To join WMCG contact: email@example.com
To join or contact Ligonier Citizens Group: firstname.lastname@example.org
To join or contact Ligonier Citizens Group: email@example.com
* 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-
Contributors To Our Updates
Thank you to contributors to our Updates: Debbie Borowiec, Lou Pochet, Ron Gulla, the Pollocks, Marian Szmyd, Bob Donnan, April Jackman, Kacey Comini, Elizabeth Donahue, and Bob Schmetzer.
Tenaska Air Petitions—Please sign if you have not done so:
Please share the attached petition with residents of Westmoreland and all bordering counties. We ask each of you to help us by sharing the petition with your email lists and any group with which you are affiliated. As stated in the petition, Westmoreland County cannot meet air standards for several criteria. Many areas of Westmoreland County are already listed as EPA non-attainment areas for ozone and particulate matter 2.5, so the county does not have the capacity to handle additional emissions that will contribute to the burden of ozone in the area as well as health impacts. According to the American Lung Association, every county in the Pittsburgh region except for Westmoreland County had fewer bad air days for ozone and daily particle pollution compared with the previous report. Westmoreland County was the only county to score a failing grade for particulate matter.
The Tenaska gas plant will add tons of pollution to already deteriorated air and dispose of wastewater into the Youghiogheny River. Westmoreland County already has a higher incidence of disease than other counties in United States. Pollution won’t stop at the South Huntingdon Township border; it will travel to the surrounding townships and counties.
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 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 Meetings-February 10, 7:00 pm
and February 24, 4:30 pm
***Ligonier Twp. Hearing on the Ordinance-February 17, 7:30
***Ligonier Twp. Hearing with stenographer-March 26,
We are trying to determine at what point we may most need mass support and will get that information out. Penn Trafford may be in the same position.
Due to the activity in Ligonier Township , I am getting out the Updates less frequently. They are therefore longer- but with many townships working on the same issues, I wanted to share the information so we all have access to what each of us are doing. Jan
***Fracking Opponents Pack Ligonier Township Meeting
“Though a new zoning ordinance and map regulating Marcellus shale drilling in Ligonier Township haven't been completed, residents turned out in force to weigh in on the issue at a supervisors meeting this week.
More than 100 people packed into the township municipal room to voice their concerns about how gas drilling will be represented in the new zoning ordinance, most of them opposing it. Fifty signed up to speak; some held up signs with anti-drilling messages, such as “Don't frack us.”
“This is our community,” said Stephanie Verna of Laughlintown. “I'm a resident of this township, and I think that you have a duty to all of us to preserve our natural resources, protect the value of our property and homes, protect our roads and infrastructure, and provide adequate public safety.”
Danny Verna of Laughlintown said as a Boy Scout, he was taught to leave no trace on the environment, and “fracking certainly doesn't follow this basic principle.”
Jennifer Gourley said fracking was done 4,000 feet from her home's well, and her water has been contaminated. She showed a jar containing her well water, which was grey and cloudy. She said she now has health issues, including shaking, stumbling and slurred speech.
“Frack zones never go away,” said resident Jan Milburn. “They remain industrial. They will be fracked and re-fracked for years, with condensate tanks, dehydrators, valves and wells, all producing toxic air pollution that this entire valley is going to breathe. Then come compressor stations and pipelines.
“Ligonier Valley is special and has special needs,” she said. “We are a recreation, tourist area with high-quality streams, special topography and many water wells.”
The township received a letter from resident Adam Cogan stating that he supports drilling.
A time restriction in the township's public comment policy, which limits each person's time to three minutes and limits the total period to 45 minutes, upset residents who did not get to speak. Some yelled, “We demand to be heard,” as the board tried to proceed.
When the board left for an executive session, some in the audience chanted, “You work for us.”
Police Chief Mike Matrunics asked the crowd to allow the board to continue its meeting. Solicitor Michael Korns and manager Terry Carcella returned to the room to restate the public comment policy and explain that the zoning ordinance and map are not finished.”
***Middlesex Fight Continues
Attorney Wants Testimony Ignored
MIDDLESEX TWP — Four hours of testimony by the only witness at a zoning hearing attended by more than 100 people may all have been for naught.
That is because the facilitator of the hearing is considering a request to strike the witness' testimony.
The third lengthy session of the hearing for a challenge to a gas and oil amendment to the township's zoning ordinance — passed by township supervisors in August — was held at the township fire hall.
Four township residents plus the Philadelphia-based environmental groups the Clean Air Council and the Delaware Riverkeeper Network are challenging the zoning amendment because it allows unconventional gas drilling in much of Middlesex.
Attorneys from the township, Rex Energy and Mark West Energy Partners are supporting the amendment at the hearings.
The challenge caused a stoppage of work on the five Rex Energy gas wells at the Bob and Kim Geyer farm on Denny Road. A group of Mars School District parents have protested the wells because they say shale gas drilling would pose a health and safety hazard to the students in the nearby schools.
Jordan Yeager, the attorney for the challengers, called as a witness David Carpenter, the director of the Institute for Health and Environment at the University of Albany. The Harvard-educated Carpenter is a professor in public health sciences at the university and listed dozens of accomplishments before being accepted by the zoning board as an expert witness on public health.
Under Yeager's questioning, Carpenter testified that drilling operations can be associated with cancers, cognitive decline and respiratory illnesses in those exposed to an unconventional gas well site up to 10 miles away. Citing his own research and various studies, Carpenter said children are particularly susceptible to the negative health effects.
“This industry is causing significant contamination of nearby residents, and that concern is particularly focused on children, whether they are in their residences or their schools,” Carpenter said.
But during cross-examination, Rex Energy attorney Kevin Barley attempted to dismantle Carpenter's testimony by questioning reports Carpenter cited in his written comments to the zoning board.
While Barley elicited an admission from Carpenter that he had never visited a well site or toured a natural gas compressor station, Carpenter steadfastly maintained that his purpose at the hearing was to give opinions as a public health expert.
