Monday, August 1, 2016

Westmoreland Marcellus Citizens’ Group Updates July Wrap-Up, 2016

To view permanent documents, past updates, reports, general information and meeting information 
* Our email address: 
*  To contact your state legislator: 
For the email address, click on the envelope under the photo 

Facebook Site- Please see the Westmoreland Marcellus Citizen’s Group county site for more articles and photos. 


Book Discussions on Fracking 
Some of us should attend these sessions. I attended the first session in Latrobe and no one at the discussion, including the book discussion leader from Greensburg, knew about fracking or its affect on communities.  
Heat and Light by Jennifer Haigh 
Forty years ago, Bakerton coal fueled the country. Then the mines closed, and the town wore away like a bar of soap. Now Bakerton has been granted a surprise third act: it sits squarely atop the Marcellus Shale, a massive deposit of natural gas. To drill or not to drill? Prison guard Rich Devlin leases his mineral rights to finance his dream of farming. He doesn't count on the truck traffic and nonstop noise, his brother’s skepticism or the paranoia of his wife, Shelby, who insists the water smells strange and is poisoning their frail daughter. Meanwhile his neighbors, organic dairy farmers Mack and Rena, hold out against the drilling—until a passionate environmental activist disrupts their lives. 
122 Ligonier Street New Florence, PA 15944 
Phone: 724-235-2249 
Wednesday, August 10 at 7:00PM 
237 S. Pennsylvania Avenue Greensburg, PA 15601 
Phone: 724-837-5620 
Tuesday, August 23 at 6:00PM 
615 Center Street Smithton, PA 15479 
Phone: 724-872-0701 
Thursday, August 25 at 6:00PM 
201 Highland Avenue Herminie, PA 15637 
Phone: 724-446-9940 
Thursday, September 1 at 7:00PM 
100 Caruthers Lane Irwin, PA 15642 
Phone: 724-863-4700 
Wednesday, September 14 at 6:30PM 
106 Spring Street Scottdale, PA 15683 
Phone: 724-887-6140 
Thursday, September 22 at 12:30PM 
120 West Main Street Ligonier, PA 15668 
Phone: 724-238-6451 
Wednesday, September 28 at 6:30PM 
416 Brinton Avenue Trafford, PA 15085 
Phone: 412-372-5115 
Tuesday, October 4 at 2:00PM 
4130 Sardis Road Murrysville, PA 15668 
Phone: 724-327-1102 
Tuesday, October 18 at 6:30PM 
Derry Area High School 
988 N. Chestnut St Ext Derry, PA 15627 
Phone: 724-694-5765 
Thursday, October 20 at 6:30PM 
120 S. Church Street Mount Pleasant, PA 15666 
Phone: 724-547-3850 
Monday, October 24 at 6:30PM 

Local Permits, Incidents, Spud Started 
***Cloverleaf Golf Course near Delmont: 3 wells to be drilled starting Monday, July 16 
***Near Adamsburg Incident Type: FIXED - NRC Report ID: 1151785 - Medium Affected: AIR - Suspected Responsible Party: APEX ENERGY 
A recent report on a release of hydrogen sulfide near Adamsburg. 
***Fairfield Twp    Authorization # 1093783 has been updated on 7/15/2016. Permit number:ESM09-129-0004 
Authorization type:Expedited E&S Stormwater General Permit 1 

Take Action!! 
***Penn Township is finalizing an ordinance that uses an overlay district called the MEO (Mineral Extraction Overlay District) to allow for high volume hydraulic fracturing, a heavy industrial activity, to occur in over 60% of the township. They need your participation. Visit Protect PT facebook site for information on how to help.  
***Salem Twp. Join Save our Salem on Facebook-A new local group  

Local Supervisors/News 
***Ligonier Twp. Comprehensive Plan Survey Coming Ligonier Township is developing the comprehensive plan. 
All Ligonier Township residents will receive a survey from the township to learn what we value in our area and to request our preferences on future development.   
IT WILL BE CRITICAL THAT YOU RESPOND when the survey arrives. 
Flyers have already been mailed. You can also download a copy.
You can also stay informed by attending a meeting. 
Supervisor meetings are the second Tuesday of the month at 7 PM and 4th Tuesday of the month at 4:30 PM. 
Planning Commission meetings are the 4th Thursday of the month at 7PM. 
Regards,   Ed Oles,   CPLV 

