Monday, January 12, 2015

Westmoreland Marcellus Citizens’ Group Updates Jan. 1 & 8, 2015


                       To join the ligonier citizens group please email
 *  For articles and updates or to just vent, visit us on facebook;
*  To view past updates, reports, general information, permanent documents, and                meeting information
*  Email address:
*  To contact your state legislator:
                For the email address, click on the envelope under the photo
*  For information on PA state gas legislation and local control:      

WMCG     Thank You

               Contributors To Our Updates
 Thank you to contributors to our Updates: Debbie Borowiec, Lou Pochet, Ron Gulla, the Pollocks, Marian Szmyd, Bob Donnan,, 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.

The action to Tenaska and State Reps:
The hearing request to DEP:

*** WMCG Group Meeting We usually 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

***Ligonier Township Planning Commission Thurs. Jan 22 7:00 pm Municipal Building, Oak Grove

***PA Rally Against Fracking- Tues.  Jan  20th 10:00 am 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 for updates and act now to get tickets for the swearing in ceremony using this link.
 You can sign up for the rally at
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 have a bus to Harrisburg on Jan 20th leaving Edgewood Town Center at 6 am. We need as many people as possible to make this trip if we are going to convince Wolf that if it's not healthy for NY it's not good here.
                    Check out other transportation options below:
Southwest PA: Email to learn about carpools from Southwestern PA
Let us know if you want to coordinate a carpool from your community by emailing
Time: 10:00 AM - 2:00 PM
Address:  216 State St.  Harrisburg, PA 17101”



Frack News
***Permits/Violations in Derry- Donegal- Bell Twp
*PA Gas Drilling Permit Issued in Derry Twp Township
Gas permit issued on 2014-12-23 00:00:00 to WPX ENERGY APPALACHIA LLC for site FRYE SOUTH 1-8H in Derry Twp township, Westmoreland county

*PA Permit Violation Issued to Wpx Energy Appalachia Llc in Donegal Twp, Westmoreland County
Environmental Health & Safety violation issued on 2014-12-05 to Wpx Energy Appalachia Llc in Donegal Twp, Westmoreland county. OGA 3218(A) - Failure to restore or replace a public or private water supply affected by a well operator.

*Bell/ Washington twp drilling starting near reservoir

***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

 Great Turn out at the County Commissioners Meeting to oppose the
Tenaska Plant.
Excellent, scientific data presented. Good job all! 

Tenaska Battle Brews
                              “For more than five years, Tenaska, a Nebraska-based energy company, has been toying with the idea of building a large natural gas power plant in South Huntingdon, Westmoreland County. In 2009, it said construction could begin within the next five years. In 2011, it suggested shovels in the ground by 2012. And so it went.
               Now, with several major environmental permits pending and a county approval process completed, the company has a new starting date for construction: the summer of 2015.
               But for residents surrounding the 400-acre parcel in Smithton where the 950-megawatt plant would sit, this time the projections seem urgent and alarming.
“It’s almost in our backyard. It is much, much too close,” Diane Bendix said. “We have a creek go through our yard. There’s a lot of wildlife here. God forbid if there’s an accident there.”
               Diane and Harvey Bendix bought their home in Smithton 18 years ago and have enjoyed the quiet, rural life there, Harvey Bendix said. He expects all of that will come to an end if the plant is built.
               “I’m not opposed to progress in energy development. But for this to go into a community that is not designed for industrial, it’s ridiculous,” he said. “The homes were there first. Why should our homes, our lives, our livelihood be destroyed by this plant?”
               “I can’t tell you how afraid we are of this thing,” Mrs. Bendix said.
               The couple and at least a handful of other residents and environmental groups were preparing to voice their concerns at today’s Westmoreland County commissioners’ meeting. Bill Catalina, whose property is closest to the proposed plant, said he believes the voters will speak if the plant goes through.
               “We don’t mind energy, and we don’t mind it in our area. But we mind it in our face,” Mr. Catalina said.
               He is concerned about water pollution from more than 1 million gallons of daily discharges that the plant would contribute to the Youghiogheny River each day, according to a Department of Environmental Protection permit application.
               But each person who opposes the project has a unique reason, he said. Some, like parents of students at the elementary and middle schools about a mile from the site, might worry about air pollution. Others, like a neighbor with horses, worries about the noise.
               Joseph Kalinowski, who has sued Tenaska, has lived in his house for 40 years and spent the past 20 turning most of his 120-acre parcel into a forest. Now, he says, the company will be using that forest as a buffer between the proposed plant and his home, less than half a mile away.
               South Huntingdon, like many rural municipalities in Pennsylvania, has no zoning ordinances and no other regulations governing what kinds of facilities can be built where within its borders.
               That ties the hands of local officials, said Ted Kopas, a Westmoreland County commissioner.
“County government has no authority over the project to stop it even if we wanted to,” Mr. Kopas said.
               All he can do is work to get concerned residents relevant information about the plant’s progress, he said.
               “Tenaska made the decision to build there,” he said. “It’s fair to say no one at the county government dissuaded the company from doing so. It’s an important project for our area.”
               In 2010, Tenaska submitted an application to the county under its subdivision and land-use ordinance, which is agnostic on the use of the property but ensures that any development complies with certain parameters such as setbacks and access to the site.
               The land review was completed in 2013, according to Mr. Rigone.
               “We spent an enormous amount of time making sure it was done correctly,” he said. “That’s the micro — that’s how it impacts the residents around it.”
               From a macro standpoint, he said, there’s not much the county can do to balance the economic development it wants with the larger considerations about the net pollution impacts on the region.
               Tenaska has said the plant would create about 300 construction jobs and about 25 permanent jobs once built.
               Despite the urgency felt by some of the residents opposing the facility, it’s still not clear that Tenaska is pulling the trigger on the plant. A similar project in Lebanon County has been stalled for the same period of time.
               While Monte Ten Kley, manager of project coordination at Tenaska, said 2018 is the tentative date for operation, he added that “market conditions will ultimately determine the timeline.”
               Electricity demand has been down since the recession and has not demonstrated cause for significant optimism in the near future. That has surely made securing a power purchase agreement for the plant difficult, but Mr. Ten Kley indicated this week that construction could move forward without such an agreement.”

