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For the email address, click on the envelope under the photo
* For information on PA state gas legislation and local control: http://pajustpowers.org/aboutthebills.html-
To read former Updates please visit our blogspot listed above.
WMCG Thank Yous
Contributors To Our Updates
Thank you to contributors to our Updates: Debbie Borowiec, Lou Pochet, Ron Gulla, the Pollocks, Marian Szmyd, Bob Donnan, Elizabeth Donahue, and Bob Schmetzer.
Latrobe Farm Market, Computer Training, Merton Society
Thank you to Mike Atherton and Cynthia Walter, Dorothy Pochet and Jan Milburn for working our TDS testing table at Latrobe Farm Market.
To Carol Cutler for a lovely job on creating the flyer, Mike Atherton for publicity, and Jan and Jack Milburn for posting flyers around the Latrobe area.
Thank you to Jim Rosenberg for computer training on understanding DEP search sites and permitting.
Thank you to Lou and Dorothy Pochet for representing our group at the Thomas Merton meeting.
Thank You --Recent Donations
Thank you to April Jackman, the Shelton family, and Marc Levine for their generous donations that support our work to protect the health and environment of local communities.
Yough River Comments Needed Now-Due August 27
Tenaska Plant Seeks to Be Sited in South Huntingdon, Westmoreland County***
We found out that comments on water are separate from air comments. They are handled by two separate DEP offices. The Mountain Watershed has created a sample letter on water that you can copy and send in. So please, if you have already signed the air petition, email or send in water comments. jan
From Mountain Watershed:
Tenaska is seeking to construct a gas-fired power plant in Westmoreland County that will discharge toxins directly into the Youghiogheny River, and that will use 5 million gallons of water per day from the Yough. Comments on their NPDES permit are due on Wednesday, August 27, 2014. Your action is needed!
Clean Water Program, PA DEP
400 Waterfront Drive, Pittsburgh, PA 15222
Subject: Water Pollution Discharge (NPDES) Permit # PA0254771
For more information on this proposal or its potential impact please contact Nick.
I am concerned about the environmental impacts from Tenaska’s proposed gas-fired plant on the Youghiogheny River. Each year the plant will release thousands of tons of harmful air pollutants. I am also concerned about the impacts this plant will have on water quality. Tenaska Energy plans to withdraw 5 million gallons of water per day from the Youghiogheny River. They also plan to discharge 2.5 million gallons of wastewater per day from the power plant into the Youghiogheny River, a major source of drinking water and recreational activities. Listed below are some of my specific concerns
A plain language summary of this proposal and its impact should be provided.
The published DEP permit announcement listed important pollutants such as chromium, zinc, oil, and grease, but the numbers set forth are confusing and preclude many citizens from making an informed comment.
The high value of receiving streams warrants open public discourse on the permit.
The designated uses of the watershed were stated by the DEP as “drinking water” and “recreation,” uses with high economic and social impacts.
Combined impacts of adding Tenaska pollutants must be analyzed and presented for public comment.
The receiving streams still receive many other pollutants. I am concerned about overburdening the already impacted streams. Also, these pollutants accumulate over time, which calls into question the long term negative influence this plant will have.
A site specific study is needed.
The receiving streams are beginning to regain aquatic life as a result of positive stewardship efforts by the community. The DEP is not likely to know the extent of newly arrived fish and other important organisms.
Constitutional rights must be protected.
Actions of the Department must comply with Article I, Section 27 of the Pennsylvania Constitution, which restricts the Department from issuing permits that allow “degradation, diminution, or depletion of our public natural resources.” Robinson Twp., Washington Cnty. V. Com., 83 A.3d 901, 957 (Pa. 2013). As a trustee of our natural resources, the Department must (among other obligations) consider and account for, prior to acting, how its action will impact the right of present and future Pennsylvanians to enjoy public trust resources. Without further study and public participation, the DEP will not be giving adequate consideration to my constitutional rights.
Please hold a hearing to allow for increased public input and the opportunity to express our opinions and concerns about the Tenaska gas -fired power plant. There are serious issues with the permit that need to be addressed before any decision should be made on this matter.
And Tenaska Air Petitions—Please sign if you have not done so:
Please share the attached petition with residents of Westmoreland and all bordering counties. We ask each of you to help us by sharing the petition with your email lists and any group with which you are affiliated. As stated in the petition, Westmoreland County cannot meet air standards for several criteria. Many areas of Westmoreland County are already listed as EPA non-attainment areas for ozone and particulate matter 2.5, so the county does not have the capacity to handle additional emissions that will contribute to the burden of ozone in the area as well as health impacts. According to the American Lung Association, every county in the Pittsburgh region except for Westmoreland County had fewer bad air days for ozone and daily particle pollution compared with the previous report. Westmoreland County was the only county to score a failing grade for particulate matter.
The Tenaska gas plant will add tons of pollution to already deteriorated air and dispose of wastewater into the Youghiogheny River. Westmoreland County already has a higher incidence of disease than other counties in United States. Pollution won’t stop at the South Huntingdon Township border; it will travel to the surrounding townships and counties.
Some people have had problems with the link. Here is the Mt Watershed link
If you know of church groups or other organizations that will help with the petition please forward it and ask for their help.
