Friday, March 10, 2017

Westmoreland Marcellus Citizens’ Group Updates January/February 2017

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

* *Westmoreland Marcellus Citizens’ Group- Second Tuesday of      the month, 7:30 PM, email Jan for directions
**CPLV  Third Tuesday of the month , 7:30 PM, UU Church in              Ligonier
*Gorsline Case March 8 in Philadelphia
*Pittsburgh- Tuesdays With Senator Toomey Facebook site- copy    and paste

***Contact your PA Senators!
PA Senators Want to Forbid PA Air Regs From Being More Stringent Than EPA's
"Senate Bill 1327 seeks to amend a state air pollution bill dating to 1960. The amendment would bar the DEP from imposing any air pollution standards “more stringent than those promulgated’’ by the EPA. This would happen just as the new Donald Trump administration appears keen to relax those EPA restrictions.
The 10 senate co-sponsors, including Guy Reschenthaler-R of Jefferson Hills, Elder Vogel Jr.-R of New Sewickley, Camera Bartolotta-R of Monongahela and Scott Wagner-R of York County (who formally announced his campaign for governor on Wednesday). According to Marcellus Money, a project of Common Cause Pennsylvania and Conservation Voters of Pennsylvania, the gas industry contributed $8,500 to Ms. Bartolotta, $4,500 to Mr. Reschenthaler and $3,250 to Mr. Vogel in the first half of 2016…/Put-meth…/stories/201701150133
               According to (DEP), in 2014 the gas industry in PA emitted 115,000 tons of methane. DEP has said that estimate - based on industry self-reported engineering calculations - could actually be many times higher.
               Reducing methane leaks from the oil and gas sector, the largest source of methane pollution in the country, is an essential step in combating climate change.               Last January, Gov. Tom Wolf unveiled a four-point plan to sharply curtail methane emissions from gas production in PA.
               The plan is smart because it's based on effective measures that are already being used by industry-leading companies, or mandated by other gas-producing states. So, the plan is reasonable - maybe even a no-brainer, right? Not according to some in the Pennsylvania General Assembly.
               For those of us struggling to get air pollution enforcement on unconventional natural gas infrastructure, the EPA's methane rules have been about the only thing that's given us any leverage at all.”
               Dr Ketyer Responds to Industry's Claim That Gas Makes PA Air Cleaner
                              Senator Reschentahler-R is wrong about regulations and clean air
February 3, 2017 12:00 AM
“Seeking to prevent much-needed rules on methane emissions from shale gas infrastructure, state Sen. Guy Reschenthaler badly misreads the Pennsylvania Department of Health’s 2015 Asthma Focus Report by cherry-picking data showing asthma-related hospitalizations declining from 2009-2013 and jumps to a careless conclusion that “Pennsylvania’s air is getting cleaner because of increased natural gas production” (“Natural Gas Is Improving Our Air,” Feb. 1 Perspectives). Had the senator read the report more carefully, he would have noted that emergency room admissions for asthma increased significantly in Pennsylvania during this period to an “all-time high.” Furthermore, there is a map clearly showing that the highest rates of hospitalization for asthma outside Philadelphia County occur in the Marcellus shale gas patch in southwestern Pennsylvania.
No, senator, natural gas development isn’t making the air cleaner. It’s making it dirtier, and the growing body of medical science and practical experience says it’s making people — especially children — sick with a variety of ailments, including asthma.
Strengthening rather than weakening methane rules is a win for consumers and businesses that have to pay fuel bills, a win for the industry (capturing fugitive emissions means more product gets to market), a win for the public’s (especially children’s) health by halting toxic emissions into the air we breathe, and a win for the planet’s climate system. The suggestion by Sen. Reschenthaler that commonsense methane standards would “make no meaningful impact on the environment” is irresponsible and wrong.
The writer is a pediatrician and a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics Council on Environmental Health.…/Senator-…/stories/201702010058

***Comments on Methane Due March 22 Comments on methane regulation as proposed by Gov. Wolf are needed. I will be sending out a special notice about this.
               Harrisburg, PA – The PA DEP has opened a 45-day public comment period to accept input for reducing methane at well sites and compressor stations associated with natural gas drilling and transport.
The comment period opened on Saturday, February 4, and will run until Tuesday, March 22, 2017. Some information:

Local Permits/Violations
(I only copy a few of local interest. Please join Skytruth Alerts for a comprehensive list-link at bottom of newsletter. Jan)
***PA Permit Violation Issued to WPX Energy Appalachia Llc in Derry Twp, Westmoreland County
Environmental Health & Safety violation issued on 2017-01-24 to Wpx Energy Appalachia Llc in Derry Twp, Westmoreland county. 78.91(a) - PLUGGING - GENERAL PROVISIONS - Upon abandoning a well, the owner or operator failed to plug the well to stop the vertical flow of fluids or gas within the well bore under 25 Pa.

   Court Cases
***Unbelievable. PSATS Files Against Gorsline Case
The PA Association of Township Supervisors filed an amicus brief against the Gorsline Case-the Supreme Court case we have been waiting for. That's against all of us who do not want fracking permitted in residential- agricultural areas.
The township supervisors association wants "the decision to grant Inflection Energy the permit for the construction of an unconventional natural gas well in the Township's Residential Agricultural District.” This would affect rulings across the state of course, not just one well.
So who pays for the membership for these local supervisors in the association? Our tax dollars?

***Court Ruling Limits DEP Pollution Fines
“It was the worst spill / pollution case that DEP had experienced in their dealings with the oil & gas industry. Wastewater from an impoundment owned by EQT polluted high quality streams, an exceptional value wetland and an expansive area of groundwater, and triggered an unprecedented $11 million cleanup.
               DEP had calculated that the maximum possible penalty under the Clean Streams Law to be $157 million for each of three violations that continued for more than 1,500 days. EQT argued that the fine should be based only on the 12 days that the spill continued.
Siding with EQT, the Commonwealth Court determined that fines for spills into state streams and groundwater must be based on how long the initial release lasts and not on how many days the pollution lingers.
               The Commonwealth Court’s decision will sharply narrow the scope of the possible fine. According to EQT, the most it should be fined is $10,000 per day for the 12 days.
DEP spokesman Neil Shader said that his agency will be appealing the decision to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.

***A Win—Meaning The Case Can Proceed---- Lauff vs. Range Resources
"It means the case can proceed against the landowners who allowed the use (fracking) on their property.  Maybe landowners will now think twice about leasing their land and harming their neighbors. This case is based on a nuisance claim.
This is the first lawsuit here of this kind. It is not precedent setting at the trial court level, but it is instructive."

Ordinance Activity

***Murrysville Council Votes For 750 ft Buffer- Residents Ask for 1500 ft
Voting against the larger setback was-Korns-wife of solicitor Korns, Spadaro, Lorenz, and Kase.
“Council voted 4-3 Wednesday in favor of a version of the ordinance that places a 750-foot setback between any protected structure and the edge of a fracking gas well pad.
               Council members Josh Lorenz, Jamie Lee Korns, Tony Spadaro and Loren Kase voted in favor. Jeff Kepler, David Perry and council President Joan Kearns, who preferred a setback of at least 800 feet, voted no.
               Resident Amy Mayberry, who holds a master's degree in environmental management with a focus on environmental toxicology, said even an 800-foot setback is “absolutely not sufficient” to protect residents.
“How many times have we realized only in retrospect that our failure to protect the environment has had devastating consequences on our families?” she asked.
               Christa Ross of Murrysville, who works for real estate company Re/Max, cited a 2016 Duke University study of Pennsylvania homes that found the distance between homes and fracking wells directly affected sale prices, showing up to a $30,000 drop in price for homes located within 1.5 kilometers of a well. A kilometer is five-eighths of a mile. The 750-foot setback would permit wells less than 0.25 kilometers, or less than two-tenths of a mile, from homes.
“The fact is that being near a fracking well makes a home less desirable and makes it sell for less,” Ross said."