Concerns Aired To County Commissioners
***17 speakers ticked off reasons why Westmoreland County commissioners should oppose a Tenaska plan to construct a $500 million natural gas-fueled power plant in South Huntingdon.
               Passionately arguing their case Thursday, opponents said they're concerned about the plant's impact on the environment and the overall quality of life in the sedate, rural area just south of Interstate 70 and Route 31.
               But in the end, the commissioners did not tell the speakers what they came to hear.
Instead, they said the matter is out of their hands.
               It's state officials who have the final word about whether Tenaska Pennsylvania Partners LLC can build the mammoth 930-megawatt facility on 50 acres of a 134-acre parcel, a project that has been in the planning stages since 2009.
               “What would happen if a (natural gas) explosion would occur at Tenaska? All the dwellings south of the property would be affected,” said Joseph Kalinowski, whose 120 acres abut the site.
               An explosion could impact nearby Yough Intermediate Middle School and Mendon Elementary School, both less than a mile from the site, said Kalinowski, who last year lost a lawsuit challenging the county's approval of the land's use for the power plant.
               Tenaska Pennsylvania Partners, an affiliate of Tenaska Inc. of Omaha, intends to start building the plant this summer, with completion in three years, if its plans are approved by the state Department of Environmental Protection.
               That start date has been a moving target for several years, shifting from 2011 to 2013 and now to this year, delays officials have said are tied to securing long-term commitments to purchase the power produced at the facility. A similar program in Lebanon County also has been delayed.
               Tenaska officials said Thursday that they hope to address residents' concerns at a public forum set for 6 to 8 p.m. Jan. 21 in the Turkeytown Fire Hall. Representatives from the state and Tenaska are scheduled to make presentations.
               Cynthia Walter of Hempfield, a St. Vincent College associate professor of biology, told commissioners that the plant would add 8.4 million pounds of pollutants annually to the atmosphere.
               “The DEP regulations are inadequate and out of date. You need qualified air and water studies,” said Walter, who was not speaking on behalf of the college.
               Nick Kennedy, an attorney and community advocate for the Mountain Watershed Alliance, told commissioners that they should hire an expert to conduct an independent review that would be a “reasonable analysis” of Tenaska's plans for the plant.
“The DEP is not infallible. It is within your power to ask for an independent review of this plant, so they (residents) can fully understand the effects and benefits ... and allow for an open discussion,” said Kennedy, whose Melcroft-based environmental group seeks to protect the region's waterways.
               Commissioner Charles Anderson said the county has done its due diligence and said he would review the plans, but he did not commit to hiring an expert to conduct the county's own analysis of the permits.
Read more:

***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. The map is subject to change. 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. The next meeting where we have the opportunity to speak will be the supervisors meeting Jan 13 at 7:00 and Planning Commission Jan. 22 at 7:00. Please help us spread the word. A flyer is attached. Please share.

***Comments of Alyson Holt On Murrysville Zoning           Ordinance
Below are the public comments I intend to make on Monday:
               “Good evening. The input I'd like to give tonight concerns the section beginning on page 12 entitled "Energy Resources". I think the wording of this section is vague and does not strongly enough state the Municipality's constitutional responsibilities as trustee and fiduciary to protect both its residents and its environmental resources. As Attorney John Smith wrote in 2014, "Governments do not have an obligation to provide areas for all conceivable uses of land, due to topography and space issues. However, to the extent that uses may be accommodated in districts with similar uses, whether industrial, commercial, or residential, it is advised that no such use be prohibited." That wording is very different from the phrase "provide for the reasonable development of this energy resource" (meaning Marcellus Shale natural gas) which I quoted from the "Energy Resources" section of the Comprehensive Plan.
                In the future, drilling companies may also quote from this section when applying for well pad permits or appealing denials. This Comprehensive Plan document should clearly communicate to all interested parties, including drilling companies and residents, that the government of the Municipality both keeps abreast of and endeavors to fully understand the ramifications of the most current zoning and land-use case law. Murrysville will never be an easy, uneducated target for exploitation by this industry. In addition, the document should state without apology that Murrysville government's first constitutional priority with regards to oil and gas extraction will be to protect the health, safety, and welfare of its residents and to protect its natural resources. To that end, I offer the following wording changes below:

               Rewording of "Energy Resources" section beginning on page 12:
...The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has recently ruled that Pennsylvania municipalities have the right and responsibility under the provisions of the Pennsylvania Municipalities Code (MPC) and the Pennsylvania Constitution to use its Comprehensive Plan and its zoning powers to regulate the location of oil and gas drilling well sites, in particular the industrial process of high-volume hydraulic fracturing well sites. In addition, in its role as trustee of environmental resources, the Municipality also has the right and responsibility to establish standards, including but not limited to air and water quality standards, to protect the public health and safety under the provisions of the Pennsylvania Constitution's Environmental Rights Amendment. Accordingly, the Municipality will regularly review its current regulations, including but not limited to zoning, on oil and gas drilling to assure that its provisions are 1. based on the most current and defensible case law and 2. prioritize the public health, safety, and welfare, and protection of natural resources under the authority of the Pennsylvania Constitution. The Municipality will also base its determination of whether surface operations of high volume hydraulic fracturing of the Marcellus Shale should be permitted within its borders on the most recent evidence available, including but not limited to, relevant case law, health and environmental impact studies, and other scientific studies of areas and populations impacted by drilling. Finally, recognizing that impacts from high-volume hydraulic fracturing drilling operations may cross municipality borders, the Municipality will endeavor to establish good communication and cooperation with its bordering townships on this important issue.

