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For the email address, click on the envelope under the photo
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WMCG Thank You
Contributors To Our Updates
Thank you to contributors to our Updates: Debbie Borowiec, Lou Pochet, Ron Gulla, the Pollocks, Marian Szmyd, Bob Donnan, April Jackman, Kacey Comini, Elizabeth Donahue, and Bob Schmetzer.
Tenaska Air Petitions—Please sign if you have not done so:
Please share the attached petition with residents of Westmoreland and all bordering counties. We ask each of you to help us by sharing the petition with your email lists and any group with which you are affiliated. As stated in the petition, Westmoreland County cannot meet air standards for several criteria. Many areas of Westmoreland County are already listed as EPA non-attainment areas for ozone and particulate matter 2.5, so the county does not have the capacity to handle additional emissions that will contribute to the burden of ozone in the area as well as health impacts. According to the American Lung Association, every county in the Pittsburgh region except for Westmoreland County had fewer bad air days for ozone and daily particle pollution compared with the previous report. Westmoreland County was the only county to score a failing grade for particulate matter.
The Tenaska gas plant will add tons of pollution to already deteriorated air and dispose of wastewater into the Youghiogheny River. Westmoreland County already has a higher incidence of disease than other counties in United States. Pollution won’t stop at the South Huntingdon Township border; it will travel to the surrounding townships and counties.
The action to Tenaska and State Reps: http://tinyurl.com/stoptenaska
The hearing request to DEP: http://tinyurl.com/tenaskahearing
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 now meet the second Wednesday of every month at 7:30 PM in Greensburg. Email Jan directions. All are very welcome to attend.
***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
ANNE NEELY WATER STORIES PROJECT: A CONVERSATION IN PAINT AND SOUND
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:
I am very thankful for every one of you who has given your time and energy to work for the protection of our families, our environment, and our homes. Jan
TAKE ACTION !!
***Letters to the editor are important and one of the best ways to share information with the public. ***
***TRI (Toxic Release Inventory) Action Alert-Close the Loophole:
“We need your help!! Please send an email to the US EPA urging them to "Close the TRI Loophole that the oil and gas industry currently enjoys".
We all deserve to know exactly what these operations are releasing into our air, water and onto our land. Our goal is to guarantee the public’s right to know.
Please let the US EPA know how important TRI reporting will be to you and your community:
Mr. Gilbert Mears
Docket #: EPA-HQ-TRI-2013-0281 (must be included on all correspondence)
Some facts on Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) – what it is and why it’s important:
What is the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI)?
Industrial facilities report annually the amount and method (land, air, water, landfills) of each toxic
chemical they release or dispose of to the national Toxics Release Inventory.
Where can I find the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI)?
Once the industrial facilities submit their annual release data, the Environmental Protection Agency
makes it available to the public through the TRI’s free, searchable online database.
Why is this important?
The TRI provides communities and the public information needed to challenge permits or siting
decisions, provides regulators with necessary data to set proper controls, and encourages industrial
facilities to reduce their toxic releases.
Why does it matter for oil and natural gas?
The oil and gas extraction industry is one of the largest sources of toxic releases in the United
States. Yet, because of loopholes created by historical regulation and successful lobbying efforts,
this industry remains exempt from reporting to the TRI—even though they are second in toxic air
emissions behind power plants.
What is being done?
In 2012, the Environmental Integrity Project filed a petition on behalf of sixteen local, regional, and
national environmental groups, asking EPA to close this loophole and require the oil and gas
industries to report to the TRI. Although EPA has been carefully considering whether to act on the
petition, significant political and industrial pressure opposing such action exists.
What is the end goal?
Our goal is to guarantee the public’s right to know. TRI data will arm citizens with powerful data,
provide incentives for oil and gas operators to reduce toxic releases, and will provide a data-driven
foundation for responsible regulation.
What can you do?
You can help by immediately letting EPA know how important TRI reporting will be to you and your
Send written or email comments to:
Toxics Release Inventory Program Division, Environmental Protection Agency
1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20460
Docket #: EPA-HQ-TRI-2013-0281 (please be sure to include in all your correspondence)
From: Lisa Graves Marcucci
Environmental Integrity Project
PA Coordinator, Community Outreach
***Middlesex Zoning Case-Geyer Well Near Schools
“The video is about 3 minutes long. Parents in Butler approach supervisors when fracking threatens the health and safety of their rural community. The proposed Geyer Well Pad is 1/2 mile from the Mars District schools and even closer to homes in a nearby sub-division.
Any community in PA on the radar of the oil and gas industry will need this kind of resolve and organization to protect their land base: "The Delaware Riverkeeper Network, the Clean Air Council and a local parents group Protect Our Children, are challenging the ordinance that will allow six gas wells to be developed on a site close to a school campus.”
A few excerpts:
Jordan Yeager for Delaware Riverkeepers- “townships cannot put the interest of one set of property owners above the community as a whole”
Tom Daniels-U of Penn Land Use Expert – the ordinance allows heavy industrial use in agricultural areas permits haphazard oil and gas development which is contrary to protection of public health safety welfare
Acoustic Expert Kayna Bowen states Rex acoustic assessment is incorrect
Statement from group member: This is relevant to Murrysville, Penn Twp, and other local townships:
The question of *where* a local government can and should allow fracking surface operations --how close to residential areas?
Do denser sub-divisions get more protection than sparsely-populated areas? This is relevant for Penn Twp (Deutsch and Drakulic proposed well pads are within 1000 ft of homes and Deutsch is about 1/2 mile from Level Green's elementary school) and Murrysville (many leases have been signed and Council is in the process of updating the ordinance in conjunction with work by the Marcellus Task Force)”
***Gas Density -Google Earth
Dr. Ingraffea of Cornell has pointed out that the industry can only be profitable if they achieve density. That’s why leased regions are honeycombed with hundreds or thousands of wells.
This video is of photo shots of Texas, Arkansas- You only need to watch the first few minutes then jump to other areas to get the gist. But everyone should watch at least part of this.
***Cool Video--Colbert and Neil Young Sing About Fracking
***Link to Shalefield Stories-Personal stories of those affected by fracking http://www.friendsoftheharmed.com/
***To sign up for Skytruth notifications of activity and violations for your area:
*** List of the Harmed--There are now over 1400 residents of Pennsylvania who have placed their names on the list of the harmed when they became sick after fracking began in their area. http://pennsylvaniaallianceforcleanwaterandair.wordpress.com/the-list/
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.”
There is so much going on right now with the 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
***From Elizabeth Donahue (Elizabeth wrote this in response to an article about elephants showing compassion for each other and for humans. ) “For our survival, "habitat" - and by that I mean the whole earth and everything in it - must begin to be valued by humans as other than commodity for immediate use or gratification. From failing bees to shrinking elephant populations, human actions demonstrate how our cleverness far outstrips our wisdom to use that cleverness. We need a much deeper wisdom to know not just what we can do, but what is wise to do long-term. The animals are wiser in so many ways, and we can learn from them...beginning with our land base.