***Upper Burrell Supervisor Leased, Allowed To Vote 
Upper Burrell's solicitor says Supervisor Walker can act on township zoning ordinances that involve gas well drilling. Resident Ron Slabe had demanded Walker abstain from voting because he signed a gas lease with Huntley & Huntley Energy. Walker disagreed that he was prohibited from voting on gas issues, particularly the minimum distance required between wells and homes. 
Walker attempted to get an advisory opinion from the Pennsylvania State Ethics Commission, but the commission's chief counsel said she could not offer advice because Walker had been involved in gas discussions. Advisory opinions are provided only for future actions, she told Walker.   
Township Solicitor Steve Yakopec believes Walker can vote on general zoning issues that relate to gas drilling through the class/subclass exclusion offered in the Ethics Act. 
Essentially, if an elected official is affected by a proposed law in the same way or to the same degree as every other member of a similar group of people, he or she can vote without having a conflict of interest. 
Slabe in June told Walker that he still thinks he should not vote on gas drilling issues: “You owe it to the public to recuse yourself, in my opinion.” 
“Your opinion and mine differ,” Walker countered. 
Slabe said Walker should have publicly disclosed his gas well lease before last year's election. 
From, Valley News Dispatch 

Court Cases 
***Appeal filed on Hilcorp’s Waiver for Dubrasky Property 
 “The Dubraskys are challenging a state decision to allow oil and gas drilling within 25 feet of their unleased property. DEP had waived the rules to allow for the 25 foot buffer. DEP offered no rational for the waiver.   
Attorney Angelo Papa filed an appeal July 7 on behalf of Ivan and Cathy Dubrasky of  Pulaski Township. The Dubraskys are among a few holdouts in their area who have refused to sign an oil gas lease. 
State law requires a hydraulic fracturing well's drill bore to be at least 330 feet away from a property line. The Dubraskys have refused to sign a lease with the Hilcorp Energy Co. of Texas and do not want drilling near their property. 
New Castle News - July 12, 2016 
*A resident noted that Tim Chito, who is a party in this case, has toluene and l-butyl alcohol in his water; DEP just sent him a "Negative Determination" letter saying the industry couldn't have been responsible, but later goes on to say that their water does not meet safe water drinking standards.” 

***Apex Sues Penn Twp Over Zoning of Frack Wells,  Protect PT Files Petition  
“The suit, filed in Westmoreland County Common Pleas Court, asserts that the commissioners erred in attaching conditions to their approval in May of the company’s site plan, particularly the condition that the company wait to begin drilling until an appeal by a citizens group is resolved. That appeal, also filed in Common Pleas Court, challenges the township zoning board’s approval of the operation in April because the board gave its approval before the company provided required environmental studies and an emergency response plan. 
Protect PT filed a petition with the county court May 26 seeking intervention in the land use appeal. 
Protect PT contends the zoning hearing board came to a “reasonable conclusion” that Apex had not adequately assessed the risks of its proposed activity to the surrounding community and environment. 

Zoning/Ordinance Activity 
***South Fayette Drilling Restricted To Industrial Property 
“South Fayette commissioners voted, 3-1, Wednesday night to restrict oil and gas development to properties zoned industrial only. 
An original 2010 ordinance permitted drilling on commercial, planned economic development and industrial properties. 
Commissioner Jessica Cardillo was opposed, and Commissioner Raymond Pitetti was absent due to an emergency. 
The catalyst for the change is derived from a 2015 Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruling that says drilling is an industrial use. 

