* For articles and updates or to just vent, visit us on facebook;
* To view past updates, reports, general information, permanent documents, and meeting information http://westmorelandmarcellus.blogspot.com/
* Email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
* To contact your state legislator:
For the email address, click on the envelope under the photo
* For information on PA state gas legislation and local control: http://pajustpowers.org/aboutthebills.html-
WMCG Thank You
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.
Thank you to Lou Pochet, our treasurer and Thomas Merton liason for representing our group at the Thomas Merton meeting in Pittsburgh.
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.
Tenaska Air Permit http://www.pabulletin.com/secure/data/vol44/44-51/44-51.pdf
The action to Tenaska and State Reps: http://tinyurl.com/stoptenaska
The hearing request to DEP: http://tinyurl.com/tenaskahearing
*** WMCG Group Meeting We now meet the second Wednesday of every month at 7:30 PM in Greensburg. Email Jan for directions. All are very welcome to attend.
***Ligonier Township Supervisors Meeting
Tues. Jan 13, 7:00 pm, Municipal Building, Oak Grove, 711 North
***County Commissioners’ Meeting- January 8, 2015 at 10:00 am, Westmoreland County Court House to express your concerns about the Tenaska Gas Plant.
***PA Rally Against Fracking- Tues. Jan 20th 10:00 Harrisburg
“To demonstrate resistance and to change the narrative, Pennsylvanians Against Fracking will be at the INAUGURATION in HARRISBURG on TUES. JAN 20th.
Cuomo banned Fracking mainly because he heard the voices of his constituents saying NO!
Elected officials in PA need to hear a MAJORITY of their constituents saying NO. And they need to buy into a new narrative--Clean energy and efficiency can drive this state's economic future.
In addition to the rally announced below, DIRECT ACTION to "engage" Wolf at the swearing in ceremony and/or the open house at the governor's mansion are in the works. If you want to get in on the direct action, contact email@example.com for updates and act now to get tickets for the swearing in ceremony using this link.
You can sign up for the rally at https://www.facebook.com/events/334545760062747/
Whether you join in the rally or engage in direct action, plan now to be in Harrisburg on Tues Jan 20th.
We will convene our rally at the Grace Street Methodist Church, across the street from the Capitol. From there, we will march over to the inauguration site, just outside the Capitol. With loud chants and vivid props, we will communicate directly to Governor Wolf why he needs to follow the example of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and stop fracking now!
We will be posting a timeline of events as soon as we know when the inauguration will start, but please plan to arrive at the church at 10 a.m.!
We want to help you get to Harrisburg! Check out the transportation options below:
Southwest PA: Email firstname.lastname@example.org to learn about carpools from Southwestern PA
Let us know if you want to coordinate a carpool from your community by emailing email@example.com.
Time: 10:00 AM - 2:00 PM
Address: 216 State St. Harrisburg, PA 17101”
December 25—Merry Christmas all!!
TAKE ACTION !!
Letters to the editor are important and one of the best ways to share information with the public.
***Tenaska---LIKE the page-- Stop Tenaska Westmoreland Project
***Why We Must Fight Gas-fired Power Plants-
(Tenaska Plans to Come to Westmoreland County--A Permanent Source of Pollution, Jan)
(SO PLEASE SIGN AND SHARE THE TENASKA PETITION AT THE TOP OF THE UPDATES, Jan)
“Obama administration’s “Clean Power Plan” moves us away from coal in order to mitigate climate change. The story won’t be told that this plan will do more harm than good, mainly by ignoring methane and enabling a huge move from coal to gas-fired power plants.
A leading researcher for a major fracking corporation recently confided in me that this move from coal to gas will spell disaster for climate change, confirming that if only about 3% of the gas escapes, it’s as bad as burning coal. Actual leakage rates are far higher (4-9% just at the fracking fields and more in pipelines and distribution systems), but it was most interesting to hear this person admit that the industry will never get below that level of leakage to become less harmful than coal.
We now know that methane is 86 to 105 times as potent as CO2 over a 20-year time-frame -- we’re in real trouble if we keep using the outdated “20 times over 100 years” figure EPA maintains, and permit this new generation of gas-burning to be built.
Why is it strategic to focus on the power plants? Read on…
1) Gas burned for electricity is the largest source of gas demand since 2007. From 1997 to 2013, it more than doubled and is poised to keep growing.
2) Stopping power plants is more winnable than fighting fracking, liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports, pipelines or compressor stations. Stopping fracking one community at a time isn't a winning strategy when the industry has thousands of communities targeted, and rural neighbors pit against neighboring landowners desperate for lease money. State and regional bans and moratoria have been effective so far, but LNG terminals, pipelines and compressor stations have federal preemption aspects that make them hard to fight through local or state government.
Fighting proposed LNG export terminals also has the "weak link" problem. Ten years ago, when we were fighting LNG import terminals, there were 40 proposals throughout the U.S., but the industry and government officials admitted they only needed six – two each on the east, west and gulf coasts. Now that they're planning export terminals, there are nearly 30 proposals, and the same dynamic is at play, where the industry has stated in their conferences that they only need two on each coast, after which they'll toss out the rest of their proposals and "let environmentalists take the credit." Cynical as that is, it's not a strategy we can defeat if we're trying to attack gas demand, since it's unlikely we can beat enough to prevent the planned export volumes -- especially due to federal preemption and the clustering of most proposals on the oil- and gas-dominated Gulf Coast, where it's far harder to stop them.
