Westmoreland Marcellus Citizens’ Group Updates April 17, 2014
* For articles and updates or to just vent, visit us on facebook;
* To view past updates, reports, general information, permanent documents, and meeting information http://westmorelandmarcellus.blogspot.com/
* Our email address: email@example.com
* To discuss candidates: http://www.facebook.com/groups/VoteProEarth/
* To contact your state legislator:
For the email address, click on the envelope under the photo
* For information on PA state gas legislation and local control: http://pajustpowers.org/aboutthebills.html-
WMCG Thank You
* Thank you to contributors to our Updates: Debbie Borowiec, Lou Pochet, Ron Gulla, the Pollocks, Marian Szmyd, Bob Donnan, Elizabeth Donahue, and Bob Schmetzer.
*** WMCG Group Meeting We meet the second Tuesday of every month at 7:30 PM in Greensburg. Email Jan for directions. All are very welcome to attend.
***Earth Day at St Vincent-April 27, 12-5:00
We need people to work our table-even an hour would help. Please email or call Jan if you can help and I will forward that information to Dr Walter . (Our group email address is listed at the top of the Updates.)
***Dr John Stolz "Well Water Quality and Unconventional Shale Gas Extraction in a Butler Community" - April 26, 1:00
The environmental impacts and microbiology of unconventional shale gas extraction is a major interest of Dr. Stolz and his laboratory. Dr. Stolz and his team have been studying the water contamination in the Connoquenessing Woodlands and Dr. Stolz will speak about their findings.
Free and open to the public.
When: Saturday, April 26 at 1:00 pm
Where: Butler Public Library
218 N. McKean St.
Butler, PA 16001
John F. Stolz, Ph.D.
Director, Center for Environmental Research and Education; Professor, Environmental Microbiology
Bayer School of Natural and Environmental Sciences
Department of Biological Sciences; Center for Environmental Research and Education
***Webinar by TEDX -April 21
Natural Gas Development, Public Health,
and Protecting the Most Vulnerable Populations
Join Carol Kwiatkowski, TEDX's Executive Director April 21st at 2pm EDT for a webinar hosted by the Center for Environmental Health. Dr. Kwiatkowski will be speaking about the public health implications of natural gas development, with an emphasis on air pollution and the hazards it might hold for vulnerable populations, including children and pregnant women. Recent studies pointing toward the endocrine disrupting effects of chemicals in natural gas operations will be discussed.
This webinar is the first in a six-week series on Fracking, Natural Gas, and Maternal Health. The webinars feature presentations by experts in the field of environmental health, medicine, and public health. They will each run 45-60 minutes with 10-15 minutes for Q & A.
A little Help Please
***Tenaska Plant Seeks to Be Sited in South Huntingdon, Westmoreland County***
Petition !! Please forward to your lists!
Please share the attached petition with residents of Westmoreland and all bordering counties. We ask each of you to help us by sharing the petition with your email lists and any group with which you are affiliated. As stated in the petition, Westmoreland County cannot meet air standards for several criteria. Many areas of Westmoreland County are already listed as EPA non-attainment areas for ozone and particulate matter 2.5, so the county does not have the capacity to handle additional emissions that will contribute to the burden of ozone in the area as well as health impacts. According to the American Lung Association, every county in the Pittsburgh region except for Westmoreland County had fewer bad air days for ozone and daily particle pollution compared with the previous report. Westmoreland County was the only county to score a failing grade for particulate matter.
The Tenaska gas plant will add tons of pollution to already deteriorated air and dispose of wastewater into the Youghiogheny River. Westmoreland County already has a higher incidence of disease than other counties in United States. Pollution won’t stop at the South Huntingdon Township border; it will travel to the surrounding townships and counties.
If you know of church groups or other organizations that will help with the petition please forward it and ask for their help.
Sierra Club Sues Texas Commission on Proposed Tenaska Plant
SIERRA CLUB VS TEXAS COMMISSION On ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY,
I. CASE OVERVIEW
Sierra Club seeks an order reversing Defendant’s December 29, 2010, final order in Docket No. 2009-1093-AIR.1 The order authorizes the construction and operation of a new solid fuel-fired power plant by approving the application of Tenaska Trailblazer Partners, L.L.C. (Tenaska, Trailblazer, or Applicant) for state and federal air pollution permits.
This new facility is a large solid fuel-fired electric generating unit, or power plant, to be constructed in Nolan County, Texas. The Tenaska facility will generate about 900 megawatts (MW) of electricity and is authorized to emit over 9,207 tons per year of criteria air pollutants.2
While under the jurisdiction of the State Office of Administrative Hearings, the proceedings bore SOAH docket number 582-09-6185. 2 There are several “criteria” pollutants: carbon monoxide, lead, particulate matter with a diameter of less than 10 micrometers, particulate matter with a diameter of less than 2.5 micrometers, nitrogen oxides, ozone, and sulfur oxides. For each of these air pollutants, National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) have been established by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and are adopted through the Commission’s rules. See e.g 30 TEX. ADMIN. CODE § 101.21 (“The National Primary and Secondary Ambient Air Quality Standards as promulgated pursuant to section 109 of the Federal Clean Air Act, as amended, will be enforced throughout all parts of Texas.”) Criteria pollutants must be evaluated prior to obtaining a PSD permit.
Filed 11 March 14 IN THE DISTRICT COURT OF TRAVIS COUNTY, TEXAS
.3 The facility will also emit an estimated 6.1 million tons per year of the greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide (CO2).
At the heart of this lawsuit, Sierra Club alleges the approval of the permit application was made in violation of:
a. the requirements of the Texas Administrative Procedures Act (TEX. GOV’T CODE, Chapter 2001) regarding Defendant’s authority and duties upon adoption of a final order;
b. the requirements for a preconstruction application and approval by TCEQ, including:
i) Deficient information and legal bases for the findings related to hazardous air pollutants (HAPs) and the corresponding maximum achievable control technology (MACT) determination.
ii) Deficient information and legal bases for the findings related to prevention of significant deterioration (PSD) review and the corresponding best available control technology (BACT) determination.
iii) Failure to consider and minimize the impact of greenhouse gas emissions. II. DISCOVERY
1. This case is an appeal of an administrative agency’s actions, and therefore based on the administrative record. Designation of a level of discovery is not applicable. If discovery becomes necessary, it should be controlled by Level 3. TEX. R. CIV. PROC. § 190.4.
