Saturday, April 25, 2015

Westmoreland Marcellus Citizens’ Group Updates April 23, 2015



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For information on Citizens to Preserve Ligonier Valley:

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                For the email address, click on the envelope under the photo
*  For information on PA state gas legislation and local control:      

To read former Updates please visit our blogspot listed above.

               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.

Get Involved ---Local Group Contact People:
Ligonier Township –Jan Milburn
Penn Trafford-
Murrysville-       Alyson Sharp
Hempfield Twp. - Stephanie at Mt Watershed

***DEP Hearings-Submit Your         Statements NOW
Speak Up on Pennsylvania’s Proposed Oil and            Gas Regulations
Comments due May 19; Hearings April 29 & 30 and May 4
Fact sheet for your use was composed by Delaware Riverkeeper Network

             It’s time to tell Pennsylvania what you think of their proposed oil and gas rules!
               Tens of thousands of public comments were logged in by PA Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) in 2014 on proposed changes to the PA Oil and Gas Act; many submitted lengthy technical comments, including Delaware Riverkeeper Network.
               Now we can weigh in on the revised proposal through written comment by May 19 or at Public Hearings. See suggested Talking Points and details here:
• April 29 – Washington and Jefferson College, Rossin Campus Center – Allen Ballroom,60 S. Lincoln St., Washington, PA 15301
               `The DEP recently made changes to proposed regulations governing the state's oil
The public has 30 days to weigh in on proposed changes to regulations governing Pennsylvania’s oil and gas industry.
               The DEP has been revising the rules for the past four years. In December 2013, they became available for public comment. The agency held nine hearings across the state and received more than 24,000 comments.
Shortly after Governor Wolf took office, the DEP made a slew of significant changes– imposing more stringent rules for things like waste, noise, and streams. The agency is now releasing those updated regulations for a 30 day comment period, which closes on May 4th.
               “We want comments on things we’re proposing to change between December 2013 and now,” he said. “To the extent folks comment on things outside of that, we’ll acknowledge that but it won’t be given the same consideration.”
               The gas industry has sharply criticized the DEP for its recent changes– arguing the Wolf administration has not been transparent. Several Republican lawmakers have also criticized the process. Earlier this week state Sen. Gene Yaw (R- Bradford) sent a letter to acting DEP secretary John Quigley, urging him to extend the public comment period to 75 days.
               The DEP has until next spring to finalize the regulations, or risk starting the process all over again.
               Read the proposed regulations for the unconventional industry here:
A guide to reading proposed changes:
Words not in bold or underlined: existing regulations
    Bold words: changes made in December 2013
    {Bold words with brackets}: deletions proposed in December 2013
ALL CAPS: things that have changed between December 2013 and now
ALL CAPS: things that have changed between December 2013 and now

               Those who wish to present testimony during the hearing are asked to register in advance by contacting the DEP Policy Office at
               Individuals will be called to testify in the order they registered. If time permits at the hearing, those who did not register in advance will be given the opportunity to testify.
Each hearing will begin at 6 p.m. and end at 9 p.m. The dates and locations are as follows:
April 29 – Washington and Jefferson College, Rossin Campus Center – Allen Ballroom,60 S. Lincoln St., Washington, PA 15301
               During the hearings, each speaker will have the opportunity to present up to five minutes of verbal testimony.  To ensure that all speakers have a fair and equal opportunity to present their testimony, relinquishing of time to other speakers will be prohibited, and groups are asked to designate one speaker.
               All presenters should bring three copies of their comments and exhibits for submission to DEP.


***Freedom From Fracking Concert
Saturday, May 16 5:00pm - 12:00am
Mr Smalls Theatre, 400 Lincoln Avenue, Pitts.

               Freedom From Fracking: Clean Air, Water & Energy is a festival to benefit victims of fracking and those raising awareness of the dangers of fracking, while educating the public on Clean Green Energy Alternatives.
               Don't believe the hype! The gas companies' propaganda will have you believe fracking is safe. Meanwhile thousands of families struggle to live after their water has been poisoned and they suffer from a myriad of health issues caused by fracking.
               Meet the families who've been harmed by fracking and learn about viable clean energy alternatives you can begin implementing now- for a day of community building, educational solutions, and powerful music of a variety of genres. Fracking affects all people- of every age, sex, race, and economic background. We all must unite to protect our future!

Featuring 6 hours of music across 3 stages:
Rusted Root
Free Song Download:

Mike Stout & The Human Unionhttp://mikestoutmusic.

***Grassroots Summit-Mt Watershed
               This year’s 2nd annual Grassroots Summit will be held June 12-14th, 2015 at the Laurelville Mennonite Church Center in Mount Pleasant for grassroots organizations and individuals advocating for change on shale gas issues.
The theme of this year’s summit is “Embrace diversity, discover commonality, achieve solidarity.”

***Water Stories-In this art show, the voices of our group members Jan Milburn, Jenny Gourly, and Anne MacDougall along with the voices of other concerned environmentalists talk about the importance of water. Those statements of concerns are played in a loop while people view the art show.
Opening Reception: April 23, 2015, 6 – 8 PM
Kathryn Markel Fine Arts Gallery
529 West 20th, Suite 6W
New York, NY 10011
(212) 366-5368
Gallery Hours:
Tues – Fri. 10 AM – 6 PM
Saturday, 11 AM – 6 PM
For more information about the Water Stories project shown at the Museum of Science, go to
***Mamma Summit-May 6, Harrisburg
From Crystal Yost
               “Hi, all!   Last spring my daughters (11, 11 and 3) and I were blessed with the opportunity to participate in Mama Summit 2014 in Harrisburg.  We met with legislators to discuss our concerns about the many issues that arise from the close proximity of natural gas extraction and Pennsylvania schools. Now, a year later a lot more awareness has been raised across the state and it is so important they see and hear from more of us in 2015.
               This is your chance to sit with like-minded people in front of your legislators and voice your concerns.   And DO bring your kids, grandkids, etc.  This is an amazing experience for children to participate in our government and learn the value of being an engaged and informed citizen.
               You must register here ASAP:   Please share with your friends and family.  Let me know if you register for this and I will help arrange car pooling. :) 
Hope to see you there!
Crystal Yost
Mama Summit is a chance for moms, dad, grandparents, and kids from across the country to show broad and united support for children’s health. Together in a bipartisan, or MOMpartisan, setting we will demand action to protect the air our children breathe–both indoor and outdoor–and call for action on climate change.
The Pennsylvania State Capitol
N. 3rd & State St., Harrisburg, PA 17120

Frack News
Due to the activity in Ligonier Township, I am getting the Updates sent out 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
( I am reprinting these notes by Debbie and  Joseph McMurry because they are so important. Jan)

***Good Point Debbie!
According to an editorial in the Observer Reporter newspaper on March 26, 2015:
               “Letters to the editor are among the most highly read items in this newspaper.  In fact, readership surveys have shown they are second only to obituaries in readership.
               We wish more readers would take advantage of this opportunity to express their opinions because their ideas often inspire debate in the community and sometimes lead to much-needed change.”

From Debbie:
               Most of us have bemoaned the fact that we seem to be making little progress in awakening the general population to the dangers of fracking.  Could it be that we are missing a relatively easy way to bring more people to our side?
               I know many of us are burned out from fighting fracking for so many years.....
               However, writing a letter to the editor is relatively easy and takes less time and energy than organizing a massive protest in the streets.  It is also a whole lot less aggravating than arguing with tone-deaf politicians and belligerent industry people.
               Therefore, I am hoping that more of us will jump onto a LTE writing campaign.   I believe several LTEs are headed to the Observer-Reporter this week. 
                So, please, take pen to paper and pour your heart out. We are (obviously) all in this fracking mess together.  We just have to wake up the rest of the people in SW PA so they know what fracking is and that they are in fracking mess too.

PS.   I know many of us send email and post on Facebook.  But, chances are, the people we connect with via these channels are already on "our side."   By sending LTEs to the various newspapers, we have the opportunity to reach total strangers who may not even know what is going on.
I believe Diane told me that only 5% of the population needs to be on board in order for change to occur.  Surely we can get to 5%.