Barley also reported, and Carpenter confirmed, that his testimony in other hearings in courts and elsewhere has been thrown out because of flawed methodology used by him.
Carpenter confirmed that his testimony on various subjects concerning public health has been stricken from court proceedings in the past, but that more often it was accepted.
Barley then questioned Carpenter on his methods regarding his assertions on the dangers of gas wells.
“I move to strike (Carpenter's) expert testimony as unreliable,” Barley told Mike Gallagher, the solicitor for the zoning hearing board and the facilitator of the hearing.
Township solicitor Mike Hnath and Christopher Nestor, the attorney for Mark West Energy Partners, which has gas pipelines in the township, agreed with Barley regarding the request to strike Carpenter's testimony.
Yeager countered that Carpenter is recognized by many health organizations, who rely on him for advice and analysis on public health matters. Yeager said Carpenter has testified in dozens of cases, but Barley only focused on two cases where there existed a difference of opinion on his testimony.
“Those two cases do not form a basis for striking his very credible testimony today,” Yeager said.
He said Carpenter on Monday night testified more than once that additional research is needed regarding shale gas drilling.
“There is absolutely no basis for the motion (to strike his testimony,)” Yeager said.
Because four hours of testimony and cross-examination had passed, Gallagher adjourned the hearing until Tuesday.
“We'll take it under advisement,” Gallagher said of the request to strike Carpenter's testimony.
After the hearing, Bob Geyer had no comment.
Parent group leader Amy Nassif said Carpenter's testimony included claims of adverse health effects from shale gas drilling that the parent group had unsuccessfully tried to present to Adams and Middlesex supervisors more than a year ago.
“I'm glad they were able to hear it this time,” Nassif said.
The hearing was to resume at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Middlesex fire hall, when Gallagher was to give his decision regarding the request to strike Carpenter's testimony.
See more at: http://www.thecranberryeagle.com/article/20150121/CRAN0101/701219815/-1/CRAN01#sthash.hHv6iza5.dpuf
***Penn Township Expanded Drilling Buffer Zone—Then Didn’t
Faced with an energy company's interest in drilling near assisted-living centers, Penn Township commissioners have expanded the buffer zone for well operations from 600 feet to 1,000 feet away from an adjacent property line.
In addition to unanimously approving the change, commissioners said they might be willing to further expand the setback condition, perhaps up to 1,320 feet, which is one-fourth of a mile.
Officials approved the change in their pending zoning ordinance just days after learning that Apex Energy submitted an application for an unconventional gas well on an 89-acre property near Walton and Ader roads, close to Export.
Though township officials said they are rejecting Apex's application as incomplete because it lacked a health-and-safety impact report and site-security plan, among other things, commissioners said they want to act to increase the setback requirement to add some protection for residents in areas where drillers are proposing sites, including in the Level Green neighborhood.
“If we're going to be prudent, let's be prudent,” said Commissioner Larry Harrison, who lives in Level Green.
Ted Geibel, who lives in the Walton Crossings housing plan near the Quest property, said he was disappointed to learn about the possibility of drilling there.
“Those people (at the personal-care centers) are going to be awake 24 hours a day because of the light, and I can't imagine living under those conditions at the home,” he said.
Over the last few months, residents from Level Green and neighboring Trafford Borough often have pressed Penn Township commissioners for a greater setback and answers to more than 20 questions about the pending ordinance.
Some also have asked officials to publicize if they would benefit financially from drilling operations in the township. Among the five commissioners, Jeff Shula has leases – with Huntley & Huntley Inc. – for oil and gas rights. “
Update posted by Alyson: Update on Penn Twp: Last night Penn Twp's solicitor Mlaker was back at the commissioners' meeting as were a large number of those supporting drilling interests. Penn Twp commissioners overthrew last week's change for setbacks of 1000 ft and returned the setback to 600 ft. This means that Penn Twp is more likely to approve the Deutsch well pad along Murrysville border and 700 ft from Murrysville homes. And the Quest well pad next to the William Penn Care facility in the Delmont area would also be very close to a well pad.
***3 Million Gallon Spill
“Three million gallons of brine, a salty, toxic byproduct of oil and natural gas production—also known as fracking wastewater—spilled from a leaking pipe in western North Dakota. State officials say it’s the worst spill of its kind since the fracking boom began in the state.
The spill was reported 17 days ago when Operator Summit Midstream Partners found a toxic leak of salty drilling waste from a pipeline in the heart of the Bakken oil boom.
Officials say there’s no immediate threat to human health but as Marketplace’s Scott Tong reports yesterday, there could be trouble ahead. He interviews Duke geochemist Avner Vengosh who has sampled frack wastewater and has found that “North Dakota’s is 10 times saltier than the ocean, that endangers aquatic life and trees, and it has ammonium and radioactive elements.”
Tong also interviewed Hannah Wiseman, law professor at Florida State, who says the disposal of fracking wastewater is underregulated.
“A typical well can spit about 1,000 gallons a day,” says Tong. “Some of the water is recycled back into fracking, stored in pits or used to de-ice roads. It’s also injected deep underground, which has been known to cause earthquakes.”
Wiseman shares that fracking wastewater issues also exist in Ohio, Oklahoma and Texas.
***Protesters at Wolf’s Inauguration Call for Fracking Ban
From Allegheny Sierra Club
Using the recent ban on fracking in New York as an example, about 250 people marched and called for a similar ban at the Inauguration ceremony for Gov. Tom Wolf. Organized in part by Pennsylvanians Against Fracking, a number of protesters entered the formal ceremony and eight were taken into custody after causing a disturbance. The anti-fracking community will now have to wait and see how strongly Gov. Wolf protects state lands from fracking, strengthens regulations, and for what purposes he uses the promised severance tax.