***Murrysville To Revise Proposed Comprehensive Plan  
               “Murrysville Council has agreed to strengthen language on oil and gas drilling in its 10-year comprehensive plan to reflect an emphasis on public health.
Residents requested the change in the final public hearing Monday on the comprehensive plan. Council directed the solicitor to rewrite the language to reflect the change.
               Several in the audience pointed to a phrase in the plan that says the municipality needs to review its current zoning regulations to provide for “… reasonable development of this energy resource, while protecting to the maximum extent possible the public health and safety and the natural resources and land impacted by this activity”.
               “I am disappointed. The language in this plan is woefully vague on the subject of hydraulic fracking. To me it seems like Murrysville is promoting the development of the resource and giving second place to the health and safety of the community,” Chet Smolinski of Windover Road told council.
               Alyson Holt of Primrose Lane singled out the same phrase, fearing it leaves the door open for drilling companies to justify their activities in applying for permits for future well sites.
               “The comprehensive plan should also convey that Murrysville is not an easy, uneducated target for exploitation by the drilling industry. The comprehensive plan should state without apology that the municipality’s first constitutional priority with regards to mineral extraction will be to protect the health, safety and welfare of its residents and to protect its environmental resources,” she said, reading from a prepared statement.”

Murrysville Residents Comment On Proposed Update to           Comprehensive Plan
          To several Murrysville residents, the municipality's updated comprehensive-plan draft seemed to prioritize the promotion of Marcellus shale drilling over residents' health and welfare.
               At Monday's public hearing on the update to the state-mandated comprehensive plan, council members tried to assure them that was not the case.
               Many of the public comments on the proposed revision centered on the “Energy Resources” portion of the plan, which addresses oil and gas drilling.
               The final sentence of the “Energy Resources” portions reads that Murrysville needs to review its current zoning regulations on oil and gas drilling to assure that it “provides for reasonable development of this energy resource while protecting to the maximum extent possible the public health and safety and the natural resources and land impacted by this activity.”
               Resident Alyson Holt said she thinks the reference to providing for reasonable development should be removed.
               “The comprehensive plan document should convey that Murrysville is not an easy, uneducated target for exploitation by the drilling industry,” Holt said.
She also submitted several suggestions for language changes to the “Energy Resources” section of the draft update.

Resident Sharp said the plan should be rewritten “to reflect the municipality's constitutional obligation to safeguard its citizens' health, safety and welfare.”
Sharp said all hydraulic fracking should be banned in Murrysville until “its safety can be proven and confirmed by peer-reviewed scientific studies and data.”
               Resident Kathleen Borres said the plan's approach regarding oil and gas drilling is “ambiguous language that will cost the municipality and residents a good deal of money in the end … people's health and well-being, and the well-being of nature itself, should be the driving motive of any development decisions the council makes, not anything else.”
Resident Shirley Turnage, who was part of a comprehensive-plan update in 2002, gave her own comments and submitted suggestions from Citizens to Preserve Rural Murrysville, a group to which she belongs.
               Both Turnage and the citizens' group criticized the ordinance establishing an overlay district where oil and gas drilling could potentially take place.
               “The ordinance circumvents good land-use policies that are already in place,” Turnage said.
               Members of council gave comment as well, and nearly everyone stressed that the municipality is not placing potential shale-drilling benefits over citizens' health and welfare.
“(The health and welfare part) might have been written second, but I don't think anyone here considers it a secondary concern,” Councilman Loren Kase said.
               Chief administrator Jim Morrison said Marcellus drilling “is a difficult issue. I, personally, believe the language provides the proper framework for us to move forward through the (Marcellus shale) task force and council.”
               Council Vice President Rege Synan said not only is a comprehensive plan not a legally binding document, it also is subject to revision.
Read more:

***Winfield Twp. Supervisors Delay Vote on Drilling           Ordinance
               “The Winfield Township supervisors have delayed voting on an ordinance regulating oil and gas exploration in the township until challenges to similar regulations in two other townships are resolved.
               Residents in Middlesex Township, Butler County and Allegheny Township have appealed zoning ordinances that allow Marcellus shale gas drilling in most areas of the communities.
               In Middlesex, two environmental groups and four township residents claim the changes passed in August endanger residents' health and safety by allowing drilling in nearly 75 percent of the township. The appeal was filed because of controversy over a Rex Energy well pad that opponents say is too close to Mars Area School District property. The group has also appealed a state DEP well permit issued to Rex.
               The Allegheny Township challenge was triggered by horizontal-drilling permits issued in October to CNX Gas Co. for a well pad off Willowbrook Road.
The appeal, filed by two residents who live nearby, challenges the validity of the zoning ordinance that permits oil and gas wells in all zoning districts, including residential.”