***It’s About the Courts-Not a popularity poll
               “What the drilling advocates fail to realize, with their number of petition signatures, number of leases, number of dollars, etc. ... is that once you get lawyers involved, the "popular vote" is out the window.  Ultimately the only opinion that's going to matter is that of the courts: either they will apply the PA Supreme Court's ruling on Act 13 zoning to local ordinances, or they won't.  Here's hoping they do.  Hooray for Chris and Angelo, Jordan and Aaron, John Smith and all the other courageous lawyers taking on the gas industry on behalf of our communities!  May they be victorious!!!
 Joseph P. McMurry

***Ligonier Valley Doesn’t Want to Be a Sacrifice Zone
               It is horrifying that we have to fight our own government to save the environment. ~ Ansel Adams, American Photographer and Environmentalist
               If Ansel Adams were to visit Marcellus Shale communities in Pennsylvania, he would be horrified at the destruction being wrought by the fossil fuel industry.
Where once rural and peaceful towns existed are now sacrifice zones in the name of corporate profit and personal gain. Where residents are fighting their own elected officials to preserve the towns and homes they love.
               Ligonier Valley, located in Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania is one such town. It was recognized by the Washington Post as a “Small-Town Charmer”, steeped in history, and beauty. If the town supervisors have their way, Ligonier Valley will join hundreds of other towns now know as the sacrifice zones of the Pennsylvania Gaslands.
               Until recently, Ligonier Valley has managed to avoid many of the harmful impacts of fracking and all that it brings along.   But that may change quickly.
Wade Thomas wades into the issue.   Thomas was elected as a supervisor in November 2014.
               A month later in December 2014, Supervisor-Elect Wade Thomas stood at a supervisor meeting and requested  $10,000 of the impact fees received by Ligonier, be set aside to fund a campaign to bring the natural gas industry to Ligonier.   It passed over objections of residents.
               Wade Thomas was officially sworn in as Supervisor in January 2015.
Zoning to Fit
               Ordinances that are written can be re-written, in the case of Ligonier Valley, they are being rewritten to benefit the natural gas industry, and residents are not happy.
Township supervisors say they must update ordinances to meet state law and court rulings.   In December 2013 Pennsylvania Supreme Court struck down the one-zoning-fits all provision of Act 13.   One section of the law found unconstitutional called for statewide rules on oil and gas to preempt local zoning rules. Another section required municipalities to allow oil and gas development in all zoning areas.
               The power to zone remains with the towns.   The purpose of zoning is to ensure a controlled growth of a municipality and to protect those who live there.   It is not to allow the willy-nilly industrialization which puts residents in harm’s way.
Ligonier Valley supervisors, over objection of residents, the same residents who voted them into office, dissolved Ligonier Township zoning and opened the door for the natural gas industry.
               Many people pointed out that they bought property in Ligonier Township because the other surrounding townships had much more lax zoning or none at all. They chose Ligonier Township due to stronger zoning. Now with the zoning changes, they are extremely worried about their property values and the aesthetics of their neighborhoods.   This was brought up numerous times at public hearings, and obviously ignored by the Ligonier Supervisors.
               Fracking will come to properties 50 acres or greater that are zoned Agricultural.   Additionally, most previously zoned Conservation districts, and certain Residential districts, will be rezoned Agricultural under the new ordinance and will comprise 75-85% of the entire Township.
               Solicitor Michael Korns and township manager Terry Carcella insist the proposed ordinance would enhance protections for the valley.   We’ve heard this before from many other sacrifice zone township supervisors and the fossil fuel industry.
               The EADS Group were contracted to create the new ordinance. Korns and Carcella are working with EADS Group on the new ordinances and zoning maps.
EADS Group is a member of the shale lobbying group, the Marcellus Shale Coalition.
Ligonier Planning Commissioner Ben Faas is employed by the EADS Group.
               As a Side note: During the January 5, 2015 Ligonier Township Supervisors Reorganization meeting a motion was made by Bruce Robinson and seconded by Paul Knupp to compensate the Planning Commission members at a rate of $30.00 per meeting to be paid quarterly for 2015. The motion carried.
               Free-for-All Fracking
               On March 11, 2015, the lone supervisor, Tim Komar made a motion to enforce a moratorium on all gas well fracking in Ligonier Township.
               Chairman Wade Thomas stated he did not second the motion “because I want to move forward” with the zoning ordinances.
               Supervisor Paul Knupp had no comment why he chose not to second.
Supervisor Bruce Robinson said Komar’s motion came out of nowhere and the board would listen to concerns at a March 26, 2015 hearing.
Ethics Violation
               Residents were successful in forcing Michale Korns, Ligonier Township Solicitor, to submit a query about a possible ethics violation of Township Supervisor Thomas Wade and his oil and gas leases.
               The Pennsylvania State Ethics Commission determined in a March 18, 2015 letter that yes, Supervisor Wade would have a conflict of interest in this matter Preserve Ligonier Valley
               The fight against their own government continues. The Citizens to Preserve Ligonier Valley (CPLV), a grassroots organization, are not going to sit back and allow the special interests of the natural gas industry and certain individuals turn their homes into yet another gasland sacrifice zone.
               For more information, visit Citizens to Preserve Ligonier Valley website today.”
© 2015 by Dory Hippauf

***Marcellus Shale drilling plan advances in Penn Township
               “Plans for a Marcellus Shale gas drilling operation in Penn Township are moving forward, as the company behind them is preparing to set up a well pad in the northeastern part of the township.
               The company, Apex Energy LLC, could start drilling in the next month or so. The site, near Route 22, is within hundreds of feet of a senior living facility and no more than a half-mile from a residential development.
               The operation will last “several months” and will take place around the clock, said Mark Rothenberg, its chief executive. It will involve two unconventional wells, at least one of them horizontal.  Unconventional wells involve hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, an advanced drilling technique that pulls oil and natural gas from rock formations deep underground.
               A township zoning board granted conditional approval of what is the first application for unconventional drilling in the township since it started revising its zoning laws late last year. As part of that revision, the quasi-judicial board is responsible for reviewing requests for special exception permits for such drilling operations.
               Before receiving the permit, the company must provide an emergency response plan, along with air-quality and geological studies. It also must agree to seek approval for any mechanical structures at the site, such as compressor stations.
               While it still must go before the township planning commission for approval of its site plan, Apex expects to meet those conditions, Mr. Rothenberg said. He noted that his company has conducted a number of environmental studies.
               The unanimous decision by the zoning board was read April 9 at a brief meeting that drew about a dozen people, none of whom addressed the board afterward.
               The company must sign a written decision by the board that it was expected to release earlier this week.
               Once that happens, the decision is subject to appeal for 30 days by any parties with standing in the case, said an attorney representing the board. Among them is a citizens group comprising residents from the township and surrounding municipalities that has called for tighter drilling regulations.
               “We were hoping for the best,” said Gillian Graber, a Trafford resident and president of the group, Protect PT. She was referring to the permitting process, which an environmental law firm the group hired has scrutinized.
               Last week’s decision ends about a two-month review by the board that involved much public comment and cross-examinations of drilling company representatives. The board initially tabled the application, saying it needed more time to review it.
               The decision came a day after Apex was notified that it received approval from the state Department of Environmental Protection to begin operations at the site.
               Encompassing nearly 90 acres near the intersection of Mellon and Walton roads, the site is less than 700 feet from the William Penn Care Center senior living facility and 2,000 to 2,500 feet from the Walton Crossings residential development. The closest structure, a rental property, is about 150 feet away.
               The well pad alone would stretch nearly 4 acres.
               The company also has state approval for two other sites in the township, including one in its Level Green area that is less than 2,000 feet from a subdivision in Trafford.
               But Mr. Rothenberg, the chief executive, has maintained that the site, which is zoned for industrial use, is the most conducive to fracking.
               Huntley & Huntley has plans for at least one site, on about 220 acres off Pleasant Valley Road that its land acquisition arm purchased last year. The Monroeville-based company has yet to receive state approval for that site, near the border with Murrysville, according to DEP records.
               But the company is in discussions with those who have leases with it about “potential well development,” Mike Hillebrand, its vice president, said in an email.
               “At the appropriate time, we will be communicating and cooperating with our local authorities as to how our plans impact the greater community,” he said.
               Noting that the township stands to gain more than $15 million from its development plans alone, he said the company has “made significant local investment” in areas where it has operated for more than 100 years.
               “We intend on doing business here for the next 100 years,” Mr. Hillebrand said.

***South Fayette Proposes Industrial Areas Only
               “South Fayette's proposed gas and oil ordinance limits oil and gas activity to industrial zones. Their solicitor, Jonathan Kamin, helped draft the ordinance; he was part of the team of attorneys who won the Act 13 case at the PA Supreme Court.

From the ordinance:
               "WHEREAS, the Board of Commissioners of the Township of South Fayette, after consultation with the Solicitor, have determined that the health, safety and welfare of the general public and residents of the Township of South Fayette will be promoted and protected by limiting the existence of oil and gas wells to areas of the Township which are industrial in nature; and
               WHEREAS, the Commissioners of the Township of South Fayette, after consultation with and review by the Township Planning Commission and the Township’s Code Officials and Solicitor’s office and under the authority of the MPC, at 53 P.S. §10603(c)(2) have determined that the health, safety and welfare of the public will be promoted and protected by allowing this development as a conditional land use in certain defined industrial; and
               WHEREAS, the MPC, AT 53 P.S. §10603(c)(3) states that the zoning ordinances may contain provisions for the administration and enforcement of such ordinances to protect the health, safety and welfare of the public."