Each gas-fired power plant blocked is a certain amount of gas burning and fracking prevented, while we can stop over 20 LNG terminals without putting a dent in planned export volumes. While work against the LNG export terminals is commendable, it should not be prioritized over stopping the rush to build hundreds of gas-burning power plants.
3) Attacking proposals can only be done in a certain time window, or we're doomed to roughly 30 years of power plant operation and gas demand. Although coal power plants are dirtier to live near, all of the funding and resources being put into closing coal plants while ignoring (or endorsing) new gas power plants, is misguided. Existing power plants can be tackled at any time, but proposals have to be fought when they're proposed, or it's too late. Also, coal production has peaked in the U.S., prices are going up, and gas is undercutting coal. It's effectively illegal to build new coal power plants and the industry is already moving quickly to shut and replace coal. The question is: will we allow a switch from coal to gas, or force a change to conservation, efficiency, wind and solar?
So, if there are plans for gas-burning power plants in your area, whether it’s a new plant, an expansion or conversion of an existing plant, or reopening of a closed plant, please be in touch so we can plug you in with others who are fighting these. There is strength in numbers!”
***Tenaska Power Plant Issue Heating Up
“The gas fired 900-megawatt Tenaska power plant would be a permanent source of air pollution in Westmoreland County and of discharge into the Yough River. For example, 600,000 pounds of carbon monoxide, 800,000 pounds of nitrogen oxides, and 660,000 pounds of small particles will be released into our already polluted air each year. These pollutants are strongly linked to health problems.
Residents from the Smithton area, the Mt. Watershed Assoc., and WMCG are working to protect air and water and property values.
What you can do:
*LIKE the Facebook Page set up by Bill Catalina. -- Stop Tenaska Westmoreland Project
*Sign the Tenaska Petitions-See links at the top of Updates
* Attend the County Commissioners’ meeting January 8, 2015, at 10:00 am to express your concerns. Westmoreland County Court House, Greensburg.
***Update From Jan-- Ligonier Township
The Ligonier Township ad hoc zoning committee charged with working on the gas ordinance has been working for months to keep the frack zone in Ligonier Township limited to a small area.
A new zoning ordinance and map was presented to the planning commission by the Ligonier Township Manager on Dec. 16. There are several proposed frack zones in three corners of the township that are presently conservation districts. 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. And fracking brings with it pipelines, compressor stations, frack pits, and other gas operations.
In addition, the solicitor and manager want to change hearings from conditional use to special exception. Anyone who has attended conferences on zoning has heard Att. John Smith and others explain why conditional use is the preferred procedure. It means hearings for gas wells and other issues go before the supervisors –the people you vote for not the zoning board of which the members are appointed.
Supervisors and the township manager need to hear from us. 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.
The next meeting where we have the opportunity to speak will be the supervisors meeting Jan 13 at 7:00. Please help us spread the word by asking friends, neighbors, and family to attend these meetings.
*** Concerned Health Professionals of New York
CHPNY released a second edition of the Compendium of scientific, medical, and media findings of risks and harms of fracking.
At 103 pages and with 448 citations, the Compendium compiles and concisely summarizes the most important findings about fracking.. Although the second edition comes only 5 months after the first, it's about 30% longer now with more than 80 new entries.
***In Memory - Theo Colburn 1927-2014
“We mourn her loss and celebrate the science and compassion she brought to all. She has made the world a better informed place; we honor her by continuing to help her studies make a difference in the decisions we make.” Dr Cynthia Walter
“This is a great loss to all of us-to our health and our environment. Theo Colburn researched the health effects of hormone endocrine disruptors. She devoted herself to helping those affected by fracking even when her own health was impaired. We owe her a debt of gratitude.” Jan M.
“It is with a heavy heart that I bring you the news that yesterday, at the age of 87, Theo Colborn passed away. She was at home, surrounded by her family.
As with all great leaders, Theo's inspiration lives on - in her published works, in the scientists she mentored and the activists she inspired, in the people she helped in so many ways, and in the love of her friends and family.
Theo’s immense courage was both intimidating and inspiring. Against all odds, she succeeded in getting the world to pay attention to an invisible threat. Yet there is much work still to be done.
As TEDX’s Executive Director for the past 6 years I can assure you that we will continue with the same fierce commitment to ensuring that the science of endocrine disruption drives better laws to protect the health of all people.
Please visit our website for history, stories and photos of Theo.
In loving remembrance, Carol Kwiatkowski, PhD, Executive Director”
***Baumgardner Christmas Petition Ended Due to Success
“ ..word spread far and wide about the families living on Cardox Road, which is very close to the EQT fracking operations on Trax Farms --about 800 feet away, upwind.
At a recent meeting in Union Township, Gary Baumgardner asked if EQT could stop fracking for 1 day –Christmas Day– so that his beautiful young 9-month-old granddaughter could attend their traditional family dinner.