Push back on the destruction of your land base, defend it. Our lives truly do depend on "our context"...which is the air, water and soil that supports us and all the animals/plants over which we have decided we have dominion.
No one defends what they don't love... . Not recognizing the earth's worthiness to be treated as a loved one ensures the course that we see playing out across the globe”.
***More Fracking at the Beaver Run Reservoir
TRUTH ALERT: PA GAS DRILLING PERMIT ISSUED IN WASHINGTON TWP TOWNSHIP 2014-11-07
Well Type: Gas
Permit Issued: 2014-11-07 00:00:00
Operator: CNX GAS CO LLC
Site Name: MAMONT SOUTH 2 2E
Township: Washington Twp
Permit Type: Renewal
Description: Drill & Operate Well Permit
Well API Number: 129-28865
OGO Number: OGO-37312
Facility ID: 770528
Monitor this location View Nearby Alerts
Date: 2014-11-07 00:00:00
Location: 40.463158 -79.576677
Tags: PADEP, frack, permit, drilling, Gas
***PA Gas Drilling Permit Issued in Penn Twp Township
Gas permit issued on 2014-11-18 00:00:00 to APEX ENERGY (PA) LLC for site DRAKULIC PAD 1H in Penn Twp township, Westmoreland county
Tags: PADEP, frack, permit, drilling, Gas
PA Gas Drilling Permit Issued in Penn Twp Township
Gas permit issued on 2014-11-18 00:00:00 to APEX ENERGY (PA) LLC for site DEUTSCH PAD 1H in Penn Twp township, Westmoreland county
Tags: PADEP, frack, permit, drilling, Gas
***Update From Jan-- Ligonier Township
“The Ligonier Township ad hoc zoning committee charged with working on the gas ordinance met this past week with Terry Carcella, township manager. We have been working for months to keep the frack zone in Ligonier Township limited to a small area. According to zoning law, you must have an industrial area set aside in every township. Our industrial zone is very small so Mr. Carcella believes that in order to avoid being sued, it should be larger.
Today, he introduced a new concept of allowing parcels of frack zones in various areas of the township. He is referring to these parcels of frack zones as an overlay. We do not have the details. This process would chop up the zones and result in endless debate about whose property should be a frack zone and whose should not. It would also result in more toxic chemical exposure in what are now residential or RA areas because the fracking would be more spread out.
The planning commission meets December 16. The draft will be presented that night-both the zoning code and the map of the frack zones. We need to be there. (There will then be a hearing a few weeks after the presentation, probably in January.) I do not know if we have any opportunity to speak after the presentation on the 16th but we need to have people present to show that there is concern about this issue. People wanting to frack their property will let their voices be heard and already are heavily lobbying the supervisors.
This is a political issue-pro fracking vs. property protection rights. Those who have the most people present and speaking out will have a clear advantage when it comes to the vote. Supervisors need to hear from us. We need to have good attendance at these meetings starting with Tuesday, Dec .16. This is the most important issue to confront Ligonier residents in many decades. If water wells are contaminated, our property is not worth much, if anything. Air contaminants have been linked to cancerous and non- cancerous diseases and birth defects.
Our committee has worked very hard on this issue. We need your support. The few of us involved cannot spread the word sufficiently. Please help us and by asking friends, neighbors, and family to these meetings. We will need to be there at the January meetings as well. “
***Update From Alyson –Penn Trafford Wells
“Update on Deutsch and Drakulic proposed well pads in Penn Twp:
The PA DEP website now shows both well pads as permitted on 11/18/2014. The DEP has signed off on both well pads. I guess, in the end, the proximity (vertical wall) to Turtle Creek did not bother them. Or the 700-ft distance from homes.
To clarify, this does not mean that Penn Twp has permitted these 2 well pads. Even if you don't live in Penn Twp, if you live close by to either of these well pads, you may have legal standing to object to them. “
***Penn Trafford Meeting--By PT Resident
“(PT is in the process of updating their ordinance and 2 well pads are being proposed near the Murrysville border that would be situated in a residential area and within 1000 ft of homes in Murrysville, Penn Twp (Level Green area) and Trafford. Residents within 1/2 mile of these proposed well pads known as "Drakulic" and "Deutsch" received letters from a group of concerned residents informing them of these planned wells and last night, a number of residents attended the supervisors' meeting in Penn Twp.)
Attendance was very good at the supervisors' meeting. The letter sent to residents had obviously raised awareness about drilling. Attorney Nick Kennedy (from Mountain Watershed Association) had prepared a document explaining what was lacking in the Penn Twp proposed ordinance .... Resident Michael Bertonachi started off reading it. The supervisors only allow 3 minutes and Michael only got so far (he received loud applause) so when Val Lamanna went up, she presented each of the Commissioners and Attorney Mlakar (Penn Township's solicitor) with a copy of a health study report that some PT residents received at a Univ. of Pgh seminar and spoke on it and then proceeded with Nick's summation at the point where Michael was cut off.
A 3rd resident almost finished it and then Mr. Begg did finish it. In all, many spoke but we had more that couldn't speak like one man because he was on the Trafford end and Mlakar said you had to be a PT resident. A woman spoke of falling home values. A man who lives at the cut on Saunders Station Road also spoke. There was a man who owns property in PT but lives in Pgh. who spoke for the drilling industry but was poorly received.”
***Penn Twp Supervisors' Meeting –Stephanie Novak
From Stephanie Novak of the Mountain Watershed Association:
"Thank you to those who attended Monday night’s commissioners meeting in Penn Township. As a result of the letter campaign to residents with ½ mile of the proposed well pads, there were barely enough seats for everyone at the meeting. I would say around 15 people spoke about their personal concerns over the well pads. We were able to get the entire list of questions Nick prepared about the zoning ordinance into the official record. Now is the time to continue to demand that your commissioners answer these questions by continuing to call and email them with your concerns. Attached is a copy of the list of questions we raised for those new to the group.
"I’d also like to update you about the official complaint to DEP about the Deutsch site. Our claim was that access road to the well pad site had been cut prior to APEX receiving it’s erosion and sediment control permit. I spoke with Sam Steingrade, a water quality specialist from DEP who investigated our claim. After visiting the site, it was clear to him that the company had been bringing in equipment. The way he explained it to me was that the company had been issued a deficiency letter from DEP and they were doing work on the site to resolve some of the issues in the letter. The company drilled boreholes (not a regulated activity) to conduct a percolation test as instructed by DEP. They also have been delineating wetlands and doing some other pre-construction tasks on the site. He said that none of these activities warranted a violation.
According to DEP e-facts, the technical review and decision review are complete and either the permit decision and/or permit issuance are forthcoming. They do not officially have the permit yet. If you live near this site, here is what to look for. They cannot begin cutting trees or bring in any heavy equipment for earth moving until they post the signs with the name of the well pad and their permit number. If you see any activities like this, you are asked to call Sam at 412-417-7947 or Kurt Smith at 412-442-4000 to make a complaint. During our call he also made a comment about how close the site is to Turtle Creek and that in one area the bank is “almost vertical”. This makes you wonder why they would allow a site so close to a stocked trout stream that has been recovering from years of AMD problems. I haven’t had the opportunity to reach out to anyone at the Turtle Creek Watershed Association but I think this is something we should certainly do."