***Allegheny Township Hearing
Note: Att. Ed Bilik  is noted in the article as the creator of  the Western PA Gas Leasing Consultants. The purpose of the Consultants is to assist landowners with leases.  The Western Pa Gas Leasing site says: “We can aggressively market your gas rights.”
 Bilik is the law partner of Les Mlaker who was also involved in the Allegheny Township hearing on the side of those who defend the new ordinance which allows fracking anywhere.  Les Mlaker is also solicitor in Hempfield and Penn Trafford Twps. Solicitors have been guiding or assisting with the development of the township zoning gas ordinances.
               “The first zoning hearing on the validity of Allegheny Township's natural gas-drilling regulations featured as much debate among attorneys as it did testimony from witnesses.
               Christopher and Angelo Papa, the attorneys representing three Willowbrook Road residents who object to a Marcellus gas well permitted on a neighboring property, were able to present only two witnesses during a 4 1⁄2-hour hearing Wednesday before the Allegheny Township Zoning Hearing Board.
               Dee Frederick, Beverly Taylor and Patricia Hagaman not only have asked the board to revoke CNX Gas Co.'s permit to drill on Willowbrook, but they also want the board to rule against the township's ordinance that allows drilling in all zones, including residential.
               The first hour of the hearing was spent debating whether Duquesne University professor John Stolz was qualified to testify on his knowledge of how unconventional gas wells are drilled, the industry's use of hydraulic fracturing, and his research into the potential environmental impacts of the process.
               In what Angelo Papa described as an “ambush” on Stolz, the professors' credentials were questioned by the attorneys of four other parties involved in the challenge: CNX; John and Ann Slike, who leased their land to CNX; a group of township landowners interested gas leases; and the township itself.
               Despite Stolz' five years of research into fracking and its impacts through Duquesne's Center for Environmental Research and Education, the zoning hearing board ultimately ruled he did not meet the legal criteria of an expert witness.
His testimony was limited to general information about how horizontal wells are drilled.
               Stolz said the process can require an intensive amount of water, equipment and waste, but the attorneys prevented him from saying much about his research into the environmental impacts.
               Under questioning from CNX attorney Steven Silverman and Ed Bilik, an attorney who formed Western PA Gas Leasing Consultants to assist landowners with leases, Stolz acknowledged he was not familiar with many of the specifics of the Willowbrook well and had not done research specifically in Allegheny Township.
The testimony of the Papas' second witness was smoother, but not without objections.
               Steven Victor, a landscape architect and land-use planner, was allowed to be offered as an expert witness with background in municipal zoning law and planning. Victor was involved with a previous development plan at River Forest Country Club.
               Victor was hired by the Papas to review the township's zoning regulations on gas and oil drilling — which he found to offer “inadequate” protections for residents.
               Because drilling is allowed as a permitted use in all zoning districts, Victor said the township had little ability to review individual drilling permits and required little notification to neighbors about incoming wells.
               The Willowbrook Road well site is in an R-2 residential-agricultural zone, which covers about 85 percent of the township.
               Victor said the township's ordinances offered “soft standards” that leave it largely up to a driller to determine where wells are, allows them to drill at all hours, and doesn't provide setbacks from neighbors.
               Also, Victor noted the ordinances do not allow for a gas compressor or processing stations in any zone — which he said leaves the township open to a legal challenge that could result in them being placed anywhere.
               The hearing ended about 11 p.m. before the opposing attorneys had a chance to cross-examine Victor.
               His testimony was interrupted several times by attorneys who objected to his detailing points in the township's ordinances. The Papas argued details were a benefit to the large audience of community members who likely were unfamiliar with the details.
               The division among the crowd was obvious in its response to that argument — some cheered for Victor to continue, others objected to the lengthy hearing.
               Other signs of the split crowd included a large display of materials warning of potential drilling hazards while another group asked attendees to sign petitions supporting drilling.
Zoning Hearing Board Solicitor Larry Loperfito said the hearing will continue Jan. 28. The hearing originally planned for Jan. 15 was canceled.”

***Coal Power Plant Fire In Morgantown, W.Va.
          Methane Gas Catches Fire--1 Mile Evacuation Zone
          Beginning at approximately 2 p.m., emergency officials in Morgantown, W.Va. had urged immediate evacuation for anyone located within one mile of the 695-megawatt, coal-fired Longview Power Plant on Fort Martin Road in Monongalia County. Fort Martin Road also was closed.
               One of six tanks -- each containing several thousand gallons of methane gas -- caught on fire, although the tank did not explode, according to Mike Wolfe, director of the Monongalia Emergency Centralized Communications Agency. No other combustible materials were near the fire, he said.
               There were no reported injuries and all employees of the power plant were safely evacuated, according to Mr. Wolfe.”

***Judge Hears Compressor Case-Kretschmann Farm
When your township has a hearing---Get It Right!
                Comment by Alyson Holt who posted the article on facebook: “…..I have posted the text of the article because it's a case being argued right now about compressor stations in agricultural districts. This quote in particular points out how important it is for residents to cite expected impacts as precisely and evidence-based as possible and get it on the public record and not just complain in general: "Cardinal attorney Blaine Lucas said no objectors offered any evidence of possible environmental harm during the hearings. He said they raised concerns, asked questions, sought assurances and offered speculation, but not evidence":      

               “Attorneys made arguments before a Beaver County judge about a compressor station planned near an organic farm in New Sewickley Township.
               Cardinal PA Midstream of Dallas plans to build the Pike Compressor Station on 11 acres of property at 282 Teets Road, owned by the Teets family. PennEnergy Resources of Findlay Township, which would use the station, has an option to buy 44 acres from the family.
               Don and Rebecca Kretschmann, owners of Kretschmann Family Organic Farm on Zeigler Road, appealed the construction after township supervisors unanimously approved a conditional-use permit for the station to be built in an agricultural zone. The Kretschmanns said they fear the compressor station would cause their organic farm to lose customers who might fear contamination from the station.
               John M. Smith, who is representing the Kretschmanns, told President Judge John D. McBride that the record regarding the supervisors’ decision is incomplete, leaving him to speculate as to why they denied the Kretschmanns’ appeal. Smith said he is not even sure the supervisors entertained the testimony of residents before they made their decision.
               Likening the conditional-use permit to a form of “spot zoning,” Smith said the supervisors couldn’t just “shoehorn” the compressor into an agricultural zone. He said residents have an expectation that the land remain agricultural.
               Smith said the testimony in township hearings didn’t focus on the potential effect of spills or leaks from the compressor site, and he disagreed with expert testimony on the record that the emissions from the compressor would be akin to a car engine running. Smith claimed “tons” of emissions would go into the air.
               Philip Lope, who represents the township, said the objectors offered no testimony about the potential emissions and instead were making “vague claims” about emissions that might be harmful to their operation. Lucas said the EPA and the state DEP regulate emissions.
               Smith said the township supervisors have an obligation to ensure that residents have clean air and water even if no one objected to the construction of the compressor. He said those rights are being “overridden for pure economic concerns.”
               Lope told McBride the case is a simple issue of Cardinal making a standard conditional-use application and township officials accepting their evidence that the compressor would not cause harm. He said Cardinal was “able to persuade” the township that the two uses could co-exist without harm to the community or the environment.
               Lope said that just because the supervisors didn’t reply to each objector, it doesn’t mean they weren’t considered.
               He said township officials did not undertake their decision lightly.
               McBride said the case file he must review is very large, so it will take him some time to come to a decision. “I want to get it right,” he said.”