***Letters to the editor are important and one of the best ways to share
information with the public. ***
***Forced Pooling Petition
“The PA DEP announced the first public hearing on forced pooling in PA to be held in less than two weeks. We're pushing on the DEP to postpone the hearings and address the many problems we have with their current plans. In the meantime, we're circulating a petition to the legislature calling on them to strike forced pooling from the books in PA.
Forced pooling refers to the ability to drill under private property without the owner's permission. It's legal in the Utica Shale in western PA, but the industry has not made an attempt to take advantage of it until now. Forced pooling is a clear violation of private property rights and should not be legal anywhere.
I know I've asked a lot of you. Unfortunately, we're fighting battles on many fronts and they just keep coming. But with your help, we've made lots of progress, so I'm asking you to help me again by signing and sharing this petition.”
Appreciatively, as always,
***Sunoco Eminent Domain Petition “PA PUC for public utility status, a move that would impact property owners and municipalities in the path of the Mariner East pipeline. As a public utility, Sunoco would have the power of eminent domain and would be exempt from local zoning requirements. A December 2013 PA Supreme Court ruling overruled Act 13’s evisceration of municipal zoning in gas operations and upheld our local government rights. We petition PA PUC to uphold the Pennsylvania Constitution and deny public utility status to the for- profit entity, Sunoco.
That's why I signed a petition to Robert F. Powelson, Chairman, Public Utilities Commission, John F. Coleman Jr., Vice Chairman, Public Utilities Commission, James H. Cawley, Commissioner, Public Utilities Commission, Gladys M. Brown, Commissioner, Public Utilities Commission, Pamela A. Witmer, Commissioner, Public Utilities Commission, and Jan Freeman, Executive Director, Public Utilities Commission, which says:
"We, the undersigned, petition the Pennsylvania Public Utilities Commission to uphold the Pennsylvania Constitution and deny public utility status to the for-profit entity, Sunoco."
Will you sign the petition too? Click here to add your name:
***The Daily Show
Public Herald’s Josh Pribanic and Melissa Troutman with Bradford County Residents
If you missed this Daily Show segment based on the reporting of the producers of Triple Divide, a video will be available on line at the show’s website http://thedailyshow.cc.com/ or go to www.publicherald.org.
Joshua Pribanic [@jbpribanic] describes water contamination in Leroy Township, Bradford Co., PA to Daily Show with Jon Steward correspondent Aasif Mandvi and crew. Photo by Melissa Troutman [@melissat22].
***The Fight For Deer Lakes Park
Allegheny County Council Meeting ( 4 hours long)
***Act 13 Forum Video Is Up
The video is split into 2 parts for a total viewing time of about 2 hours. There is a small amount of blank time (about a minute) at the beginning of Part 1, but just let it play...
Our Water, Our Air, Our Communities — And Forced Gas Drilling?
What: Delaware Riverkeeper Network hosted a forum with the lead litigators and litigants of the landmark Act 13 case – the case in which the conservative Pennsylvania Supreme Court declared that the rights of pure water, clean air, and a healthy environment, across the generations, must be protected by state and local legislators.
The forum included a discussion of how Act 13 came to be passed, how and why the legal challenge was formulated, including the interesting alliance between the 7 towns and the Delaware Riverkeeper Network, and the implications for environmental, municipal, and legislative decision making going forward.
***Concerned about the air quality in your community due to drilling?—Speaker Available
Southwestern Pennsylvania Environmental Health Project will provide a professional speaker if you host a community meeting. “Tyler Rubright is available throughout the next couple of weeks to come to meetings and present and/or help to facilitate and answer any questions.”
Contact Jessa Chabeau
***To sign up for notifications of activity and violations for your area:
*** List of the Harmed--There are now over 1600 residents of Pennsylvania who have placed their names on the list of the harmed when they became sick after fracking began in their area. http://pennsylvaniaallianceforcleanwaterandair.wordpress.com/the-list/
DEP Response on Herminie Compressor Station—Many of you commented on this station
Apr 2 at 1:19 PM
On March 31, 2014, the Department modified Plan Approval PA-65-00979A to reflect the removal of the Waukesha L5794LT compressor engine, require installation of an oxidation catalyst to control the Caterpillar G3516LE compressor engine, prohibit the simultaneous operation of the Caterpillar G3516LE and G3512LE compressor engines, and allow the second new Caterpillar G3612LE engine currently authorized under PA-65-00979A to begin temporary operation at the Herminie Compressor Station located in Westmoreland County.
This notice is being provided in accordance with the requirements of 25 Pa. Code §127.51 to all protestants who have submitted comments.
A summary of the comments received during the public comment period and the corresponding Department responses can be found in the attached Comment and Response Memo which is included in the Plan Approval file. I have also attached a copy of the modified plan approval. All other documents relating to the Herminie Compressor Station air quality plan approval are available for review at Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, Southwest Regional Office, 400 Waterfront Drive, Pittsburgh, PA 15222. Instructions for scheduling a file review may be found under the Regional Resources section of the Department’s website (www.dep.state.pa.us).
Alan Binder | Air Quality Engineering Specialist
Department of Environmental Protection
Southwest Regional Office
400 Waterfront Drive | Pittsburgh, PA 15222
Phone: 412.442.4168 | Fax: 412.442.4194
Page 122 of Robinson v. Commonwealth Is Worth Repeating
The court ruled that governments have trustee obligations.
"Proper exercise of a Trustees discretion is measured by benefits "bestowed upon all [the Commonwealth's] citizens in their utilization of natural resources" rather than " by the balance sheet profits and appreciation [the Trustee] realizes from its resource operations".
All articles are excerpted. Please use the links to read the full article.