*** WMCG Group Meeting We meet the second Tuesday of every month at 7:30 PM in Greensburg. Next meeting is August 19. Email Jan for directions. All are very welcome to attend.
***Boston Art Show Utilizes Local Voices-- July 11, 2014 through January 5, 2015
Open to the public, Boston Museum of Science
Several of us spoke to artist Anne Neeley about water contamination from fracking. Excerpts of what we said about our concerns regarding fracking will play in a loop along with music in the background as people view Anne’s murals of water. The show is not exclusively about the effect of fracking on water and includes other sources of pollution. (see sites below).
Some of us were fortunate to see photos of Anne’s murals. They are beautiful and very thought provoking. Jan
ANNE NEELY WATER STORIES PROJECT: A CONVERSATION IN PAINT AND SOUND
July 2014 – January 2015, Museum of Science, Boston
“Water Stories: A Conversation in Painting and Sound” is at the Museum of Science, Boston through January 2015. In recent years I have conveyed ideas about water and the phenomena of water through nature, the news, memory and imagination. These paintings explore the beauty and foreboding of water, related to central themes, mostly manmade and thru climate change affecting this country. Sound artist Halsey Burgund has created a 35 minute audio composition that accompanies the paintings, comprised of five sections grouped by thematic content: The Future, Stories, Bad Things, Science and Cherish. The voices are edited and combined with water sounds and musical elements and play in a continuous loop throughout the gallery. By placing this work in this Museum of Science there is an extraordinary opportunity to clarify and illuminate issues around water through visceral connections that paintings often elicit from viewers while raising public awareness. My hope is that this exhibition will spawn a new sense of ownership about not only the issues facing us about water but how we use water on a daily basis.”
"Together, Anne and I plan to explore big ideas about what’s happening with water in this country. In the 2014, the Museum will exhibit Anne’s work and host a series of related programs. At the Museum, we find that mixing art with our more typical educational approaches works well. The art opens people to ideas, emotion, scale, and import, in ways that more explicit techniques may not. It broadens the audience, welcomes people who learn differently, and adds dimensions of experience that are otherwise unavailable."
— David G. Rabkin, PhD, Director for Current Science and Technology, Museum of Science, Boston, MA
Visit these sites for images and more information:
*Join the People’s Climate March in New York City, Sept. 21. ACTION: Register now for a seat on one of the Pittsburgh buses. http://alleghenysc.org/?p=19091
And Other Sierra Club Posts:
TAKE ACTION !!
***Letters to the editor are important and one of the best ways to share information with the public. ***
***See Tenaska Petition at the top of the Updates
***For Health Care Professionals—Tell PA Dept of Health to Stop Ignoring Fracking Health complaints
***Petition- Help the Children of Mars School District
Below is a petition that a group of parents in the Mars Area School District are working very hard to get signatures. Please take a moment to look at the petition and sign it. It only takes 5 minutes. We are fighting to keep our children, teachers, and community safe here and across the state of Pennsylvania.
Please share this with your spouses, friends, family, and any organizations that would support this cause. We need 100,00 signatures immediately, as the group plans to take the petition to Harrisburg within a week.
Your support is greatly appreciated!
***Petition For Full Disclosure of Frack Chemicals
From Ron Slabe
I created a petition to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) which says:
"We, the undersigned, in conjunction with the public comment period currently underway, call on the EPA to conduct public hearings in areas where fracking operations are either occurring or have occurred so that we may voice our concerns over the lack of full disclosure of the fracking chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing. (Docket number EPA-HQ-OPPT-2011-1019)"
Will you sign this petition? Click here:
Thanks! Ron Slabe
***Link to Shalefield Stories-Personal stories of those affected by fracking http://www.friendsoftheharmed.com/
***To sign up for Skytruth notifications of activity and violations for your area:
*** List of the Harmed--There are now over 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/
All articles are excerpted and condensed. Please use links for the full article.
Special Thanks to Bob Donnan for photos.
*** To See Water Test Results of the Beaver Run Reservoir
IUP students test for TDS, pH, metals- arsenic, chromium, and strontium.
A group member who has checked the site did not see testing for other frack chemicals including the BTEX group or cesium for example. Here is a link to the IUP site:
***Robinson Township Amends Zoning Ordinance
“Robinson Township officials Thursday passed amendments to the zoning ordinance that in some ways will make it easier for Marcellus Shale companies to do business there.
Immediately after a public hearing was held on the topic, the board voted 2-1 to change the process for considering oil and natural gas applications from a special exception process to a permitted use or conditional use process, depending on the district.
In effect, power changes hands from the zoning board to the board of supervisors for all conditional use applications in commercial and special conservation districts. Supervisors can set reasonable conditions on those applications.
For permitted uses, public hearings are not required.
In addition to those changes, the board banned drilling in the R-1B and R-2 residential districts, but acknowledged that drilling activity in those areas was unlikely because of the lack of open land.
“They were being treated hostile before,” Chairman Rodger Kendall said of the previous board’s relationship with the natural gas industry, “and we’re willing to work with any industry or residential development.
You can’t grow a township by chasing everybody out.”