***Alyson Holt on Property Rights
               In response to Mr. Wagenhoffer of Fayette:
                “It doesn't matter if you're a "firm believer in property rights". It matters whether or not "exploring your mineral rights" is COMPATIBLE with the zone you are in. I know I sound like a broken record, but the PA Supreme Court decision stated that residential zones are incompatible with the industrial use of high-volume hydraulic fracturing. If a property owner wants to "explore mineral rights" via high-volume hydraulic fracturing, those surface operations need to take place in an industrial zone.
               If you purchased property in a residential zone, you do not have a legal "right" to exploit the land for profit by a means incompatible with the rest of your zone (residential). You cannot set up a junkyard. You cannot open a concrete business. Your use must be compatible with residential zoning. Zoning zoning zoning.
               And one more thing, "property rights" cuts both ways. The residents next to the property owners who would like to put up surface operations for heavy industry ALSO have "investment-backed expectations" that protect their property's value as a residential asset. Nearby fracking surface operations may have negative impacts on residential property values and the rights of the residents who want to maintain the residential character of the zone (and their property values) have just as much standing (probably more) than the interests of those who would like drilling on their land to profit from.
               This is why these municipal ordinances are so absolutely critical. You can't undo damage if a well pad goes in an inappropriate location and adversely impacts the neighboring residents. (You can litigate for damages, but you cannot "undo" a well pad.) Municipalities MUST front-load the ordinances to keep an appropriate distance between fracking and residents' homes (and parks and schools) using primarily zoning restrictions and setback buffers. And municipalities like South Fayette are writing and poised to enact ordinances based on this straight-forward reading of the Act.”

***Fracking vote in Middlesex delayed
               “The Middlesex zoning hearing board has delayed its vote on a controversial fracking ordinance until May 27.
                              The zoning board heard many hours of testimony in a challenge to the township supervisors' August approval of an ordinance allowing drilling in most of the township. Last month the last of nine hearings on the issue drew a crowd of more than 300 people.”

***What is going on in Robinson?
               Letter to Editor
               “I am writing in response to the March 13 article, “ MarkWest holds off on Robinson rezoning request.”
               Those who are following this issue have seen a very strange set of developments: In 2014, Mark-West obtained a permit from the Department of Environmental Protection to construct a compressor station on a large plot of land it purchased in Robinson Township. It is immediately north of Midway, across the street and slightly southeast from the Quicksilver Golf Course. With the Robinson Township zoning changes that took place in 2014, a compressor station is already a permitted use in that location.
               However, in December, Mark-West made a presentation before the Robinson Township Planning Commission requesting that the zoning of that 253-acre area be changed to “industrial.” This was very odd, because why would they want to rezone an area when they could already use it for their stated use – to build a compressor station? The MarkWest representative was very adamant at that meeting about the need to change the zoning and change it fast.
               The MarkWest representative also emphasized the ideal nature of the location, saying that it had virtually no neighbors – except for seven homes or businesses. He neglected to point out that the proposed industrial site was right on top of the northern border of Midway, a borough of 1,000 “neighbors,” and that it would also be upwind of McDonald, a borough of 2,000 more “neighbors.”
               With a rezoning of the 253 acres for industrial use, there would be no public hearings for any industrial facility there at all. MarkWest would simply have the green light to do whatever it wanted, regardless of the concerns or the opinions of the 3,000 neighbors in the nearby boroughs, or the 2,200 people in Robinson Township itself.
               The planning commission submitted a letter to the Robinson Township supervisors expressing its strong opposition to the proposed rezoning. The MarkWest representative was slated to talk about the zoning proposal on March 9, but the item was removed from the supervisors’ agenda for the meeting. At the meeting, when the supervisors were asked for an update on the rezoning proposal, they deferred the question to the township manager. The manager, in turn, deferred the question to the MarkWest representative, who said, “We discussed it among ourselves at length, and decided that we are not going to go forward with it at this time.”
               Note that the request is not withdrawn; it is just postponed. Why would something that was so urgent in December be shifted to the backburner in March? So, the question we should all be asking is, “What exactly is going on in Robinson Township?”
Dorothy Bassett
Comments: Jesse White
  I'm just guessing, but the fact that this is a municipal election year just might have something to do with it. After the election is over, they can easily bring it back again.

***DEP Announces Oil/Gas Board
            Fraught with Conflict of Interest
(Even the appointees from organizations that would appear have no vested interests do have a conflict. For example, Penn State researchers are well known for the bias in their pro gas reports that helped lead PA into the rush to drill (that research has since been discarded as factually inaccurate), Geoscience Consulting is a business that makes money from the gas industry. jan)
                              The Oil and Gas Technical Advisory board’s mission is to increase transparency and communication about regulating the unconventional oil and gas drilling industry.
               TAB is authorized under the 2012 Oil and Gas Act to advise DEP in the formulation, drafting, and presentation stages of all regulations relating to unconventional oil and gas extraction. TAB will be given the opportunity to review and comment on all regulations of a technical nature prior to submission to the Environmental Quality Board.
               TAB consists of five members, all of whom are chosen by the Governor and are residents of Pennsylvania. All board members were appointed on March 9, 2015.

 Fred J. Baldassare, P.G., Owner & Senior Geoscientist, ECHELON Applied Geoscience Consulting
    David A. Yoxtheimer, P.G., Hydrogeologist, Marcellus Center for Outreach and Research at The Pennsylvania State University
    Robert C. Hendricks, P.G., Water Team Lead/Groundwater Protection Lead Appalachia, Shell Exploration and Production Company
    Casey V. Saunders, P.E., Pennsylvania Coal Operations Senior Project Engineer, CONSOL Energy
    Bryan J. McConnell, P.G., Environmental Program Manager, Tenaska, Inc.

The non-voting members of the Advisory Board are selected by the Secretary of the DEP. These members are:
    John Walliser, Esq., Vice President of Legal & Government Affairs, Pennsylvania                Environmental Council
    W. Michael Griffin, Ph.D., Executive Director of the Center for Energy and Decision Making, Carnegie Mellon University
    Emily Krafjack, President, Connection for Oil, Gas, & Environment in the Northern Tier, Inc.
    Barbara G. Kutchko, Ph.D., P.E., Physical Scientist, National Energy Technology Laboratory at the US Department of Energy

***Despite Total Control of the Board, the Industry           Pressures DEP To Remove Non Voting Members
               (Neither The Environmental Council nor Carnegie Mellon have taken strong stances on drilling regulation. I am not sure why the industry is even bothering to oppose these groups as non-voting members. Jan)
               “The DEP rejected a call by the Pennsylvania Independent Oil & Gas Association for the removal of four non-voting members from a board that advises officials on oil and gas policy.
               Elizabeth Nolan, an attorney for the DEP, said there were no grounds to dismiss the four members, who have been appointed by the DEP’s Acting Secretary, John Quigley.
               Nolan told a meeting of the Oil and Gas Technical Advisory Board that the 2012 Oil & Gas Act doesn’t contain language that would allow for the removal of the members, and that the department has the authority to select members who have a range of relevant skills outside of the oil & gas industry.
               “The department has a responsibility to develop regulations in an open and transparent manner with input from the public,” Nolan said, at a meeting to examine significant changes to oil and gas regulations, as proposed by the DEP.
               She said the department is seeking “enhanced public participation” through the appointment of the four non-voting members, who include a professor from Carnegie Mellon University and a senior member of the Pennsylvania Environmental Council.
 “There is hope for the remaining 500 school districts across the Commonwealth,” she said.

Note: this post has been updated to reflect the following correction. Emily Krafjack is with the Connection for Oil, Gas, & Environment in the Northern Tier (COGENT), not Northern Tier Energy.”

*** 2 Mile Buffer For Schools

(First and foremost, drilling should be sited in industrial zones only, then if the schools are near industrial zones, the 2 mile buffer should be implemented. )
               “Amy and the Butler County Mars Parent Group have been researching unconventional gas drilling since March 2014, when a six well drilling site was proposed for an area just one half mile from the school Amy’s daughters attend every day. The group compiled peer reviewed data from experts at the Harvard Center for Environmental Health, Centers for Disease Control, and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, “just to name a few.”
               The data were clear: unconventional well sites create immediate “harmful health and safety impacts” within a two-mile radius of drilling.
               This morning, Amy testified before the DEP’s Technical Advisory Board to share these findings and ask that the rules known as Chapter 78 include stronger provisions to protect schools from the negative impacts of gas drilling.
               She also urged the DEP to address methane pollution from gas operations. Methane is a potent greenhouse gas when it leaks into the atmosphere. It leaks alongside other toxic air pollutants, like benzene, formaldehyde and the volatile organic compounds that react to form smog. Technologies that prevent methane leaks also reduce emissions of these other pollutants, which means cleaner air for everyone.
               Amy believes that our children should not have to risk their health to attend school. She deserves to send her daughters to school each day knowing the state has taken reasonable steps to protect them from the health and safety risks of drilling.”