1. Murrysville Council Delays Vote On Drilling Under Park
“Vision Statement for the Recreation Department-
The vision of the Murrysville Parks and Recreation Department is to improve our residents’ health as well as create a sense of community by developing and supporting varied recreational and educational opportunities for the citizens of Murrysville.”
April 17, 2014 5:33 AM
By Tim Means
“Urged by residents and some council members not to go forward, Murrysville council tabled a decision on an ordinance that would allow the creation of bid specifications for subsurface gas drilling deep under Murrysville Community Park.
In January, the municipality received an offer from Huntley and Huntley, a Monroeville-based gas drilling company, to lease the subsurface gas and oil rights for the park. Council then instructed the solicitor to draw up an ordinance permitting the creation of bid specifications. Such an ordinance would allow the residents to put the question of drilling as a referendum on the ballot in November, without committing to drilling now.
Confusion over the intention of the ordinance and the changing status of state laws regulating gas and oil extraction appears to have brought the plan to a halt.
“We have tried to make it clear what the action before council is,” chief administrator Jim Morrison said. “First it is to notify Huntley and Huntley that we reject their offer to drill under the park. Second it is to allow the staff to develop the bid specifications. By doing it this way, we can write in protections and standards beyond Act 13 [the state law].”
However, after two months of trying to clarify the issues for the public, council was not ready to take action.
Linda Marts of Murrysville is a member of the Citizens for the Preservation of Rural Murrysville, a local citizens group that had agreed to head up the effort to gather names for the referendum petition. She urged council Wednesday night not to approve the ordinance. “Vote no tonight,” she told council. “We were in favor of this to begin with, but in our meetings we are getting more confused.”
Councilman David Perry echoed Ms. Marts’ position. “Originally, I advocated strongly for the referendum. But it is going to be a very tough road. I’ve changed my position. I am against it,” he said. Mr. Perry, who is a geologist, said he has spent hours trying to clarify the issue on a Facebook page devoted to the Murrysville fracking discussion, but to no avail. “No matter how we work it, it will still be confusing.”
Councilman Jeffery Kepler agreed. “Having attended several meetings, I am surprised about the massive amount of confusion. The group we thought would take up the reins is now telling us not to do it.”
Council president Joan Kearns pointed out that the ordinance provided only for the creation of bid specification and set no timetable for action.
In the end, the only thing that achieved consensus was not to do anything.”
Tim Means, freelance writer: firstname.lastname@example.org First Published April 16, 2014 11:07 PM
2. Sunoco Wants Exemption from Zoning-
“In a Mar. 21, 2014 letter addressed to the PUC, Sunoco is looking for approval designating it a public utility. Sunoco intends to build pump stations and valve stations in 31 PA communities, including Salem, Rostraver, Hempfield, Penn Township, Loyalhanna, and Derry in Westmoreland County. Sunoco is requesting COMPLETE EXEMPTION from any local zoning ordinances, including those applying to subdivision and land development.”
Here is the site:
Sunoco Requesting Public Utility Status For Pump Stations
By JEREMY GERRARD, email@example.com
“ Township residents are organizing against the construction of a proposed natural gas pump station, voicing outrage over possible health and safety issues from the facility.
Sunoco Logistics Partners filed the application with the township in February asking for a special exception to the zoning ordinance in order to “permit a public utility facility use on Sunoco’s property”. A multitude of W. Goshen, PA residents are protesting a Sunoco pump station planned for their area. This Mar. 31/14 article states this one facility will use 4.5 acres.
The property is located within a residential zoning district that permits the construction and use of a public utility facility by special exception
If the PUC grants Sunoco a public utility status (using eminent domain appears to be against a law signed into effect by former governor Rendell (see http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/governor-rendell-signs-eminent-domain-bills-protecting-property-owners-rights-56073147.html) then Sunoco will build these types of facilities in 31 PA communities, including Salem, Rostraver, Hempfield, Penn Township, Loyalhanna, and Derry in Westmoreland County.
It appears the company will be distributing the materials to foreign countries which would perhaps over time require increased output. The initial output of the project is expected to produce 70,000 barrels of propane and ethane liquids per day.
Specifics of the project include development of a pump enclosure, piping, valves and a vapor combustion system to be 34-feet high, according to the notice prepared by West Goshen Zoning Hearing Board Secretary Diane Clayton.
Sunoco is seeking an additional special exception to the code to construct the combustion system above the allowed height of 30 feet.
With less than 500 feet separating his property from the proposed development, West Goshen resident, Walker Thompkins, was one of the first to receive notice from Sunoco. Realizing he was one of only a handful of residents who received notice of the possible construction, he spread the word, quickly organizing about 50 residents.
“That’s the letter of the law and that drives me crazy,” Thompkins said. “The township did nothing to inform the residents.”
“We are not in this for any political motivation, this is a quality of life issue, period,” Casey said.
Concerns include reduced home values, possible insurance premium increases, environmental risks, in addition to health and safety issues.”
3. Deer Lakes Park Meeting
From Bob Donnan
“It was hard to come away from that meeting without feeling that Range Resources was using a 'stall and delay' tactic since they knew the intent of the meeting but did not have their people there to answer questions. Now Range wants to bring them next week when the purpose of that 2nd meeting is to focus on legal issues, not environmental.
Alan Eichler of the Pa. DEP sounded like a representative for the drilling industry, as usual, playing down past violations - He didn't mention the 161 confirmed cases of water well contamination in Pa. from drilling, revealed by a recent Times-Tribune RTK request.
Range's use of the WW2 song "Over There" in TV commercials during the Olympics did not play well for many of the Greatest Generation who frequent the barber shop of one 'Committee on Parks' member as quoted in today's Trib:
"You don't have a great image with a lot of people in this area,” Councilman John Palmiere, D-Baldwin Township, told Osborne, mentioning that many customers at his barbershop do not like the company's television commercials."
Right they are, especially when you consider all of Range's contracts for exporting their so-called 'energy independence' for higher profits, it is easy for us all to understand why those blackeyes have basis. Range's psy-ops sure failed in the advertising department with veterans!”