***Penn Twp Supervisors' Meeting –The Questions by Attorney Nick Kennedy
The list of questions Attorney Nick Kennedy prepared and that were entered into the minutes of the meeting by residents were:
(Prepared with the assistance of Nick Kennedy, Esq. Community Advocate for the Mountain Watershed Association)
Compatible Use Questions
1. How is the new zoning ordinance consistent with the Robinson Township decision and the Environmental Rights Amendment?
2. How is a well pad a compatible use with residential uses?
3. How was it determined what residential areas would be included in Mineral Extraction Overlay and thus subject to the prospect of unconventional drilling?
4. How does allowing drilling in the Mixed Density Residential District fit with the stated purpose of that district? Stated Purpose: “The MDR Mixed Density Residential District is established in order to provide land for a wide variety of housing options in a number of configurations at moderate to high densities, as well as to provide for personal and professional services, small- scale mixed use sites and compatible support uses.”
5. How does allowing drilling in the Neighborhood Commercial District fit with the stated purpose of that district? Stated Purpose: “The NC Neighborhood Commercial District is established in order to provide land for small scale commercial uses, personal and professional services, planned mixed use developments, multi-family residential, mixed-use structures with commercial uses on the first floor and residential on floors above, restaurants, arts and entertainment, and compatible support uses for the permitted principal uses.”
6. How does allowing unconventional drilling in residential and commercial zones meet the stated purpose of the Mineral Extraction Overlay? Stated Purpose: “The purpose of the MEO Mineral Extraction Overlay District is to provide areas for the extraction of minerals as defined by the Commonwealth, where the population density is low and significant development is not projected for the near future.”
Development Infill Overlay District
7. How was it determined which residential areas would be included in the Development Infill Overlay District?
8. How is the stated purpose of this district being furthered by allowing unconventional drilling as close as 600 feet to residences, schools, churches, etc. despite their location in the Infill Overlay District? Stated Purpose: The purpose of the Development Infill Overlay District is to establish a health and safety buffer from surface related activities and facilities, specifically oil and natural gas extraction, in developing areas of the Township where residential and nonresidential development has occurred and is projected to occur.
9. How is the purpose of this district being furthered (assuming there are no setbacks for compressor stations) by allowing compressor stations right up to the border of this overlay district?
10. How did you arrive at 600 feet as the setback for unconventional drilling? Why is that sufficient?
11. "Potential Public Health Impacts of Natural Gas Development and Production in the Marcellus Shale in Western Maryland," concluded "that an adequate setback from the corner of a [fracking] facility to the corner of a residential property (2000 feet) can minimize exposure." Was this report considered? If so, why was it not followed?
12. Why are the setbacks from drilling and Natural Gas Processing facilities less than those required for Adult Oriented Businesses under 190-503? Note: Adult Oriented Businesses must be 1500 feet from the boundary line of a residentially zoned area, or property line of a single family dwelling, church, school, or library. This is significant because not only do they have large setbacks, they have to be setback from the boundaries of residential zones themselves, which is not a requirement for drilling. Also note: An adult oriented business cannot be placed within 5,000ft of another business (no limit for drilling, compressors, etc.) Compressor Stations
13. Is there a setback requirement for compressor stations?
14. According to 190-641 Oil and Gas Operations Section A, compressor stations and gas processing plants must be approved by the Board of Commissioners before a permit is issued. If the Board of Commissioners is going to vote on compressor stations and gas process plants, why are they permitted uses as opposed to conditional? Why not retain greater control through a conditional use approval process?
15. How are the stated objectives of Penn Twp, as enumerated in the ordinance, being furthered by the ordinance?
16. Section D(2)(f) requires spills to be reported “timely” to Penn. What constitutes timely and why is immediate reporting not required?
17. How will the thousands of truck trips be handled so as to not impair the community or create traffic flow problems?
18. 190-147(F)(5)(d)(4) states: “Hazardous or Toxic Waste — Hazardous or toxic waste shall not be permitted to accumulate on any property, and disposal shall be in compliance with applicable Commonwealth of Pennsylvania hazardous or toxic waste handling regulations. “ Does this mean the ordinance is banning pits? If not, why not? Why not require a “closed loop system”?
19. Where in the ordinance does it require the operator to show compliance with all state and federal air pollution requirements?
20. Why is the Mineral Extraction Overlay not clearly marked on the proposed map?
Noise & Lighting
21. Section D(4) sets a noise level of 60 dBA. How was this level arrived at and does this apply to all stages of drilling?
22. Have studies been done on the average ambient noise in the township?
23. Is the company required to monitor noise levels?
24. How will compliance be assured?
25. Section D(6) sets lighting requirements, how were these specific requirements established?
26. How does that requirement relate to performance standard G relating to glare?
***Level Green Residents Question Drilling- By Chris Foreman
“Some residents are pressing Penn Township commissioners for answers about how proposed revisions to the zoning ordinance would protect home values, water quality and road conditions.
Mobilized with assistance from the nonprofit Mountain Watershed Association, residents packed the commissioners' meeting Monday night to request responses to 25 written questions about proposed conditions for regulating unconventional drilling.
Among the questions, residents said they wanted to know the township's rationale for choosing “only” a 600-foot setback from an adjacent property for drilling activity and how the township defines a driller's “timely” reporting of a spill.
“There potentially are some very dangerous outcomes with this kind of drilling activity, and we look to you to protect us,” said Dan Begg, who lives on Antler Hill Drive.
Last month, commissioners unanimously voted to advertise proposed changes — including new provisions regarding unconventional wells such as those drilled into the Marcellus shale formation — to the zoning ordinance.
Though final adoption of the ordinance won't happen until sometime next year, the township's advertisement of the proposed regulations means that any new drilling operations must abide by the conditions, Solicitor Les Mlakar said.
Some residents are growing anxious because drilling companies Apex Energy and Huntley & Huntley have indicated they want to drill in the township. Last week, the state DEP completed a technical review of two sites Apex is pursuing in the Level Green area.
Because the commissioners decided to make the operation of well pads a “conditional use” in the proposed changes, drillers would be required to go through a public hearing before them, too, before getting a permit from the township.
However, the commissioners would not be able to reject a permit if a company meets the township's conditions, Mlakar said. Ultimately, the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code doesn't allow a township to prohibit extraction of resources such as oil and natural gas, he said.
But that hasn't allayed the fears of residents who rely on well water and are worried about what they expect will be a high volume of heavy equipment trudging through the township.
“There's open land all over; why do they pick the areas where there's population?” said Doyle Harp, who lives on Woodcliffe Lane in Level Green. “It amazes me.”