***Penn Twp. Another Well Pad Denied! From Protect PT 
On Thursday, July 14, 2016 the Penn Township Zoning Hearing Board denied the special exception request by Apex Energy for the White well site, where they were proposing to conduct unconventional shale gas drilling.  
"We are pleased with the Board’s decision because during the hearing process Apex, for the third time, did not provide the Board the required information concerning impacts to health, the environment, and quality of life. Even in the face of a federal lawsuit challenging the validity of our ordinance, the Board did not succumb to intimidation but rather proceeded accordingly to uphold the rights of our community”, said Gillian Graber, President of Protect PT. 
Protect PT will continue working to ensure there are protections for the residents of Penn Township and the neighboring communities in order to make the community a safer, healthier place to live. 

***Zoning Update from Churchill Area Environmental Council 
The results of a survey of CAEC member municipalities conducted in the spring of 2016 are summarized below.   
Chalfant Borough  (0.2 sq. miles;400 homes; 825 residents) 
Oil and gas drilling are not practical.  There is no 5-acre  parcel of undeveloped land - the minimum size required to support a drilling pad/rig(s).  The borough is steeply hilly as it descends from Greensburg  Pike to Ardmore Bou levard No property within Chalfant Borough is suitable for fracking and no updating of ordinances is contemplated. 
Churchill Borough  (2.2 sq. miles;I ,567 homes/condos;3,0 II  residents) 
In December, 2015 Borough Council passed an Ordinance amending Section 304-37 "Gas and Oil 
Well Production" of its Zoning Code to: 
Prohibit such activity in all five of its residential (R) districts and its C-2 district. Permit such activity as a conditional use in a C-1 Commercial District (the former Westinghouse Research and Development property).  As of this update, there have been no applications received by the Borough for permits to drill. 
In April, 2016 Churchill Council passed a comprehensive Ordinance containing regulations and permitting procedures (modeled after Wilkins Township Ordinance #1060 - see below) that would apply to any future drilling operations. 

Forest Hills Borough  (1.5 square miles;3,040  households; - 6,477 residents) 
Forest Hills Council is updating i ts Gas Ordinance# I 017 adopted in October, 20 I   which banned new extraction of natural gas within the Borough. The revised ordinance provides for a tightly restricted, conditional use, industrial area of about 5 acres for such possible use and specifies appropriate regulations. Other than two popular playgrounds and recreation facilities off 
Braddock Road, there is no undeveloped land of sufficient size for fracking within Forest H 
Wilkins Township (2.75 square miles; -3,432 households; -6,590 residents) 
At its January, 2016 meeting the Wilkins Board of Commissioners unanimously approved Ordinance # 1060, Chapter 173, "Zoning Article II" relating to "Gas and Oil Well Drilling."  The new Ordinance deals with definitions and regulations (e.g., 1 ,500' setbacks from protected structures like homes and schools, use of a closed loop drilling system [no storage pits], traffic surveys, fencing, natural/green screening, containment of air and noise pollution, and more).  Drilling is restricted (as a conditional use) to a Manufacturing (M) Zoning District along the eastern portion of the Township (near Monroeville), with a second portion near Rodi Road.  This comprehensive document is being used as a model for other municipalities in our area. 

To summarize the status of fracking in our four municipalities: 
Little or no land exists that is suitable and large enough for natural gas production through drilling and hydraulic fracturing (fracking).  Such activities are or will be restricted to very limited zones so as to have "minimal" impact on residential areas. 
Local municipalities are revising or have revised zoning and drilling ordinances to contain specific regulations that will have to be approved at the County level and survive potential legal challenges. 

Other Fracking News 
***Earthquake Monitors Go in at Keystone State Park 
"At Keystone State Park in Derry Twp permanent earthquake monitoring sites are being set up, costing $531,000 that comes out of the state budget. Scientists can differentiate natural waves from fracking activity and have already picked up tremors attributed to fracking. The few known cases of man- made earthquake in the region have been associated with fracking in Utica or wastewater disposal. This data will be available on a website sometime this summer." 

***Westmoreland and Allegheny Counties Receive F Rating for Ozone 
But Westmoreland county received an A on particulate pollution while Allegheny received an F.   