More of the TRIB article:
4. Gas Companies Still Fudging the Facts
From Bob Donnan
“We’ve heard a host of Range lies and omissions over the years, but it still amazes me that one of their representatives can blatantly lie about their record of drilling in Cross Creek County Park.
I believe this is the same man who presented to the Beaver County School Board, telling them (apparently to make Range sound ‘greener’) that Range no longer used open flares following fracking in Washington County. It was just one day before that presentation that I caught this photo with 4 flares on the Goettel Unit (or one very similar to it in Buffalo – Harold Ward Unit) as well as the second photo taken 2-1/2 years later.”
5. Neighbors Fear Health Problems From Compressor Station
By Mary Grzebieniak
New Castle News, PA
“A group of residents said they will go to court if a gas compressor station is built on Baird Road.
Mike Angelo of Hillsville Road said the group is prepared to sue Mahoning Township and Hilcorp Energy Co. if the station is approved.
They said survey stakes have gone up and they have been told the station is being planned on property Hilcorp already is leasing on Baird Road. The property is about one and a half miles south of Route 422, not far from the site of a proposed racetrack and casino.
About 40 residents attended a Mahoning Township Planning Commission meeting Thursday to express opposition. But the Mahoning Township supervisors, who all attended the meeting, said that while they are aware of the plans, nothing has been submitted to the township and no decisions have been made.
Supervisor Vito Yeropoli said he has suggested other places for a site. “Believe me, you don’t have to get nervous. It ain’t done. It’s not over.
“People are talking and saying they might slide something in,” he added. “You can’t slide something in.”
Angelo said he has family in that area and “when your children and grandchildren are exposed to danger, you address it before it happens.”
Angelo said he has three grandchildren who live within 500 feet of the proposed site and said skin and throat cancers have been found in children and adults near such plants and that home values in those areas “have plummeted.”
He said there are other sites in the township where such a plant would be safer and asked the planning commission and the supervisors to help Hilcorp find an alternative.
“This group here is willing to take any necessary steps to block the construction of this plant in our area ...” he said, adding some are even willing to make “personal contributions” to the township “in case Hilcorp decides to file suit against Mahoning Township for blocking this plant.”
He said some also would consider a temporary tax to help the township defend any potential lawsuit if it refuses to allow the plant.
Angelo, who said he is in the thoroughbred racing business, asked whether the township has considered the possibility that such a plant could cause Penn National to move the racing license from the Baird Road site to another location because of “potential health problems” and traffic problems.
One woman tearfully said she and her elderly mother live within feet of the site, adding she fears the health issues as well as the noise and lights that could shatter the peace of their area. “No money can buy you health.”
Allen Miller, planning commission chairman, said, “We haven’t seen this plan. This is the first I’ve heard of it.”
He added the supervisors would have to approve such a project.
Some residents asked the supervisors to state whether they would favor such a plant. However, township solicitor Lou Perrotta cautioned them not to respond, because they are the ones who would have to vote on its approval.
A Hilcorp spokesman said company officials had not given him any statement on whether such a plant is proposed.”
http://ncnewsonline.cnhi.newsmemory.com/publink.php?shareid=1260c482a(Email: grzebieniak @ncnewsonline.com)
6. Range Resources Has ‘Significant Leak’ at Washington County Centralized Impoundment
“DEP spokesman John Poister on Thursday afternoon confirmed that a notice of violation would be issued to Range Resources for what he said was a “significant leak” at the John Day Impoundment in Amwell Township, Washington County.
Poister said the notice of violation would go out “very soon” for the leak, which Range Resources officials told DEP was detected during an inspection. Salt was found in the soil, Poister indicated.
He said Range Resources would have to remove a “significant amount of soil” because of the leak.
“I can’t tell you right now what the extent of that penalty would be,” Poister said Thursday.
Centralized impoundments are used to store millions of gallons of water used during the hydraulic fracturing process.
Range Resources impoundments in Washington County have been the subject of both controversy and national headlines this past year – mostly over questions about what exactly is in the water stored at the sites.
State Impact reported that company executives testified in a civil court case that they do not know what chemicals they are using in the fracking process.
Critics have long maintained that impoundments, sometimes called frack pits, are not an industry best practice, and have pushed for safer storage methods, such as closed-loop systems.”
7. Pipeline Violation Penalties Breaks Record in 2013
“The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration proposed $9.78 million in civil penalties against pipeline operators for alleged violations of federal law in 2013, the agency announced April 7.
PHMSA said in a statement that 2013 saw the highest yearly amount of proposed penalties in the agency's history. The agency has proposed more than $33 million in penalties in pipeline enforcement cases since 2009, while seeing the number of serious pipeline incidents resulting in fatalities or major injuries decline each year during that time period, according to PHMSA.
The 85 percent assessment rate for 2013 cases resolved so far is lower than the rate in recent years—92 percent in 2012 and 95 percent in 2011—but higher than the annual rate in all years from 2004-2010.”
8. DEP Releases Pollution Data from Gas production
Increases in Particulate, VOCs, and CO
“Remember the BIG headline news recently that Pittsburgh air is SO MUCH better?
Only one problem with that news, it left a bunch of air pollutants out!” Bob Donnan
“The DEP released 2012 annual emissions data for the gas industry, which included emissions from gas production, processing operations and compressor stations.
The emissions report found a 7.27 % increase from 2011 in carbon monoxide emissions, which most likely come from diesel fuel-fired engines used during drilling operations and well completions and at processing facilities and compressor stations, said DEP spokeswoman Lisa Kasianowitz.
The data also showed an 8.51 % increase in particulate matter 2.5, a smaller type of particulate matter; and a 3.99 percent increase in particulate matter 10, a larger type of particulate matter. These types of emissions are mainly from diesel fuel-fired engines, drilling operations and well completions, she said.
There was also a 42.7 % increase in volatile organic compound emissions, an increase due in part to the reporting of 250 additional compressor stations that were not required to report in 2011. Other sources of these types of emissions include pumps, completions, tanks, drill rigs, dehydrators, and fugitive emissions.
But some emissions did go down.