 ***Emissions Are Increasing from Expanding Gas Industry
VOCs – Increased 19%,
PM – Increased 12%,
NOx -increased 8%
SO2- increased 57%
Methane and CO2- decreased

               Emissions from the expanding natural gas drilling industry increased in four of six air pollution categories in 2013 but releases of an important greenhouse gas declined, according to new data published by the DEP.
               Acting DEP Secretary John Quigley said the increases were not unexpected because the industry is growing and regulators have expanded the number and types of facilities that have to report their emissions since the state first began collecting the data in 2011.
               The number of well sites, processing facilities and compressor stations reporting emissions continued to climb in 2013. The emissions inventory includes 18.3 percent more well sites — from 8,700 to 10,300 — and 8.2 percent more midstream facilities than the previous year, DEP said.
               Overall, air quality in Pennsylvania is showing improvements, Mr. Quigley said.
               “While we are experiencing some increases in emissions from the gas sector, overall, our air quality continues to improve due to emissions reductions from other point sources such as electric generating units,” he said.
               In 2013, emissions of volatile organic compounds from drilling rigs, well heads, hydraulic fracturing, compressor stations, leaks and other industry sources increased 19 percent from 2012 levels, rising from 4,024 to 4,790 tons per year, according to the DEP figures.
                Particulate matter, or soot, increased 12 percent, from 600 to 670 tons per year, and nitrogen oxides increased 8 percent, from 16,361 to 17,659 tons per year.
               Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) include a variety of chemicals that may have short- and long-term adverse health effects, and they react with nitrogen oxides in sunlight to create lung-damaging pollution called ground-level ozone, or smog.
               The natural gas industry’s VOC emissions made up nearly 18 percent of the total volatile organic compounds emitted in 2013 by all industrial stationary sources in Pennsylvania, according to the DEP.
               Sulfur dioxide emissions from the natural gas industry increased 57 percent, from 101 tons per year in 2012 to 159 tons per year in 2013, but the sector’s emissions of the pollutant are relatively tiny — just 0.05 percent of the total sulfur dioxide emissions from all industrial sources statewide.
                Methane and carbon monoxide emissions from gas drilling and production both decreased in 2013: methane by 13 percent and carbon monoxide by 10 percent.
Federal and state regulators are pushing the gas industry to cut emissions of methane, a potent greenhouse gas with over 80 times the heat-trapping power of carbon dioxide over a 20-year time span.
               DEP began collecting emissions information from Marcellus Shale and other unconventional natural gas drilling and pipeline companies in 2011. The 2012 figures added data from processing plants and compressor stations that handle gas from conventional wells for the first time, while the 2013 inventory expanded to include compressor stations that support coal-bed methane production.
                              Kevin Stewart, director of environmental health for the American Lung Association of the Mid-Atlantic, said VOC emissions from natural gas operations are significant, and the degree to which their contents are hazardous toxic compounds still needs to be characterized.
               “It remains a concern to the American Lung Association in Pennsylvania that the impacts of this increase in VOC emissions on air quality, especially for vulnerable populations including natural gas workers in close proximity, has not yet been adequately addressed,” he said.
Laura Legere:

Comment by Bob Donnan
               Thanks for an accurate headline and news article PG; other newspaper headlines create the wrong impression. Increased VOCs and NOx create more Ground Level Ozone, just as we have already seen in other US oil and gas production regions. Parts of rural Wyoming now exceed Los Angeles smog problems and the massive natural gas industry build-out in our tri-state area will most likely repeat this sort of 'ozone action day' history. Look at the pollutant increases in just 12 months, then consider the local shale industry is on course to grow 10- to 15-times larger in coming decades.

VOCs – Increased 19%,
PM – Increased 12%,
NOx increased 8%

***Problems With Uncontrollable Gas Well
               “The Fire Department evacuated 13 residences as a precaution near a gas well site run by Vantage Energy along Little Road.
               The well site problem, resulted in flow back of pressurized fracking water at just before 3 p.m. Saturday, officials said. At 8 p.m. Vantage Energy tried to control the well by injecting mud; when that did not work, the well-control company Boots and Coots was called.
               Assistant Fire Chief Jim Self said that there were no harmful levels of natural gas in the area and that the evacuation was a precautionary measure. He said if the well cannot be stopped, there is a chance that natural gas could leak.
                Boots & Coots attempted to replug the gas well at 4 a.m., but was unsuccessful, the city of Arlington said on its website. “Boots and Coots will be bringing in additional resources to replace the gas wellhead as quickly and safely as possible,” the city said. “While there has been no gas released to this point, the possibility exist that a release could occur. All citizens are asked to stay away from the area impacted by this gas well incident.”
               The incident involved “flow back of pressurized fracking water” at the well site along Little Road, according to officials.”

***Range Resources Wants To Kill Free Speech in Texas

September 5, 2014 - Range Resources’ case against Lipsky is the “poster child for what SLAPP is.” And what did Lipsky do to deserve the wrath of Range? He called the EPA. But, he only called the EPA after the Texas Railroad Commission failed to take action for months.
 After the Texas Railroad Commission declared that Range Resources did not contaminate Steve Lipsky’s well, Range filed a ridiculous $3 million countersuit against the Lipskys and the scientist they hired to test their water.

***Fracking’s Most Wanted
Report Identifies Top 10 Oil & Gas Companies for Spills & Violations
    Only 3 Out of 36 States Publicly Track Oil & Gas Companies’ Missteps
       April 2, 2015 – Fracking’s Most Wanted: Lifting the Veil on Oil and Gas Company Spills and Violations is an investigation into whether information about oil and gas company violations is publicly available nationwide, as well as the accessibility and reliability of the information that does exist.
               The groups discovered that only Colorado, Pennsylvania and West Virginia post accessible public data about companies’ violations. Even that information is often incomplete, misleading, and/or difficult to interpret. The data that is available in each of these three states reveals significant violations—in number and severity. Incidents include a wide range of dangerous infractions like spills, drinking water contamination, illegal air pollution, improper construction or maintenance of waste pits, failure to conduct safety tests, improper well casing, and nonworking blowout preventers.
    Of these companies, the following 10 had the most violations overall, in order of most to least:
    1. Chesapeake Energy (669)
    2. Cabot Oil and Gas (565)
    3. Talisman Energy (362))
    4. Range Resources (281)
    5. EXCO Resources (249)
    6. ExxonMobil (246)
    7. EQT Corporation (245)
    8. Anadarko Petroleum Corporation (235)
    9. Shell (223)
    10. Penn Virginia Corporation (186)

  ***Statement On The SW Environmental Health Report    
by Larysa Dyrszka, MD; Kathleen Nolan, MD, MSL; and Sandra Steingraber, PhD
               “Early results from an on-the-ground, public health assessment in Washington County, Pennsylvania, indicate that environmental contamination is occurring near natural gas drilling sites and is the likely cause of associated illnesses. We are alarmed by these preliminary findings. They show that—after only six years of drilling—human exposure is occurring and people are getting sick. The presence of any sick people gives lie to industry claims that high volume hydraulic fracturing (fracking) is “safe.”
               Focusing on the early low numbers from this ongoing study, however—as does a recent Associated Press story—is misleading. The 27 cases documented by the Southwest Pennsylvania Environmental Health Project team are not a surveyed sample of the region’s population, nor were they recruited to be part of a study. They are patients from a single rural clinic who came in seeking help. As such, these early figures could easily be the leading edge of a rising wave of human injury.
               Furthermore, these 27 people represent only those suffering acute problems. Chronic illnesses can take years to manifest. Mesothelioma from asbestos, thyroid cancer from radiation, mental retardation from lead poisoning; birth defects from the rubella virus: all these now-proven connections began with a handful of case studies that, looking back, were just the tip of an iceberg. We know that many of the chemicals released during drilling and fracking operations—including benzene—are likewise slow to exert their toxic effects. Detection of illness can lag by years or decades, as did the appearance of illnesses in construction workers and first responders from exposure to pollution in the 9/11 World Trade Center response and clean-up.
               The early results from the Southwest Pennsylvania Environmental Health Project study implicate air contamination as the likely cause of three-quarters of the associated illnesses so documented. In some cases, starkly elevated levels of fracking-related air pollutants were found in the air inside of people’s homes. This is an unacceptable problem: and, while a drinking water source might be replaced, air cannot.
               A minority of cases suffered from likely exposures to tainted water, but these low numbers are not reassuring. Many exposures related to natural gas extraction increase over time. First come airborne exposures, as seen in Washington County and around the country where drilling and fracking is taking place. In a small percentage of communities near drilling operations, water contamination also takes place immediately due to failure of the well casings. But, more often, water contamination is a delayed response. Well casings continue to fail as they age—up to 60 percent over 30 years—and, as they do, we expect health effects from waterborne contaminants to rise and spread to more communities.
               Thus, each well is potentially the center of an expanding circle of illness. At first there are only a few cases, but the ultimate result may be widespread contamination.
               In the AP story, the gas industry argues that lives are saved by cleaner burning natural gas. Even if there is any truth in that claim, saving U.S. lives from emissions from shamefully antiquated coal plants should not require sacrificing unconsenting children and families to contaminated air and water from fracked wells and the transportation of gas. Creating new health hazards to replace the old is unethical when clean, safe, renewable forms of energy exist.
               Given that exposures and illness increase over time and given that many instances of contamination and illness related to fracking never come to light due to non-disclosure agreements with the industry, we cannot accurately quantify the extent of our problems with gas drilling. We do know they are here, and we have every reason to expect that they are not yet fully visible and they are growing.