*** South Strabane Drilling Ordinance
“Supervisors are reviewing changes to the township’s rules on drilling
“I think we can see the heaviness of this problem’s development,” Keisling said. “The job for the supervisors is not making wealth for people … it’s to protect the welfare of the citizens here and worry about the land values. Hopefully we can make it work.”
Max Junker, a lawyer representing Columbia Midstream Group that wants to construct a “dehydration and separation facility” on 220 acres of agricultural land
“We’ve made no bones about it … that at some point we are looking to put compressor station (there),” Junker said.
Not everyone thinks such regulation is a bad thing. Don Lambert, chairman of the township’s zoning board, said he thinks the ordinance should restrict these auxiliary uses to industrial areas as currently written.
“Maybe we can mitigate it and make the risk a little smaller for people like me,” Lambert said. “Most people don’t want compressor stations in their backyard. I sure as hell don’t. It’s clearly an industrial operation to me.” http://www.observer-reporter.com/article/20150114/NEWS01/150119715#.VLeXvCIcTcs
***Peters Township Weighs Zoning Options for Drilling- Nov. 18
Members of Peters Township council and planning commission met Nov. 18 to discuss how to update their zoning ordinances to allow natural gas drilling in feasible areas. As council weighs options ahead of a January public hearing, there was a consensus on at least one thing: council should remove the Mineral Extraction Overlay Districts, which place industrial zoning within residential areas.
“We can’t have the MEODs anymore. Since the Act 13 ruling, you can’t have industrial operations going on in a residential area,” manager Michael Silvestri said.
Silvestri presented at the joint meeting several options for consideration, including re-zoning agricultural or the least densely populated areas with different guidelines, amending ordinances to place environmental regulation requirements on any applicant, as well as creating entirely new industrial districts in outlying areas of the township.
“This map shows what’s feasible just based on the 1,000 feet setback criteria,” Silvestri said, “and these areas have parcels over 40 acres that have access to state roads.” The map isolated areas along East McMurray Road, on the border with Union Township, along Venetia Road, as well as parcels near the border of Cecil Township.
“We’re a lot more dense than the rest of the county, with 1,000 residents per square mile, so it’s going to be difficult. We need to get input from the public to develop a rational, fair and environmentally sound plan to protect the township from inevitable lawsuits,” he said. Silvestri said he’s not pushing for drilling in the township, but that there needs to be a “reasonable means” for interested parties to apply for permits to extract resources in the township, which is according to the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code.
“The issue is not just any particular avenue’s legal hurdles, but also getting residents agreeing (to future easements) from developers and gas companies so they can pipeline it out of the township,” solicitor John Smith said.
Councilman David Ball said whatever language is used in future ordinances shouldn’t be too specific.
“We have to stop talking about zoning just to gas drilling... it’s going to get us in legal trouble if anyone subpoenas these slides with ‘gas drilling’ all over them. We have to look to provide (zoning) for industrial usage at large, because if someone comes in saying they want to put in a garbage dump and we tell them they can’t because it’s already zoned for a specific reason, we’re going to have a constitutional issue on our hands,” Ball said.
Regulations put upon conditional use applicants – like drilling companies – cannot be too specific, either. When asked if there could be provisions preventing open-air waste water retention ponds, Smith said they couldn’t enforce it.
“We can’t put that burden on operators under current law. We can’t tell them how to do business,” he said.
Council has yet to schedule a specific date for a public hearing on the issue.
***Peters Council Delays Action on Gas Drilling Ordinance- Jan. 14
“Saying they were concerned about comments received during a public hearing last week, Peters council voted unanimously to form a special group to help determine if gas well drilling should be allowed in the township, and, if so, where.
“I think we need more information. I don’t know what the health hazards are,” said Councilman Frank Arcuri, who agreed with other council members to delay further action regarding a revamped ordinance council had planned to pass next month.
The township in 2011 passed a gas drilling ordinance that set aside an overlay district where drilling could occur on properties of more than 40 acres. But the drilling landscape changed with a 2013 state Supreme Court decision that gave municipalities more leeway to control where drilling takes place. As a result of the complicated ruling, township officials felt their ordinance wouldn't pass legal muster in its current form.
Council planned to replace the former ordinance with a proposed one that called for drilling to be a conditional use in light industrial areas, but a public hearing that drew more than 100 people last week produced testimony that concerned council.
Speakers from throughout Washington County told council members that even though the township may pass stringent requirements for drilling companies, there was no guarantee the companies would follow or acknowledge the rules.
“They will ignore your ordinances and do what they want to do," said JoAnne Wagner of Mount Pleasant Township, who said a drilling company in her neighborhood built a facility without a permit and didn’t even notify township officials, who discovered what happened after construction was complete.
Council President David Ball proposed creating a working group comprised of council members, planning commission members and experts who could gather data from witnesses and make recommendations to council. He didn’t rule out a ban on drilling.
”I don’t believe it’s a given that we have to provide for drilling,“ Mr. Ball said.
The proposal for the working group was approved, and Mr. Ball was named to the new group along with Councilwoman Monica Merrell.
Whatever their decision, it’s important to be informed about the issues, solicitor John Smith said.
”To ward off any potential claims, you have to prove the process was well thought out,“ he said.
***Peters Twp. Jan. 14
“…At the heart of the issue is whether gas drilling can take place in the township, and at the same time whether Peters can meet a number of constitutional issues and state laws that pertain to drilling, he said.
“A major issue that council must address is can the township develop a rational and legal method of designating properties or areas of the township that can be developed for mineral extraction (gas drilling)?” said township manager Michael Silvestri. “The township’s comprehensive plan does not specifically identify areas for gas drilling and would need to be revised to do so.”
Peters Council will hold a public hearing Monday in council chambers to discuss and gather public input on gas drilling. There are no gas wells in the township, but there are horizontal wells in adjacent municipalities whose drilling activity goes underneath sections of Peters’ perimeters. Plus, gas companies – namely EQT – have been acquiring leases from Peters’ property owners in the event that drilling is eventually allowed.