There was a 1 % decrease compared to 2011’s numbers in nitrogen oxide emissions, which mainly come from engines used during drilling operations and well completions and at processing facilities and compressor stations; and a 17 % decrease in sulfur dioxide emissions, which generally are the result of the combustion of a fuel that contains sulfur, Kasianowitz said.
“There are very low levels of sulfur in natural gas,” she said. “Combustion of diesel fuel-fired engines used during drilling operations and well completions, and at processing facilities and compressor stations, account for the majority of the sulfur emissions.”
Data came from 56 drilling companies that operated 8,800 natural gas wells in the Marcellus shale and 70 operators of 400 compressor stations that processed that natural gas.
“New to this round of reporting were 250 additional compressor stations that process gas from traditional well sites,” said Kasianowitz. “These compressor stations were not required to report in 2011. Accounting for the emissions from these compressor stations gives the department and the public a more comprehensive emissions inventory for the natural gas industry.”
Emissions were measured from compressor stations; dehydration units; drill rigs; fugitives, such as connectors, flanges, pump lines, pump seals and valves; heaters; pneumatic controllers and pumps; stationary engines; tanks, pressurized vessels and impoundments; venting and blow down systems; well heads and well completions.
The U.S. EPA requires the state to submit comprehensive air emissions inventory once every three years.”
9. PA Reps. Jesse White and Others Want Disclosure and Air Monitoring
HOUSE BILL No.1721 Session of 2014
INTRODUCED BY WHITE, MUNDY, COHEN, ROEBUCK, MURT, KIRKLAND, MCCARTER, STURLA, V. BROWN, O'BRIEN, McGEEHAN, MULLERY AND TRUITT, REFERRED TO COMMITTEE ON ENVIRONMENTAL RESOURCES AND ENERGY, APRIL 10, 2014
1Amending Title 58 (Oil and Gas) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated
2Statutes, in development, further providing for hydraulic fracturing chemical disclosure requirements.
4The General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
5hereby enacts as follows:
6Section 1. Section 3222.1 of Title 58 of the Pennsylvania
7Consolidated Statutes is amended by adding a subsection to read:
8§ 3222.1. Hydraulic fracturing chemical disclosure
11(c.1) Product disclosure.--A well operator and service
provider must provide the product name and manufacturer of each
product used in the hydraulic fracturing process. Subsection (c)
shall not be construed to prevent the disclosure of product
names and manufacturers under this subsection. A disclosure made
under this subsection must be made available to the public.
No. 2172 Session of 2014
INTRODUCED BY WHITE, BOBACK, FRANKEL, MUNDY, COHEN, MCCARTER, MUSTIO, YOUNGBLOOD, McGEEHAN, MULLERY AND TRUITT
REFERRED TO COMMITTEE ON ENVIRONMENTAL RESOURCES AND ENERGY, APRIL 10, 2014
1Amending Title 58 (Oil and Gas) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated
2Statutes, in development, further providing for air
4The General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
5hereby enacts as follows:
6Section 1. Section 3227 of Title 58 of the Pennsylvania
7Consolidated Statutes is amended by adding subsections to read:
8§ 3227. Air contaminant emissions.
9* * *
10(e) Monitoring.--An owner or operator of a facility
conducting natural gas operations in unconventional formations,
including development, production, transmission and processing,
must install and maintain air quality monitoring systems within
300 feet of all natural gas operations. The department shall
develop specifications for the air quality monitoring systems
that may be used by facility owners and operators to comply with
this subsection. 20130HB2172PN3368
10. Air monitoring in Fracking Areas Fails to Detect Spikes In Toxic Emissions
People Are Sick, But The Wrong Kind of Monitoring Won’t Detect the Culprit
“People in natural gas drilling areas who complain about nauseating odors, nosebleeds and other symptoms they fear could be caused by shale development usually get the same response from state regulators: monitoring data show the air quality is fine.
A new study helps explain this discrepancy. The most commonly used air monitoring techniques often underestimate public health threats because they don’t catch toxic emissions that spike at various points during gas production, researchers in the peer-reviewed journal Reviews on Environmental Health. The study was conducted by the Southwest Pennsylvania Environmental Health Project, a nonprofit based near Pittsburgh.
A health survey the group released last year found that people who live near drilling sites in Washington County, Pa., in the Marcellus Shale, reported symptoms such as nausea, abdominal pain, breathing difficulties and nosebleeds, all of which could be caused by pollutants known to be emitted from gas sites. Similar problems have been reported by people who live in the Eagle Ford Shale in South Texas, the subject of a recent investigation by the Center for Public Integrity, InsideClimate News and The Weather Channel.
While residents want to know whether gas drilling is affecting the air near their homes — where emissions can vary dramatically over the course of a day — regulators generally use methods designed to assess long-term, regional air quality.
They're "misapplying the technology," said lead author David Brown, who conducted the study with three of his colleagues at the Environmental Health Project.
Stuart Batterman, an environmental health sciences professor at the University of Michigan, said the study underscores the need for specialized monitoring programs that target community health.
But creating these programs is difficult, Batterman said, because scientists don't fully understand the emissions coming from natural gas facilities. Air pollutants ebb and flow based on equipment malfunctions, maintenance activities and the weather. They're released from storage tanks, compressor stations and pipelines during every step of the process: drilling, hydraulic fracturing, production, and processing.
"Unfortunately, the states don't have much in the way of discretionary funds,” to add monitors, Batterman said. “Their programs have been cut back because most legislatures are not funding their environmental agencies generously."
The Pennsylvania report is the latest demonstration of how little is known about the health impacts of fracking. In February, 190 experts from industry, government and the medical community gathered in Philadelphia to discuss major data gaps. The conclusions they reached were almost identical to those in a recent study in Environmental Science & Technology that cited a lack of "comprehensive" public health research.
Many federal and state-run monitors average their data over 24 hours or take samples once every few days. It's a technique that's been used for decades to assess regional compliance with the Clean Air Act. But natural gas facilities have sporadic emission spikes that last just a few hours or minutes. These fleeting events, which release particulate matter, volatile organic compounds and other harmful toxins into the air, can quickly lead to localized health effects. When averaged over 24 hours, however, the spikes can easily be ignored.