***10,000 March In Philly Calling For A Clean Energy Revolution 
By Sandra Steingraber, EcoWatch 
“With temperatures heading toward 95 degrees, on the eve of the Democratic National Convention (DNC), Independence Hall was the literal destination of this march to declare our independence from fossil fuels. 
Convened by Pennsylvanians Against Fracking and Americans Against Fracking—for which I serve as science advisor—the March for a Clean Energy Revolution attracted more than 10,000 people and was endorsed by more than 900 environmental, health, labor, political, faith, justice, indigenous and student organizations groups from all 50 states of the union. 
These speakers called on current and future elected leaders to ban fracking, keep fossil fuels in the ground, stop dirty energy, transition to 100 percent renewable energy and ensure environmental justice for all. 
"Today, after listening to the science, more Americans are opposed to fracking than support it," Hauter (of Food and Water Watch) noted, referring to the most recent Gallup poll that shows that Americans oppose fracking 51 to 36 percent. 
Also speaking at the press conference, Teresa Hill of ACTION United decried the plan to turn Philadelphia itself into a major energy hub for fracked gas, which includes a proposed import/export terminal on the Delaware River. 

***Corrosion Also Found in Other Spectra Pipelines 
"The federal agency investigating a natural gas pipeline explosion in Salem has found similar corrosion on a parallel pipeline and ordered Spectra Energy to verify the integrity of the entire transmission line from Delmont to Lambertville, N.J. 
Investigation by Spectra and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration has shown that in addition to the failed line, three others in the same right of way at the site potentially were damaged or adversely affected by the explosion and fire. 
They “pose a serious risk to life, property or the environment if returned to normal operation” unless the operator takes additional corrective actions, Alan K. Mayberry, acting associate administrator for the pipeline agency, wrote." 

***MAWC Switched to Chloramines June 1, 2016 
The Municipal Authority of Westmoreland County will be changing the current free chlorine residual present in the finished water produced from the George R. Sweeney Plant and the Indian Creek Water Plant back to our normal chloramine residual on June 1, 2016. 
Here is a little info on chloramines:   
Chloramines started being used due to gas activity. Due to the bromides etc from fracking, chloramines are used to avoid the formation of disinfection by-products such as Trihalomethanes (which are formed if chlorine is used). But if you google it, chloramines have a list of hazards associated with its use.” Bob Donnan 
More on bromides and disinfectants. "Bromides are nontoxic salt compounds, but they react with disinfectants used by municipal water treatment plants to form brominated trihalomethanes, also known at THMs, which are volatile organic liquid compounds that become part of the drinking water. The more bromides in the river water, the more THMs in the finished water, and studies show a link between ingestion of THMs and several types of cancer and birth defects. 
"THMs are carcinogenic for long-term exposures," Ms. VanBriesen said, "so you don't want to keep putting more bromide into the [Mon] river basin.... Chloramines can produce other problems, including causing lead and copper to leach out of old water pipelines and into drinking water as happened in Washington, D.C., when it made such a switch in 2000.…/Bromide-…/stories/201103130368 

***One Cracker Plant = 36,000 Cars  
Shell and others shouldn’t dismiss community concerns about the Beaver County cracker plant. Such a plant would likely release significant amounts of air toxins known as volatile organic compounds as well as nitrogen oxides. These pollutants have adverse effects on their own, but one significant concern is their ability to promote the formation of ozone. Ozone is one of six air pollutants for which the Environmental Protection Agency sets standards because of its ability to exacerbate lung diseases such as asthma. 
……A significant concern is their ability to promote the formation of ozone. Ozone is one of six air pollutants for which the Environmental Protection Agency sets standards because of its ability to exacerbate lung diseases such as asthma. The linkage between ozone and vehicle traffic in many parts of the United States is indisputable. Therefore the comparison. 

***Economic and Job Benefits of Cracker Plant Are Exaggerated 
Letter To the Editor (Excerpted) 
June 19, 2016 12:00 AM 
Once again the Post-Gazette takes liberties with facts as it continues to shill for the shale industry. It continues to grossly exaggerate the economic benefits while minimizing the massive damaging externalities of the shale gas industry. 