The upcoming public hearing will address the township’s Mineral Extraction Overlay Districts, which places industrial zoning within residential areas, Silvestri said.
“Since Act 13, signed into law by outgoing Gov. Tom Corbett, you can’t have industrial operations, like drilling, going on in a residential area,” he said.
In August, Peters passed a municipal curative amendment, which gives it a six-month time frame to review and analyze ordinances to determine their validity. It also gives the township the opportunity to make changes, if necessary.”
From the Peters Towshp Ordinance
Alyson Holt: Peters ordinance is out. : "Another HUGE change in Peters' ordinance is that all drilling is limited to its rather small light industrial zone (one estimate is that it's about 150 acres total) and parcels that are at least 5 acres. They eliminated their overlay entirely (on John Smith's legal recommendation).
Peters township just eliminated their overlay distrist
“The applicant shall demonstrate that the drill site operations will not violate the citizens of Peters Township’s right to clean air and pure water as set forth in Art. 1 Sec. 27 of the Pennsylvania Constitution. (The Environmental Rights Amendment). The applicant will
have the initial burden to demonstrate that its operations will not affect the health, safety or welfare of the citizens of Peters Township or any other potentially affected landowner. The application submittal shall include reports from qualified Environmental individuals attesting that the proposed location will not negatively impact the Township residents’ Environmental Rights and will include air modeling and hydrogeological studies as potential pathways that a spill or release of fluid may follow."
L. Drip pans must be placed in any location, under equipment, that has the potential to leak.
M. All condensate tanks shall be equipped with vapor recovery and/or vapor destruction units.
The operator shall be required to provide notice of any spills and/or releases to the Township.
Here's a link to Peters Twp draft ordinance:
Here's the link to the proposed Peters Twp ordinance:
* They have eliminated the Mineral Extraction Overlay District
* Fracking well pads and compressor stations are allowed only in the "light industrial" zone.
* 750 ft setback from "protected structures".
* They also put in this wording regarding setbacks: " The Township reserves the right to increase any setback based on physical characteristics of the site and evidence received at a hearing necessitating an increase in the minimum setback, including but not limited to topography, wind conditions, air modeling studies, woodlands, hydrogeological studies, and distance from structures, parks, schools, and residential neighborhoods."
* "Upon review of the application, Council may in its discretion require air modeling and monitoring of emissions coming off of impoundments."
* Pipeline wording is included in the ordinance. "In addition, the application shall include the proposed pipeline route from the oil and gas drill site to the transmission line and how fluids will be brought to and from the site."
There are other interesting items as well.
***Peters Twp Zoning by Bob Donnan
“Our Peters Township had creating an overlay district where drilling would have been permitted on contiguous parcels of 40 acres or more. 15 of those parcels were identified in our township, but with our township being zoned primarily Residential, the overlay no longer fit after the court ruling.
While a group of our citizens were not able to get a CELDF community rights (Fracking Ban) voted in during an election, we were able to ward off Chesapeake Energy’s effort to lease nearly 700 acres of public land in our township which included our parks and school properties.
Our township has 150 acres of land zoned Light Industrial which seems like the obvious place to put drilling. However, some of our township leaders fear that only having that much land put aside for drilling would draw an industry or mineral rights owner lawsuit, calling it a ‘takings.’ On the other hand, with newly reaffirmed environmental rights for all citizens of the Commonwealth, it is just as likely a citizen could sue the township if their rights to “clean air and pure water” are violated. So they could get sued either way, a big part of what the discussion is about in this new video.
This latest YouTube is a combination of two meetings: The Jan 15, 2015 Planning Commission Meeting (second on the video) where you hear from solicitor Brendan O’Donnell (sitting in for John Smith) and the Jan 26, 2015 Council Meeting where you hear from solicitor John Smith. In between these two meetings was the Jan 19, 2014 Public Hearing on this same topic.
New! Jan 26 & Jan 15 Meetings: http://youtu.be/b5E3meKAIhI
Jan 19 Public Hearing: http://youtu.be/tQfv6YC8BY8
(Better sound and video quality than video link I originally sent)
For those interested in learning more about Peters Township visit here:
***TRAX FARM UPDATE by Bob Donnan
Neighbor Overcome By Fumes
“One of the residents I am in contact with, whose house is 500-feet from the ongoing fracking on the Trax Farms drilling pad, got us worried the other night when he emailed that he had called an ambulance for his wife. Here is his account of the incident the following day:
“On her way back from my father in laws who lives next door, she was overcome with a mixture of diesel fumes and a burnt plastic odor. This caused her to begin a persistent cough. I smelled the same odor which caused my eyes to water. This episode lasted approx 20 to 30 minutes before it disappeared. Given the fact that we are due east of this pad site and the contour of the land, more often than not, the wind carries this unknown white cloud right towards our home. I truly believe last night was the perfect conditions for this cloud to stay close to the ground while being blown towards our home. I noticed this cloud on 88 last night on my way home.
This was not the first time this has happened but from our experience, this was one of the worst events. I have pictures and videos of the cloud, DB reading and our air quality monitor, again, one of many pieces of evidence.
This is absolutely an unbelievable experience! I had way more expectation of our federal, state and local government to serve and protect the people they are to serve!”
***Casey Votes to Close Halliburton Loophole
“Some good news, Senator Casey did hear us and voted for the Amendment to close the Halliburton Loophole, Amendment 48 sponsored by Senator Gillibrand (NY). This important vote has created a record of Senators voting for … or against … protecting people and their health as it relates to oil and gas operations. For the first time there is now a list of those in favor of protecting people on the issue of the Halliburton loophole.
See the full list of how each Senator voted on the Gillibrand Amendment here: http://www.senate.gov/legislative/LIS/roll_call_lists/roll_call_vote_cfm.cfm?congress=114&session=1&vote=00041”
***Chesapeake Buys Out Contaminated Property
“In Bradford County, Chesapeake just bought out a family whose home & property they contaminated by their fracking operations.