The averaging technique is "useless" for detecting pollution spikes, said Neil Carman, clean air director of the Sierra Club's Lone Star Chapter in Texas. "If the police had to use 24-hour averaging for enforcing speed limits, nobody would ever speed. It would average out."
Spot monitoring can only catch a fraction of the emission spikes.
"Attempts to capture these peaks with 24-hour [averages]; through periodic or one-time spot sampling (under 24 hours); or after a complaint has been filed, will most often miss times of peak exposure," the authors of the new study wrote.
Batterman, the University of Michigan professor, said 24-hour samples are still useful for long- term health studies, since pollutants like benzene and particulate matter can lead to chronic effects that don't show up until years or decades later.
Ideally, scientists should use a combination of methods to monitor long-term and acute impacts, he said, "but there are technology and cost issues."
The best way to analyze short-term impacts like skin rashes and headaches is to take frequent samples over a sustained period of time, said Beth Weinberger, a co-author of the new study. She and her colleagues assessed indoor air quality in 14 homes near drilling sites by taking measurements of fine particulate matter once a minute for up to 24 hours. After examining their data, they found that some homes had very high levels of particulate matter more than 30 percent of the time.
“It was alarming, because we realized if fine particulate matter was getting into the house, other things, like benzene and formaldehyde, probably were as well,” Brown said.
Weinberger said her group is now working with other organizations to find affordable monitors that would allow them to take indoor and outdoor samples so they can design better studies.
The limits of air monitoring are especially apparent when regulators respond to citizen complaints near drilling sites.
"The plume touchdowns or emission events are often quite short, and by the time anybody comes out there and sets up their monitoring [equipment], there's nothing to measure,” Batterman said. “I have some sympathies for the regulated community because it's very difficult to validate these exceedances that certainly occur."
In the Eagle Ford, the TCEQ has up to 30 days to investigate a complaint. In Pennsylvania, the deadline is usually two weeks. In Colorado, inspectors often respond within 24 hours, according to a spokesman for the state's Air Pollution Control Division. (The TCEQ refused to make any of its experts available for phone interviews.)
InsideClimate News and the Center for Public Integrity reviewed more than a dozen TCEQ investigation reports on Eagle Ford oil and gas-related complaints. In most cases, regulators responded by taking instantaneous air readings next to industrial facilities. Some inspectors conducted an initial survey by sniffing the air for detectable odors, then returned days later with monitoring equipment. On several occasions, the instruments detected such high levels of contaminants that inspectors fled the site.
Weinberger said the TCEQ's practice of taking quick "grab samples" is "the perfect design" to miss detecting emission spikes.
"That's what you do if you're not interested in capturing episodic exposures," she said.
Weinberger said more frequent and consistent sampling is needed, such as monitoring once an hour for two weeks. Regulators can then compare the individual data points with existing health standards to see how often they're exceeded.
Even when scientists use the right monitoring techniques, it can be hard to figure out what the numbers mean.
Federal air quality standards exist for only six chemicals: ozone, particulate matter, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide and lead. All other pollutants, including dozens of volatile organic compounds, are managed by a patchwork of occupational standards and state guidelines.
Texas, for instance, uses short-term exposure guidelines of 180 parts per billion for benzene and 4,000 parts per billion for toluene to determine whether a situation requires further investigation.
Other states have different guidelines, and some chemicals have none at all because little is known about their health impacts. The guidelines have another flaw: They don't fully consider what happens when people are exposed to many chemicals at once, as is common near gas and oil production sites.
By David Hasemyer, Ben Wieder and Alan Suderman February 18, 2014
This report is part of a joint project by the Center for Public Integrity, InsideClimate News and The Weather Channel. Lisa Song is with InsideClimate News and Jim Morris is with the Center for Public Integrity. InsideClimate News reporter Zahra Hirji contributed to this article.
11. New Study on Fracking and Health
61 Airborne Chemicals Found
“ The fracking, process requires dozens of chemicals for various purposes, including reducing heat and suspending drill cuttings to avoid clogs.
Fracking is booming in northeastern British Columbia, Alberta and New Brunswick, Canada. The provinces of Quebec, Newfoundland and Labrador, and Nova Scotia have imposed moratoriums until more evidence about its effects on the environment and health is available.
But the epicenter of fracking is south of the border, in Pennsylvania, where officials have embraced the economic opportunity of Marcellus shale. The industry's sway in PA led to 2012 gas drilling legislation that featured a medical gag rule; physicians were permitted to investigate fracking chemicals, but barred from disclosing information to patients. Nephrologist Dr. Alfonso Rodriguez, who launched a first-amendment lawsuit challenging the law, was one of the physicians leading the fight against the gag order.
Dissatisfied with the lack of information available for residents, the Southwest Pennsylvania Environment Health Project has been leading what it calls a public health response to the shale gas industry. Staff document resident's symptoms and monitor pollutants in the air so they can warn residents about peaks. Dr. Leslie Walleigh, the medical and occupational health consultant with the project, says the most common symptoms that residents blame on fracking are respiratory, including coughing, shortness of breath and worsening asthma.
Despite the viral videos of flaming methane-laden tap water, some scientists are now saying air pollution associated with shale gas drilling may be a bigger threat than water contamination.
"When they punch a hole in the ground, you're going to get air pollution coming up," says Carol Kwiatkowski, executive director of the science-based non-profit research organization, The Endocrine Disrupter Exchange in Paonia, Colorado.
In addition to releasing toxic gases, like benzene, that occur naturally in the rock, the chemicals that are added to the fracking water also come back up. Often, the chemical-containing gas is vented and the toxic wastewater is stored in open pits; both processes release volatile organic compounds into the air, says Kwiatkowski, who is an assistant professor adjunct in the Department of Integrative Physiology at the University of Colorado, Boulder.
For 12 months, Kwiatkowski and colleagues collected weekly air samples in Garfield County, Colorado, within one mile of 130 shale gas wells. Their study, published this year in Human and Ecological Risk Assessment: an International Journal, reported 61 airborne chemicals.