Shell’s ethane cracker plant in Beaver County will not generate a fraction of the 6,000 jobs claimed in its construction phase or 600 jobs in its operation as claimed by the Post-Gazette and the supporters of shale gas . …….I know, as I was an owner of Limbach Co., which at the time was the largest mechanical contractor in the United States. 
……An ethane cracker plant is not an assembly line. It will not employ anywhere near 600. What will happen is we will be giving a foreign company, Shell Oil, $1.6 billion from the Pennsylvania taxpayers. We will be encouraging the building of a plant, which will have massive toxic discharges, which will cause great harm to the environment of our area. The $1.6 billion tax break is a direct subsidy to make plastic products that compete against local producers of bottles, steel, aluminum cans, cardboard, etc. The same amount of taxpayer dollars could solarize the homes of 750,000 Pennsylvania residents. That would be a much better use of taxpayer money. 
***Burlington, Vermont Becomes First U.S. City to Run On 100% Renewable Electricit 
The city lives up to that mission by acquiring its energy in diverse ways, including biomass, hydroelectric, solar and wind. Its biggest power generator is hydro, which the city acquires from dams both locally and elsewhere in the region. 

***German Government Agrees To Ban Fracking Indefinitely 
Germany's coalition government agreed to ban fracking for shale gas indefinitely, after years of fractious talks over the issue But environmental groups said the ban did not go far enough and vowed to fight the deal. 
Test drilling will be allowed but only with the permission of the respective state government, officials said. 

***Scottish Parliament Votes For Total Fracking Ban 
Labour, the Green Party and the Liberal Democrats joined forces to vote for the ban, with the Conservatives voting against it. 
It is non-binding on the Government, but opposition politicians say it would be wrong to ignore the will of the parliament. 

***Six Board Members Resign From Williams Cos. 
In a major shakeup, six of the Williams Cos. 13 board members resigned after a close but failed vote to fire Williams CEO Alan Armstrong. 
The vote was a tie, 6 to 6, and the six who voted against Armstrong resigned, the New York Times reported. The story was broken by the Wall Street Journal. 
The vote on Armstrong and the resignations follow the collapse of Williams' planned merger with Energy Transfer Equity, and they "call into question the future of Williams.” 

***Faulkner of Breitling Energy Accused of Swindling Investors 
Mr. Faulkner personally used at least $30 million worth of investor money for his own “lifestyle of decadence and debauchery,” according to the SEC lawsuit, including not only jewelry, fashionable clothing and fine dining, but also the frequent use of escort services. 
“The financing for Faulkner’s opulent lifestyle came directly at the expense of unwitting investors across the country,”  
The lawsuit, which labeled the fraud “long-lasting and egregious,” carries only civil penalties. 
The accused Breitling executives include not only Mr. Faulkner, but much of its former top management, its attorney Jeremy Wagers, and Joseph Simo, who prepared reserves estimates for Breitling's oil wells. The companies named by the SEC were Breitling Energy Corp, Breitling Oil & Gas Corp., Crude Energy LLC and Patriot Energy Inc. 
They stand accused of a long-running effort to swindle hundreds of investors out of their money by offering false statements about drilling costs, how much oil their wells could produce and even Mr. Faulkner's personal background, including a masters degree and doctorate he claimed but never earned.” 

***North Texas Royalty Buyers and Investors Sue Chesapeake Energy Over Excessive Fees And Royalty Underpayments 
Claims tied to company's $588 million midstream asset sale in 2009 
More than 30 business entities and individuals, including Fort Worth's Kimbell Art Foundation, are suing Chesapeake Energy Corp. based on claims that the company structured a series of contracts in order to receive excessive fees and other charges after the 2009 sale of its Barnett Shale midstream assets. 

***Sioux County Landowners Win Appeal On Frack Wastewater Case 
District court judge rules against Nebraska Oil and Gas Commission in a fracking wastewater case. The Commission’s decision to grant a Colorado company permission to use an abandoned oil well in Sioux County as a wastewater disposal site has been reversed. 
In 2015, the NOGCC granted Colorado-based Terex Energy Corp. permission to use the well, located 13 miles north of Mitchell, to dispose of waste-water from hydraulic fracking.”  