The anticipated truck traffic related to drilling operations is leading township officials to do a weight-limit study for several roads.
“It's something we're very concerned about,” township manager Alex Graziani said.
And the questions raised by residents will receive careful consideration by township officials, Mlakar said. Officials also are “struggling” with interpretations of state law and ramifications of ordinances passed in other communities, he said.
“You have to bear with the drafting of this ordinance because everything keeps changing from week to week and month to month,” Mlakar said. “There are numerous cases filed in various municipalities challenging various ordinances. We are monitoring those to see what happens.”
Read more: http://triblive.com/neighborhoods/yourpenntrafford/yourpenntraffordmore/7184062-74/township-drilling-residents#ixzz3JeHc7M9W
***Company Halts Plan To Frack 3,000 Feet From School- Middlesex
“Rex Energy’s plan to frack for gas about a half mile from the Mars school district of 3,200 kids has been suspended, just weeks after a group of concerned parents and environmentalists launched a legal challenge against the project.
Rex Energy announced that it would stop preparing to drill on the farm of Bob and Kim Geyer in Middlesex, Pennsylvania — a property located about 3,000 feet from the Mars School District. The reason, Rex told the Butler Eagle, was a lawsuit brought in October by local families and environmental groups Delaware Riverkeepers Network and Clean Air Council.
“We’re happy that [Rex has] been able to suspend operations and we can continue the conversation to try and protect the children,” Amy Nassif, who heads the Mars Parent Group, told ThinkProgress on Monday. “This isn’t just about the Geyer’s site — it’s about anybody that wants to develop, and the state government needs to realize that they need to stop putting children in harm’s way in order to continue to develop shale.”
The lawsuit that commenced last month argued that the Middlesex Township Board of Supervisors violated Pennsylvania’s state Constitution when it voted to change the township’s zoning law back in August. Those changes legally opened up most of the rural town of Middlesex for fracking, even on residential lands.
The zoning law change has wide implications for drilling and fracking in Middlesex, but the main reason for the change was to pave the way for the proposed gas wells near the school.
Geyer told the Butler Eagle last week that the lawsuit was just an example of environmental groups trying to “use” Middlesex as a platform for their political agenda.
Environmental groups insist their lawsuit has a different purpose — protecting the health and safety of the 3,200 children who attend school at the Mars School District. They cite the recently observed link between proximity to natural gas wells and prevalence of congenital heart defects and neural tube defects, in addition to increased air pollution from gas leaks and truck traffic and the possibility of well water contamination.
“This well site is entirely too close to the school district,” Nassif said. “It puts children within a 2-mile evacuation zone, and if they continue work at that site, it puts them within the area where they can experience health effects.”
Rex’s halt on work at the Geyer site is temporary, pending hearings on the zoning rule which are set to begin on Tuesday. Nassif said the hearings will likely mean a halt on the project until at least December. She said Rex has already completed construction of its well pad on the farm and created access roads for trucks, though there is not yet any equipment or drilling rigs on the site.
Geyer has accused the parents and environmental groups of attempting to drag out the process in the hopes that Rex Energy will become tired of spending money on legal fighting and walk away from the project. That’s at least one thing that Nassif can agree with.
“If [the legal proceedings] cost the company money, well that’s the price that you pay for trying to do business so close to a school district,” she said. “You need to realize you can’t set up an industrial process this close to the school.”
***Washington County Kiskadden Hearing Ends On Water Contamination
Contaminated Water Well ½ mile from sites
--The last days of the lengthy hearing on whether Range Resources’ drilling operations contaminated water well in rural Washington County.
“The geologists differed on whether there is a hydro-geological pathway for groundwater to flow between Range’s gas operations and the water well of Leon Kiskadden.
The water well is a half mile away and down slope from the fracked gas well, a leaky drill cuttings pit, and a 13.5 million gallon wastewater impoundment.
At issue in the case, which state Environmental Hearing Board Chief Judge Thomas Renwand heard in Pittsburgh, is whether the state department followed its rules and procedures in determining that Range’s Yeager shale gas drilling operations on a ridge in Amwell Township did not pollute Mr. Kiskadden’s well beginning in the summer of 2011. Mr. Kiskadden wants the agency to change its ruling and order Range to replace his water supply.
The case is the first to challenge a DEP water supply determination denying contamination.
A hearing board decision is not expected before mid-June.
In testimony, Ann Perry, a hydrogeologist testifying for Range, said that Mr. Kiskadden’s water quality is typical of valley groundwater in Washington County.
Water in that area usually contains greater concentrations of sodium, and low levels of chloride, barium, strontium and dissolved solids in his well water did not indicate contamination from gas drilling operations.
According to Ms. Perry, whom AECOM, an international engineering consulting and management firm working in the oil and gas industry, employs, a variety of subterranean rock formations inhibit the flow of groundwater between the Yeager drill site and Mr. Kiskadden’s water well. The methane, acetone and t-Butyl alcohol found in his water could have come from other sources, including a defunct auto salvage business, she said.
The Yeager shale gas well pad was constructed in August 2009, and the first well was drilled in September and fracked in December of that year.
Two more shale gas wells were drilled on the same pad in January 2011, according to internal Range emails cited at the hearing.
The centralized wastewater impoundment was completed in April 2010, and flowback fluids from a variety of Range drilling sites in the region were added in May 2010.
Mr. Kiskadden first noticed and reported water well problems to the DEP in June 2011.
Paul Rubin, the geologist testifying on his behalf, said he identified a network of fractures in the rock underlying the leaky drill cuttings pit that would have allowed contaminants, including high concentrations of sodium in the pit, to migrate with ground water off-site toward the Kiskadden water well.
Mr. Rubin also testified that a host of contaminants linked to drilling and fracking and identified in tests on soil samples from under the leaky impoundment also show up in the Kiskadden well.
Mr. Kiskadden’s attorneys, John and Kendra Smith, have elicited testimony from DEP witnesses showing the department used incomplete and inaccurate water test results to make its decision about Mr. Kiskaden’s water quality.
Under questioning by Ms. Smith, Ms. Perry admitted she looked at test reports and not test data and so didn’t know that dozens of contaminants — including acetone, toulene, xylene, arsenic, boron, barium, cadmium, ethane, hydrogen sulfide, methane, propane, strontium and oil and grease — were found in Mr. Kiskadden’s water.
As the case concluded, Range and the DEP stipulated that their knowledge of fracking chemicals possibly used on the Yeager drill site is limited to commercial “product” information provided by Range’s supplier, Universal Well Services Inc., that does not disclose specific chemical composition.
In June, after Range could not comply with an order to provide all the chemicals used at the Yeager site, Mr. Renwand issued a ruling that gave Mr. Kiskadden a “rebuttable presumption that contaminants found in his water supply may have been used at [Range’s] site and/or in [Range’s] operation.”
John Gisleson, Range’s lead attorney, said after the hearing was adjourned that, “Range knows in excess of 99 percent of all the chemicals used and that were put downhole at the site.”