***Research Study:  Fracking Can Release Radon from           Ground
               “Levels of cancer-causing radon gas in Pennsylvania homes have increased as the fracking industry has expanded, a new study shows.
               The study is a preliminary "first look" into a possible connection between fracking and radon, a naturally occurring radioactive gas, says co-author Joan Casey. While the study doesn't conclusively prove that fracking releases radon from the ground, the findings are concerning, says Casey, a researcher at the University of California-Berkeley and University of California-San Francisco.
                              Authors of the new study, published today in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, say they focused on Pennsylvania because it has one of highest residential radon levels in the country, and because the state has a huge, detailed database of home radon measures.
               Pennsylvania's high radon levels stem from the type of bedrock that runs through much of the state, which contains radioactive materials such as uranium and radium, which degrade into radon, an invisible gas, Casey says. Radon can seep into basements through cracks in a home's foundation and become trapped in homes that aren't well ventilated.
               Doctors are concerned about radon because it's the second-leading cause of lung cancer, behind only tobacco, says Janice Nolen, assistant vice president of national policy at the American Lung Association. Radon causes 21,000 lung cancer deaths a year, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
               Authors analyzed more than 860,000 indoor radon measurements from Pennsylvania's database, taken from Jan. 1, 1989 to Dec. 31, 2013.
Researchers found that radon levels fluctuated from 1989 to 2004. But radon levels in the state began to rise around 2004, when fracking really took off, the study says.
               Authors also noticed that radon concentrations were 21% higher in buildings with well water than in those using municipal water. Radon can dissolve in water. So it's possible that radon enters homes through showers and faucets, then spreads into the air, says study coauthor Brian Schwartz, a professor of environmental health sciences at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore.
               Schwartz notes that it's possible that something other than fracking caused home radon levels to rise. For example, homes may have become more energy efficient since 2004. Although well-insulated homes save energy, they can also trap radon inside, he says.
               Authors of today's study acknowledge that their findings conflict with those of a January study from DEP, which reported that "there is little potential for additional radon exposure to the public due to the use of natural gas extracted from geologic formations located in Pennsylvania."
               Pennsylvania officials, however, say it's difficult to compare the two studies, because they measured radon in very different ways.
               While Casey and Schwartz's paper included radon measurements from homes, the Pennsylvania report measured radon at fracking wells, gas processing facilities, disposal sites and waste water processing facilities and other places, says the DEP's Ken Reisinger. The state report measured radon levels in the natural gas coming out of the ground, as well as in air near the fracking facilities. Radon levels weren't higher than expected, Reisinger says.
               Reisinger questioned Casey and Schwartz' conclusion that fracking may be causing radon levels to rise. That's because their report also found rising radon levels in parts of the state with no fracking.
               Casey and Schwartz say researchers should conduct more detailed studies to see if their findings can be confirmed.
               Some health experts say the link between radon and fracking is worrisome.
               "There are a tremendous number of poorly understood and potentially serious health risks associated with fracking, one of which is exposure to radioactivity," says Aaron Bernstein, a pediatrician and associate director of the Center for Health and the Global Environment at the Harvard H.T. Chan School of Public Health. "We simply do not have anything close to adequate safeguards for people's health."
               Fracking has been linked to a wide spectrum of health problems for Americans across the country, according to a December report by the Natural Resources Defense Council, an environmental group.
               That report said Americans who live near oil and gas drilling wells are exposed to fracking-related air pollution in the form of chemicals such as benzene and formaldehyde.”

***Gas Industry’s Solution to Toxic Wastewater: Spray It         On Roads
            In parts of Pennsylvania and New York, the answer to ice-slick wintry roads is simple: Put some gas production waste on it. Municipalities in the northern parts of both states use the salty wastewater from oil and gas production to melt ice in winter and suppress road dust in summer.
               The salty liquid does a great job: The brine can be as much as 10 times saltier than typical road salt. Plus it comes cheap; oil and gas companies, glad not to have to pay for disposal, will sell it to towns for cheap, or give it away free. Both states’ environmental protection departments consider brine spreading to be a “beneficial use” of the industrial waste, meaning, in legal terms, that recycling it in this way “does not harm or threaten public health, safety, welfare or the environment.”
               But according to new research, the brine is anything but benign. Worse, states barely track it; New York doesn’t know how much of the stuff is being used on its roads, and the Pennsylvania department charged with regulating it appeared to NOT FULLY UNDERSTAND its potential effects until Newsweek got in touch. The wastewater spread on roads comes from oil and gas wells. To drill, production companies send large volumes of water down the well shaft. The water rises back to the surface as a brine laden with chloride (a salt) as well as a number of other constituents like radium and barium, which are radioactive. The brine used on roads comes from conventional oil and gas production, not hydraulic fracturing or “fracking.”
               But according to Duke University geochemist Avner Vengosh, the conventional drilling waste is nearly identical in many of its most toxic components to the highly controversial fracking waste. Vengosh says the levels of radioactive material found in conventional brine samples taken from New York are equal to levels he has seen in fracking brine, for example.
                A study Vengosh and his colleagues published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology found that brine being discharged, untreated, into Pennsylvania’s waterways—the same liquid that is spread on roads—also contained significant concentrations of ammonium, iodide and bromide. Each of these chemicals can be toxic to living creatures.
               Ammonium, when dissolved in water, is highly toxic to aquatic life. It showed up in samples from discharge sites at levels more than 50 times the EPA’s water-quality threshold, according to the study. In other words, as of late summer 2014, when the sampling took place, there was way too much ammonium entering the state’s water bodies.
               While the volume of brine used to de-ice roads would be much lower than what was being dumped into rivers, Vengosh says it is important to keep in mind that “you need a very tiny amount of ammonium for it to start to be toxic.”
               “No one was much aware of the ammonium.... We were very surprised to find that level in wastewater,” Vengosh says. “If it would be sewage [that was] being released on roads, it would have similar or less ammonium, and it would be criminal to release it like that.”
               Iodide and bromide, meanwhile, turn into a variety of toxic compounds when they combine with organic metals in rivers and subsequently flow into water treatment plants, where they combine with the chlorine that gets added to our drinking water during the disinfection process. The interaction with organic metals and chlorine results in “disinfection byproducts”—like iodinated trihalomethanes, brominated trihalomethanes and chloroform—which are carcinogenic.
               It’s kind of sad, perhaps, that in 2015, after decades of operation, we’re just now discovering that [the wastewater] contains those contaminants,” says Vengosh. The problem, he adds, is “that there isn’t any oversight.” He says states need to implement a cap on allowable levels of chloride, the salt component of the brine. Capping chloride levels would effectively limit bromide and iodide levels too, because those constituents always show up in ratios that depend on the amount of chloride in the water.
               The first time I called Scott Perry, the deputy secretary for the DEP Office of Oil and Gas Management, he had the opposite take. “We don’t have any data to suggest that that is causing a problem. [Brine spreading] has literally been going on for at least this century and the last,” he says.
               Over 3 million gallons of the brine were spread over roads in the northwestern part of the state in 2014. “It doesn’t have to be treated,” Perry says.
               A number of other rules must be followed, however. Brine cannot be applied in Pennsylvania within 150 feet of a stream, creek, lake or other body of water, and it can’t be spread while it is raining or “when rain is imminent,” to avoid runoff. If the slope of the road is at an angle steeper than 10 percent, brine can’t be used.
               Pennsylvania recently evaluated whether the radioactive material in the brine could have an acute or chronic impact on the health of people who jog or cycle on treated roads and found there was “little potential for harm.” But the study did not look into the implications of brine spreading on the surrounding waterways.
               By our second conversation, Perry had dug up a state-funded study from 1996 that gave him pause. The study found that there was, indeed, “potential for brine to migrate from the roadway and impact ground or surface water quality.”
               “However, by controlling the frequency and application rates and complying with the other provisions of the DEP guidelines, impacts to ground and surface waters can be minimized while still meeting the road maintenance objective,” the paper reads.
               The paper concludes that there is “a need to balance the beneficial aspects of spreading brine on unpaved roads against the potential impacts to ground and surface water.”
               Pennsylvania incorporated the recommendations of the study into its brine-spreading guidelines, reducing the volume of the maximum recommended application rate from 1 gallon of brine per square yard of road to half a gallon per square yard. But those remained (and remain today) guidelines for use, not rules.
                “I think as a result of my reading that study, and the work we’ve done regarding [radioactivity], it seems to me that it’s really prudent for us to take another look at the use for road spreading,” Perry told me. “I think we should go and take some other samples from the environment. It could result in no changes, that in fact the application rates in the guidelines prove themselves to be correct.
“And I think we should probably look at the effect of chlorides on water resources,” he said.
               In New York, meanwhile, even less is known about the brine spreading. A spokeswoman for New York State Department of Environmental Conservation told public radio station WAMC last year that in order to obtain “beneficial use” status in New York, the road-spreading plans must avoid affecting state forest areas, wetlands and surface water bodies. The state reviews permit applications on a case-by-case basis, though the specifics of the requirements are not publicly available.
               Bill Wegner, a biologist on staff at Riverkeeper, says New York’s safety requirements aren’t enough to protect water supplies. “It can still infiltrate into groundwater, and aquifers, which supply baseflow to streams…[and] I don’t think there’s a safe way to use anything that’s radioactive,” he says. “There are a lot of other ways to de-ice a road.”
               Vengosh, meanwhile, says more study needs to be done on the impact of spreading brine on roads. “No one has systematically evaluated this.”
               Speaking of his work and that of his colleagues, he says, “We are not anti-fracking at all.” But given how similar toxic wastewater from conventional oil and gas wells is to fracking wastewater, he says, “I see it as the utmost irony that New York banned fracking but allows disposal of brine on roads.”