Since Gary and others on Cardox Road live so close and downwind from the fracking, their pediatrician recommended his little granddaughter stay away from his home for the family’s traditional event. Now that’s a shame.
****A petition was created and was successful regarding this request for a stay on Christmas Day.
***Cuomo Bans Fracking in New York
“Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s administration announced that it would ban fracking in New York State because of concerns over health risks, ending years of debate over a method of extracting natural gas.
Fracking was heavily promoted as a source of economic revival for depressed communities along New York’s border with Pennsylvania, and Mr. Cuomo had once been poised to embrace it.
Instead, the move to ban fracking left him acknowledging that, despite the intense focus he has given to solving deep-rooted economic woes afflicting large areas upstate, the riddle remained largely unsolved. “I’ve never had anyone say to me, ‘I believe fracking is great,’ ” he said. “Not a single person in those communities. What I get is, ‘I have no alternative but fracking.’ ”
In a presentation at the cabinet meeting, the acting state health commissioner, Dr. Howard A. Zucker, said the examination had found “significant public health risks” associated with fracking.
Holding up copies of scientific studies to animate his arguments, Dr. Zucker listed concerns about water contamination and air pollution, and said there was insufficient scientific evidence to affirm the safety of fracking.
Dr. Zucker said his review boiled down to a simple question: Would he want his family to live in a community where fracking was taking place? His answer was no.
“We cannot afford to make a mistake,” he said. “The potential risks are too great. In fact, they are not even fully known.”
***Families Flee out-of-control gas leak
1.5 mile radius evacuated
"About 25 families in eastern Ohio have been unable to live in their houses for the past three days because of a gas leak at a fracking well that crews cannot stop. Families were evacuated from about 25 houses within a 1.5-mile radius of the well.
The well is not on fire, but the gas could be explosive. “There’s still a steady stream of natural gas coming from the wellhead,” McCorkle said yesterday. The well had been temporarily plugged about a year ago while the company drilled and fracked three more wells on that site.
“Despite numerous precautionary measures taken in connection with the temporary plugging and abandonment operation, the well began to flow uncontrollably while recommencing production operations,” the company said. Workers tried to bolt the cap back into place but couldn’t, the statement said."
***Middlesex Violation-Home of the Battle Over Fracking Near Schools
Environmental Health & Safety
Violation Date 2014-12-15
Violation Code SWMA301 - Failure to properly store, transport, process or dispose of a residual waste.
***Doddridge, WVA Fracking Problems
“As fracking engulfed Doddridge County, West Virginia in 2010, problems began to surface: well blow outs, chemicals spills, horrendous truck traffic, water contamination and stinky air pollution.
Water buffaloes (drinking H2O replacement) are widespread in fracking fields of Doddridge County. They are needed when fracking contaminates drinking water wells. Homeowners sign non-disclosures and can’t report contamination.
West Virginia Host Farms was created in response to the fracking damage, and the volunteer group offers tours for journalists, scientists, the environmental community and government officials to get up close and personal to fracking. It’s tough to find the many wells by just driving around the beautiful country roads.
My guide, Lyndia, is a West Virginia Host Farms’ volunteer. We drove all over Doddridge County on a summer day in June 2014. We visited compressor stations, drilling sites and also counted the many water buffaloes supplying homeowners with drinking water (hint: contaminated water)
Since 2010, ten fracking wells have been drilled at the top of Lyndia’s country road. Her home is the first home off the highway, and so many trucks drive by her house that a flagger directs traffic in front of her house. Lyndia earns no income from fracking, as a fracking neighbor.
There are 17,422 smelly things in the air
The same time fracking and its trucks descended on Lyndia’s street, her neighbors leased their empty land to gas drillers for a large condensate tank. The tank sits 75 feet from Lyndia’s front yard, and its purpose is to collect and separate any liquids from the gases and then vent some into the air. Yes, you read that correctly. Condensate tanks are designed to vent unprocessed methane, hydrocarbons, carcinogenic volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and possible radioactive chemicals and all the other crap from miles below directly into the air. Lyndia soon started smelling odd smells, often at night, and suspected the tank.
This condensate tank, located on her neighbor’s property, sits 75 feet from Lyndia’s home. The tank collects up to 5,000 gallons of hydrocarbon liquids and vents toxins into the air, usually at night.
When Lyndia took her 12-year-old grandson to the pediatrician to get help for bronchitis, the doctor asked how long her grandson had suffered from asthma. He’d never had asthma. She mentioned that they lived close to fracking, and that she was aware that kids near fracking were complaining of asthma. Once she mentioned fracking, the doctor grew quiet and said he was probably mistaken about the asthma.
Her grandson’s school bus stop sits 40 feet from the condensate tank.
Longer-term consequences are beginning to surface. New and alarming research reveals that women living near heavily fracked areas have higher rates of miscarriages and infertility and there is an increase in babies born with birth defects. Many of the compounds found in fugitive emissions are cancer-causing (bolded), and here’s a short list of what Lyndia is breathing: methane, ethane, barium, arsenic, aldehydes, the BTEX volatile organic compounds benzene, ethylbenzene, toluene and zylene, radium and radioactive products, formaldehydes, carbon monoxide, glycols and silica dust. There are more chemicals, too, but I think you get the point.