***Update on Mars Zoning Case
               “Zoning hearing board meeting regarding the well pad proposed near the Mars school grounds.            
               “An appeal of Middlesex's drilling ordinance could last years and could help define the extent to which municipalities are allowed to oversee and regulate hydraulic fracturing, supporters and opponents of the ordinance say.
               Opponents say the township's zoning regulations inadequately protect health and safety, while energy company lawyers contend the state is the primary regulator of fracking and the subsoil.
               “This is not about constitutional rights. It's zoning 101. Municipalities have a role to play in terms of where natural gas drilling can occur,” said Yeager, a Bucks County lawyer who successfully argued before the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to overturn portions of Act 13, a state law that prohibited municipalities from banning or restricting hydraulic fracturing.
               The zoning hearing board is being asked to determine whether the township's zoning protects health and safety. Opponents are challenging a drilling permit that allows Rex Energy of State College to drill on Middlesex property owned by Kim and Bob Geyer, who live in adjacent Adams. Drilling there is on hold because of the appeal.
               One Middlesex resident, Crystal Yoest, testified that she lives 1,300 feet from a gas well. “There are lots of light and noise. It disrupted our lives,” she said.
               When questioning Parrish, township Solicitor Mike Hnath asked if oil and gas drilling could help helping preserve the rural nature of Middlesex.
               “If someone owns a farm and can't afford to keep it, isn't this (fracking) a type of farmland preservation?” he said.
               Parrish replied that it could be.
               The board has at least four more similar hearings. Its ruling can be appealed to Common Pleas Court and Commonwealth Court and possibly could be appealed to the state Supreme Court, a process Yeager said could take about two years.”…/butler/745…/middlesex-zoning-drilling…

***Fire At Gas Metering Station Near Mark West
               Another Evacuation For Residents
(In addition to the compressor stations used to reduce the volume of gas and push it through the pipe, metering stations are placed periodically along interstate natural gas pipelines to allow pipeline companies to monitor the natural gas in their pipes. Photo is of a metering station. jan)
“About a dozen Chartiers Township residents were evacuated Christmas Eve after a fire broke out at a gas meter station on Western Avenue.
               Company spokeswoman Sara Delgado said the cause of the fire has not yet been determined, but state DEP spokesman John Poister told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette it was caused by over-pressurization that allowed gas to leak or escape from the station. He said the DEP and state Public Utility Commission are investigating
               The company was notified about the fire through its pipeline control system and “responded by closing the main line valve of its Ohio Valley Ethane Pipeline in order to stop the flow of product to the facility,” according to a company statement.
Company personnel depressurized the facility, and the fire was contained to flare area piping.
               “The company is assessing the damage to the facility and has initiated an incident investigation,” the company said. “No estimate is currently available so far as when the facility would be returned to service.”
               The MarkWest natural gas processing plant, which is located by the meter station, was not impacted by the fire, according to company spokesman Robert McHale.
               Sethman lamented the fact it was the second evacuation he and others on his road experienced this year. Nearly 100 residents were evacuated in May when lightning struck the MarkWest plant and caused a gas leak.
               “Obviously, it’s not safe,” he said of the gas facilities. “Things like this keep happening and nobody understands that area right there is ground zero.”

***Justice Castille Of Act 13 Decision, Retires
Justice Ronald Castille
               After leaving the office in 1991, Castille went into private practice at Reed Smith before being elected to the state Supreme Court bench in 1993. After 15 years on the high court, Castille was named chief justice in 2008.
                              "It's been extremely busy, a lot of controversies that I've had to chase down," Castille said. "The biggest accomplishment administratively was to keep the doors to the court open during these tough economic times."
               By way of comparison, Castille said that during the height of the recession, New Hampshire put off trying civil cases for a year and Los Angeles County closed down 60 courtrooms.
               During his time at the helm of the court, its most important decisions, according to Castille, were reapportionment, suspending voter identification requirements, and the Marcellus Shale case.
               In the shale matter, Castille said the General Assembly in Act 13 "essentially suspended all existing zoning requirements in the state of Pennsylvania. The effect of that is you can put a shale anywhere. You could put it in the parking lot of a church. We sent it back to the legislature where we upheld the environmental rights of the constitution."
                              As for what's next, Castille, who reached the mandatory judicial retirement age of 70 last year, said there are many opportunities, including doing work for the American Bar Association, the Conference of Chief Justices, continuing his push for the funding of civil legal services in Pennsylvania, and being involved in numerous veterans organizations.
               But first, there's fishing in Florida.”

***DNCR, Not The Governor, Can OK Leases on State Land
                “Pennsylvania’s Commonwealth Court upheld the state legislature’s right to use the royalties from oil and gas production on state forest lands for general state budget purposes, but it found that the state’s conservation department — not the governor — has the ultimate authority for making the decision to lease.
               The court rejected the Corbett administration’s argument that the governor can override decisions made by the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources about whether to lease state lands for oil and gas development.
               In an opinion written by Judge P. Kevin Brobson and joined by five of the court’s judges, the court found that although DCNR officials “serve at the pleasure of the governor,” their primary duty is to serve “the people of this Commonwealth,” who expect those officials to defend the environmental rights defined in the state constitution “even when faced with overwhelming political pressure, perhaps from the governor, to act against their better judgment.”