The geologically and chemically complicated EHB case parallels a civil lawsuit filed in Washington County Court of Common Pleas in which Mr. Kiskadden and two other families allege they experienced serious health problems due to exposure to water and air pollutants from the Yeager site.
***Range Resources in Mt Pleasant Twp. –By Bob Donnan
“Range Resources Appalachia has a long and storied history in Mt. Pleasant Township, Pa. (MPT) where they drilled the first Marcellus Shale well 10 years ago. Over the ensuing years the community has been divided over drilling issues and there have been some contentious meetings over impoundments, compressor stations and zoning issues.
Due to ‘push back’ from MPT, things reached a point a few years ago where Range threatened to depart MPT for good, and go drill in other townships. They did just that for a short while.
For some residents, the idea of Range departing the township to drill elsewhere (and take their impoundments with them) was too good to be true. In the latest chapter played out in Hickory Monday night, we saw Range in the process of trying to get conditional use approval for 3 new drilling pads with the main focus of that meeting on the Yonkers pad.
Two of the new drilling pads are ‘too close for comfort’ to the Ft Cherry School District campus for dozens of parents who have retained George Jugovic (of Penn Future) as counsel. Another couple has retained Jon Kamin, while Range sticks with their usual counsel Sean Gallagher. MPT is a party with Neva Stanger and the Board of Supervisors brought in Chuck Means as special counsel to run the hearing. This hearing was a continuation of the first hearing, with a third meeting set for 6:00pm December 17, 2014 at the Hickory fire hall on Route 50.
At one point in the hearing, Range’s governmental affairs man Jim Cannon was being questioned by Jon Kamin. Complete answers to questions were not flowing very well, and when Mr. Cannon could not answer a question about initial well drilling passing through ground water without a casing, the VP of Drilling at Range appeared miffed as he approached and whispered something into Mr. Cannon’s ear.
This resulted in Don Robinson being placed on the stand to answer Jon Kamin’s questions about drilling for 42-minutes. I consider it a rare view into Range operations.”
***Vandergrift Warns GX Tech. -No Seismic Testing
“Vandergrift officials are warning a Texas company not to circumvent their denial of a Marcellus shale-mapping program by going directly to residents.
After council denied a request from Ion GX Technology to conduct mapping operations in the borough, residents began receiving permit request letters from the company.
Vandergrift has sent a “cease and desist” letter from Solicitor Larry Loperfito to the company, according to council President Brian Carricato.
“Any testing that you conduct that has any negative or adverse effect upon the Borough of Vandergrift, in any way, however slight, will be dealt with immediately and appropriately,” the letter states.
“We place you on notice that you have no right to conduct any testing that would, in any way, however slight, affect any property owned by the Borough of Vandergrift, including public rights of way and/or lands owned by the Borough of Vandergrift.”
Ion representatives this year have been visiting many Alle-Kiski Valley municipalities.
The company plans to produce a three-dimensional map of the Marcellus formation over a 281-square-mile area, covering nearly all of central and southern Armstrong County and crossing into parts of Westmoreland and Indiana counties.
While the mapping project is under way, Lawson said permitting has gone “very slow,” and it has been delayed because of that.
Carricato said Vandergrift officials were concerned that the work, which includes sending vibrations through the ground, could damage underground utilities, such as the sewage system.
Carricato said council's refusal of the company's request to conduct seismic testing on public streets, land and rights of way was based on the advice of the borough's attorney and engineer.
“Now they're sending out letters to the residents individually asking for personal permission,” he said. “I received one. I threw it away.”
The “seismic mineral permit request” states that GX Technology Corp. is asking for permission “to conduct a three-dimensional seismic survey over the following described property in which you either own mineral rights or an oil and gas lease.”
Frank Souchack, who has lived on Washington Avenue for 30 years, was among those who received a letter.
“It just sounded shady to me,” he said. “They went to the borough and the borough turned them down, and then they send these individual letters out.
“I didn't have good vibes when I got the letter. It didn't sound good to me.”
Souchack said he threw the letter away, as have other residents he has spoken with to about it.
“People are probably being deceived, expecting they'll receive some kind of reward or income from drilling sites if they find something,” he said. “I don't think it's a worthwhile thing for me as a homeowner to sign.”
Loperfito said local Ion representatives have agreed to meet with Vandergrift officials.
“We have to find out what this is all about,” he said. “This technology is new to us, and we have to understand what they're proposing to our residents.”
Read more: http://triblive.com/neighborhoods/yourallekiskivalley/yourallekiskivalleymore/3203288-74/vandergrift-borough-company#ixzz3JIUN6CmL
***Bye To WPX-
Profiting from gas proving more difficult
“WPX Energy Inc. will divest from the Marcellus Shale with no plans to drill any new wells in Pennsylvania for the foreseeable future.
The Tulsa-based company spun off from Williams Companies Inc. in 2011. Its new CEO, petroleum engineer Rick Muncrief, joined the company in May and took a hard look at WPX’s assets, spokeswoman Susan Oliver said.
WPX will now focus on developing its acreage in the oil and natural gas liquids fields of Colorado, North Dakota and New Mexico, she said.
“The decision was made to divest of the Marcellus asset because we get a better return with drilling for oil and natural gas liquids than the dry gas here,” she said. Its decision came as no surprise to Lou D’Amico, president and director of the Pennsylvania Independent Oil and Gas Association.
“I think there are a number of companies that are looking at possibility of getting out of the dry gas portion of the Marcellus,” he said. “Right now with the current prices, there’s not a lot to justify additional drilling in the area.”
The Marcellus Shale holds dry gas in Northeast Pennsylvania and the more profitable wet gas region of Southwest Pennsylvania and Northwest West Virginia.
Although WPX didn’t mention the looming 5 percent severance tax proposed by Democratic Governor-elect Tom Wolf, Mr. D’Amico said many association members are eyeing the tax.
To make drilling for dry gas worth the expense, gas companies are hoping for another cold winter in the short term, said Bernard Weinstein, Ph.D., economist and associate director of the Maguire Energy Institute at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas.
In the long run, gas-fueled power generation, vehicles and exports to other countries are necessary to bring prices back up to a level to encourage more gas development, Dr. Weinstein said.
WPX will continue to operate its producing wells, Ms. Oliver said. It has not identified a buyer for its Marcellus holdings.
The company reported 162 active wells in Pennsylvania in the first half of 2014, according to state production data. Most are in Susquehanna and Westmoreland counties, with a handful in Centre and Clearfield counties.”
WPX Gives an Update on Their 2014 Marcellus Plans
, WPX official Susan Oliver contacted MDN to provide some perspective and background. MDN concludes that we had most of our analysis right, but we may have left the wrong impression by using the word “Abandoning” in our headline. We want to clear this up right here and now, at the beginning of this update: WPX Energy is not leaving the Marcellus. That is, the 100 or so wells they’ve already drilled here in the Marcellus will continue to be WPX wells. We thank the company for making that clarification and apologize to landowners if we gave you a bit of shock.