One of the most concerning was methylene chloride, which may be a carcinogen, according to the EPA. Acute inhalation can be fatal, while chronic exposure can cause memory loss, nausea and respiratory symptoms. This high-powered cleaning solvent was detected in 73% of the weekly air samples, at times spiking above 563 parts per billion by volume (ppbv). There is no national standard for acceptable levels of airborne methylene chloride, but the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources says action should be taken if indoor methylene chloride levels are above 15 ppbv.
Another set of chemicals causing concern are polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). Kwiatkowski's study reported levels at 15.5 nanograms per cubic meter (ng/m3); previous studies by the Columbia Center for Children's Environmental Health correlated prenatal exposure levels of PAHs greater than 2.26 ng/m3 and 4.16 ng/m3 with lower IQ scores and mental development.
Another study published Jan. 28, 2014 in Environmental Health Perspectives compared live birth data over a 13-year period with geographical proximity to natural gas drilling and found that babies born to homes with more than 125 wells within a mile radius had a 30% greater prevalence of congenital heart defects than those with no wells within ten miles. However, lead author Lisa McKenzie, a researcher at the Colorado School of Public Health, University of Colorado in Aurora, warns that the findings show only a "correlation."
While air pollution is being seen as inherent to the fracking process, water contamination can also occur due to unintended leaks or spills. In 2010, the Environmental Protection Agency sampled groundwater near EnCana shale gas sites in Wyoming and warned residents not to cook with or drink the water due to the presence of benzene, methane and other hydrocarbons.
"Some of the chemicals used are carcinogens," says Dr. Warren Bell, British Columbia, family physician and founding member of the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment. "There are also things like methanol, which is a wood alcohol and something that if your kid accidentally drinks it, they could go blind and die."
At the Southwest Pennsylvania Environment Health Project, Walleigh reports four residents' water wells have tested positive for contaminants including benzene, toluene, arsenic, and metals such as manganese, barium and strontium.
Water contamination can also occur off-site due to the disposal of chemical-containing water. Mike Benusic, a medical student who published a review of the available literature on fracking with the Environmental Health Committee of Doctors, BC, says the wastewater is stored in underground concrete reservoirs, but spills or improper disposal are highly possible, given the sheer volume of fracking waste fluid (4.2 billion litres in 2009 alone). "The water is often disposed 100 kilometres away," he says. "There are so many areas in that link where there's a possibility of a leak."
DOI:10.1503/cmaj.109-4725— Wendy Glauser, Toronto, Ont.
12. Up to 1,000 Times More Methane Emissions Than Estimated
“Purdue and Cornell universities on Monday released a study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America with data on higher-than-expected methane levels found above shale gas wells.
It is particularly noteworthy that large emissions were measured for wells in the drilling phase, in some cases 100 to 1,000 times greater than the inventory estimates,” Shepson said. “This indicates that there are processes occurring—e.g. emissions from coal seams during the drilling process—that are not captured in the inventory development process. This is another example pointing to the idea that a large fraction of the total emissions is coming from a small fraction of shale gas production components that are in an anomalous condition.”
13. Pollution Fears Crush Home Prices Near Fracking Wells
“Researchers from the University of Calgary and Duke University studied property sales from 1994 to 2012 in 36 Pennsylvania counties and seven counties in New York. They mapped sales against the locations of shale-gas wells, and they compared homes connected to public drinking-water systems to homes with private wells.
Properties with private wells suffered a loss in value compared to properties connected to a municipal water system, they found, offsetting gains in value from mineral-rights royalties. The loss varied with distance from the nearest shale-gas well. At 1.5 kilometers, properties with private wells sold for about 10 percent less.
Properties suffered greater losses when closer to fracked shale-gas wells . Within 1 km of shale gas wells, properties with private drinking water wells dropped 22 % in value. Properties connected to public water suffered no losses, but also showed no net gains.
“If you get closer, if you look at the properties that are only 1 km from a shale gas well, then for the ones that are on groundwater we see a 22 percent loss in property values,” Muehlenbachs said, ”and for the ones that have access to pipe water, there’s zero gain, so essentially all of the positive benefits get wiped out by these negative externalities of having this well pad nearby.”
Such negative externalities include truck traffic, noise, light, and air pollution.
14. Ohio Earthquakes Linked to Fracking
“The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) announced that recent earthquakes in northeastern Ohio were likely caused by fracking. This is the fourth documented case of induced seismicity linked to fracking, and the latest in a series of earthquakes in Ohio caused by oil and gas production activities. The earlier quakes resulted from disposal of waste water into underground injection wells.
Scientists have long known that injecting fluids underground can cause earthquakes. Despite this fact, neither state nor federal regulations require operators of fracking wells or disposal wells to evaluate the risk of induced earthquakes when deciding where to site wells or how to operate them. Ohio will now be the first state to require companies to monitor for seismic activity during fracking and shut down operations if earthquakes occur.
Earthquakes caused by oil and gas production activities have been happening across the U.S., including in places where natural earthquakes are uncommon. It’s time for regulators everywhere to put public health and safety first, and create rules to assess and mitigate the risk of induced earthquakes.”
15. Wind Power Cut Nearly 100 Million Tons of Carbon Emissions In 2013
Wind energy figures from 2013 keep pouring in and they continue to impress.
“According to a report preview from the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), wind generation reduced carbon dioxide emissions in the power sector by 4.4 percent. That’s good for 96 million metric tons, or the equivalent of taking 16.9 million cars off the road.
According to AWEA, wind also reduced sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and other toxins. It also helped the nation cut down on the amount of water typically evaporated during the process used at most conventional power plants.”
16. Gov. Corbett Inflates Job numbers
“Natural-gas production in Pennsylvania increased by 72 % from 2011 to 2012, the largest jump out of all the major gas-producing states. So what explains the 170,000-job gap between Corbett's campaign and his state agency calculation?
The 30,000 figure is the state's estimate of jobs that includes employment in fields like gas extraction, well drilling, and pipeline transportation.