***WVU Researcher Warns About Toxic Ultrafine Dust
Diesel Generator for Gas Drilling Major Source
               “When we hear about the danger of dust exposure, we are usually talking about coal dust underground, or silica dust. But that’s not the only dust that can make people sick. Apparently almost any dust can, if it’s fine enough.
                Michael McCawley says:  “We also know they have a much increased rate of lung disease and also death from lung disease, much higher than in the rest of Appalachia and much higher than in the rest of the country in general.”
               Michael McCawley is Interim Chair of the Department of Occupational and Environmental Health Sciences at West Virginia University. He’s been studying some aspects of air pollution that might shed new light on some of the human health disparities that seem to be abundant around surface mining operations, including lung and cardiovascular disease, and high blood pressure. His passion these days: ultrafine particle pollution.
               By ultrafine, we are talking about dust small enough to pass right into the smallest parts of you.
               “So your cell is kind of like Jell-O with a harder outside casing but the harder outside casing has pinholes,” McCawley explained, “and these particles are smaller than the pinholes. So they can move into the inside of the cell where the exposure results in inflammation. And inflammation is the beginning of a huge number of diseases.”
               McCawley explains that there is a substantial body of literature that demonstrates the toxic effects of these particles.  He says exposure to ultrafine particles emitted from diesel engines in Europe is associated with exacerbated asthma in young children as well as lung and cardiovascular diseases.
               “They get into the lungs. In the lungs they can affect the nervous system. And the nervous system has an effect on the entire body including the arteries in the body. So you can get an increased blood pressure due to exposure just in the lungs.”
               McCawley says it matters to some degree what the dust is made from, but all ultrafine are probably toxic.
               “One of the ways we know that,” McCawley said, “they’ve done experiments with titanium dioxide. Titanium dioxide is the white pigment in paint. Generally it’s known to be fairly nontoxic.”
He says rats exposed to high concentrations of titanium dioxide dust at two, to four micrometers in size, has no effect on the animals’ health. But the same amount of exposure to ultrafine particles of titanium dioxide kills the rats.
               The Environmental Protection Agency does not have any rules on the books regulating ultrafine particle pollution. Rules do exist pertaining to larger dust particle exposure. But McCawley explains that EPA considers the overall mass of dust in the air for those rules. Ultrafine particles, he says, would need to be monitored and regulated differently.
McCawley He recommends that any community in the vicinity of surface mining or mountaintop removal test for ultrafine particle pollution.
               But coal mining isn’t the only industry McCawley is concerned about. He says anywhere where there’s a lot of traffic or diesel generators (highways and horizontal gas drilling operations, for example) are major sources of ultrafine particle pollution.”

               "This adds to other studies that linked injecting wastewater from energy wells to a tremendous jump in earthquakes in Oklahoma and southern Kansas, where there have been more than 950 magnitude 2 or higher quakes so far this year, according to the USGS.
               In the past, studies have linked quakes to the injection of wastewater after the drilling process. This study is different because it also sees a secondary link in another part of the drilling process, when massive amounts of brine is taken out of the ground with the gas, said study co-author William Ellsworth of the USGS. Removing the saltwater changes the underground pressure, Hornbach said.
               But the deep injection of the wastes still is the principle culprit, Mr. Ellsworth said. The controversial method of hydraulic fracturing or fracking, even though that may be used in the drilling, is not physically causing the shakes, he said."…/Oklahoma…/stories/201504220117

***         “The study, led by researchers at SMU and published  in the journal Nature Communications, presents some of the most conclusive evidence yet that humans are shifting faults below Dallas-Fort Worth that have not budged in hundreds of millions of years....“It’s certainly one of the best cases in the literature,” said Art McGarr of the U.S. Geological Survey’s Earthquake Hazards Program in Menlo Park, Calif....The scientists zeroed in on an unusual mechanism behind the quakes: workers pushing liquid into the ground on one side of a fault and sucking gas and groundwater from the other side of the fault.
               “The combination of these activities seems to have triggered the earthquakes, and that was a real surprise to us,” said Matthew Hornbach, a geophysicist at SMU and a lead author of the paper.
               Injecting fluids into the ground or extracting them has long been known to cause quakes, but rarely — if ever — have the two been caught acting in concert.”

***Syracuse Prof. Hid Ties To Chesapeake Gas
               “A Syracuse University researcher has come under fire from anti-fracking activists for failing to disclose his ties to the gas industry in a recent study.
               Donald Siegel has said he has a contract with Chesapeake Energy Corp., and another author of the paper worked for Chesapeake. The final paper in the journal Environmental Science & Technology states that "the authors declare no competing financial interest."
               The study found that drinking wells in Pennsylvania had not been contaminated with methane from nearby fracking wells. The study has been touted by pro-fracking activists as evidence that the process is safe. Anti-fracking activists say they don't trust the paper because the water samples were provided by Chesapeake and because Siegel and one of the co-authors, Bert Smith, have financial ties to the company.
               Syracuse attorney Joe Heath, who opposes fracking and has debated Siegel at least twice on the topic, said Siegal clearly violated the ethical guidelines of the journal.
               "The guidelines are very, very clear that authors must reveal any potential relevant financial interest," Heath said. "There are no gray areas here. It's very clear he did not reveal he got a fee from (Chesapeake)."

***EPA Seeks To Ban Fracking Wastewater From           Public Treatment Plants
               “The EPA is proposing to ban publicly owned wastewater treatment facilities from taking untreated waste fluids from the unconventional oil and gas industry in a move that would guarantee the end of a disposal practice that the industry and states have already abandoned.
               federal regulators said they are taking comments on their plan to forbid publicly owned treatment works from accepting and discharging the wastewater, which often contains high concentrations of salt and lesser amounts of chemicals, metals and naturally occurring radioactive materials that are potentially harmful to human health and the environment. Public sewage treatment plants are not designed to remove those pollutants, which can flow through to streams untreated or interfere with the plant’s normal treatment processes.
               It would not apply to conventional oil and gas operations that generally use vertical wells to tap shallower formations and produce smaller amounts of waste fluids. It also would not apply to commercial wastewater plants that treat and discharge fluids to waterways, which are regulated separately.”