Rodger Kendall and Vice Chairman Steve Duran expressed their intent to change the zoning ordinance after it was revamped by the outgoing board in December. Supervisor Mark Brositz, the only official who remained on the board, voted against the zoning changes proposed by Kendall and Duran.
Only a handful of people spoke at Thursday’s public hearing, which was a smaller turnout than the first hearing on the topic in June.
Michael Oliverio, attorney for former board Chairman Brian Coppola and his wife, Susan, said the proposed zoning changes would move Robinson Township backwards. He said the zoning amendments passed by the previous board – of which his client was a member – were perfectly in line with the Act 13 decision that gave power back to municipal zoning boards to decide where drilling activity should occur.
He said the amendment ultimately passed by the current board “throws away that process entirely and makes oil and gas development a mix-and-match process based upon each individual type of zoning district.”
Brenda Vance, a township resident, presented a petition against the zoning changes that was signed by 281 residents.
Duran said he had already seen a copy of the petition and felt it was misleading, so he spent hours knocking on doors and talking to residents about the proposed changes.
In her public comment, Vance said she wanted the zoning board to continue to make decisions on oil and gas applications. She also questioned the ethics of Duran and Kendall, who are both leaseholders.
“The total decision should not be under permitted use and in the hands of two men whose families will benefit so greatly from the outcome,” Vance said.
Township solicitor Gretchen Moore said there is likely no conflict of interest that would prevent Duran and Kendall from voting, but if there were a conflict, it would be negated by an exception in the Public Official and Employee Ethics Act.
Greg Kobulnicky, managing partner of Moore Park LP, said he approved of the zoning amendments and said he believes it will spur development in the township.
“There’s a lot in this ordinance that encourages good stewardship of the environment while allowing us to have conversations to say where natural gas development will take place most appropriately in a township,” Kobulnicky said. “When you think about it, it allows for what the process in Pennsylvania on a small level of government should be for people to capture opportunity.”
***Middlesex -Sweeping Changes To Zoning Favor Industry
“ A Middlesex Township hearing is this Wednesday (was this Wednesday, jan). The solicitor, Mike Gallagher, and township manager, Scot Fodi, compiled a proposal for sweeping changes to the current zoning and ordinances in the township to permit drilling and compressor stations in almost the entire township. No protection for citizens was considered. No input from their own planning commission was considered. The planning commission recommended waiting to pass any ordinances until further studies and research could be done, but the supervisors ignored that recommendation.
As you know, the Mars Parent Group and surrounding community object to a proposed 6 well site on the Geyer farm that is approximately one half mile from the Mars Area School District campus of over 3,200 children. The site of the Rex Energy application for these permits is in Middlesex Township. Current zoning does not support this type of gas industry self-defined heavy industrial process. To date, the permits have not been issued by the DEP. Have there been private conversations between Rex, Middlesex, and the DEP? Perhaps Rex requested the DEP to wait to issue the permits until the zoning changes are in place, therefore decreasing the community's ability to challenge placing these wells so close to hundreds of homes and thousands of children? Why would the Middlesex Township supervisors have the desire to rush to make these zoning changes and ignore their own planning commission? Nefarious and possible criminal actions indeed, that ignore the public they serve.
The Middlesex Township supervisors have gas leases and some work directly with Rex Energy. Those in the community, who do not want this toxic industrial process next to their homes or near their children, are being silenced and ignored by officials in office that are mandated to protect the community.
The community is in desperate need of leaders who indeed care about all of their constituents, not just those who have gas leases or work with the gas industry.
Mars Parent Group
***Judge Denies Range Resource’s Testing Request
“President Judge Debbie O’Dell Seneca, A Washington County judge, denied Range Resources permission to test the air, soil and homes of three Amwell Township families who claim to suffer health problems as a result of drilling activity and an impoundment at the Yeager well site on McAdams Road.
She stated she refused to let “the individuals’ homes be invaded for some sort of fishing expedition.”
The case dates back to 2012, when homeowners Stacey Haney and her two children, Beth and John Voyles and their daughter, and Loren and Grace Kiskadden filed a lawsuit against Range Resources and 16 other companies. The families, who live below the drilling site, claim they suffer a multitude of health problems, including neurological, gastrointestinal and dermatological symptoms consistent with toxic exposure.
Their attorney, Kendra Smith, argued the requested testing was premature because the chemicals used at the site were not disclosed. Range Resources was ordered to provide a list of chemicals, including proprietary substances, from its manufacturers. A court order in November required Range Resources’ suppliers – about 40 contractors and subcontractors – to provide that list. According to O’Dell Seneca, the suppliers could not or would not comply.
In June, O’Dell Seneca ruled that Range Resources was in the best position to obtain that list. She said the company still has not complied.
Range Resources also failed to provide a number of results from testing completed July 23 at the Yeager site, as well as results from prior testing done at the site in years past. Rende said in court that results are not available.
O’Dell Seneca said once Range Resources provides the list of the chemicals, she’ll attempt to “work with them.”
“I keep hearing over and over again, ‘What’s the big deal?’” she said. “We need to know what to look for. You still haven’t complied with my order or the DEP. As soon as I have that, I’ll seriously consider the inspection.”