In the Sunday Review (1/18/15) Chesapeake bought out another home they contaminated, the Leighton's, for $125,000. What a good neighbor they are-- this home with acreage was at least four times that value before Chesapeake ruined their water supply and then paid the owners what is was worth after they ruined it. Who's Next to be sold to Chesapeake Land Development Co. of Oklahoma City?”
Posted on Triple Divide Facebook Page
***Ethane Pipeline Blast Creates Fireball
FOLLANSBEE W VA - A 20-inch diameter ATEX Express pipeline ethane pipeline, operated by Houston-based Enterprise Products Partners, ruptured in Brooke County, leading to a wall of fire visible for several miles
"We were getting a lot - probably over 100 - 911 calls about an explosion," Sheriff Jackson said. "
Jackson said the blast caused no injuries or property damage for local landowners, but said two families were evacuated as a precautionary measure.
Because of the snow covered roads, a Follansbee Fire Department truck became stuck while the driver tried to respond to the fire. Officials with the West Virginia Division of Highways, Brooke County Sheriff's Department and local fire departments blocked the roadways leading to the fire.
"They turned the gas off, but it's my understanding that it takes a while to burn out," Jackson said late Monday as the flames continued flaring. "We really would just like to know what caused it so something like this doesn't happen again."
The company began shipping ethane southward in January 2014. Along its route to Mont Belvieu, Texas, the pipeline collects ethane from four natural gas processing plants in the Marcellus and Utica shale regions:
-- the MarkWest Energy facilities in Houston, Pa. and in Cadiz;
-- the Blue Racer Natrium facility in Marshall County; and
-- the M3 Midstream Utica East Ohio facility in Scio.
***Fracking Poisons The Earth’s Fresh Water Supplies.
“Lena Headley lives in Fayette County, Pennsylvania. She and her husband bought a small farm for their semi-retirement with the mineral rights but not the oil and gas rights. Over the last seven years 5 gas wells and a transmission pipeline have been put on their land. The effect has been devastating: Pollution of land and air together with destruction of fruit trees and the burning of 10 acres of ground by the gas drillers. Gas wells leak and a spring 200 feet from her house is so rich with gas it can be set on fire.
Visits to the family doctor have become common. Her 5 year old son Adam suffers from crippling stomach pains. Lena has said that she wants her story to act as warning to ordinary people about the dangers of fracking.
In an interview in 2012 she said;” And why? All because of an uncaring, dirty industry, driven by greed, selling their souls, leaving our health, environment, and rights behind as waste. When will this nightmare end ???”.
In December, a team of scientists from the University of Missouri published a study in the Journal of Endocrinology that revealed that over 700 different chemicals are used by the fracking industry. Their study focused upon a dozen fracking chemicals which had contaminated water supplies in Colorado which is home to over 10,000 fracking gas wells. They took samples of contaminated river water from areas close to fracking sites and found that these chemicals disrupt the normal functioning of the endocrine system and can lead to cancer, infertility and birth defects.
How can drinking poisoned water be safe? Numerous scientific studies have concluded that fracking poisons the local water supply by adding carcinogens and radioactive materials. According to Dr.Sandra Stenigraber, Distinguished Scholar in Residence at Ithaca College and Science Advisor to Breast Cancer Action, there have been over 1,000 different cases of water contamination near fracking sites.
In many areas across America fracking has led to high levels of arsenic and other toxic heavy metals in ground water near drilling sites. Researchers from University of Texas last year found levels of arsenic 18 times higher than in areas without fracking. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has found elevated levels of arsenic in Wyoming and Pennsylvania. Meanwhile, scientists at Duke University have found high levels of methane, propane and ethane in ground water samples near fracking sites in northern Pennsylvania.
As if that wasn’t bad enough in some areas fracking waste water is highly radioactive. A U.S. Geological Survey report found waste water from gas wells in Pennsylvania and New York state to be 3,609 times more radioactive than the federal limit for drinking water.
Meanwhile, Scientists at Duke University have found levels of radium 200 times above normal or background levels in the Pennsylvania creek that flows into the Allegheny River . In New York state scientists from the Department of Environmental Conservation analysed 13 samples of waste water and found,” levels of radium-226, a derivative of uranium, as high as 267 times the limit safe for discharge into the environment and thousands of times the limit safe for people to drink.”
EPA scientists are worried about the threat to public health from the huge amounts of fracking waste water. Sewage treatment plants are incapable of removing radioactive materials from waste water which is then discharged into rivers from which drinking water is taken.
On average only 30-50% of the fracking fluid is recovered the rest is left in the ground. In some areas waste water is left in open air pits to evaporate into the atmosphere. Harmful volatile organic compounds are released into the air creating acid rain and ground level ozone.
Numerous studies have shown how fracking chemicals can contaminate water supplies. There have been transport spills before and after gas drilling, the fracturing process itself, disposal of waste water and failure of gas well casings and seepage from abandoned gas wells. Chemicals fluids from gas fracking can migrate underground to contaminate water tables.
To compound this environmental pollution there is the problem of water shortages caused by fracking. Each fracking well uses huge amounts of water requiring 2 to 4 million gallons of water. The EPA has estimated that the 35,000 fracking wells in America consume between 70 and 140 billion gallons of water each year.
A recent study by Ceres reveals that 47% of all oil and gas wells in the US are in regions with high or extremely high water stress. More than 55% of all US wells are in areas experiencing drought. Thirty six per cent of all wells are in regions experiencing ground water depletion.
The fracking industry’s reliance on huge amounts of water is placing unsustainable demands on many regions which are expected to experience 20 per cent or higher growth in population. To compound matters there has been a systematic over-exploitation of 40 major US aquifers. Major fracking activity and depleted aquifers overlap in many regions.
