2011, with June 2011 of special interest to the judge. No video or photography is allowed in the courtroom. The hearing schedule is sort of like ‘bankers hours’ with late starts (9:30am) and multiple breaks, over an hour lunch breaks, but in fairness, some hearing days have run late.
               I’m usually the only person in the hearing room full of suits not drawing a paycheck (and not wearing a suit), but it is cheap entertainment and sometimes makes for great theater. It’s both interesting and disturbing how the Pa. DEP attorneys and Range Resources attorneys work together as if joined at the hip, but after all, they are both defendants in the case. The lead showman for Range is John Gisleson, a flash and dash sort of trial lawyer who doesn’t hesitate to use extended arms, dipping legs, and ‘show & tell’ visual props such as Gatorade, Centrum Vitamins and a chunk of shale to dazzle Judge Renwand and his two assistants, as well as the courtroom. He projects loud enough for the deaf to hear, and if you sit in the front row you may get your toes stepped on as he spins, twists, dips and constantly moves away from the podium.   
               On the ‘white hat’ team representing Buzz Kiskadden we have soft spoken Kendra Smith with husband John at her side, worthy of recent note for his pro bono work on getting the onerous Act 13 disemboweled in Pennsylvania. Zoning actually means something again! They are backed up by a third attorney from the Smith-Butz firm, but Kendra is leading the charge for Buzz Kiskadden, who lives on Banetown Road, Amwell Twp, Pennsylvania, just south of Washington. Even though his water well is 2,500 feet down gradient from the Yeager site (drilling pad with gas wells, a former leaky drill cuttings pit and leaky 13 million gallon wastewater evaporation pit) in question, he also has laterals from the Sierzega Unit extending his way, perhaps even beneath his 200 to 400 foot deep water well, which has ended up with all sorts of freaky-fracking elements in it, both known and unknown.
               You familiar with pH?  If not, it is a basic number scale from zero to 14 with 7 as the middle number and representing “neutral.” I learned it in regards to soils, since certain plants we installed for clients over the past 40 years have specific pH requirements, namely acid-loving plants like Rhododendrons which prefer an acidic pH of 5 to 6. The interesting thing about pH for the uninitiated is that the pH scale is logarithmic, meaning that an increase in pH from 5 to 6 is a ten times (x10) increase, not just a 20% increase from 5 to 6. So long story short, while most water should be around 7 or slightly above, at least one water test the Kiskadden test results went over pH 9, which would be a 100-times (x100) change. A bevy of other elements showed up in his water, so many I won’t try to list or quantify all of them. Range’s attorney has been trying to pick apart individual elements in the water test reports, while expert witnesses testifying on Buzz’s behalf keep pointing out you have to look at the overall picture.
               Paul Rubin, a hydro-geologist from New York with 30 years of experience and a Master’s degree from SUNY, was on the stand again yesterday as the Range attorney pounded on him all day. Countering testimony by earlier Pa. DEP witnesses, while agreeing with another Kiskadden expert, Paul Rubin has no doubt in his mind that the Yeager site contaminated Buzz’s water well.
               His evidence is based on 3 main tenets, as I understood them to be: 1) a geological rock fracture network lines-up perfectly with Buzz’s down gradient water well, 2) gravitational forces, which would easily move contaminants 2,500 feet considering the 260 foot drop in elevation, and finally, the most tenuous concept 3) Marcellus Shale contaminants finding their way upwards over 6,000 feet into Buzz’s water well due to the extremely high pressures used in fracking and the fracture network in the Greene and Washington rock formations.( I think bob is saying #3 is highly unlikely, jan)
               I learned a new term yesterday, “old water” with ‘old’ meaning hundreds of millions of years old, as would be the case with Marcellus Shale fluids. According to Paul Rubin, the ratio of Strontium 87 to Strontium 86 in the strontium found in Buzz’s water well is a perfect fingerprint (tracer if you will) for ‘old water’ from the Marcellus shale. It’s a ratio around .7122 if memory serves. A second key fingerprint for shale drilling contamination is the presence of both Boron and Lithium in the well water. So during one of the more comical segments of yesterday afternoon’s proceedings was when an drawing board easel was set-up facing the judge, and work began with a series of long numbers around .7122 it quickly became obvious that some of the sharpest minds in the room were not too great at basic math, as they tried to show that Kiskadden ratio was more likely to be related to younger water from upper layers like coal seams. Reference was also being made to the Voyles and Haney water tests, two of the families with civil suits due in court next year depending on the status of Range Resources appeal.
               Other regular attendees in the courtroom included former head of O&G in the SW Pa regional office, Alan Eichler, as well as his recent replacement in that position whose name escapes me. I did learn from him that his first 17 years at the Pa DEP were in air quality, then he spent several years in brownfields work at the NW Pa regional office before taking over Alan’s job. He told me one of his main goals is to improve the paper records used in file reviews, but he was very skeptical about DEP documents being converted anytime soon to easily-accessible and searchable electronic documents.
               I gave him a couple examples of problems I had recently experienced on E-Facts: No address or GPS listed for many sites, namely the Smith Compressor Station near Burgettstown (above), and also a shortage of gas well information which used to list each gas well. A friend tells me you now have to look under E&S permitting to find the individual well permits. While surfing eFacts I came across this document related to Range’s impoundments:
               Range’s defense attorney has also been pounding on what he believes is a disconnect between chloride and sodium levels in water tests, with sodium levels being much higher. While talking to one of the Pa DEP lawyers I learned they are not from Harrisburg as I first thought, but from the SW Pa DEP regional office, which is apparently quite active on the legal front considering all the coal issues as well as everything else they cover.
               While I don’t have a clue which way the EHB will rule on Buzz Kiskadden getting replacement water, all the evidence I have seen tells me his well was contaminated by that huge leaky impoundment and drill cuttings pit. Keep in mind these huge pits are all over our county and most of them seem to leak. Paul Rubin suggested anyone living in that Yeager-Kiskadden area, especially extending down to and beyond Banetown Road, should be testing their well water once a month to detect any future contamination from the contamination plumes, since the contamination will continue to move. As important as this case is, I find it surprising that the only reporter in the courtroom on a regular basis is Don Hopey of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
               As far as drill cuttings pits, these are the same ones Range has typically buried on drilling pads all over our county by using ‘Alternate Waste Disposal’ permitting from the DEP. Add some ‘Solibond’ then finish by wrapping the bundle in plastic and bury it below ‘plow depth’ on the drilling pad. I nicknamed them toxic teabags after learning they permitted burial of some in our country park, Cross Creek County Park.”