***Nebraska Judge Orders TransCanada to Pay Legal Costs of Keystone XL Landowners 
Holt County District Court Judge Alan Brodbeck ruled that 19 landowners who sued TransCanada should receive $8,844.21 each to reimburse their court fees and costs. 
Landowners in Nebraska who fought the Keystone XL pipeline get to declare independence today from TransCanada, after the judge ordered the foreign oil corporation to repay all legal fees and costs incurred by Nebraska landowners who fought the company’s eminent domain claims against their property in court. 

***Research Study Finds Higher Risk of Asthma Near Fracking 
People with asthma face 1.5 to 4.4 times the risk of asthma attacks if they live near heavy gas drilling activity in Pennsylvania, compared to those who don’t, according to research by Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, published in the peer-reviewed journal JAMA Internal Medicine. The report “Association Between Unconventional Natural Gas Development in the Marcellus Shale and Asthma Exacerbations,” is the first to make use of extensive electronic health records from the Geisinger Health System, along with state well production data, to examine the impact on asthma. 
Researchers Looked at four stages of shale gas well activity, which included preparing the well site, drilling, fracking, and production. The increased risk was associated with all four stages of well development. 
Sara G. Rasmussen, the study’s lead researcher and a PhD candidate is in the Bloomberg School’s Department of Environmental Health Sciences. 
Geisinger has been keeping detailed electronic health records since the early 2000′s, which made for a large data set. The researchers looked at patients health records between 2005 and 2012. The healthcare system encompasses 40 counties and over 35,000 asthma patients.  in central and northeast Pennsylvania. The study also broke up the severity of the asthma attack into three categories, including mild, moderate and severe. Mild included a new asthma medication. Moderate meant a visit to the emergency room, while severe correlated with hospitalization. There were increased associations with mild, moderate and severe incidents. 
 Fracking can induce asthma attacks in three ways. The release of volatile organic compounds can interact with other chemicals in the fracking sites to form ozone, an asthma-inducing pollutant. Increased industrial activity near fracking sites, such as transportation, also aggravates asthma symptoms. And methane leaks that occur at fracking sites add to asthma exacerbation as well by accelerating climate change and increasing temperatures which increases ground-level ozone. 
“It’s really like having a heavy industrial facility on your yard or on your farm,” Gottlieb said. 

***480 Health Studies  Larysa Dyrszka, of Concerned Health Professionals of New York, said  that there have been more than 480 studies linking adverse health outcomes to fracking, including higher rates of hospitalization near fracking hotspots. “I’ve grown increasingly concerned about the health effects of drilling and fracking, as more and more residents report the same symptoms, which include troubled breathing, nose bleeds, rashes and more,” she said.  “There’s really not a fix to fracking,” said Barbara Gottlieb, of Physicians for Social Responsibility. Among the health risks she cited are ground level ozone, volatile organic compounds and carcinogens like benzene, and water contamination.  

***California Needs Water But Aquifers Contaminated by Oil/Gas 
“Researchers at Stanford University-- Central Valley in CA is already sinking by about 2 inches a month as a result of current groundwater extraction.  New aquifers 1000 to 3000 feet underground have been located, but there's a problem: A ton of it has been contaminated by oil and gas extraction in the valley. 
At least 30% of the sites with usable water (which could be drinking water if treated for human consumption) are currently being used in oil/ gas operations. Researcher, Rob Jackson worries that the remnants of potentially harmful chemicals could be left behind in the water or even the soil, where it can seep into the aquifer. He also worries about wastewater injection wells, where companies inject leftover fluids directly into the ground.  

Frack Links 
***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. 
*** To See Water Test Results of the Beaver Run Reservoir 
IUP students test for TDS, pH, metals- arsenic, chromium, and strontium. 
We have not seen results for other frack chemicals including the organics BTEX group, or cesium for example. Here is a link to the IUP site: 

***Fact Sheet on PA Sunoco Pipeline  Mariner East II 
For more information contact Jan Milburn