However, WPX is, as we noted yesterday, not doing any new drilling in the Marcellus–at least in 2014 and likely beyond. That part of yesterday’s story was correct. As Susan told us, the change we see reflected in their 2014 budget and drilling plan is that the company is shifting from drilling to production in the Marcellus. As for their new drilling program in 2014, they owe it to their stockholders to drill new wells in more oily shale plays–places where they will make more money, quite frankly. And you can’t fault them for that…
***East Allegheny School District Plans to Drill For $500,000 Deal
“East Allegheny School district has voted to allow gas drilling on school property. EQT will explore 170 acres owned by the East Allegheny School District for gas. .
If natural gas is found on the property, the district would receive an up-front payment of more than a half-million dollars.
“Once they get started, the terms of the agreement call for the school district to receive gross proceeds of 17 percent of whatever is being earned by EQT,” said solicitor Daniel Beisler.
The district’s property sits on a plateau and there is some housing within view, but under state law, EQT cannot drill within 500 feet of Logan Middle School. (500 feet from a school? Jan)
Beisler says no surface drilling is allowed and the children and school will be safe.
“We have hold harmless indemnity clauses in that lease to protect the school,” said Beisler. “We’re confident, based on what EQT has presented, what they’ve done in the past, that we would be protected and the children would be protected, as well.”
The district is facing a more than $1.1 million deficit and needs revenue.
“This is seen as a potential source of income, which would positively affect the taxes, hopefully to keep the taxes without there having to be an increase,” said Beisler.
Clean Water Action is concerned about an industrial operation working so close to a school, and says this is impact of the state failing to properly fund schools.”
***Kerosene in Frack Fluid: Toxic but Legal
“In the last three years, 230,171 gallons of kerosene, a petroleum distillate with chemical components that are toxic to humans and wildlife, were used in fracking fluid in 129 wells throughout Fayette County, and it was all within the letter of the law.
“They are environmental terrorists,” according to Ken Dufalla, president of the Greene County chapter of the Izaak Walton League of America (IWLA).
Dufalla, who has a degree in chemistry, says over the last four years he’s collected data from waterways in Fayette and surrounding counties showing flowback has entered the waters.
“It is a problem, and it’s going to get worse.”
In February, the EPA) clarified its position on the use of diesel fuel, saying that no diesel fuel may be used in fracking fluid without a permit from the federal government. The EPA specifically outlined five additives (according to chemical abstract service (CAS) number) that require permits, and all are variants of diesel fuel.
Diesel fuels are considered particularly dangerous by the EPA because all variants contain some amount of benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylenes (BTEX), which are highly toxic even in small amounts.
According to the chemical disclosure registry FracFocus, companies who are drilling in Fayette County are using another petroleum distillate or diesel fuel variant, a type of kerosene identified as CAS #64742-47-8, in nearly every well that’s been fracked and reported to FracFocus. That CAS number is not among the five which are regulated by the EPA.
The Groundwater Protection Water Council, which, along with the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission, manages FracFocus, explained in its 2014 report that gas companies use various chemical additives in frack fluid for efficiency purposes and to prevent corrosion and leakage. CAS #64742-47-8 is listed as a friction reducer in the FracFocus reports.
Companies like Schlumberger and Sigma Aldrich who sell this additive include in their product information Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) that describe the substance toxicity and emergency procedures.
Sigma Aldrich’s information on CAS#64742-47-8 says it is “toxic to aquatic life.” It advises customers not to let the product enter drains.
“Discharge into the environment must be avoided,” the MSDS says.
“PA is the leader in enforcement,” said Perry, DEP. “whenever we have spills or impacts to the environment, DEP has a sophisticated response.”
He also agreed that diesel fuels are among the most dangerous components in fracking fluid, although the use of those specifically regulated additives is permitted by the EPA when companies have submitted geotechnical information and emergency management plans.
While the federal government has set standards for the use of diesel fuels, states have the option of enacting stricter enforcement, and Perry said the DEP would like to see the use of all diesel fuels -- including CAS#64742-47-8 -- eliminated in the state at some point.
Cross-referencing reports of NOVs issued to unconventional wells in Fayette County listed on the DEP’s website against information from FracFocus indicating the use of kerosene in fracking fluid, there were at least six wells that both used kerosene and were cited for environmental, health and safety violations, meaning there was an event that had an impact on the environment.
Those six wells used a total of 59,544 gallons of CAS#64742-47-8 in fracking fluid.
One well, Grant 16H, located in Redstone Township and operated by Chevron, was fracked in June 2011, and used 52,427 gallons of kerosene. The DEP issued environmental, health and safety NOVs to Chevron in the same month, for discharging pollutional material into the water and failing to properly control waste to prevent pollution. By August 2011, the DEP listed the violations as resolved, and Chevron paid a $6,000 penalty two months later.
According to DEP’s data, there were three other wells with similar violations that cannot be found in the FracFocus database. One of those wells, Orr 33 in Washington Township and operated by Atlas Resources LLC, was cited for failure to properly store, transport, process or dispose of residual waste, and later paid a $15,250 penalty.
“Once we issue an NOV, it requires the operator to provide a response for how they will correct it and prevent it from happening again within 10 days,” said Perry. “As long as they are working on compliance, they can proceed, but if we believe it’s not being resolved, we would take additional steps.”
For Dufalla, a man with 67 years under his belt as a park ranger in southwestern Pennsylvania, the damage already done is hard to ignore.
“Frack water is definitely getting into our water,” he said.
“I am a die-hard fisherman. I used to fish below the Clyde Mine discharge (into the Monongahela River). I used to catch fish galore,” said Dufalla. After unconventional gas drilling took off, he said, “white bass disappeared, striped bass disappeared, wall eye disappeared. I quit fishing from there.”
Dufalla said the gas companies are guilty of obfuscating the truth, that they are deceptive about the ability of fracking fluid to make it into the waterways.
“How the DEP lets this go through is beyond me,” he said. “There are so many flaws.”
Dufalla said the water testing he’s done weekly for the last four years tells the story. For example, he said bromide is an identifier of fracking waste and the discharge coming from the Cumberland, Emerald and Clyde mines shows high levels of bromides.
“We’re dealing in facts,” he said. “We can go to court and prove what we have.”
***Research Mounts on Health Effects of Fracking For Communities and Workers
Mounting research links oil and gas extraction to massive health risks for workers and communities.
“A new study published in Environmental Health reveals air pollution data on major, in some cases previously underestimated, health risks from toxic contamination at gas production sites related to fracking. Air samples gathered around “unconventional oil and gas” sites by community-based environmental research teams contained unsafe levels of several volatile compounds that “exceeded federal guidelines under several operational circumstances,” and that “Benzene, formaldehyde, and hydrogen sulfide were the most common compounds to exceed acute and other health-based risk levels.”