Matt Pitzarella, spokesman for Range Resources, said the chemicals used in the fracking process have been disclosed. He said O’Dell Seneca’s order is “impossible to comply” with.
“Every constituent used in the fracturing process has been disclosed, as well as an exhaustive list for all substances used on the surface at the location. Some constituents – used not in the fracturing fluid but in the drilling operations such as fuel and motor fluids for instance – cannot be identified at the parts per billion levels by Range without information from the manufacturers,” Pitzarella said in an email. “It’s unfortunate that the court refused to allow additional testing that we are confident would further demonstrate that there have been no impacts from oil and gas activity, which is consistent with repeated and exhaustive investigations conducted by state regulators.”
Pitzarella said Range Resources is reviewing its options in regard to the order. In July, Range Resources was cited for a leak at the Yeager impoundment. Pitzarella said Range Resources is still waiting for approval from the DEP to close the impoundment after notifying the agency in March of its intention to close it. A closure date has not yet been set.
***Grant Township Fights Back—Gutsy Supervisors Stick Up For Their Residents
The gas industry’s law firm, Babst- Calland again fights for the industry
"Natural gas producer Pennsylvania General Energy Co. LLC has sued a western Pennsylvania municipality in federal court, alleging that a local ordinance banning the disposal of fracking wastewater violates the U.S. Constitution. The company said in a complaint filed Friday that Grant Township, located in Indiana County, has stepped on its constitutional rights with the June ordinance, which declares that corporations can not dispose of oil and gas waste within the municipality."
It also says that the ordinance violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment by treating corporations differently that it does individuals. And it claims that the ordinance violates the First, Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments by limiting the company's ability to redress the infringement of its rights.
PGE additionally says that the ordinance is preempted by the state's Oil and Gas Act, which it says gives DEP the exclusive authority to regulate oil and gas development.
The company seeks to have the ordinance declared unenforceable and unconstitutional.
“EAST RUN — Municipal leaders in Indiana County’s quiet northern tier ignored the threat of a lawsuit Tuesday and enacted an ordinance they hope will deter an oil and gas drilling company from starting an underground waste disposal site in their township.
Controversy has been brewing for months over a plan by Pennsylvania General Energy to convert a tapped out natural gas well into a brine dumping site under the federal government’s Underground Injection Control program, known as the UIC.
PGE, based in Warren, in March was granted a permit by the EPA to construct an injection well on property owned by the Yanity family. But development has been put on hold while EPA reviews appeals filed by several Grant Township residents.
At the same time, PGE is waiting for similar permits from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.
But backed by an overflow crowd of township residents, the Grant Township supervisors unanimously passed a Bill of Rights ordinance for the municipality, a measure that asserts local residents’ rights to enjoy natural resources trumps any “rights, privileges, powers and protections” claimed by corporations, including permits from higher levels of government.
PGE attorneys at the meeting Tuesday warned that the local ordinance would likely be ruled unconstitutional and overturned in court, and they urged the supervisors and residents to give the company a chance to “be a good neighbor.”
More than any other concern, township officials and residents said they were not satisfied that the applications, permits and construction procedures for an injection well could guarantee that the underground water supplies would be protected.
“The intent of this ordinance is to protect the water and the community of Grant Township,” said supervisor Chairman Fred Carlson, noting that he was speaking only for himself. “The only reason that I can see that you gentlemen are here is that Grant Township is a very small township, just 694 people. That’s the reason we’re being picked on. We’re not happy with it … I don’t like to see it, and I have all the reasons in the world to be concerned about what the gas and oil industry does.
“PGE has all the potential of starting this well, and if we let them get away with it, EPA is automatically going to let them do another one and another one and another one,” Carlson said. “… All (the wells) are starting to die, and you guys made your money on these wells. And we don’t want to be the suckers to hold all this type of water.”
Not unlike the deep wells drilled to extract gas from the Marcellus shale formation, injection wells are dug to depths of 7,000 feet or more, said attorney Kevin Garber, of the Pittsburgh law firm Babst Calland.
“PGE does not want to fight — I want to stress that,” Lucas said. “If it goes to federal court, and I don’t want to saber rattle here … there’s a possibility the township could be required to pay our attorney fees if you lose, and you don’t want that to happen.”
Lucas said Pennsylvania’s township code does not allow Grant Township to enact such an ordinance.
“Constitutionally, you’ve got to allow these things. It doesn’t matter what the use is,” he said. “The law in Pennsylvania is that you have to allow that use somewhere within your boundaries.
Judy Wanchisn, of East Run, a leader of citizen opposition to the PGE proposal, said her research showed the EPA has granted permits for 11 other injection wells in Pennsylvania.
“Three are under appeal, two have had to be plugged,” Wanchisn said.
One was capped in 2009 in Indiana County, she said, but more recently an injection well near Mahaffey in Bell Township, Clearfield County, was idled because the operator failed to report a problem and the well leaked for four months.
“They were fined the maximum. … So the record is not too great as far as I’m concerned. They leak. We just don’t know what’s happening underground.”
Resident William Woodcock III asked Schmidt to more directly answer Buckley’s question about proving the safety of local water supplies.