Comments on the article:
Stephen Cleghorn posted on facebook: My good friend Tracy Carluccio of Delaware Riverkeeper has answered my question and added the following: "It is not a regulation or statutory ban, it is simply a request from PA DEP that plants not accept frack waste. There are plants still doing that under “grandfathering” and under consent decrees as far as I know. Also, the regulations that have been adopted by PA for industrial waste treatment plants (the ones NOT included in EPA’s ban) only are required to remove a small number of the constituents known to be in frack wastewater and the treatment standards are not strict enough and have no cumulative measurement since in-stream standards have never been adopted for most of those pollutants. So even if each discharger were to meet the required permit limits under PA’s current discharge regulations, there is no requirement to measure or control the quality of the water in the stream itself—called “in-stream” standards. For our water quality limited streams and rivers in Western PA where most of these plants are located, limiting individual points of discharge is fine but it doesn’t do anything to guarantee the river or stream isn’t degraded by multiple discharges like we have already in the Conemaugh River and the Allegheny and many other western PA rivers." THIS IS SO PATHETIC! (that's me talking again, or rather SHOUTING in outraged CAPS).

Melody Susan
Another attempt to convince the public that all is under control - it's not. DEP asked the gas industry to "voluntarily" cease dumping toxic, radiation waste in wastewater treatment plants in 2011; they did not order it. Since it is costly to take this waste to Youngstown, Ohio's Class II injection well for disposal, it is unlikely that is happening. See the actual findings of the 1/15/15 DEP TENORM Report (not the misleading Synopsis) . It shows radiation risks to the public and workers are significant due to this industry at landfills and POTWs. Check out this link too. DEP allows radioactive wastes from drilling to be deposited into landfills if "dilluted" to 1:50 ratio - meaning one part of radiation is mixed with 50 parts of garbage -- this does not render the radiation safe and will be a burden for over 1000 years. Who will be monitoring this in the distant future?

J. Stephen Cleghorn10 hours ago
Very good, because the EPA has been derelict in its duties for years now in allowing PA to let its drilling waste be dumped into public drinking water sources. At this point there is simply no way of knowing how many people's health has already been compromised. They should ban the practice at both public and private water treatment plants. Last I read, and someone correct me if I am wrong, the rejection of drilling waste at water treatment plants is still done on a voluntary basis, and there are for-profit operators that still do so. I want to see the new regulations ban altogether the disposal of drilling waste in any surface waters of the Commonwealth, whether treated or not, and I want to see criminal felony penalties for any waste treatment facility operator that accepts drilling waste to be discharged into waters from which the public gets its drinking water. There must be a fail-safe way of handling this toxic waste that never involves releasing it into the drinking sources of Pennsylvanians.

Diane Sipe12 hours ago
There clearly is not adequate oversight of fracking waste, which can eventually find its way into waterways. Last year in Butler County the DEP fined subsidiaries of Vogel Holding Inc. subsidiaries Seneca Landfill Inc. and Vogel Disposal Services, Inc. $1.2 million for violations that include improper storage and transportation of unapproved oil and gas waste. The landfill in question is located very near the Connoquenessing Creek. Fines after the fact will not protect our waterways.

Tracy Carluccio12 hours ago
The EPA should ban frack waste from going to all of the plants, including industrial facilities, that currently take this waste and discharge it to surface water. Even the industrial waste facilities deliver pollutants to waterways, despite treatment. Case in point: PA Brine Treatment, Josephine facility that is documented by papers available from EPA as a major pollution source to Blacklick Creek in Indiana County, PA. Alarming sampling results were reported: Two years after PADEP said the facility was no longer taking frack waste, university sampling found frack pollutants in the stream. Sediments were found to contain radium at concentrations 200 times the background level, leaving a radioactive legacy:
The problem is frack waste is highly toxic and there is no safe way to treat it or to remove all the contaminants that pose health and environmental threats. The smart thing to do is to stop production frack waste by stopping fracking in Pennsylvania. DEP should not issue permits for fracking that will produce this dangerous waste product.

(This article is from our 2012 Updates. I thought it bears repeating. Jan)
               I had called SRM Company of Latrobe that performs water testing (I believe the company is no longer in existence) and asked about the presence of acrylonitrile in water, which has been mentioned in several news articles. I wondered about the possible source of contamination.  Karen Hough provided some insight.
               “This plastic polymer is mixed with sand at the surface in a hopper.  The formula is 15,000 pounds of sand to 229,000 gallons of gel proppant which can be acrylonitrile.  The polymer-sand mixture props open the spaces that are opened during fracking. So the concern might be for contamination of surface areas that could occur during mixing and for the workers possibly exposed. Also, some of the polymer would return to the surface (the percentages returned can vary)  as part of frack wastewater, and then sometimes be pumped to a frack pit.”

Four Democrats Reintroduce Frack Pack Regs
Frac, Breathe, Fresher, Shared
               “A group of bills called the "Frack Pack" announced by four Democratic congressmen would impose more stringent federal environmental regulations on the domestic petroleum industry .The Western Energy Alliance petroleum industry group criticized the measures as unnecessary.
               The bills all have been introduced before without success.
               Colorado Rep. Diana DeGette's FRAC Act, which would regulate fracking under the Safe Drinking Water Act. The bill also would require public disclosure of chemicals used during hydraulic fracturing.
               "I support fracking so long as it's done responsibly. Unfortunately, the current regulatory framework does not make sure this is the case. Our laws are riddled with loopholes that exempt fracking from protections that are vital to the safety of people and communities," DeGette said on a conference call hosted by the Environment America federation of environmental groups.
               A bill brought by Colorado Rep. Jared Polis, the BREATHE Act, would end exemptions to federal air pollution rules for the petroleum industry. The bill would require air pollution from many small sources to be regulated collectively rather than just individually.
               "One or two fracking pads might not make much of a difference. But you suddenly put thousands of them in a limited area, it has an enormous impact on air quality which is currently exempt from the Clean Air Act," Polis said.
               Rep. Jan Schakowsky of Illinois wants to require pollution testing of water sources before and during petroleum development under her SHARED Act.
               Under the FRESHER Act, oil and gas producers would need to get permits for development that would increase stormwater runoff. There is no good reason to exempt the oil and gas industry from federal environmental regulations that apply to other industries, said the bill's sponsor, Rep. Matt Cartwright of Pennsylvania.
               "It's not like the oil and gas companies are less likely to pollute than other companies. It's just that they are more able to strong-arm amendments and grant themselves exemptions here on Capitol Hill," Cartwright said.
               Wyoming, recently implemented a rule that requires oil and gas developers to test nearby groundwater for pollution before, during and after drilling. Wyoming also was the first state to require companies to disclose to state regulators the ingredients in the chemical products used during fracking.
               "All other states with oil and natural gas production have stringent rules and exemplary safety records that don't require new, redundant federal regulations," Sgamma said.