***Jan Milburn’s Response to Murrysville Meeting-LTE  “I attended the Murrysville Council meeting on Wednesday, where I heard articulate and heart-felt pleas made on behalf of the children of the community. Yet, despite the research-based statements made by parents and professionals, Murrysville Council refused to provide families with even an 800-foot buffer. Flower Mound and Dallas, in gas dominated Texas, provide 1500-foot buffers for their families. Shame on council. There is no excuse for this lack of concern for the health of our children.
And in response to lessors’ claims—No, you do not have the legal right to do anything you want with your property. First you live in a zoned community, zoned by law not for profit but for the protection of the health, welfare, and safety of the community. Second, the law does not allow you the right to do harm to your neighbors. Murrysville will clearly degrade into a less desirable, more industrial community with lower property values thanks to a council that is too weak to protect its residents, its children.
Jan Milburn
Grandmother of Two Franklin Regional School Children

***Some Gain/ Some Loss on Pipeline Safety
               "President Obama's administration scaled back new safety measures for the sprawling network of pipelines that crisscross the US, following oil industry complaints that proposed changes would cost companies billions of dollars.
               The long-delayed regulations cover almost 200,000 miles of pipelines that transport oil, gasoline and other hazardous liquids. If the changes stand, pipeline companies will be required to conduct more rigorous inspections of lines in rural areas and install leak detection systems that are meant to speed up emergency response times when accidents occur. Documents show the pipeline repair criteria was altered to give companies more flexibility in when to do the work following a meeting of officials from the Transportation Department and White House with representatives of the oil industry"

***Dems Oppose, But Republican-Controlled House Votes To Overturn Obama                  Flaring Regs
 Lawmakers voted 221-191 to roll back the Interior Department rule that had clamped down on oil companies that burn off natural gas during drilling on public lands. Three Democrats voted in favor of repealing the rule, while 11 Republicans opposed
               Environmental groups and public health organizations opposed the rollback, saying the new rule will reduce the risk of ozone formation in the air and ozone-related health problems, including asthma attacks, hospital admissions and premature deaths.
Methane, the primary gas burned off during flaring operations, is strong contributor to climate change."

Other Fracking News

***Public Herald Finds 9,442 Citizen Complaints About Fracking
"After a three-year investigation in Pennsylvania, Public Herald has uncovered evidence of widespread and systemic impacts related to “fracking.”
Ending over a decade of suppression by the state, this evidence is now available to the public for the first time.
In 2011, Public Herald’s first file request to DEP for complaints never produced a single document, and we learned that complaints were being held as ‘confidential.’ When asked why, an attorney from DEP’s Southwest Regional Office explained that Deputy Secretary Scott Perry didn’t want complaints to ‘cause alarm.’”
…. Today, due to this work, anyone can access these cases via the Pennsylvania Oil & Gas Complaint Map. At the end of our reviews, we submitted a final Right-to-Know request for the DEP database of all citizen complaints. On December 30, 2016, DEP responded in an email with a new list revealing a statewide total of 9,442 complaints from 2004 through November 29, 2016.
Throughout Pennsylvania, DEP has determined that only 284 water supplies have ever been impacted by oil and gas operations in the state. This means that DEP considers 94% of drinking water complaints to be completely unrelated to oil and gas."

***Protect PT Asks School Board For Air Monitoring
"Protect PT President Gillian Graber asked the Penn-Trafford school board to consider working with a third party to monitor air quality at schools near the proposed wells.
Level Green Elementary is the nearest to the wells proposed by Apex Energy. It is about a mile from both the Deutsch site on Saunders Station Road and the Backus site near Sedona Lane and Meadowbrook Road. It is also a little more than a mile from the Drakulic site on First Street and Numis site at Pleasant Valley and Beulah roads.
The district's other schools are two miles or more from proposed well pads."

***Not good for Westmoreland -Rigs Move In
               "The company is currently operating two rigs in the dry-gas portion of the Utica shale in Monroe County, Ohio, but plans to move those units to southwest Pennsylvania to drill some new Marcellus shale wells. That will be followed by more drilling in the deep, dry-gas Utica in Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania.