To make a very long story short, in three years Lyndia has been in constant contact with W.V. DEP. Nothing has been fixed. The condensate tank continuously spews harmful toxins and the old gas well leaks 24/7.
She did get the fancy $500 air filter, and thank heavens, because just this month the condensate tank blew out when a part froze. Toxic liquids blew out of the tank and covered a 60 by 100 square foot area. The gas company responsible for the tank had crews and backhoes digging out the soil. Everyone was so worried about explosions that fire trucks stayed away. Lyndia turned her home’s power off and would not start her car until the gas dispersed.
When I asked Lyndia what she wanted people to know, she said, “Everyday people are totally left on their own. No one has helped…”
***Tom Wolf Denounces New York Frack Ban
“New York State health officials say there isn’t enough evidence to show whether or not gas development has an impact on public health. Acting Health Commissioner Howard Zucker wrote in a report released Wednesday that “absolute scientific certainty” is “unlikely to ever be attained,” which is why his department said it could not recommend allowing natural gas development in the Empire State.
At a press conference in Northeast Pennsylvania, which is home to some of the most lucrative gas wells in the state, Wolf called New York’s decision “unfortunate.” He says he believes fracking can be done safely.” http://stateimpact.npr.org/pennsylvania/2014/12/18/wolf-new-yorks-fracking-ban-is-unfortunate/
***Trout Unlimited Promotes Protection of Resources
“ In a 2014 promotion, Trout Unlimited spotlighted "10 Special Places" in America's Northeast. The list includes four areas within an easy drive of Pittsburgh including the Laurel Highlands.
When the weather's right during the holidays, lots of outdoors lovers hop in the car for a scenic day trip. The special places near Pittsburgh are easily accessible. But they are also vulnerable to industrial excess according to Trout Unlimited's special places list.
"This report ... looks at places where expanding natural gas drilling operations in the East could pose risks to fishing and hunting opportunities, and offers recommendations on what sportsmen and women can do to promote responsible energy development and ensure the protection of these areas," according to the TU website.
On its website, TU stressed that it is not opposed to the extraction of oil or natural gas, but recommends smart and prudent use of resources.
"Trout Unlimited promotes responsible energy development, most often by working collaboratively with government officials, industry, other conservation and sportsmen's organizations and the public to ensure that all reasonable efforts are made to avoid or mitigate the impacts energy development may have on coldwater fisheries and their watersheds," reads the web page. "Current federal, state and local policies governing shale gas drilling and hydraulic fracturing often do not adequately protect the region's natural resources. And even with adequate provisions in place, some areas are so extraordinary -- either ecologically, culturally or both -- that gas drilling should be limited or prohibited altogether."
***Report: Five Major Health Threats from Fracking Air Pollution
Most Comprehensive Analysis of Science To-Date Identifies Potential Health Risks and Communities Most Impacted
Fracking Fumes: Air Pollution from Hydraulic Fracturing Threatens Public Health and Communities provides the most comprehensive analysis of available science to-date on toxic air pollution from oil and gas development.
The health impacts include respiratory problems, birth defects, blood disorders, cancer and nervous system impacts, raising serious concerns for workers and people living closest to wells, as well as entire regions with high volumes of oil and gas activity.
Respiratory Problems: Impacts can include asthma attacks, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing and lung disease. Levels of pollutants high enough to cause respiratory problems, particularly for vulnerable populations such as children, have been found both close to fracking sites and in regions with intense oil and gas activity. Workers have been found to be at risk of permanent lung damage caused by exposure to silica fracking sand.
Nervous System Impacts: Exposure to these pollutants, such as VOCs and hydrogen sulfide, can cause neurological problems ranging from dizziness and headaches to seizures and loss of consciousness. Multiple studies have measured benzene levels close to fracking sites that are higher than the thresholds set to protect people from these impacts.
Birth Defects & Harm to the Developing Fetus: A number of VOCs and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) have been found to interfere with fetal and child development resulting in harm to the developing heart, brain and nervous system. Because even short-term exposures to these pollutants at critical moments of development can result in long-lasting harm, health experts have identified this as a threat for communities living in close proximity to fracking sites.
Blood Disorders: The levels of benzene measured in multiple studies were high enough to raise concerns about permanent damage to blood-forming organs, resulting in harm to bone marrow and anemia, if there were repeated or chronic exposures.
Cancer: Cancer-causing pollutants like benzene, formaldehyde, diesel particulates and PAHs, have also been found in the air near fracking sites. Repeated or chronic exposures to these pollutants can cause an increased risk of cancer.
Studies have also found pollutants linked to other health impacts near fracking operations, including heart problems and harm to the liver, kidney, endocrine, immune, reproductive, gastrointestinal and auditory systems. More research is needed to better understand the level of risk for these impacts to workers, neighboring families and communities.
Unfortunately, air pollution impacts have gone largely ignored by federal and state agencies to date. The EPA, as well as state governments, must address air pollution from oil and gas development in order to protect the health of neighboring residents.
With approximately one in four Americans now living within a mile of an oil or gas well, and fracking spreading the industry’s reach even further across the country, this report underscores the need for immediate action to protect public health.