In many water stressed areas such as Texas it is creating major problems for ordinary people. There is water rationing for 15 million people and 30 small towns are threatened with running out of water completely because of the insatiable demands of the fracking industry.
Besides this, the water demands of the fracking industry create yet another problem for local communities: wear and tear on roads and the air pollution caused by hundreds of trucks bringing water to the site and then taking waste water away. The average fracking well requires over 400 trucks to deliver water and take away waste water.
On top of this, is the associated rise in deaths and injuries caused by road accidents from the huge increase in traffic on roads. For example, in Pennslyvania heavy truck crashes have increased by an average 9% a year. Some of these crashes have spilled fracking waste water into surface water.
There is of course an economic burden for local areas associated with this increase in truck crashes. In Pennsylvania a typical truck crash has an estimated economic cost of $216, 229 relating to deaths, injuries and property damage. This has added an estimated $28 million burden on to the overstretched budgets of heavily fracked counties.
The fracking industry in America resembles one vast ponzi scheme that is as reckless as it is criminal. Let’s take the example of Wyoming which has thousands of fracking wells. It has recently come to light how companies that once operated fracking wells have disappeared and have abandoned the wells they made huge profits from. Apparently, over 1,200 fracking wells have been abandoned in Wyoming with state officials saying there may be thousands more to come.
Many of the companies that once operated these fracking wells are seeking bankruptcy and unable to pay the cost of cleaning up the land they leased. Many farmers are complaining to state officials that their land has been left in a toxic state. Take for example the case of State senator John J.Hines who is seeking public money to clean up the 40 fracking wells abandoned on his land by Patriot Resource Company. It appears that Wyoming state will have to pay for the clean up costs for the 1,200 abandoned wells with potentially thousands more to come.
Max Keiser, a financial commentator, has called fracking suicide economics. As he points out, many fracking companies sign contracts with farmers to lease their land knowing full well that they won’t be spending any money to clean up the toxic mess they will have created.
Keiser calls fracking a ”12 to 36 month scam” by energy companies out to make a 5% return on their investment. Companies borrow money at zero per cent to pay for fracking rigs, make huge profits during the life of the fracking well then once its exhausted declare bankruptcy to avoid any clean up costs. Leaving tax payers on the hook for millions. I wonder where we’ve seen that kind of scam before?
Not surprisingly, there is a growing movement of ordinary people against this form of suicide capitalism. Over 400 counties in America have passed resolutions banning fracking operations from land in their areas. In Pennsylvania local people have delivered a 100,000 strong petition to Governor Corbett calling for a halt to fracking operations in that state. Last year 650,000 people sent messages to the Obama administration calling for a ban on fracking on public lands.
As the fracking industry spreads its destructive tentacles across the globe ordinary people must fight back against the big oil and gas companies that would poison millions of people and destroy local environments. All in the pursuit of a quick buck.
I’ll leave the last word to Sandra Steingraber, ”At what point does preliminary evidence of harm become definitive evidence of harm? When someone says, “We were not aware of the dangers of these chemicals back then,” whom do they mean by we? .”
"Out in Bradford and Susquehanna counties considered by many to be the heart of the Pennsylvania's shale gas production, more controversy was brewing for the Governor. Many landowners were claiming that Chesapeake Energy, the state's largest shale gas producer, was short changing and unfairly deducting operating costs from their royalty payments to those who lease their land. A sudden decline in the amounts that Chesapeake was paying in royalties came about at the same time the company found itself in difficult financial conditions struggling with billions in short and long term debt. [...]
After more than 7 years of Pennsylvania's interstate highways, bridges and overpasses being heavily used by out of state shale gas companies trucking heavy equipment, water tankers, fracking chemical trucks and natural gas storage tankers in and out of state, Gov. Corbett signed into a law a record increase in state gasoline taxes in a major Transportation Bill. (So you and I paid at the pump to repair the roads that the gas industry wrecked. How do pro-fracking people rationalize this?) Overnight Pennsylvania had the 5th highest gasoline taxes in the country. A multi-year gasoline tax bill, the Corbett Administration claimed the gasoline taxes were at the wholesale level, not raised by the Administration at the pump. Thousands were angered by Corbett raising taxes after promising not to do so. Claims it was on the wholesale level and therefore not a tax on Pennsylvanians at the pump rang hollow and at the same time out of state shale gas companies continued not to pay taxes on record amounts of natural gas being pumped and hauled out of the state."
***Benzene And Worker Cancers: 'An American tragedy'
“For decades, the petrochemical industry spent millions on science seeking to minimize the dangers of benzene, a carcinogen tied to leukemia and other cancers. A 2004 National Cancer Institute study suggested there’s no safe threshold for people working with the chemical.
Our review of some 20,000 pages of internal records reveals the petrochemical industry went to great lengths to rebut studies showing harmful effects of benzene in low doses.
Bloated and bed-ridden, his skin browned by blood transfusions, John Thompson succumbed to leukemia on November 11, 2009. Thompson never figured the chemical could do him harm. Not when it stung his hands or turned his skin chalky white. Not even when it made him faint. But after being diagnosed with a rare form of leukemia in 2006, relatives say, he came to believe his exposure to benzene had amounted to a death sentence. Oil and chemical companies knew about the hazard, Thompson felt, but said nothing to him and countless other workers.
“They put poison on his skin and in the air he breathed,” said Chase Bowers, Thompson’s nephew. “He died because of it.”
Thompson died before a lawsuit filed by his family against benzene suppliers could play out in court, where science linking the chemical to cancer could be put on display. Over the past 10 years, however, scores of other lawsuits, most filed by sick and dying workers like Thompson, have uncovered tens of thousands of pages of previously secret documents detailing the petrochemical industry’s campaign to undercut that science.