“The bottom line is you’re asking us to drink the water from this aquifer. We’re expected to drink this water, and you have applied for permission to pour stuff through that aquifer down a mile and a half below,” Buckley asked. “Are you willing to drink water from that aquifer?”
“Sure,” Garber told her.
Woodcock, who also has lodged an appeal against the PGE permit from EPA, went on with his protest.
“We’ve been around long enough to know EPA has allowed things to pass that have, in the future, had problems,” Woodcock said. “What does it do but leave people in those communities with a problem on their hands. So what this community is trying to do is prevent failure in the future.
“If a leak or a problem or something happens underground, what do I do then?” Woodcock asked. “What do I do in 20 years? Who do I go to? And what will PGE do for me?”
Others asked how the company would assure safe transportation of wastewaters through the township to the proposed well site, and Buckley asked if the company could set up webcams at the well site so anyone could watch the site activities on the Internet.
Carlson questioned whether state or federal regulators would have enough manpower to regularly inspect the well, and another resident proposed that PGE contract with an outside testing company for ongoing monitoring of area water supplies.
“It sounds pretty rational … I’ll take that back for consideration,” Schmidt said.
Carlson cut off discussion and called for a show of hands. Most of the estimated 50 people at the meeting showed they favored the ordinance.
Earlier during the debate, Lucas told the supervisors that he is a solicitor for a township in Allegheny County and would have different advice for them.
“I would tell my client do not approve this ordinance,” Lucas said. “You will get sued and you will lose.”
But the Grant Township ordinance is different from others that have failed in court challenges, said Chad Nicholson, of the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund.
CELDF, based in Franklin County, drafted the ordinance that Grant Township approved.
“This ordinance is very clear, that it doesn’t infringe on or take away property rights from anybody unless they are in violation of the ordinance, and it was written specifically at the request of the supervisors to deal only with the injection well,” he said. “And it’s a misnomer to say this is a property rights issue. Everybody knows property rights are sacrosanct in this country, but at the same time your property rights don’t bring with them the authority to harm someone else or their ability to enjoy their own property.”
Rather than empowering corporate boards of directors and permits issued by government offices, Nicholson said, the ordinance centers on preserving civil rights.
“The folks of Grant Township have rights to clean air and clean water and a right to self-government,” he said. “It’s the people that live in this township that should be the ones that get to make those decisions, not corporations. It has nothing to do with being a good neighbor. It’s about fundamental civil rights and who decides what happens within the township. That’s the basis of this ordinance.”
Supervisors Mike McCoy and Jon Perry joined Carlson in the official vote to approve it.
“You’ve heard our concerns,” Carlson told the PGE representatives following the vote. “Our ordinance is passed. You boys know where we’re at. If there’s a problem, go at it.”
***Researchers Call for Public Health Research on Gas Drilling
University of Pennsylvania
“PHILADELPHIA — Groundwater and air quality testing before, during, and after natural gas drilling – which includes hydraulic fracturing -- should be key components of efforts to ensure the safety of communities near these sites, according to an expert panel convened to weigh in on public health research needs associated with unconventional natural gas drilling operations (UNGDO). The panel also urges that any research conducted should use “community-based participatory research principles” so that the concerns of the many stakeholders involved in these activities can be addressed.
A group of environmental health researchers, led by Trevor Penning, PhD, director of the Center of Excellence in Environmental Toxicology (CEET) at the Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, published their findings this month in Environmental Health Perspectives.
“The working group was convened following presentations on the potential of natural gas drilling to adversely affect public health at the 2012 Annual Environmental Health Sciences Core Centers [EHSCC] meeting at Harvard School of Public Health,” states Penning.
Sixteen of the twenty EHSCCs funded by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) joined the working group to review the literature on the potential public health impact of UNGDO and to make recommendations for research.
The Inter-EHSCC Working Group concluded that a potential for water and air pollution exists that might endanger public health and that the social fabric of communities could be affected by the rapid emergence of drilling operations. The working group recommends research to inform how potential risks could be mitigated.
Some of the key suggestions are:
*Baseline ground water quality data should be taken before drilling begins and be monitored over the lifetime and abandonment of the gas-producing well.
*Ambient and occupational air quality should be measured at active drilling sites and be compared with baseline measurements in adjacent areas without drilling operations.
*An environmental epidemiological study should be performed to determine whether an association exists between health outcomes data and water quality in private drinking wells in communities with and without hydraulic fracturing.
*An environmental epidemiological study should be performed to determine whether air pollution associated with UNGDO increases the incidence of respiratory illness and cardiovascular disease.
*Community-based participatory research principles should be embraced in designing and conducting studies on environmental and health impacts of UNGDO so that a range of community perspectives are addressed. All stakeholders (individual/community/industry/advocacy groups/decision makers) should be engaged early to foster multi-directional communication and accountability.”
Coauthors are Marilyn Howarth, Penn CEET; Patrick N. Breysee, Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD; Kathleen Gray, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, NC; and Beizhan Ya, Lamont Doherty, Earth Observatory of Columbia University, NY.
Penn Medicine is one of the world's leading academic medical centers, dedicated to the related missions of medical education, biomedical research, and excellence in patient care.