Full report: http://bit.ly/1zhkma5
***Research Report: Over 90% of Research Shows Health and Air Threats From Fracking
“Physicians Scientists & Engineers for Healthy Energy released a statistical evaluation of the approximately 400 peer-reviewed studies Key highlights: 96% of all papers on health indicate risks/adverse health outcomes; 95% of all original research studies on air quality indicate elevated concentrations of air pollutants; 72% of original research studies on water quality indicate contamination or risk thereof.
The PSE analysis also illustrates the recent explosion in the number of peer-reviewed publications: approximately 73% of all available peer-reviewed papers have been published in the past 24 months. The rate of publication is now approaching about one paper a day.”
***Report: Unsafe & Unsustainable-Performance Standards Challenged
Experts Review the Center for Sustainable Shale Development’s Performance Standards for Shale Gas Development
By Delaware Riverkeepers
A new report, released by the Delaware Riverkeeper Network, challenges performance standards for shale gas drilling and fracking that were issued by the Center for Sustainable Shale Development (CSSD), raising serious concerns about the harms associated with extracting gas from shale. Analyses undertaken by six experts who reviewed the CSSD standards and found them wanting are included in the 78 page report.
The report also provides a discussion of the better energy path that is available for fueling our region and country, drawing upon the writings of Dr. Mark Jacobson.
The report can be found online at: http://www.bit.ly/DRN-CSSDExpertReviewsInterviews with the report’s experts have also been prepared and can be found online at:
***Murrysville Admin. Updated On Pipeline
“Dominion will host a Jan. 27 open house at the Franklin Regional Middle School gym for residents interested in learning more about their project. The school is at 4660 Old William Penn Highway. Information related to both projects is posted at Murrysville.com, sunocologistics.com and dom.com/supplyheader.
Murrysville chief administrator Jim Morrison says he's satisfied with how Sunoco’s plans to install a transmission pipeline in the area is progressing.
“I think they've done a very good job identifying what their goal and timeline will be,” he said about last month's update on the company's Mariner East project, which will provide 30-inch pipeline infrastructure for propane, ethane and other petroleum products.
“The goal is to get propane to (their) Delmont site,” Morrison said.
The project is expected to affect about 60 properties in Murrysville, Delmont and Export. Morrison said Sunoco officials have begun contacting property owners.
The project's first phase, which is scheduled to finish in mid-2015, will connect 50 new miles of new pipe with existing lines to move material to the Marcus Hook facility in eastern Pennsylvania.
Part of that work includes pipe that will be installed in the electric-line right of way along Route 66, which will connect with existing pipeline in Delmont.
The second phase would be construction of a new pipeline to send natural-gas liquids to the Marcus Hook facility, according to Sunoco Logistics. That phase — which is scheduled to wrap up in mid-2016 — will raise the pipeline's capacity to 275,000 barrels of natural-gas liquids per day.”
***Joni Rabinowitz and John Detwiler: Don't expand fracking in county parks
“For the first time under the Home Rule Charter, a citizen-sponsored ordinance is on Allegheny County Council’s agenda. It is especially fitting that the subject of this milestone legislation is our county parks. In the words of the Pennsylvania Constitution: “Public natural resources are the common property of all people, including generations yet to come,” and county government shares an explicit legal duty to maintain its parks “… for the benefit of all the people.”
Last May, county council authorized the leasing of land under Deer Lakes Park to Range Resources Corp. for the extraction of natural gas by the disruptive industrial process of “fracking.” Natural-gas drilling has been aggressively promoted by County Executive Rich Fitzgerald, who solicited and received election help as a friend of the gas industry, notably from companies that will profit from the Deer Lakes Park deal.
Concerned about the Deer Lakes Park decision, 45 volunteers from Protect Our Parks gathered signatures from more than 1,800 voters across two-thirds of the county’s municipalities advocating a “wait-and-see” policy toward any additional natural gas deals at the county’s eight other parks. Our proposed ordinance that would enact such a policy was introduced at council’s Dec. 2 meeting.
This ordinance is based on prudence and common sense. It calls for a full public evaluation of the economic and environmental impacts of the first park leasing deal before any consideration of fracking at other parks. The evaluation would be based on the initial two years of gas production at Deer Lakes Park.
The kinds of risks that come with fracking are well-established: ill health (especially for children), air and water pollution, disruption of wildlife, economic dislocation (falling property values, “crowding out” of other businesses, damaged infrastructure, population loss) and the possibility of catastrophic accidents. There is no safe estimate of the magnitude of those risks, because no one can predict when they will arise or how to avoid them.
Once drilling begins, the county cannot terminate the Deer Lakes lease, no matter what environmental damage may be done, no matter whether the hoped-for royalties are received, no matter what health impacts are seen. The lease gives Range Resources the right to drill into every geological stratum. It goes on forever…”
Read more www.protectparks.org).
Joni Rabinowitz and John Detwiler are members of Protect Our Parks, a coalition of grassroots environmental groups and individuals
“Sunoco Logistics confirmed only plans for a second pipeline, which may carry three times as much material as the first along the same path, which locally goes from Delmont in Westmoreland County to Houston in Washington County. But township officials said they have heard a third pipeline may be built.”