***Community Rights the Way to Fight Fracking
               From : Environmental Legal Defense Fund Site
               “On November 15, 2010, South Fayette Township in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania passed a zoning ordinance regulating the location of oil and gas extraction activities in the municipality. The ordinance was drafted by the Township and cleared by its Zoning Board in an attempt to protect from fracking as much of the community as possible through the land-use regulatory authority delegated to the Township by the State in the Municipalities Planning Code (MPC). What the Board of Commissioners adopted is an ordinance they cleared as to legality with their municipal Solicitor. They played it safe. They colored inside the lines.
               One day later, on November 16, 2010, Pittsburgh City Council adopted a Local Bill of Rights Ordinance that bans corporations from extracting gas anywhere within the City. The Council Members decided not to surrender any part of the City to the frackers, arguing that all residents of the City have equal rights, and the Council Members had each sworn to protect the health, safety and welfare of all of the residents equally. Critics of the Ordinance said it is illegal and unconstitutional because it makes people’s rights trump corporate privileges recognized by the courts, and it challenges state laws that preempt local law-making and everybody knows state laws are superior to local ones. This community rights ordinance has the temerity to recognize the right to local self-government, the rights of natural communities and ecosystems, the right to water, and that corporate privileges are subordinate to the fundamental rights of members of the community. 
You couldn’t ask for two more diametrically opposed views of what a local government should do when faced with a community-wide threat to health, safety and welfare.
 Nine months later, on August 16, 2011, Range Resources, a Texas based gas drilling corporation with an LLC in Canonsburg, PA, filed a legal challenge to overturn the South Fayette ordinance on the grounds that it violates the corporation's constitutional rights, particularly its 5th amendment protections under the U.S. Bill of Rights. Along with seeking civil rights protections for the corporation, the complaint also argues that the corporation is protected from local regulation of corporate actions by the State Legislature’s Oil & Gas Act, and that even the State’s MPC doesn’t let municipalities zone so creatively as to make the rules about where the corporations can frack inconvenient for the beneficiaries of corporate profit.
               Neither Range Resources nor any other fracking corporation filed a lawsuit against the City of Pittsburgh, nor against West Homestead, Wilkinsburg, Baldwin, or the other Pennsylvania communities that have adopted Local Bills of Rights and Fracking Bans. Nope, they didn’t sue Mountain Lake Park in Maryland, or the Town of Wales in New York, where Pittsburgh-style Rights-Based ordinances were adopted. Oh, they did sue Morgantown, West Virginia, which didn’t adopt a Local Bill of Rights Fracking Ban. Theirs is just a color-inside-the-lines generic ban that everybody said was legal under state law.
               So what’s going on? The legal ordinances get challenged and the radical, illegal and unconstitutional Bill of Rights ordinances are left alone? What gives?
               With a corporate challenge to its local law, you might think South Fayette finds itself in the middle of a battle over democratic local self-governance. But by avoiding the core question of who has rights in South Fayette Township (the people, or corporations?), and by attempting to regulate the location of fracking in a way the State seems to say is legal, rather than banning it on the grounds that fracking is a violation of fundamental rights that belong to everyone, the municipality set up its residents for a fall nine months ago, and hundreds of other municipalities are following the same legal advice: to color inside the lines; work within the system; and don’t rock the boat.
               As Mount Pleasant learned a few months ago when it adopted a conditional use zoning ordinance to regulate fracking and then got sued, as South Fayette Township is learning now, and as other municipalities are likely to learn when the dust settles in South Fayette and the Courts again side with corporations over people: the rules and state laws were meant to regulate local self-government, not corporations. The lawyers at Range Resources know this; the courts know this; the legislature in Harrisburg knows this. And a few communities that have adopted community rights ordinances know it too.  Our municipalities have been encouraged to play by the rules that strip their residents of fundamental rights.  Those rights are higher law than the Oil & Gas Act, the MPC and the corporate charters issued by the states in the name of the people to the corporations that presume to lord it over us now.
The fracking industry tried to infiltrate our homes by offering their Friendly Frackasaurus coloring books to our kids. They were sufficiently embarrassed by public ridicule to yank the self-parody of corporate cluelessness, but not enough to stop misinforming the adults with their TV ads and local scare tactics that say we can’t say NO to fracking.
               It is time to color outside the lines drawn around our rights by the frackers and by their allies in public office. It is time to challenge the idea that the State can preempt human and civil rights on behalf of their benefactors in the privileged corporate class. Color us done with compromising our rights away by settling for zoning laws that regulate our communities and not the frackers. Color us done with surrendering our rights just to stay inside the lines, and then getting sued anyway. Democracy isn’t a paint-by-the-corporate-numbers kit. It’s a lost art that we need to regain.” 

***West Virginia Wilderness Fracked
               "Hydraulic fracturing is underway in the 13,500 acre Lewis Wetzel Wildlife Management Area, a public hunting area managed by West Virginia Department of Natural Resources. There are currently 240 wells here. The state of West Virginia does not own the mineral rights for the area, and the drilling has caused increased land use, loss of timber, loss of access, as well as disturbance and disruption of wildlife. The large amount of surface disturbance from clearing well pads and building roads has resulted in increased forest fragmentation and significant erosion issues – including “slips”, an industry term for a small landslide. One of the big well pads, with a number of individual drilling rigs on it, has been plagued by massive erosion that has filled a nearby creek with mud. 

***It Isn’t PA and it Isn’t Fracking- But It Is  Chevron

Brief excerpt from: Secret videos reveal company hid pollution in Ecuador

               We work for truth, justice and environmental sanity every day. We keep on with the hope that there will be a moment when the evil and corrupt acts that politicians and big business carry out that harm the planet, violate human rights and affect the health of our communities will see the light of day. Today is one of those historic moments.
               In 2011, a mysterious package arrived at our D.C. office. Beat up, rumpled and with no return address, a staffer avoided opening it fearing it may have been a bomb. We could never have guessed that the contents would instead turn out to be a smoking gun in one of the largest and longest-running environmental cases in the world.
               In the tradition of whistleblowers like Daniel Ellsberg, whose Pentagon Papers exposed the US secret war in Southeast Asia; Jeffrey Wigand, whose information on big tobacco's use of addictive ingredients exposed and transformed the industry; and Sherron Watkins, whose revelations on Enron's pyramid-scheme accounting led to the collapse of the company and jail time for executives, we are proud to share The Chevron Tapes.
1 DVDs sent to Amazon Watch anonymously by a Chevron whistleblowerIn that battered package were dozens of DVDs labeled "pre-inspections", with dates and locations we had come to know all too well – Shushufindi, Sacha, Lago Agrio – former Chevron well sites in the rainforest. Inside was a handwritten note:
"I hope this is useful for you in the trial against Texaco/Chevron!"
Signed, "A friend from Chevron."
               A trap? A whistleblower? We didn't know, and began to review the videos. What we found will shock you. Because Chevron has finally been proven in its own videos not only to have lied about contamination, but to have hidden evidence it knew would cost lives.
               It rolls like this: Chevron, which acquired Texaco in 2001, had just been found guilty of one of the worst environmental disasters on the planet in Ecuador's Amazon rainforest. Ordered to pay $9.5 billion to clean up their contamination, Chevron instead fled the country and actually went on to sue the victims – communities – in the US for extortion.
               During the trial against Chevron in Ecuador between 2003 - 2011, the judge carried out dozens of inspections of former Chevron well sites, where affected communities, the company, and the court all took soil and water samples to test for contamination. The videos – shot by Chevron – document the company and its consultants conducting pre-inspections of the sites so they would know where to take "clean" samples on the day of the inspection by the judge.
               As you'll see in the footage, that task proved much harder than Chevron had thought it would be. Employees and consultants are caught on tape frustrated by their inability to find soil samples without oil, and then mocking the contamination.
               "Nice job Dave. Give you one simple task: Don't find petroleum."
               "Who picked the spot Rene? Who told them where to drill, Rene?"
               "Oh, so it's my fault? I'm the customer, I'm always right."
               Yes, this is exactly what it sounds like: big oil caught on video – their own video! – trying to hide                contamination.”


***PA Royalties Investigation

               Pennsylvania state investigators are close to wrapping up an investigation into complaints that hundreds of landowners in northeastern Pennsylvania are being cheated of royalties by gas companies Attorney General Kathleen Kane said.
                Agents sorted through their lease paperwork to decide who may have been defrauded and those who may not have been, Kane said.
                              "I can tell you that we're almost wrapping it up, and that it was a very thorough investigation," Kane said.
               Baker called it a "significant concern" for many of her constituents who believe they are being scammed and have filed their own civil lawsuits. Royalty owners also have sought help, unsuccessfully, from the state Legislature to force drilling companies to provide more information about how they calculate royalties.
               Sen. Eugene Yaw, R-Lycoming, asked Kane to investigate in early 2014. His office had been inundated with complaints about royalties, including cost deductions by Oklahoma City-based Chesapeake Energy so high that no royalties were paid, Yaw said at the time. In one case, a landowner complained that he was being billed, not paid, by the drilling company, Yaw said.
                Gov. Tom Wolf's policy secretary, John Hanger, said he believes a number of companies are using "abusive practices" to avoid paying royalties by deducting costs that are well beyond any reasonable interpretation of the leases.
               "There are many, many examples that are have been shown to me, including some outright horror stories," Hanger said. "An elderly woman in Bradford County received a bill from the gas company, not a check, a bill for like over $100,000. It's outrageous when you get to that point."

***Judge Grants Eminent Domain For gas pipeline;wi.1;hi.1/01/?href=               “ Companies backing a 124-mile pipeline designed to ferry cheap Marcellus Shale natural gas to New York and New England can build across seven northeastern Pennsylvania properties whose owners had not agreed to it, a judge ruled.
               U.S. District Judge Malachy Mannion ruled that the Constitution Pipeline has the necessary permits from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and that it serves the public interest by providing additional natural gas pipeline capacity.
               The lead partners in the Constitution Pipeline are Williams Partners LP and Cabot Oil & Gas. Corp.
               Construction on the seven properties can begin after the partner companies posts a $1.6 million bond to ensure there is money to pay the landowners once a judge approves the final compensation.
               PA DEP approved erosion control and stream crossing permits for the pipeline last week.
               The companies sought access to 130 properties in Pennsylvania and filed condemnation proceedings on 20. Agreements were reached with the other 13 before a judge ruled, Stockton said.
                              The 30-inch pipeline would run from Pennsylvania's Susquehanna County through New York.”

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

***Essential Pittsburgh-Rising Radon in Pittsburgh Air and Illah Nourbakhsh on Testing Indoor Air

***Middlesex-Jordan Yeager’s Closing Argument

**Video- What you breathe from gas operations-excellent 5 minutes

** Power point CHEJ Health Impacts of Fracking 

***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

***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 Citizens’ 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.