***Frack Chemicals
7.2 millions gallons of kerosene used in Greene County Gas Wells
Posted by Ken Dufalla, Izaac Walton League
               “In a recent article published in the Greene County Messenger, it was noted that over 7.2 millions of gallons of kerosene has been used in drilling gas wells in Greene County. This does not surprise me at all. In fact, diesel fuel has also been used in gas well drilling in Cumberland Township. Diesel fuel has been outlawed for drilling because of its potential hazardous affects on the environment. Even the “Halliburton Loophole” prohibits the use of diesel fuel for drilling gas wells, but it is still being used.
               In the following column, I will try to discuss some of the problems that I have found with the use of certain chemicals being used in the gas drilling operations.
               I was recently handed a fairly complete list of chemicals used in slick water hydro-fracking. The document has 17 pages of different chemicals being used in the drilling operation while hydro-fracking. There are just too many to discuss each one of the chemicals being used. I broke down some of the more dangerous chemicals and I will discuss some of them. The report was prepared by Henry A. Waxman, Edward J. Markey and Diana DeGette for the United States House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Commerce in April 2011.
               The report states that between 2005 and 2009, the oil and gas companies used more than 2,500 hydraulic fracturing products containing 750 chemicals and other products. During the same time period, over 780 million gallons of hydraulic products were used and this does not include water. Some of the components used in the hydraulic fracturing products were common and generally harmless, such as salt and citric acid. Some were unexpected, such as instant coffee and walnut hulls. Some, however, are extremely dangerous such as benzene and lead. Also, methanol, which was used in 342 hydraulic fracturing products, is a hazardous air pollutant which is now a candidate for potential regulation under the Safe Drinking Water Act.
               In the same time frame, oil and gas service companies used 29 products that are: (1) Known or possible human carcinogens, (2) Regulated under the Safe Drinking Water Act for their risks to human health, and (3) Listed as hazardous air pollutants under the Clean Air Act. These 29 chemicals were used in more than 650 different products being used in hydraulic fracturing.

               This leads us to the BTEX compounds that are associated with the drilling industry. BTEX is short for benzene, toluene, xylene and ethylbenzene. These compounds were found in 60 different drilling products being used in fracking. The BTEX compounds are regulated by both the Safe Drinking Water Act and the Clean Air Act. Benzene is a known human carcinogen. During the five-year period from 2005 to 2009, the drilling companies injected over 11.4 million gallons of BTEX into the wells.
               It is a known fact that some of these chemicals will leach into drinking water supplies. Well failure in casing materials can and will lead to contamination of drinking water. It has been proven that six percent of the wells being drilled will have well casing failure immediately upon completion. Remember, a lot of these chemicals stay underground. You may think that this is safe, but I can assure it is not. An industry argument is that the Marcellus Shale layer is more than a mile deep, and the chemicals will never reach the surface. They also state that there is a solid rock barrier that prevents these chemicals from reaching the surface. Seems to me that if you drill holes in the rock overburden in order to reach the Marcellus Shale layer, this compromises the integrity of the overburden. How can something be solid if holes are drilled into it and then subjected to high pressure hydro-fracking?
               This now leads us to local situations. We now know that there is a lot of bromide entering our water systems. This bromide is coming from local mining discharges. Bromide is not generally associated as a problem in the mining industry. Where are these bromides coming from?
               A good way to track down the source of these bromides is to monitor the height of the mine pools. We estimate that there is over 1.2 trillion gallons of water in our old worked-out mines. The old mines are flooded, and they must be pumped down in order to keep them from blowing out into the surface water. This mine water needs to be treated before being released into the raw drinking water supplies. If you study the heights of these mine pools, you can see a marked increase in their heights.
               Let me give you an example. In August and September of 2012, Clyde Mine showed a marked increase in the mine pool. The pool level went from 780 feet above sea level to 802 feet above sea level. One spike occurred in late August and another in mid September. One could reason that maybe there was an increase in surface water; however, if one would check the bromide concentrations, the bromides concentrations also increased. If the excess water was due to surface water, then the dilution factor should have decreased the bromide concentration, not caused an increase in the concentration. This is evidence the mine pool was compromised with water containing bromide.
               Where do bromides come from? The answer is “Marcellus Gas drilling.”
In order to raise the Clyde Mine pool 22 feet, there had to be a tremendous release of water into the pool. This could have been done by dumping gas drilling wastes into the mine or more likely a bulkhead in an adjoining mine gave way introducing contaminated water. Either way, the source comes from drilling wastes water.
I am afraid that the water woes are just beginning for our area in southwestern Pennsylvania. Too much evidence is coming to light about problems with hydro-fracking. Maybe we should all listen to the folk song “Where Have all the Flowers Gone.” When will we ever learn?
               As always, remember what Christmas is about and always place your faith in a higher power.”

***Pennsylvania Should Follow New York’s Lead
Letter To Editor December 29, 2014 12:00 AM
               “New York State has banned fracking. The state’s health commissioner concluded that public health risks are simply too great to allow the practice to get underway in New York. When asking himself whether he would let his children play in a school field near fracking, he said “No.”
               Then New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said, “If you wouldn’t want your children to live near fracking, no one’s children should have to.”
               The New York decision begs the question, what about Pennsylvanians who live near fracking? Do our children’s lungs and hearts and reproductive systems somehow work differently from those of New Yorkers so that they can withstand the air and water and soil contamination that attends fracking? Near Pittsburgh we have the Mars Parent Group trying to keep fracking away from their schools and Protect Our Parks advocates saying that drilling next to parks where children play is too risky. The New York decision validates the concerns of these groups.
               New York arguably conducted the longest, most complete, most publicly transparent process of analyzing the public health risks of fracking of any state in the union. The people who conducted this review hold credentials on public health protection that are beyond challenge.
               Gov.-elect Tom Wolf supports fracking, but says he will create a health registry. Not good enough. That just makes Pennsylvanians into sacrificial lab rats whose health will be monitored as it worsens. If the public health risks are too great in New York, then why are they not too great in Pennsylvania?’”
Paradise Gardens and Farm; Reynoldsville, Jefferson County