As repairs begin this week on a Forward Township road damaged by the Sunoco Logistics Mariner East 1 gas transmission pipeline, plans continue for a larger — Mariner East 2 — pipeline to run parallel to that first one.
Amid all that, a Sunoco Logistics spokesman disputed speculation that a third pipeline may be built along that same route.
“I'm not sure where the information about the third line is coming from,” Jeffrey P. Shields said in an email. “It may be because, in negotiating easements on our Mariner East 2 project, in most cases we are seeking additional line rights.”
Questions about a third line have been raised at opposite ends of the state, in Forward and a Philadelphia suburb where an activist concerned about pipeline activity asked about it.
“Every official knew about it,” Tom Casey of the Chester County Community Coalition said after going to a West Goshen supervisors meeting last week.
“Sunoco Logistics currently has only its Mariner East 1 and Mariner East 2 projects under way to transport propane, ethane and butane along this corridor,” Shields said.
The corridor begins in Tri-State gas fields south and west of Pittsburgh. Mariner East 1, which is near completion, runs from Houston in Washington County through Forward to Delmont in Westmoreland County, then on to the Sunoco Logistics complex at Marcus Hook near Philadelphia.
It has a capacity of 70,000 barrels per day, the company said Nov. 6. Sunoco Logistics expects Mariner East 2 to provide an initial capacity of 275,000 barrels per day of propane, butane and ethane.
Mariner East 2 will begin at terminals in Eastern Ohio and West Virginia's northern panhandle, and then run parallel to Mariner East 1 from Houston to Forward to Delmont and then on to Marcus Hook.
“Any additional projects would have to go through the open season process to determine whether shippers have interest in another pipeline,” Shields continued. “We are focused on completing Mariner East 1 and moving forward on Mariner East 2, projects that involve a combined $3 million to build in Pennsylvania alone.”
Shields said seeking additional line rights does not mean a Mariner East 3 is being planned.
The pipeline issue has raised concerns from residents and township officials at Forward meetings. A letter from Sunoco Logistics warning of possible hazards was made public after Monday's board of supervisors meeting.
“If you believe a pipeline leak is occurring,” Docherty wrote, “turn off any equipment and eliminate any ignition sources without risking injury. Leave the area by foot and direct others to leave the area. Do not drive or walk into a vapor cloud. Stay upwind. (And) from a safe location call 911/local responders and call our pipeline control center at 1-800-786-7440.”
Read more: http://triblive.com/neighborhoods/yourmckeesport/yourmckeesportmore/7365761-74/east-mariner-pipeline#ixzz3MdcA4Bnr
***DEP Orders XTO -- Stop earth moving in Butler County
“The DEP has ordered XTO Energy Inc. to cease and desist its earth moving work that was never approved at a drilling site in Butler County. The project, Cratty Unit Project, is located in Franklin Township.
“XTO’s failure to obtain proper authorization before commencing earth disturbance activities at the truck area portion of the Cratty Unit Project violated state regulation and created a danger of pollution to the waters of the Commonwealth,” said Scott Perry, DEP’s deputy secretary for the office of oil and gas management.
XTO twice requested this year to begin the project, which would include drilling unconventional gas wells and constructing related facilities. It defined the scope of the project to include activities at the well site.
“XTO did not indicate within either application or any of the project’s other associated documents that it planned to conduct earth disturbance activities” to create a truck access area, the department said in a press release Wednesday afternoon.
Recently, XTO informed the department that the construction of a truck area was necessary in order for large trucks to access the well site.
However, “DEP inspectors determined that the company had already begun earth disturbance activity at the truck area without a permit or other authorization from the department,” according to the state agency.
The official order requires XTO to immediately stop all earth disturbance activities associated with the project and additional truck area, except those activities necessary to stabilize the area, until the company has obtained all required permits and authorizations, the DEP said.
Within five days, XTO must seed, mulch and take any other actions to protect the well site from accelerated erosion and sedimentation, the state agency said.
A spokeswoman for ExxonMobil said the company is in the process of securing and shutting down operations at the well site and is working cooperatively with regulatory officials on the matter.”
“Julie Vastine is Director of the Alliance for Aquatic Resource Monitoring based out of Dickinson College. ALLARM started in 1986 enlisting the help of average citizens to monitor streams for the impacts of acid rain. Since the early 2000s, the program has encouraged citizen science to help communities answer their own questions about the health of their local watersheds.
About 85 % of ALLARM’s volunteers are working in places where gas drilling has not yet started and are collecting baseline data for the future.
About a week and a half ago, Chuck Winschuh noticed his air quality monitor had spiked to levels he’d never seen before. A message showed up on the screen: “danger, unhealthy air.”
A short while later, he noticed a strange odor in the air. He wondered if it could be coming from a large compressor station on the other side of the valley below his home, visible from his front porch.
So the Winschuh’s called the state DEP who sent an inspector later that afternoon, along with an energy company representative. However, Chuck Winschuh says they seemed less interested in the air monitor’s reading.
“They weren’t as interested in what I was breathing that day,” he says. “They were interested in where’d you get this machine and why are you air monitoring? They kind of indicated, ‘That’s our job.’”