We are very appreciative of donations, both large and small, to our group.
               With your help, we have handed out thousands of flyers on the health and environmental effects of fracking, sponsored numerous public meetings, and provided information to citizens and officials countywide. If you would like to support our efforts:  
               Checks to our group should be made out to the Thomas Merton Center/Westmoreland Marcellus Citizens’ Group. And in the Reminder line please write- Westmoreland Marcellus Citizens’ Group. The reason for this is that we are one project of 12 at Thomas Merton. You can send your check to: Westmoreland Marcellus Citizens’ Group, PO Box 1040, Latrobe, PA, 15650.
               Or you can give the check or cash to Lou Pochet or Jan Milburn.
               To make a contribution to our group using a credit card, go to  Look for the contribute button, then scroll down the list of organizations to direct money to. We are listed as the Westmoreland Marcellus Citizens’ Group.
               Please be sure to write Westmoreland Marcellus Citizens’ Group on the bottom of your check so that WMCG receives the funding, since we are just one project of many of the Thomas Merton Center. You can also give your donation to Lou Pochet or Jan Milburn.

Westmoreland Marcellus Citizen’s GroupMission Statement
               WMCG is a project of the Thomas Merton Society
      To raise the public’s general awareness and understanding of the impacts of Marcellus drilling on the natural environment, health, and long-term economies of local communities.
Officers: President-Jan Milburn
                 Treasurer and Thomas Merton Liason-Lou Pochet
                 Secretary-Ron Nordstrom
                 Facebook Coordinator-Elizabeth Nordstrom
                 Science Advisor-Dr. Cynthia Walter

To receive our news updates, please email jan at
To remove your name from our list please put “remove name from list’ in the subject line