Another frack chemical the industry is fighting to keep unregulated.
From a group member: “People, pay attention! The article below looks at the attempts by the American Chemistry Council to prevent the EPA from declaring formaldehyde as a carcinogen. However, that's not the only reason why I'm sending this.
We know that industry goes to the politicians first to grease the skids. Fracking is not just about gas and oil. Fracking is also about chemicals. The chemical industry will be moving in here too and we'll be battling them as well - unless we get out ahead of it.
If you want a sense of what the chemical industry can do to a community, read about Mossville, Louisiana. I met some activists from there a couple of years ago in NY, when I did a presentation on fracking to a group of socially-responsible stockholders. What they're dealing with is horrific. Here's a link to one recent article about Mossville: http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2014/03/sasol-mossville-louisiana”
National Academy of Sciences-- Formaldehyde Causes Cancer
“For years, the chemical industry has been winning a political battle to keep formaldehyde from being declared a known carcinogen. The industry’s chief lobby group, the American Chemistry Council, has persuaded members of Congress that the findings of both the EPA and the Department of Health and Human Services were wrong and should be reviewed by the National Academy of Sciences.
The academy issued a second report, which found in effect that government scientists were right all along when they concluded that formaldehyde can cause three rare forms of cancer.
in the 2011 report, Congress asked the academy only to critique the EPA’s draft assessment rather than evaluate the dangers of formaldehyde itself. The panel concluded that the EPA’s report was too long, repetitive and lacked explanation.
But after reviewing the scientific evidence itself, the academy concluded on Friday that formaldehyde is indeed a known carcinogen.
Formaldehyde is widely used in wood products and clothing.
In a blog posting, Jennifer Sass, a scientist at the Natural Resources Defense Council, called the American Chemistry Council’s efforts “a vicious attack on government scientific assessments [meant] to distort and discredit any evidence linking toxic chemicals to diseases, disabilities or death.”
Using the academy to review any negative findings from the EPA has become common tactic of the chemical industry.
The Center for Public Integrity reported in June that Rep. Mike Simpson, a Republican from Idaho, got the EPA to turn its negative assessment of arsenic over to the academy. At the same time, Congress also insisted that the EPA redo all ongoing assessments to address the criticisms of the 2011 formaldehyde review. Forty-seven assessments are affected.
The American Chemistry Council said in its statement that the academy “misses an opportunity to advance the science.”
Richard Denison, a scientist at the Environmental Defense Fund, countered: “One can only hope that this sorry episode and waste of public resources will help to expose the narrow self-interest of the industry, which for years it has deceptively sought to wrap in the mantle of sound science.”
By David Heathemail
***DEP Gets Second Negative Report on Fracking Oversight
83% Of All Gas Wells (Conventional and Unconventional) Not Inspected Even Once
By Don Hopey / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
“The issuance last week of a second report detailing myriad shortcomings in the state DEP’s oversight and enforcement of GAS development. The latest report, which Earthworks, a Washington, D.C.-based environmental organization, released reviewed and analyzed DEP Marcellus Shale gas well drilling files and conducted its own air and water testing to detail how the DEP’s enforcement of shale gas regulations has been less than transparent or effective in controlling the exposure of Pennsylvania residents to unhealthy air and water. Three weeks ago, state Auditor General Eugene DePasquale issued a highly critical performance audit of the DEP’s shale gas industry oversight, including its failure to consistently pursue citizen complaints about drinking water degradation or issue enforcement orders for regulatory violations as the state oil and gas law requires.
Among its 25 findings, the 70-page Earthworks report alleges that the DEP’s oil and gas office:
■ has failed to consider the cumulative health impacts from shale gas development;
■ keeps incomplete permitting and enforcement records that make it impossible for residents to assess their exposure to air and water emissions;
■ has increased inspections, but they still don’t meet even the voluntary goals the department set;
■ poorly tracks, records and responds to citizen complaints;
■ puts a higher premium on speedy permitting than enforcement.
“The cases we reviewed, our testing and data analysis clearly shows that the DEP is unable to keep up with inspections or enforce its regulations and allows fixes over fines,” said Nadia Steinzor, the report’s lead author and Earthworks Eastern program coordinator. “Regulations should create a deterrent system and hold operators accountable.”
She said Earthworks performed its own air and water testing at residences near drilling and hydraulic fracturing sites and “found air and water contaminants consistent with gas development activity.
Eric Shirk, a DEP spokesman, dismissed the Earthworks report as containing factual errors and out-of-date data.
He said inspections are “up tenfold since 2006-07,” and enforcement has increased, too.
“The report says we don’t keep track of water supply impacts, but we do have all of that tracked,” Mr. Shirk said. “I don’t think it’s valid. It seems like it has more of a political agenda.”
The report, titled “Blackout in the Gas Patch: How Pennsylvania residents are left in the dark on health and enforcement,” is based on the most recent DEP data available and notes that the department is falling far short of its own inspection policy, which suggests gas and oil wells be inspected seven times before they begin production.