***New Battlefront for Petrochemical Industry: Benzene and Childhood Leukemia
“Internal memorandums, emails, letters and meeting minutes obtained by the Center for Public Integrity suggest that BP and four other major petrochemical companies, coordinated by their trade association, the American Petroleum Institute, spent at least $36 million on research “designed to protect member company interests,” as one 2000 API summary put it. Many of the documents chronicle a systematic attempt by the petrochemical industry to influence the science linking benzene to cancer. Others attest to the industry’s longstanding interest in topics such as childhood leukemia.
It was December 29, 1998, six years after Jill McElheney and her family had moved next to a cluster of 12 petroleum storage tanks. Jill was escorting her son Jarrett, then 4, to the doctor again. He had spent the day slumped in a stroller, looking so pale and fatigued that a stranger stopped her to ask if he was all right.
It was an encounter Jill couldn’t shake. For the previous three months, she had noticed her once-energetic preschooler deteriorating. He complained of pain in his knee, which grew excruciating. It migrated to his shoulder and then his leg. His shins swelled, as did his temples. At night, Jarrett awoke drenched in sweat, screaming from spasms. Jill took him to a pediatrician and an infectious-disease specialist. A rheumatologist diagnosed him with anemia.
Now, as Jarrett lay listless, Jill found herself back at the pediatrician’s office. Tests confirmed a blood count so low that she was instructed to get him to an emergency room immediately. Within hours she was at a hospital in Atlanta, some 65 miles from her home in Athens, watching nurses rush in and out of Jarrett’s room. Doctors identified a common form of childhood leukemia. “I heard the words,” Jill recalled, “and I only knew the bald heads and the sadness.”
In the waiting room, family members heard more unsettling news: A neighbor’s child also had developed leukemia.
Days later, Jarrett’s doctor penned a letter to federal environmental regulators about the two cancer patients, highlighting their “close proximity” to Southeast Terminals, a group of 10,000-gallon tanks containing gasoline, diesel and fuel oil.
“Could you please investigate,” the doctor wrote, “whether high levels of chemicals could have contaminated the water, possibly contributing … to the development of leukemia?”
Only then did the McElheneys consider the possibility that living beside one of the nation’s 1,500 bulk-oil terminals — known sources of cancer-causing benzene — had triggered their son’s leukemia.
“It was one of those light-bulb moments for us,” said Jeff McElheney, Jarrett’s father. “You never get over it.”
The case may signal an emerging quandary for the petrochemical industry, according to tens of thousands of pages of previously secret documents that have come to light in lawsuits filed against benzene manufacturers and suppliers on behalf of those who suffered from leukemia and other blood diseases, including Jarrett McElheney.”
****Zoning Challenges Over Fracking
So far, it has been residents challenging municipalities over drilling laws they see as too favorable to gas interests.
• In Westmoreland County, residents are challenging Allegheny Township’s Zoning Hearing Board over a law it passed that allows drilling in all districts, including residential neighborhoods.
• In Washington County’s Robinson Township (the township that led the court battle that overturned parts of Act 13), residents are fighting changes that make it easier to drill in residential and agricultural areas.
• In Lawrence County, a Pulaski Township couple is challenging an ordinance supervisors passed that allowed drilling near their home.
• In Butler County’s Middlesex Township, parents and environmental groups are challenging the town’s zoning board over a rule that allows a well pad close to a school.
Jordan Yeager, an attorney representing Middlesex parents and groups, said it’s common for drillers to threaten city officials with lawsuits if they pass restrictive zoning laws.
“Municipalities have often approached zoning decisions out of fear of litigation by developers,” he said.
Seneca owns about 71 percent of the oil and gas rights in St. Marys, PA and about 56 percent in Elk County. It has recently focused its drilling efforts on Elk, McKean and Cameron counties in the area.
“Pennsylvania law allows for Seneca to access its mineral properties and we will vigorously defend our rights,” said Rob Boulware, a spokesman for Seneca.
Paul Fleming, and family live in St. Marys near a Seneca gas well in the city’s Rural Conservation District, which includes state gamelands, hunting camps and some homes.
He said the noise and the vibrations from the site keep them awake at night.
“It sounds like an airport that’s running a circular saw,” said Fleming, who added that sometimes 50 to 60 trucks a day go up and down his road.
He used to have “absolute quiet” except for birds and crickets, he said. That all went away last spring when Seneca started building its pad, he said.
Fleming shows up at city council meetings urging local officials to pass a zoning ordinance with setbacks for well pads 5,000 feet from homes.
“They’ve been bothering me, and I’m over 3,000 feet away,” he said.
“We are a lot better off working with them to get the best situation that we can get for our citizens and from the economic standpoint as well,” said Mayor Robert Howard. But I have to protect the citizens of this city and its watershed. ” The mayor “My God, if I can’t do that, then I’d be a lousy mayor.”
In talks with officials, Seneca has focused on the money it says Marcellus Shale drilling has brought.” In the last 18 months, we’ve spent almost $25 million in Elk County on goods and services,” Boulware said in a statement emailed to PublicSource. “We’ve spent about $7 million in St. Marys.”