***Chartiers’ Residents Complain of High Noise Levels “We didn’t ask for any of this,” Plonski said. “We didn’t know this was going to happen.....Our position is Range decided that they wanted to engage in this activity in a residential area,... Township manager Jodi Noble said readings at the property line of Range Resources’ Moritz well site showed noise levels that violated the 60-decibel limit township supervisors imposed when they approved the well application."

***Dr. John Stolz Receives Grant To Further Examine Water Pollution Near                Frack Sites "Residents of southwest Pennsylvania can learn if their well water has been contaminated by fracking operations for free — all thanks to a Duquesne professor and his students.
               John Stolz, director of Duquesne’s Center for Environmental Research and Education, received a $48,000 award from the Heinz Endowments earlier this month for his project. Stolz said he and some of his students travel to homes in Allegheny, Butler, Greene and Washington Counties to find any potential contaminants in residents’ well water. So far, about 1,000 water samples have been taken and the wells of about 250 homes have been tested."

***PA Tax Increase Pays for Fracking Damage To Roads
               " The primary reason for the highest gas price is because of fracking.
The Tom Corbett administration and Republican legislature had welcomed gas drillers to the state and gave them benefits to drill into the Marcellus shale, using a technology that sacrificed health and the environment for what has proved to be short-term benefits.
Fracking requires as many as 200 truck trips per day—each truck bringing water, chemicals, or heavy equipment—to each developing well site. Those trips cause severe damage to roads that were not built to sustain such traffic. Although corporations drilling into Pennsylvania have agreed to fund repairs of roads they travel that have less than two inches depth of asphalt on them, the fees don’t cover the full cost of repair."

***Act 13 Money Being Spent Inappropriately
"Municipalities and counties are independently interpreting the flawed language of Act 13. Under the law, fracking impact fees should be used for things like: road repairs; bridges; repairing water, storm water and sewer systems; environmental programs. However money is being spent on things like landscaping equipment, legal fees, even parties and community events. Act 13 contains no penalties for spending money improperly.

***Well Pads Change Configuration To Fit Topography The industry will be using long skinny well pads instead of square due to topography in some areas. (This is the first I have heard of changing pad shape to fit topography.)

***Communities along Mariner East 2 Pipeline Route Brace For Construction
                “Sunoco asked for and received more time to respond to the September deficiency letters and on December 5 the company submitted their responses to DEP, which are posted online.
Landowners and activists along the route say they are preparing lawsuits to file if and when DEP issues the permits. “The fight is now in the courts,” said the Delaware Riverkeeper Network’s Maya van Rossum. “The other option is for people to rise up in protest.”
Neil Shader, a spokesman for DEP, declined to say if or when the department would make a decision on the permits.”

***PA Quakes Due To Fracking “Quakes were recorded last April in Lawrence County, about 50 miles north of Pittsburgh and close to a gas well pad owned by Houston-based Hilcorp Energy Co. The company was using a technique at the well called "zipper fracturing," essentially the simultaneous fracking of two abutting horizontal wells. To reduce the likelihood of future quakes, Hilcorp agreed to discontinue the practice for wells less than a quarter-mile apart in the three townships where the quakes were recorded.
               DEP also required Hilcorp to operate its own seismic monitors in the townships, to notify the agency within 10 minutes of any quakes of 1.0 or greater magnitude and to suspend fracking in the event of larger quakes."

***Baltimore Sun Supports Fracking Ban in Maryland
"This is not a position we take lightly. Western Maryland has an unemployment rate above the statewide average — between 4.4 and 5.2 percent by county compared to the statewide average of 4.0 percent. But it is also highly dependent on tourism the state's $16.4 billion visitor business. Still, it isn't just a matter of image. The risks posed by fracking are real. Often, the problem is the method of disposal for wastewater from well injection sites — the technology involves forcing a mixture of water, chemicals and sand under high pressure into underground rock to release trapped gas — and its impact on local groundwater. In neighboring West Virginia, for example, the U.S. Geological Survey found Wolf Creek in Fayette County contaminated with sodium, chloride, strontium, lithium and radium traced to a nearby underground well.
But that's not all. The potential adverse impacts include damage to human health, clean air and water; excessive noise pollution and even micro earthquakes."