The state also calculates employment in the larger natural-gas supply chain. The total for this category comes to 214,946 jobs in the third quarter of last year.
That's the figure Corbett is relying on for his ad, his campaign confirmed.
But that number covers industries whose connection to oil and gas development is tenuous at best, ranging from freight trucking to highway, street, and bridge construction. And agency officials openly admit that the figure—when used to estimate jobs supported by shale—amounts to little more than a guess.
"We have absolutely no idea how many jobs in that second category are due to natural-gas production," said Tim McElhinny, an economic research manager at the state Department of Labor and Industry's center for workforce information and analysis. "It's a drop in the bucket," said Tim Kelsey, a professor at the Pennsylvania State University and cofounder of the Center for Economic and Community Development. "Relative to statewide employment this is a very small number of jobs." http://www.nationaljournal.com/new-energy-paradigm/how-many-jobs-does-fracking-really-create-2014041
17. DEP Fines Range $75,000 for Lycoming County Brine Spill
WILLIAMSPORT -- The DEP) announced that it has fined Range Resources $75,000 for a July 2012 manufactured brine spill of 3,066 gallons at its Cornwall Mountain Hunting Club Unit A well pad in Lewis Township, Lycoming County. “This was a significant spill that Range reported to the department but did not properly remediate until nearly a year later,” DEP Director of District Oil and Gas Operations John Ryder said.
The department’s investigation determined that a leak from the manhole cover on a manufactured brine storage tank caused the brine to flow off the well pad, over an access road and into an unnamed tributary leading to Trout Run, a high quality stream. There is not evidence the brine reached Trout Run. http://www.portal.state.pa.us/portal/server.pt/community/newsroom/14287?id=20459&typeid=1
18. DEP Notice of Violation For Chevron Explosion and Fire
March 18, 2014
Chevron Appalachia LLC
600 Corporate Drive
Moon Township PA 15108-2973
This is a Notice of Violation for events that occurred at the Lanco pad in Dunkard Township, Greene County, in February 2014. There are three Marcellus Shale conservation wells on this location, identified as the Lanco 6H (Permit No. 059-25887), Lanco 7H (Permit No. 059-25888), and Lanco 8H (Permit No. 059-25889). These wells are owned and operated by Chevron Appalachia, LLC (‘Chevron’).
On February 11, 2014, during activities to prepare the Lanco 7H for production, an explosion and fire occurred at the Lanco 7H, which caused other equipment to burn. As a result of the explosion, fire, and resultant heat, the Lanco 6H well head was damaged and also ignited.
During these events, one individual died and another was injured on the well site. These fires burned until sometime on February 15, 2014. Gas was emitted uncontrollably to the air until the wells were capped on February 23, 2014, for the 7H well and February 25, 2014, for the 6H well.
In addition to gas emissions, the Lance 6H and 7H wells discharged production fluids into the air and onto the well pad until the wells were capped. On multiple occasions during these events, Chevron failed to provide access to properly identified Department personnel and agents to the Lanco well site, access road, and vicinity.
As a result of the above, and based on the Department’s observations and investigation to date, Chevron is responsible for the following violations:
1. Failure to use efforts and endeavors to effectively prevent explosions and fires, a violation of Section 3219 of the Oil and Gas Act, 58 Pa. C.S. 3219.
2. Failure to construct and operate a well to ensure that the well integrity is maintained and health, safety, environment, and property are protected, a violation of 25 Pa. Code
3. Hazardous venting of gas, violations of 25 Pa. Code 78.74, 79.15.
4. Failure to prevent waste of gas due to blowout equipment not in good working condition, a violation of -25 Pa. Code 79.12.
5. Failure to provide to provide access to a permitted oil and gas facility to properly identified Department personnel and agents, a violation of 58 Pa. C.S. 3258(a), and the express conditions of the well permits which allow entry without notice or a search warrant.
6. Emission of fugitive air contaminants without approval, a violation of 25 Pa. Code
7. Open burning outside of an air basin, a violation of 25 Pa. Code
8. Construction, modification, or operation of an air contamination source without Department approval, violations of Sections 6. 1(a) and 6.l(b) of the Air Pollution Control Act, 35 P.S. and 25 Pa. Code 127.11 and 127.402.
9. Discharge of production fluids onto the ground, a violation of 25 Pa. Code 78.54, A and 78.57, and a. violation of Section 301 of the Solid Waste Management Act, 35 P.S. 6018.301.
Violations 1, 2, 3, 5, and 9, above, constitute unlawful conduct under Section 3259(1), (2), and (3) of the Oil and Gas Act, 58 Pa. C.S. Violations 3 and 4, above, constitute unlawful conduct under Section 12(a) of the Oil and Gas Conservation Law, 58 P.S. 412(a).
Violations 6, 7, and 8, above, constitute unlawful conduct under Section 8 of the Air Pollution Control Act, 35 P.S. 4008. Violation 9, above, constitutes unlawful conduct under Section 610(4) of the Solid Waste Management Act, 35 PS.
Each day that each one of the violations listed above occurred could constitute a separate violation. All violations are subject to the enforcement and penalty provisions as provided in the relevant statutes. 58 Pa. C.S. 3256; 58 P.S. 412; 35 P.S. 4009.1; 35 PS. 6018.605.
These events also constitute a well control emergency. The Department may pursue its costs in responding to these events under the Oil and Gas Act and the Air Pollution and Control Act. 58 Pa. OS. 3254.1, 3256; 35 P.S.
Please submit a Written response to this Notice of Violation Within 10 business days.
Investigation of these events is ongoing. Your full cooperation with the investigation is required by law. 58 Pa. C.S. 3258, 3259(3). Additional violations may be identified. This NOV, therefore, does not constitute final evaluation of these events and may be expanded.
This Notice of Violation is neither an order nor any other final action of the Department of Environmental Protection. It neither imposes nor waives any enforcement action available to the Department under any of its statutes. If the Department determines that an enforcement action is appropriate, you will be notified of the action.
If you have any questions in this matter, please Contact me at 412.442.4000.
Alan Eichler, Program Manager
District Oil and Gas Operations
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