Internal memorandums, emails, letters and meeting minutes obtained by the Center for Public Integrity over the past year suggest that America’s oil and chemical titans, 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 an unparalleled effort by five major petrochemical companies to finance benzene research in Shanghai, China, where the pollutant persists in workplaces. Others attest to the industry’s longstanding interest in such “concerns” as childhood leukemia.
A toxicological review of benzene produced for the American Petroleum Institute in 1948. It is says that in general the chemical is considered so potent that there is no safe exposure level. An undated litigation defense guide from a senior attorney with Shell Oil Company. He cautions colleagues to avoid "inadvertent disclosure" of benzene documents.
“The conspiracy exists, and the conspiracy involves hiding the true hazards of benzene at low doses,” said Robert Black, a Houston lawyer who represents plaintiffs in toxic tort cases. Since 2004, while handling dozens of lawsuits filed on behalf of workers sickened by leukemia, lymphoma and other diseases associated with benzene,
. “You’re still seeing elevated risks of leukemias and lymphomas among occupational groups exposed to benzene,” said Peter Infante, a former director of the office that reviews health standards at the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, who has studied the pollutant for 40 years, “as well as populations being polluted from these benzene sources.”
“It’s a known human carcinogen,” Rimer said, “and it’s emitted from lots of sectors.”
Melanie Marty, of the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment, said regulatory limits are now “getting lower and lower for [benzene’s] non-cancer risks” — dizziness, rapid heart rate, neurological problems, anemia — and not just its carcinogenic effects.
Experts say the petrochemical industry has bankrolled more research — at greater cost — than anyone but Big Tobacco, which coined the phrase “manufacturing doubt.”
“The results don’t support the presumption of bias,” Irons said, explaining that, so far, the research has confirmed benzene’s association with AML as well as myelodysplastic syndrome, or MDS, a cancer of the bone marrow.
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, recommends that workers limit their benzene exposure to an average of 0.1 ppm during a shift.
As the Shanghai findings seep into the scientific literature and, ultimately, the courts, the petrochemical industry generally admits that benzene causes AML and MDS at higher doses. But other blood and bone marrow cancers continue to kill — at lower and lower exposures to the chemical. http://www.publicintegrity.org/2014/12/04/16320/benzene-and-worker-cancers-american-tragedy
***26 Earthquakes Later-Texas
After 11 quakes in the last two days – with one registering at a 3.6 – Irving, Texas’ sudden onset tremor problem might be the fracking industry’s nightmare.
There’s a monster lurking under Texas, beneath the sand and oil and cowboy bones, and it’s getting a little restless after a 15 million year nap. Shaking things up in the city of Irving, just slightly west of Dallas, where no less than ten earthquakes yesterday and today bring the total tremors to 26 since October in that town alone. Over 100 quakes have been registered in the North Texas region since 2008, a staggering uptick from just a single one prior that year.
The Balcones Fault Zone divides the Lone Star State in half, loosely following the route of Interstate 35 and passing under Fort Worth, Waco, Austin, and San Antonio. And it’s not just a huge amount of human populations that sit on top of it. There are also thousands of fracking wells boring down in to the earth’s crust, pumping millions of gallons of water down with the direct intent of breaking apart what lay beneath.
...And it’s not just Texas. Poland Township in Ohio had 77 earthquakes happen last March that researchers have definitively linked to fracking, in a paper published just days ago. And British Columbia has the oil addiction shakes, too.
Worth noting: This cluster of quakes is taking place almost directly beneath the Exxon-Mobile world headquarters, which is located in Irving. The company’s CEO, Rex Tillerson, joined a lawsuit last year to prevent a water tower used in the fracking process from being built near his 83-acre horse ranch in a swanky suburban Dallas enclave. Whether these are considered ironic or karmic quakes – that’s up to you. But for the repeatedly shaken up people of North Texas, it’s not very funny anymore.
***Research : Fracking Brings Ammonium and Iodide to Local Waterways
“Researchers find alarming levels of these new contaminants in wastewater released into Pennsylvania and West Virginia streams
Two hazardous chemicals never before known as oil and gas industry pollutants—ammonium and iodide—are being released and spilled into Pennsylvania and West Virginia waterways from the booming energy operations of the Marcellus shale, a new study shows.
The toxic substances, which can have a devastating impact on fish, ecosystems, and potentially, human health, are extracted from geological formations along with natural gas and oil during both hydraulic fracturing and conventional drilling operations, said Duke University scientists in a study published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology.
The chemicals then are making their way into streams and rivers, both accidentally and through deliberate release from treatment plants that were never designed to handle these contaminants, the researchers said.
The findings have major implications for whether stronger regulations are needed to curb water pollution from fracking and other oil and gas industry operations. Over the years, the industry has faced questions about unsafe well design that allows methane to seep into drinking water, and about lubricants and other chemicals it adds to frack water. Duke researchers have conducted a number of studies on these problems.
Now add to the list of concerns ammonium and iodide—two naturally occurring, dangerous chemicals that are essentially unregulated in oil and gas wastewater.
"We are releasing this wastewater into the environment and it is causing direct contamination and human health risks," said study co-author Avner Vengosh, professor of water quality and geochemistry at Duke's Nicholas School of the Environment. "It should be regulated and it should be stopped. That's not even science; it's common sense."
Industry sources did not respond immediately to word of the new study.
When dissolved in water, ammonium can turn to ammonia, highly toxic to aquatic life. The Duke team found ammonium levels in streams and rivers from energy industry wastewater outflows at levels 50 times higher than the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's water-quality threshold. Under a loophole created by Congress in a 2005 energy law, fracking wastewater isn't regulated under the U.S. Safe Drinking Water Act.
Meanwhile, the Duke scientists found that the iodide contamination from energy operations – while not toxic by itself – promotes the production of disinfection byproducts when it comes in contact with the chlorine that is used to treat most drinking water systems. Previous studies have shown that such disinfection byproducts have toxic and carcinogenic properties, but only a few are regulated.