***New Marcellus Development Boom Will Triple Greenhouse Gas Emissions from                PA Gas
"The report forecasts thousands of new natural gas wells. To meet projected demand, 1,600 to 2,000 new shale gas wells will need to be constructed each year, researchers say — nearly doubling Marcellus production by 2030 over 2014 levels. As these new wells come on line, climate-impacting emissions from the sector — primarily methane — will increase 50% to 87% over 2014 levels.
Researchers note that the new projected development would constitute a second drilling boom for Pennsylvania.
“The build-out of Marcellus Shale gas in Pennsylvania will release methane at an alarming rate,” said Maya K. van Rossum, the Delaware Riverkeeper…/press%20release%20PSE%  

***Trump Puts Gag Order On EPA
"The EPA is frozen-stopped. All grants and contracts are suspended immediately. (this affects all aspects of our environment)
EPA can make no public pronouncements.
No press releases
No use of social media
Trump administration will review all EPA webinars
Will review all speaking engagements
Will review all media content
There will be no new web content.
EPA can send only critical messages at this time"
This segment on Rachel Maddow starts at about 12:00. It is the most surreal report on what Trump has just done to the EPA, to the democratic process.…/…/rachel-maddow-1-24-17-episode

*** Trump Administration Forces the EPA to Delete All Of Its Pages on Climate Change
“The move comes as part of a much broader crackdown on postings by all agencies who track the effects of global warming on the environment. All of those organizations – as well as others, like the National Parks Service – have been banned from talking to the public by the US government.
Now scientists are scrambling to save some of the most important parts of the EPA's website before they are deleted off the internet entirely."

***H. R. 861  To Terminate the Environmental Protection Agency
February 3, 2017
Mr. Gaetz-R, Mr. Massie-R, Mr. Palazzo-R, and Mr. Loudermilk-R introduced the following bill HR 861
To terminate the Environmental Protection Agency.

***Fracking And Dirty Air- Lawsuit in LA
 She does, however, notice the persistent cough she’s been fighting for five months; the asthma that affects her, her mother and her sister; and the cancer rate in her neighborhood, one of the highest in Southern California.
In 2015, Youth for Environmental Justice and other groups, sued Los Angeles. The suit said the city had permitted drilling without performing required environmental reviews, not only in Wilmington but also South Los Angeles, a low-income area where most residents are black or Latino.
In 2013, Dallas Texas passed an ordinance banning drilling within 1,500 feet of homes."

                                      New Research/ Reports
***Childhood Leukemia Study: “The findings from our registry-based case control study indicate that young Coloradans diagnosed with one type of childhood leukemia are more likely to live in the densest areas of oil and gas sites. More comprehensive research that can address our study’s limitations is needed to understand and explain these results.”
               "Funded by the CU Cancer Center and published in the journal PLOS ONE, the study shows children and young adults between the ages of 5 and 24 with acute lymphocytic leukemia were 4.3 times more likely to live in the densest area of active oil and gas wells than those with other cancers. (4.3 times more likely to live within 10 miles of an active oil and gas well than kids with other types of cancer.   The study focused on rural areas and towns in 57 Colorado counties and excluded urban areas of more than 50,000 people.
According to the report, U.S. oil and gas development has grown rapidly over the past 15 years and this industrial activity has the potential to emit toxic substances into air and water, including carcinogens like benzene.

***Fracking Noise Harms Health "Fracking creates noise at levels high enough to harm the health of people living nearby, according to the first peer-reviewed study to analyze the potential public health impacts of ambient noise related to fracking.
               Environmental noise is a well-documented public health hazard. Many large-scale epidemiological studies have linked noise to adverse health outcomes including diabetes, depression, birth complications and cognitive impairment in children. Noise exposure, like other health threats, may disproportionately impact vulnerable populations such as children, the elderly and people with chronic illnesses.
               High-decibel sounds are not the only culprits; low-level sustained noises can disturb sleep and concentration and cause stress. They found that noise from fracking operations may contribute to adverse health outcomes in three categories, including anxiety, sleep disturbance and cardiovascular disease or other conditions that are negatively impacted by stress."