St. Marys drafted changes to the city’s ordinance, but it is likely to change and final passage isn’t expected until early 2015, said Radkowski, the city council member. The changes currently include a 1,000-foot setback from any dwelling, and a “conditional use” section that would require council to approve any new well pads in the city’s rural conservation district.
The city’s planning commission recommended the setback be increased to 2,000 feet.
It’s impossible right now to know what St. Marys ordinance will ultimately look like.
***Drilling Contractors Pay $4.5M in Back Pay To Workers
“Gas drilling contractors agreed to pay nearly $4.5 million in back pay to 5,310 workers in Pennsylvania and West Virginia after an investigation that found violations of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act, federal officials said.
A majority of the violations involved improper payment of overtime. Some salaried employees did not receive an overtime premium because they were misclassified as exempt from the law’s overtime provisions, the U.S. Department of Labor said Tuesday in a news release.
In other cases, production bonuses were not factored in to determine employees’ overtime pay rate, as required by the law.”
***Is Natural Gas a “Bridge” to A Hotter Future
“Carnegie Institute gas power plants produce substantial amounts of gases that lead to global warming. Replacing old coal-fired power plants with new natural gas plants could cause climate damage to increase over the next decades, unless their methane leakage rates are very low and the new power plants are very efficient.
These are the principal findings of new research from Carnegie’s Ken Caldeira and Xiaochun Zhang, and Nathan Myhrvold of Intellectual Ventures that compares the temperature increases caused by different kinds of coal and natural gas power plants. Their work is published in Environmental Research Letters.
There is an ongoing debate.--Does it makes sense to replace old coal-fired power plants with new natural gas power plants today, as a bridge to a longer-term transition toward near zero-emission energy generation technologies such as solar, wind, or nuclear power
“If there is substantial natural gas leakage, then building new natural gas plants would lead to more near term climate damage than using the old dirty coal plants,” explained Caldeira. “But natural gas plants would help reduce other types of air pollution that damage our health, and would be somewhat better for climate in the long term.”
If faced with the choice of shutting down either a typical coal plant or a typical gas plant and methane leakage from the natural gas plant is below about 2 percent of total fuel, there would be a short-term climate benefit to shutting down the coal plant instead of the natural gas plant, the team found. But if methane leakage would be greater than 2 percent, there would be less warming in the near term if the natural gas plant were shut down instead of the coal plant.”
Source: Carnegie Institute http://www.rdmag.com/news/2014/12/natural-gas-“bridge”-hotter-future?fb_action_ids=10203405273268758&fb_action_types=og.likes&fb_ref=.VIdInxA4kms.like
***Stupidity of Pink Fracking Fully Exposed on The Daily Show Even Susan G. Komen’s own website shares the chemicals from fracking that are linked to breast cancer, but it didn’t stop them from partnering with oil and gas giant Baker Hughes, which donated $100,000 to Komen in October for the “Doing Our Bit for the Cure” campaign where 1,000 fracking drill bits were painted pink.
The viral post on EcoWatch, written by breast cancer survivor and fracking activist Sandra Steingraber, exposed the hypocrisy of this campaign. Now, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart takes this outrageous partnership to new heights.
Watch this hilarious segment where The Daily Show‘s Samantha Bee meets Karuna Jaggar, executive director of Breast Cancer Action, to fully uncover the stupidity of pink fracking.
***New Frack Infrastructure Map—
The Clean Air Council’s new gas infrastructure map will make it easy to see compressor stations, dehydration stations, gas processing plants, natural gas liquid pumping stations, power plants, and pipelines in the state, You can also report pollution issues from nearby facilities directly to regulatory agencies—including the DEP and the U.S. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. The map is now available online at: http://tinyurl.com/gasmapPA
Sincerely, Joseph Otis Minott, Director Photo by Bob Donnan
***Video--Registered Nurse Rebecca William –Sick in Azle,Texas
Registered nurse Rebecca Williams talks about the health issues she has witnessed in those living alongside gas wells and compressor stations in Azle, Texas- the sudden appearance of Nosebleed, headaches, rashes, respiratory infections when fracking starts.
***NPR Interview-From Artist Anne Neeley
A local resident, Jenny Gorley, is in the NPR story. The interview is based on Anne Neeley’s Boston Science Museum art show on water and was just aired on NPR's “Here and Now.” Anne noted that they did a powerful job of telling the story especially in PA.
***How Much Land Does Fracking Encompass
This article includes several good visuals.
***Fracking's Wide Health Impact: From the Ozone to Ground Water and All Those Living in Between, a Science Update
Speaker presentation slides:
Dr. Brown: UNGD and Health: What Needs to be Looked at Next? - Download the PDF
Dr. Helmig: Air Quality Impacts of Oil and Gas Development - Download the PDF
Dr. Bamberger: Health Impacts of Unconventional Fossil Fuel Extraction - Download the PDF
***Video: 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.
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 that Rex acoustic assessment is incorrect.
***John Smith Presents in Peters Township
Many of us attended this meeting, but for those who did not, it is a good discussion of questions surrounding the zoning of frack areas.
***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 presents photo shots of Texas, Arkansas- You only need to watch the first few minutes then jump to other sections of the video to get the gist. But everyone should watch at least part of this.
***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/