This suggests fracking may bring risk of cancer, birth defects and long-term respiratory and cellular damage to local towns and farms. Building on other studies on drilling-related water contamination, the air pollution research may stoke growing opposition from communities near drilling sites, who must weigh the industry’s promises of new investment and jobs against the potential cost to the human health.
The findings also raise questions about the safety of fracking-site workers, who may have far less legal recourse over potential health damage than do local homeowners. Many work contract jobs under harsh, isolated conditions, in a volatile industry where pressure to pump profits is high and labor protections weak.
In contrast to other forms of oil and gas extraction, fracking is a particularly murky field because the process uses massive volumes of chemicals, with little regulatory oversight or corporate transparency.
According to the study’s lead author David O. Carpenter, director of the Institute for Health and the Environment University at Albany, workers may face acute risks, and research on the long-term occupational health effects lags behind the industry’s expansion.
This is a major problem as many of these workers are on contracts, have no union looking over their shoulders, and no long term insurance etc. The workers must have enormous exposures to chemicals, air pollutants and radiation. Our study is exclusively residential although certainly one would expect the workers to be exposed to the same air pollutants, only at a higher concentration yet.
Earlier this year, researchers with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health reported on four worker deaths related to hydrofracking waste fluids since 2010, in the fracking “frontier” of the Williston Basin in North Dakota and Montana.
Many more “gas vets” may be suffering silently. Ellen Cantarow’s investigation on the health issues in the fracking industry documented the case of one worker, Randy Moyer, whose subcontracting job with a fracking operation has left him with massive inflammation, including a tongue so swollen it clogged his windpipe, and various inexplicable ailments including headaches, chest pains, “constant white noise in his ears and the breathing troubles that require him to stash inhalers throughout his small apartment.”
Moyer recalled in a recent interview with Food and Watch Watch (F&WW), “When I first got the rash, it was so bad; it’s like being on fire, and nobody can put you out.”
But workers face more immediate crises as well: they’re working strenuous, precarious jobs, and are constantly at risk of falls, burns from scalding water, crushing injuries, car accidents, getting struck with chains or caught in machines, and countless other traumas, according to a F&WW analysis. Official labor statistics from 2003 to 2012 show that work-related deaths in the oil and gas sector were “6.5 times the fatality rate of all U.S. workers…. During that decade, oil and gas drilling jobs were nearly 12 times as deadly as the average job in the United States.”
The samples assessed in the air pollution study were collected by volunteers from local environmental watchdog groups, who were trained to systematically sample air near various production and processing sites in Arkansas, Colorado, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wyoming. Substances that were found at alarming levels include benzene, which has been linked to leukemia and lung disease, as well as problems with child and fetal development.
Some researchers handling formaldahyde samples reported troubling symptoms that “mirror the effects of acute formaldehyde exposure, which causes irritation of the eyes, nose, throat, and skin.” Similarly, samplers in Wyoming showed symptoms associated with hydrogen sulfide, including “headaches, dizziness, eye irritation, [and] fatigue.”
Volunteer researcher April Lane, with the environmental group ArkansasFracking.org, said in a statement announcing the study that symptoms began to appear as volunteers sampled air near oil and gas development sites in central Arkansas:
Almost all of us who took air samples reported health symptoms while sampling was taking place, including headaches; dizziness or lightheadedness; irritated, burning, or running nose; nausea; and sore or irritated throat.… I have a five year-old son and have to wonder what kind of problems might he and other children have to endure?
While the data on fracking’s health impacts seems unlikely to “satisfy” all the public’s safety concerns, by taking charge of the scientific research process, community advocates are satisfying their own quest for the truth.”
***Princeton Study: Up to 900,000 Abandoned Oil and Gas Wells Pollute PA Air
A Princeton University study shows that hundreds of thousands of abandoned oil wells are adding to the state’s pollution.
CO2, Methane, and Brine Leakage through Subsurface Pathways: Exploring Modeling, Measurement and Policy Options is a first-of-its-kind study from Mary Klang that describes how abandoned oil wells serve as leakage pathways for carbon dioxide, methane, brine and more.
Based on records, Kang estimates that between 280,000 and 970,000 abandoned wells account for 4 to 13 percent of the state’s methane emissions.
Three of the 19 wells measured by the team are considered high emitters. Leakage was found in both plugged and unplugged wells.
“Existing well abandonment regulations in Pennsylvania do not appear to be eﬀective in controlling methane emissions from AOG [abandoned oil and gas] wells,” Kang writes in her abstract.
“As a mitigation strategy, inclusion of gases emitted from AOG wells in Pennsylvania’s Alternative Energy Portfolio Standard may be valuable for both promoting capture and possible use of the gas as well as for reporting and monitoring of these wells.”
***Radon in Home Gas Supply and Fracking
“Fracking is safe. Radiation is harmless. And pigs have wings
By Dr David Lowry posted on November 23, 2014
“The radon and natural gas coming from the shale mix together and travel together as the gas is piped to customers. This is a serious health hazard, as radon – being a gas – is breathed into the lungs and lodges there to decay, doing damage to the lungʼs tissue and eventually leading to lung cancer.”
Even worse, when radon decays, it produces a rapid-fire decay chain of four intensely radioactive metals, then the longer-lived 210Pb lead radio-isotope with its 22.3 year half-life. The monatomic radioactive particles readily bind onto dust and aerial microparticles, then to lodge deep in the lungs once inhaled.
Hence there is undoubtedly a risk of radon gas being pumped into citizens’ homes as part of the shale gas stream. Unless the gas is stored for a month or more to allow the radon’s radioactivity to naturally reduce, this is potentially very dangerous, depending of course on initial radon levels.”
***Anti-Fracking Warriors Steingraber and Boland Released From Jail
Wonderful Statements From Both Women
“[Editor’s note: On Nov. 26 at 12:01 a.m., Sandra Steingraber and Colleen Boland were released from jail after serving eight days of a 15-day sentence for trespassing at the gates of Crestwood Midstream on the banks of Seneca Lake. They were immediately greeted by a crowd of supporters outside the Schuyler County Jail in Watkins Glen. Below are transcripts of their speeches.)
“Steingraber and Boland are among the first wave arrests as part of a sustained, ongoing, non-violent civil disobedience campaign against the storage of fracked gas along the shores of Seneca Lake, a source of drinking water for 100,000 people. There have been 73 arrests so far. Calling themselves “We Are Seneca Lake,” those risking arrest—and their supporters—wear blue during blockades. Donations to the jail fund are greatly appreciated and make a perfect holiday gift.]
Hi, everybody! I missed you all. And I missed this beautiful world. I’m glad to be back. And I’m glad to be wearing blue again, instead of orange.
But I’m also glad to have spent this past week in the 24/7 company of my co-defendant and Seneca Lake co-defender, Colleen Boland. Thanks to the kindness of our booking officer, Colleen and I were placed in adjacent cells.
For five days we talked through the wall between us and passed notes back and forth. After our TB tests came back negative, we were reclassified and then could speak to each other face-to-face in the cell block and walk together in circuits together around the rec yard.