*** Fracking Causes 6,648 Spills in Four States, Duke University
"For the study, the researchers examined state-level spill data to characterize spills associated with unconventional oil and gas development at 31,481 fracked wells in the four states between 2005 and 2014. On average, that's equivalent to 55 spills per 1,000 wells in any given year, lead author Lauren Patterson, a policy associate at Duke University's Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions, told ResearchGate.
North Dakota reported the highest spill rate, with 4,453 incidents. Pennsylvania reported 1,293, Colorado reported 476 and New Mexico reported 426. We also found that across all states, over 75 percent of spills at these wells occurred within the first three years of a well’s life
Fifty percent of spills, including those spills whose cause was unknown, occurred at tanks or pits, and flowlines. In tanks and pits, the cause of those spills can vary widely, from equipment failure that manifests in a tank overflow due to corrosion, to human error, to lightning strikes. Many of the flowline leaks were due to corrosion or being punctured by equipment.
The researchers created an interactive map of spill sites in the four states.”

***Methane May Not Last Long In The Atmosphere — but it drives sea level rise for centuries  “If you’ve ever made a cup of tea on the stove you know that hot water expands,” said Susan Solomon, a professor of environmental studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “It’s simply basic physics, and it’s something that the planet can’t get away from.”
Even if humans stopped emitting greenhouse gases into the atmosphere tomorrow, the expansion effect would continue in the oceans for centuries more, making it effectively irreversible in our lifetimes. new study in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, written by Solomon and colleagues Kirsten Zickfeld of Simon Fraser University and Daniel Gilford of MIT, underscores the fact that even greenhouse gases that don’t last long in the atmosphere — methane, for instance — can have centuries-long impacts on the expanding oceans.
“The ocean never forgets — that’s the essential message of this paper,” Solomon said."

***Too Dirty Too Dangerous-Physicians For Social Responsibility  
 “Physicians for Social Responsibility released a report detailing the threats methane pollution from gas poses to public health. The report highlights, among others, the threat to expecting mothers living near highly active hydraulic fracturing (fracking) operations, which increases the likelihood of high-risk pregnancy and the likelihood of giving birth prematurely. Preterm birth and low birth weight are leading causes of infant death and childhood disability.
               The report also challenges natural gas based on methane’s powerful contribution to climate change. We are already seeing the health impacts of climate change in our medical practices, from increases in allergies, respiratory diseases like asthma, bronchitis, and emphysema, and heat injury, to pollution-related premature deaths from cardiovascular disease and stroke and an increase in anxiety and depression, to name a few. Sadly, these health issues disproportionately affect children, the chronically ill, the elderly, the homeless and our minority communities,” added Lynn Ringenberg, MD, immediate past president of PSR’s national board and professor emeritus at the University of South Florida College of Medicine.  “Fracking and related operations that release natural gas into the atmosphere will worsen these health issues in the years and decades to come.”

***Environmental Integrity Project’s Report, “Don’t Believe the Job Killer Hype,” examines data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, as well as reports from the U.S. Office of Management and Budget, and more than two dozen economists and researchers.
               The federal government data show that only about two tenths of one percent of layoffs are caused by government regulations of any kind, including environmental regulations. Layoffs are caused far more often by corporate buyouts, technological advances, and lower overseas labor costs.
“The evidence shows that there is simply no truth to the idea that regulations kill jobs or stifle growth,” said Eric Schaeffer, Executive Director of the Environmental Integrity Project. “In fact, regulations provide huge economic benefits to our society, with minimal, though generally positive, effects on jobs and productivity. On the other hand, the absence of regulation can have severe economic consequences, with perhaps the most notable example being the 2008 financial collapse.”

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:

***Dr Sahu on air modeling vs. air monitoring

Additional Resources on fracking

Newsletter information please contact Jan Milburn

Westmoreland Marcellus Citizen’s GroupMission Statement
               WMCG is a project of the Thomas Merton Society
      To raise the public’s general awareness and understanding of the impacts of Marcellus drilling on the natural environment, health, and long-term economies of local communities.

To receive our news updates, please email jan at