According to its analysis of DEP’s 2013 inspection report, Earthworks found that while the total number of well inspections has increased from 7,520 to 13,367 from 2008 to 2013, the average number of inspections at the state’s “unconventional” wells, those drilled into shale formations, has declined from 3.3 inspections per well in 2008 to 2.2 in 2013.
Even though the number of well inspectors and inspections have increased, 66,326 of the state’s 79,693 active conventional and unconventional wells, 83%, were not inspected once.
“How can the DEP assert that drilling is benign if it’s not doing the inspections?” Ms. Steinzor asked.
Oversight of the shale gas industry isn’t only a Pennsylvania problem, according to Bruce Baizel, director of Earthworks’ oil and gas accountability project.
“This report focuses on Pennsylvania, but it easily could have been written about Ohio or the federal Bureau of Land Management or Denton, Texas,” Mr. Baizel said. “[It] illustrates why many residents across the United States have given up on the idea that regulators can manage the oil and gas boom and are working so hard to stop fracking.”
The report also includes a case study of health problems Pam Judy and her family experienced at their home in Carmichaels, Greene County, where a shale gas compressor station is located 900 feet away and 35 gas wells (16 unconventional shale gas, 21 conventional gas) are within a one mile radius.
Earthworks plans to release one case study a week for the next six weeks to call attention to claimed health impacts the rapidly proliferating and widespread development of shale gas has caused.
Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/news/environment/2014/08/11/DEP-gets-2nd-dour-report-on-gas-well-oversight/stories/201408080182#ixzz3A6LyeqEn
- See more at: http://www.earthworksaction.org/library/detail/blackout_case_study_1_pam_judy#.U-mGpSi_D4i
***Investigation Finds PA Prioritizes Fracking at Expense of Health, Environment & Law
Blackout in the Gas Patch By Earthworks
“A new report released by Earthworks, after a year in the making, proves that the rush to drill undermines the protection of Pennsylvanians and the enforcement of regulations. Blackout in the Gas Patch: How Pennsylvania Residents are Left in the Dark on Health and Enforcement for the first time definitively connects health and environmental impacts of fracking with a lack of state oversight on a site-by-site basis.
“Legitimate, well-funded oversight should be a prerequisite for deciding whether to permit fracking, not an afterthought,” said Nadia Steinzor, the report’s lead author. “Governor Corbett and DEP Secretary Abruzzo often say that the state has an exemplary regulatory program—but refuse to acknowledge that it’s not being implemented properly and that air, water and health are being harmed as a result. DEP’s limited resources make it impossible to keep up with required paperwork, let alone enforce the law and hold operators accountable.”
Blackout in the Gas Patch looks at the permitting, operational and oversight records of 135 wells and facilities in seven counties and details 25 key findings of associated threats to residents’ health and the environment. It also includes seven case studies using detailed timelines and maps, including the experiences of the Judy family from Carmichaels in Greene County.
Pam Judy said of her family’s experience with fracking: “The Governor and DEP claim that gas and oil operations are safe and that they have everything under control. I live with it every day, and know that’s not true—and this report confirms it.”
Based primarily on data and documents from the DEP, Blackout in the Gas Patch has found that Pennsylvania prioritizes development over enforcement; neglects oversight; fails to consider known threats; undermines regulations; and prevents the public from getting information.
The report concludes that the oversight of Pennsylvania’s oil and gas industry is occurring with three inherent contradictions at play, which are as follows:
1. DEP is charged with protecting the environment and the public, but is under strong political pressure to advance an industry that harms water, air and health.
2. Steep budget cuts to DEP during a shale gas boom means the agency has to do more with less—which in effect has meant insufficient oversight and enforcement.
3. As the number of people impacted by and concerned about the impacts of gas development grows, public access to information on the activities of both operators and DEP remains limited, inconsistent and restricted.”
***PUC Says Sunoco’s Pipeline Must Follow Local Zoning Laws
From Peter Wray, Sierra Club, Allegheny Group
“A decision about a natural gas pipeline in York County could have a welcome bearing on zoning rights here in Western Pennsylvania. As noted previously, Sunoco plans to extend a 300-mile pipeline from Washington County to an exporting facility at Marcus Hook near Philadelphia. Sunoco Logistics has claimed that as a gas line company it has the right to determine where the pipeline and compressors can be located. In a ruling on July 30 the Public Utility Commission dismissed the claim, giving local municipalities like Delmont the right to exercise their local zoning laws. Sunoco may still appeal the PUC decision.”
*** Sustainable Shale Dev. Center Takes More Hits
By Peter Wray, Sierra Club, Allegheny group
In the spring of 2013 the Center for Sustainable Shale Development (CSSD) was created to develop performance standard certification for the fracking industry with respect to air and water pollution. Almost from its inception the center was met with criticism by environmental groups such as the Sierra Club, groups that claimed fracking was inherently unsustainable. Now a Public Accountability Initiative report concludes that CSSD “looks more and more like another front to improve the oil and gas industry’s image.”
Initially the Center was funded in part by the Heinz Endowments, with gas companies and some environmental groups as partners. In August 2013 two key members of the Heinz Endowments involved with SCCD were dismissed, followed by the head of the Endowments in January, and Heinz funding was withdrawn in May 2014 apparently at the wish of the Heinz family.