Colleen, there is no person I would rather be imprisoned with than you.
One document that we passed back and forth between us was a copy of Martin Luther King’s 1963 “Letter from a Birmingham Jail.” In it, Dr. King makes the case for civil disobedience as a tool of social change when all other lawful efforts to attain justice have failed.
It was interesting for me to learn that the civil disobedience trainings during the Civil Rights Movement included how to cope with “the ordeals of jail.”
Likely, for King and his fellow civil rights workers, continuing their civil disobedience witness in jail was not a choice, as it is for us, who landed in jail because we respectfully refused to pay our court fines.
Nevertheless, enduring the ordeals of jail still has value. Among other benefits, a jail sentence offers time for reflection.
Here is one insight I’ve had during my own week of reflection. It comes from a fellow inmate who is struggling mightily to overcome a lifetime of drug addiction and sexual abuse that extends back into her early childhood. Abuse is what’s normal for her. She has never lived without it. So, how to move forward? She told us, “I’m not trying to find myself. I’m trying to CREATE myself.”
I think that’s our challenge, too. We’ve been living so long under the tyranny and abuse of the fossil fuel industry that it’s come to seem normal to us. We have never experienced life without it.
So, when a Texas-based gas company buys our lakeshore in order to store vast quantities of explosive hydrocarbon gas in the old salt mines underneath—imperiling drinking water, the climate and everything in between—we don’t know what to do. All we know is that Big Oil and Gas has always had its ravaging way with us.
We can’t find the path to victory; we have to CREATE it.
That’s going to require a lot of work from all of us over a sustained period of time. What Colleen and I just did is only a tiny part of the struggle. So, please don’t thank us. Tell us what YOU are going to do.
And, now, to explain further our prohibition on thank-yous, here is my friend, U.S. Air Force Senior Master Sergeant (Retired), Colleen Boland, defendant and defender.
Thank you all for braving the cold and coming out at such a late hour to welcome Sandra and me home.
As many of you know, a little over a month ago, and with the full support of many of you here tonight, I chose to embrace my military past and take on Crestwood Midstream and the oil and gas establishment. I was arrested for trespassing on October 29.
For this action, I donned pieces of my Air Force uniform, and, I have to say, it has served me well. Recalling the hardships and dehumanization that came with basic training long ago helped me immeasurably to endure the discomforts of a seven–day jail stay.
Drummed into us, over and over again, throughout basic training, was one fundamental principle: leave no one behind. On the obstacle course, before we could move onto the next barrier, we had to stop, look back, and make sure no one was in trouble behind us.
During last few hours in lock-up tonight, I couldn’t help but feel that I was about to leave new comrades behind: my fellow cellmates in cell block C. With the exception of my next-door neighbor in cell number 3 (Sandra Steingraber), I knew that I would soon be leaving behind women who told us they believe in what we are doing and wholeheartedly support us.
And they thanked us.
Due to their circumstances and the heart-wrenching life stories they freely shared with us, I understand they can’t join us on the front lines—now or anytime in the near future—even though they said they gladly would. They’ve got life-saving work to do—on themselves and for their children. So, I give them a pass.
But, as I sat in my locked cell, day after day, I realized I’m growing less patient towards those who are quick to thank and painfully slow to step up. We are in a crisis here—along Seneca, and in Horseheads, and Lowman, and Painted Post, and in other communities throughout the region that are threatened with fracking and fracking infrastructure.
Time is ticking out. Call me cranky at this late hour if you wish, but I believe it’s high time for those who know the perils we face to find a way to contribute.
Not everyone needs to go to jail. But for those Seneca Lake Defenders who are considering trading in their blue garb for orange, I encourage them to do so. It is important to keep the spotlight on what is happening here, and I believe filling the jails with physically able folks will help do that.
A special note to women who are considering accepting a jail sentence in lieu of paying fines: I can say with confidence that Sandra and I have cleared the minefields inside the Chemung County jail. The women inmates there are prepared to welcome you, watch over you and show you the ropes. From their cells, they are prepared to help us in our fight in the only way that is available to them.”
***From Bob Donnan Report
“A large number of pollutants are released into the air during the flaring process. Included in these airborne pollutants are the chemicals used to frac the well, as well as any of 5-dozen other pollutants including the following: acetalhyde, acrolein, benzene, ethyl benzene, formaldehyde, hexane, naphthalene, propylene, toluene, and xylenes.’
Fracking loophole to avoid permits for dangerous chemicals-Diesel
”Four chemicals in diesel — benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylene — are the biggest worries to federal regulators and environmental and health officials. Benzene is a known carcinogen. Ethylbenzene and toluene can cause neurological problems. The Safe Water Drinking Act requires extensive oversight if diesel is used during drilling or fracking, in part because of its benzene content. Diesel can be used, for example, as a lubricant for a pipe or drill going into the ground.
Yet under the Safe Water Drinking Act, all those chemicals are allowed to be used during fracking without a permit issued, the Environmental Integrity Project said. The report, released yesterday, shows that at least six fracking-fluid additives contain more benzene than diesel fuel, and that at least 21 contain higher concentrations of ethylbenzene, xylene or toluene than diesel.”
***Halliburton Loophole Permits Cancer Causing Pollution
(More references for the toxic air study)
“At the behest of Dick Cheney (former CEO of the multinational Halliburton Company), George W. Bush signed the Energy Policy Act of 2005.
It created the un-American "Halliburton Loophole," which lets rich, polluting, multinational, fossil-fuel companies invade our country and violate our U.S. Clean Air Act, U.S. Clean Water Act, and U.S. Safe Drinking Water Act, permanently poisoning our land, water, air, food, and families -- for profit.
Scientists have observed eight poisonous chemicals near fracking wells in Arkansas, Colorado, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Wyoming, all of which have exceeded the federal recommended limit. Benzene, a known carcinogen, as well as formaldehyde, were the most common. Hydrogen sulfide, responsible for a range of health effects including death, was also found.
High levels of benzene, formaldehyde and hydrogen sulfide detected in air samples near fracking sites
A study conducted by Dr. David Carpenter, director of the Institute for Health and the Environment at the University at Albany-State University of New York tested air samples taken by trained volunteers living near fracking wells....
Samples that exceeded recommended limits did so by very high margins, with benzene levels ranging from 35 to 770,000 times greater than normal concentrations....
Hydrogen sulfide levels were 90 to 60,000 times higher than federal standards, while formaldehyde levels reached 30 to 240 times higher than normal.
“This is a significant public health risk,” said the study’s lead author. “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.”
-- From “Huge amounts of carcinogenic chemicals contaminate air near fracking sites,” by Julie Wilson, at this November 18, 2014 Natural News site:
...and at this November 18, 2014 Global Research site:
...and at this November 18, 2014 Counter Information site:
When the Drilling VP talks about air drilling, keep these photos in
mind of one of Range’s early ventures on the Mitchell Farm
across from Ron Gulla’s former farm near Hickory, where
this dust cloud filled the valley. By Bob Donnan