"As far as we are aware, iodide and ammonium are not regulated, nor monitored in any of the [oil and gas] operations in the United States," the researchers said in their paper.Terrence Collins, director of the Institute for Green Science at Pittsburgh's Carnegie Mellon University, was not involved in the study but said findings of iodide contamination are particularly worrisome, especially if stream or river water is extracted downstream for drinking water.
"Widely practiced chemical treatments to kill pathogens are likely to cause the iodide to become incorporated into organic matter in the drinking water, and I am concerned that this could result in increased incidences of cancer," he said in an email.
The recent boom in U.S. oil and gas production has been accompanied by a surge in wastewater production. Fracked wells produce about 1 million to 2 million gallons of wastewater per well. For conventional wells, the volume is less but the risk of contamination with ammonium and iodide is the same. "The method doesn't matter," said Vengosh.
There also have been wastewater spills, including seeps from illegal disposal, leaking from surface impoundments, and truck tanker accidents. Some states even have purposely spread the salty oil and gas wastewater on roads to suppress dust or for de-icing.
The estimated volume of oil and gas industry wastewater generated in the U.S. is now more than 837 billion gallons (3.18 billion cubic meters) per year. For comparison, that's nearly three times the volume of all the oil and gasoline that the United States consumes each year (291 billion gallons).
The researchers said their study adds to a growing body of evidence that government action is needed. "There are significant environmental and ecosystem impacts of current [oil and gas wastewater] disposal practices in the U.S.," they wrote, "Regulatory action is needed to address these concerns."
***Gas Industry Still Exempt From Toxic Release Inventory
“Chemical plants, coal mines, power plants, steel mills, oil refineries and even the maple syrup industry must disclose their releases of hazardous pollutants on the federal Toxic Release Inventory.
But the natural gas drilling industry isn’t required to do the same, even though it now releases more toxics into the air than any other industry except for electricity-generating power plants, according to a coalition of environmental and open-government organizations.
Those nine organizations filed a federal lawsuit Wednesday seeking to compel the U.S. EPA to require drilling companies, hydraulic fracturing contractors, and natural gas compressor stations and processing facilities to report their emissions as other industries do.
“Due to EPA’s long inaction, the oil and gas extraction industry remains exempt from the Toxics Release Inventory, one of our nation’s most basic toxic reporting mechanisms,” said Adam Kron, an attorney for one of the plaintiffs, the Environmental Integrity Project. “The Toxic Release Inventory requires just one thing: annual reporting to the public. This reporting is critical to health, community planning and informed decision making. Whether to add the oil and gas extraction industry shouldn’t even be a question at this point.”
. Drilling industry trade groups, including the Marcellus Shale Coalition and the American Petroleum Institute, wrote letters opposing that petition, saying most individual drilling and production facilities don’t meet minimum chemical reporting thresholds. They also said the petition sought to improperly aggregate multiple oil and gas drilling facilities to meet those thresholds.
Environmental groups viewed the inventory as a crucial tool for protecting public health and the environment, as well as spurring innovations to reduce emissions. It required manufacturing facilities using or processing more than 10,000 pounds of any toxic or carcinogenic chemical a year to annually report the information about those releases into the air, water or soil. The number of chemicals now subject to TRI reporting was expanded over the years to more than 650.
The EPA administrator can require additional industries to report their toxic releases, and has. In 1997, the EPA added TRI reporting requirements to the electric power, hazardous waste treatment, bulk petroleum terminals, and metal and coal mining industries, but not oil and gas production, saying those facilities were unlikely to meet the chemical emissions or 10-employee thresholds.
Mr. Kron said oil and gas development operations have expanded in size and scope during the past 15 years.
“The oil and gas drilling industry with its directional drilling and fracking and compressor stations, wastewater impoundments and processing plants is a different industry than it was in 1997,” he said. “It didn’t have the big multi-well pads and the adjacent processing components. Many of its facilities could easily meet chemical reporting thresholds now.”
The lawsuit cited a January 2014 study by the Environmental Integrity Project that found 400 large oil and gas extraction facilities in six states — Pennsylvania, Colorado, Louisiana, North Dakota, Texas and Wyoming — emitted a combined 8.5 million tons of TRI-listed chemicals annually.
Don Hopey: email@example.com or 412-263-1983. First Published January 7, 2015
***Non-toxic Options That Include Forever Jobs
"While the oil and gas industry continues to push for expanded drilling operations off the Atlantic coast—and receives government subsidies for it—a new report by an ocean conservation group finds that the benefits produced by wind energy eclipse those of fossil fuels, with far fewer risks. Many of the benefits touted by oil and gas companies do not hold up under scrutiny, according to the Oceana report, Offshore Energy by the Numbers: An Economic Analysis of Offshore Drilling and Wind Energy in the Atlantic (pdf). The industry often inflates its job creation figures by including inaccessible resources in their calculations, for example.[...]
`Chief among their findings was that even a modest development of domestic offshore wind resources would "offer benefits that cannot be matched by offshore drilling." Twenty years of wind energy could produce as much energy as five billion barrels of oil, the report says. On a state-by-state basis, job creation projections increased as much as seven times more for wind energy than offshore drilling in all seven of the states being considered for fossil fuel extraction. In Florida, for instance, wind energy could create 28,317 lifetime jobs, while drilling would only produce 3,828. Overall, wind energy could create 71 percent more jobs than drilling across the entire Atlantic coast. That figure comes at least in part due to the sustainability of wind energy—"when oil and gas runs out, so do the jobs," the report states."
***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.
Someone recommenedded Start at about the 48-minute mark and watch till roughly the 1 hour, 15 minute mark.
**Video- What You breathe from gas operations-excellent 5 minutes
***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.
***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
***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/
"I would judge that anyone foolish enough to be taken in by the television and other media advertisements put up by the gas and oil companies deserves to be poisoned or radiated. Basically, we’re letting them wreck the place." Former US Ambassador, Dan Simpson