***Range Resource Subpoenaed for Air Tests
                “A Pittsburgh engineering company will be subpoenaed for air-quality test results at several fracking impoundments owned by Range Resources, which has not provided the results requested in an ongoing case in Washington County Court.
               Attorney John Smith, who along with his wife, Kendra, is representing three Amwell Township families who claim their health was affected by Range’s drilling operations, said they “wanted to go right to the source” and get the data from URS Corp., which performed air tests at the Jon Day, Carter and Lowry impoundments in Washington County. He said Range also will be compelled to provide any air test results it has.
               President Judge Debbie O’Dell Seneca, who is stepping down from the bench Monday, quashed Range’s objection to the plaintiffs’ request to subpoena URS Corp. The case, which has been ongoing since 2012 and already changed hands once from Judge Katherine Emery to O’Dell Seneca, will again need to be assigned to a new judge.
               The plaintiffs, who live or used to live below the Yeager drilling site in Amwell Township, are Stacey Haney and her two children; Beth and John Voyles and their daughter; and Loren and Grace Kiskadden.
               The plaintiffs asked for air-quality test results at all of Range’s natural gas sites in June 2013. According to court documents, Range replied the company had not conducted air testing at the Yeager site, but the court said Range “failed to answer the question or raise any objections relative to air tests performed at other impoundments or natural gas drill sites.”
               Glenn Truzzi, environmental engineering manager for Range, said during a July court deposition that, to his knowledge, Range had not conducted air tests at any of its well sites or impoundments
               But according to court documents, Truzzi signed verification of Range’s responses to the plaintiffs’ request for air test results, and he also signed Range’s answer to a complaint, which denied emissions from the Yeager site affected the plaintiffs.
               Pete Miller, water resources manager at Range, testified in court Aug. 29 he believed air tests were conducted at some Range sites, but could not provide details. He was asked about an email he sent in 2011 to Mark Gannon, of engineering firm Tetratech, asking to “run it at the Day impoundment instead of the Yeager impoundment.”
               Miller said this pertained to air monitoring, and explained Range wanted to test the Jon Day impoundment when it was empty to use the results as a “baseline” to see if anything changed once the impoundment was filled with water. He said Range also hired URS to conduct air monitoring tests at the Jon Day, Carter and Lowry impoundments within the past two years. He said he believed the tests were in response to complaints that Range received.
               A Range spokesman did not respond to a call seeking comment.
               Range was ordered to shut down its Lowry impoundment in Hopewell Township in accordance with a state DEP consent agreement in September. The company also was ordered to upgrade its Jon Day impoundment in Amwell Township and convert its Carter impoundment in Mt. Pleasant Township back to a freshwater pit.”

***Vantage Fined $1 Million For Landslide
               “The state DEP announced that it has fined Vantage Energy Appalachia LLC nearly $1 million for more than a dozen violations of environmental regulations stemming from a landslide and illegal disposal at its Porter Street well pad in Franklin Township, Greene County.
               On Jan. 16, 2014, DEP learned that a landslide occurred at the well pad the previous day. DEP said inspectors immediately responded and noted that the slide impacted the side of the well pad and had dropped about 40 feet down slope to where it encroached upon two streams.
               The slide continued to grow substantially and eventually covered the two streams.
               DEP threatened to order a shutdown of all activity on the well pad. In response, the company on March 28 – more than two months later – agreed to voluntarily stop drilling operations and to make interim action to prevent further movement of the slide. DEP cited the company for numerous violations of the state’s Oil and Gas Act and Clean Streams Law.
               On July 14, Elite Well Services, a Vantage contractor, dumped two truckloads (about 200 barrels) of drilling wastewater down the side of the well pad where the interim stabilization activities were occurring.
               The wastewater impacted the landslide area being restored and ended up in the streams originally impacted by the slide. DEP again cited the company for further violations of various environmental statutes including the Oil and Gas Act.
               On July 21, the company submitted a notice of its intent to remediate the soils, surface water and groundwater impacted by release of the wastewater. But, even as they began those efforts, DEP learned that Vantage had constructed a new access road along the streams impacted by the slide and the waste discharge. The construction was not authorized under the company’s erosion and sediment permit.  The company was cited again.
               On December 16, Vantage and DEP signed the Consent Order and Agreement (COA) that establishes enforceable milestones for Vantage to correct the violations at the well site and requires the full restoration of impacted streams and wetlands, permanent stabilization of the well pad, and remediation of the soils, surface water and groundwater impacted by the illegal disposal of the wastewater.
               “These violations resulted in significant damage to our natural resources and this action is in direct response to the seriousness of the violations,” John Ryder, Director of District Oil and Gas Operations for DEP said. “To its credit, Vantage has begun to make a genuine effort to better manage and operate their well sites. The company has hired an independent consultant to conduct an environmental audit of all of their well sites in Pennsylvania and the company is now fully cooperating with DEP.”
               By signing the COA, the company also agreed to the $999,900 fine, one of the largest imposed on a driller by DEP this year. The COA also stipulates further penalties if project deadlines are not met. As part of the agreement, the company will also provide written “progress reports” detailing the actions taken during each period to comply with the requirements of the COA. The company must complete all the work on the site, meeting all DEP regulations, by Dec. 31, 2015.”

***Health Effects of Silica At Frack Transfer Stations
               “Fracking companies call the sand a “proppant” because they use it to prop open tiny cracks they split in the shale, creating a pathway that allows trapped oil and gas to escape. Wells in Susquehanna and Wyoming counties use between 5 million and 13 million pounds of sand each.
               Workers who breathe the fine-grained dust day after day risk developing “silicosis” or, eventually, lung cancer, pulmonary tuberculosis and other airway diseases, Grains of dust can lodge in lung tissue, causing inflammation and cell proliferation, according to the National Toxicology Program’s carcinogen profile of the substance.
               Workers face the greatest exposure risk, but “residents near quarries and sand and gravel operations potentially are exposed to respirable crystalline silica,” the report states.
               Now, after months of pressure by locals, the DEP proposes using air monitors and meteorological equipment to sample the local air before and after the transfer plant begins operations, according to a letter DEP’s statewide Bureau of Air Quality director Joyce Epps wrote to Tunkhannock Borough Council.
               The DEP plans to measure airborne fine particles 2.5 micrometers in diameter - 30 times smaller than the diameter of a human hair. For the first time, they’ll also measure 4-micrometer particles, a size chosen specifically for crystalline silica.”
Read more:

***Fracking Boom Is Fracking Bubble
By Walter Brasch
(Please link to the entire article for interesting details. Jan)
“…..What the state government doesn't readily acknowledge is that much of the damage to roads and bridges has come from increased truck traffic from the fracking industry.
               "The damage caused by this additional truck traffic rapidly deteriorates from minor surface damage to completely undermining the roadway base [and] caused deterioration of several of our weaker bridge structures," Scott Christie, Pennsylvania's deputy secretary of the Department of Transportation, told a legislative committee in 2010. Since then, the damage has increased in proportion to the number of wells drilled into the state. There are about 7,100 active gas wells in the state, with the cost of road repair estimated at about $13,000 to $25,000 per well. The fracking truck traffic to each well is the equivalent of about 3.5 million cars on the road, says Christie.
               There are several realities the oil/gas industry knows, but the politicians, chambers of commerce, and those who believe everything politicians and corporations tell them don't know or won't publicly admit knowing.
               First--as long as it's economical to mine the gas, the industry won't leave the state, even if they have to pay a 5 percent extraction tax, which is at the low end of taxes charged by other states.
               Second--the expected $1 billion in extraction tax per year, even if the legislature approves, should not be expected. The industry has already found most of the "sweet spots," and production will likely fall off in 2015,
               Third--the industry salivated at the newly-found technology and gas availability and overdrilled the past four years, leading to a glut and falling prices. End of the year prices are about $3.17 per million cubic feet, down almost 30 percent from November.
               Fourth--falling prices have led to drilling not being as profitable as it could be.
               Fifth--the OPEC countries have not lowered their own production of oil, and the reason for the lower gas prices at the pumps is not because of the shale gas boom, but because of the plunging price of oil per barrel, which has declined by about 40 percent since Summer. Once oil prices fell beneath about $70--73 per barrel, American shale frackers found themselves unable to compete economically.
               Sixth--To compensate for lower prices in the United States, the megacorporate drilling corporations have begun to find alternative ways to make money. One way is to build a massive maze of pipelines, and send natural gas to refineries in Philadelphia and the Gulf Coast, changing the gas into the extremely volatile liquefied natural gas (LNG), putting it onto ships, and exporting it to countries that are willing to pay more than three times what Americans are paying for natural gas. However, there is an unexpected twist….
Eighth--The jobs promised by the politicians, the various chambers of commerce, and the industry never met the expectations. Gov. Tom Corbett claimed 240,000 additional jobs. The reality is the increase in jobs is about one-tenth of that….
Tenth--The continued push for fossil fuel development, and more than $4 billion in governmental subsidies, slows the development of renewable energy, while escalating the problems associated with climate change and brings the world closer to a time when global warming is irreversible.
               The fracking industry doesn't acknowledge that this newer process to extract gas, which has been viable less than a decade, is destroying the environment, leading to increased climate change, and putting public health at risk, something that dozens of independent scientific studies are starting to reveal. It was a 154-page analysis of public health implications, conducted by the New York Department of Health, and based upon scientific and medical studies, that led New York this month to ban all drilling--and infuriate many politicians and some landowners who were expecting to make extraordinary wealth by leasing mineral rights beneath their land to the gas companies. Of course, they didn't look to their neighbor to the south to learn the wealth promised was never as much as the royalties delivered and that many landowners now say they should never have given up their mineral rights and the destruction of the land and farms that came with it.”

***PA Still Has No Health Registry
“New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration announced that state will ban fracking, citing uncertainty about the health risks
               In Pennsylvania, where elected officials from both parties embrace shale gas development, government leaders are still debating whether to fulfill a three-year-old recommendation for how to study the potential impact of  gas development on public health.
               Gov. Tom Corbett’s Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission urged the state Department of Health in 2011 to create a health registry to track the well-being of people who live near natural gas drilling sites over time. The project was not funded, and the registry was never created.
               Could the starkness of New York’s warning influence policy in Pennsylvania?
               “I don’t put a lot of stock in the New York analysis,” said Drew Crompton, chief of staff for state Sen. Joe Scarnati, R-Jefferson, the Senate president pro tempore.
               Gov.-elect Tom Wolf, a Democrat, wants to create a registry to monitor health issues related to shale development, his spokesman said.
               Mr. Crompton said proposed funding for a health department registry was withheld in the past out of fear that regularly testing residents who live near wells would be “improperly unnerving” for communities.
               “We have always been careful about this subject because we don’t like a study or some sort of analysis done under the premise that it’s unsafe,” he said.
               Dr. Goldstein advocates taking a more active approach to investigating shale-related health impacts than creating a registry. “You take a look and you try to see what’s happening,” he said. “You don’t just sit back and wait and put things in a log book.”
               He thinks Pennsylvania still has time to begin collecting robust health data.
               “It’s a shame we didn't start at the beginning,” he said. “It would have been better to have gotten the baseline information. But it’s not too late to start.”
***Natural Gas Down 30% But to Rebound
               “Natural gas, the nation's most prevalent heating fuel, is getting cheaper just as winter is arriving because of mild temperatures and plentiful supplies.
               The price of natural gas has dropped 29 percent in a month, to $3.17 per 1,000 cubic feet on Tuesday from nearly $4.50 in late November. That's a steep drop even for a fuel notorious for volatile price swings.
               Conditions look good for low prices throughout the spring. After that, though, prices could head back up, analysts say.
               One-fifth of the nation's natural gas production is from gas found when drilling for oil, so-called "associated gas." A drop in the price of oil is forcing drillers to cut back, and that may slow the growth in production of associated gas.
               Also, in April of next year an EPA rule governing emissions of mercury and other toxic chemicals goes into effect. That will force electric utilities to reduce their use of coal, the chief source of those emissions, and turn instead to natural gas.
               And later next year the first of several new liquefied natural gas export terminals are expected to start up, further increasing natural gas demand.
Brackett expects natural gas prices to increase after the second quarter and average $4 per 1,000 cubic feet for the year.”

Frack Links

***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:
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.

***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

***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.

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

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

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