The recent withdrawal of PennFuture as a ‘strategic partner’ of CSSD leaves Clean Air Task Force, Environmental Defense Fund, Pennsylvania Environmental Council, and GASP as the only environmental groups listed as ‘strategic partners’, along with Shell, Chevron, CMU’s former President, and others.”
(And this is the unbiased voice Murrysville Council invited to speak at their meeting. Jan)
*** MarkWest Plans to Add More Capacity
“MarkWest Energy Partners is further expanding its processing capacity in the Marcellus and Utica shale plays.
MarkWest will construct a seventh 200 million cubic feet per day (MMcf/d) processing plant at its Sherwood complex in Doddridge County, W.Va., at the request of Antero Resources Corp., a Denver-based driller.
The new plant is anchored by long-term, fee-based agreements and will expand total capacity at the complex to 1.4 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d) by the third quarter of 2015. This month, MarkWest plans to begin operations at the Sherwood IV plant, the company said in its second quarter earnings release.
In addition, the company will build a sixth processing complex in the Marcellus Shale. The new facility, called the Hillman complex, will be located in Washington County, Pa., and support rich-gas production from Range Resources. The Hillman complex will initially consist of a 200 MMcf/d processing plant and a de-ethanization facility.
The facility is scheduled to begin operations during the first quarter of 2016. Propane and heavier natural gas liquids recovered at the Hillman complex will be transported by a new pipeline to MarkWest’s complex in Houston, Pa., for fractionation, according to MarkWest.
In the Utica, the formation that underlies the Marcellus in the Appalachian Basin, MarkWest and its joint venture partner The Energy & Minerals Group plan to develop Cadiz III, a 200 MMcf/d processing plant at the Cadiz complex in Harrison County, Ohio. The new facility is expected to be online during the first quarter of 2015 and will increase total processing capacity to 525 MMcf/d.
The Cadiz complex currently consists of a 125 MMcf/d cryogenic processing plant. This September, the company will begin operating the 200 MMcf/d Cadiz II plant to support rich-gas production from Gulfport Energy and other producers, MarkWest said.
During the second quarter of 2014, MarkWest placed into service five major infrastructure projects, consisting of two processing plants with 320 MMcf/d of capacity in the Marcellus; a 200 MMcf/d processing plant in the Utica; 20,000 barrels per day of ethane and heavier fractionation in the Marcellus and a 40,000 b/d de-ethanization facility in the Utica, according to MarkWest.”
***DEP in Trouble Over Smog Regs and Keeping the Public in the Dark
From Peter Wray, Sierra Club
“DEP Mission: To protect Pennsylvania’s air, land and water from pollution and to provide for the health and safety of its citizens through a cleaner environment. We will work as partners with individuals, organizations, governments and businesses to prevent pollution and restore our natural resources.
It is not usual for one state agency to criticize another state agency, but then again, that is the job of the Independent Regulatory Review Commission (IRRC) which was created by the General Assembly in 1982. Recently the IRRC warned that the DEP’s proposed rules for the emission of smog-causing NOx and volatile organics were inadequate. The IRRC comments were based on a review of the DEP’s proposed rules by the EPA, and suggest that DEP will have to produce stronger rules.
A second scolding of DEP concerns the limited public access to DEP information regarding fracking operations.
In a recent Earthwatch report titled “Blackout in the Gas Patch” Nadia Steiner writes: “A focus on speedy reviews of permit applications clearly supports expansion of the industry. But it also reflects the governor’s willingness to allow potential environmental considerations to be overlooked during permitting. In addition, decreased resources have meant that DEP must “do more with less,” possibly compromising oversight activities such as inspections and investigations—a schedule of which has not been mandated by the Governor or DEP. This brings into question the agency’s ability to implement its oil and gas regulatory program, protect the public, and provide information and assistance—particularly at a time when more and more people need it”
***Don’t Frack Ohiopyle
By Christine Dauphin
“….. it is so disturbing that Gov. Tom Corbett’s executive order could allow fracking under Ohiopyle and other state parks throughout Pennsylvania. They claim the drill rigs and pads would be located outside park boundaries and would not disturb surface areas inside the parks, but allowing fracking under the parks still could ruin these precious public open spaces.
Consider the following when it comes to Ohiopyle …
Look at a map and you will see that, although the park is large, its boundaries are very jagged. Fracking wells could easily be located in any number of areas that are surrounded on three sides by parkland and right on top of popular trails, campsites, picnic areas and even the park visitors’ center.
The main attraction for this park is the Youghiogheny River, by some accounts the best whitewater rafting venue in the eastern United States, and remarkably clean considering all the damage that’s been done to rivers in this region by acid mine drainage and other forms of industrial pollution.
Fracking wells generate millions of gallons of water contaminated with chemicals, heavy metals, radioactivity and numerous other pollutants. This water is stored in open pits on-site where it can spill into nearby rivers due to mishandling, shoddy construction or just plain heavy rain.
The trucks that serve well sites are large and loud, and each well requires thousands of truck trips to bring equipment and water in and out during drilling. Imagine how the character of little Ohiopyle would change with fracking trucks rumbling around it constantly. And can you imagine biking on the curvy mountain roads if you had to share them with all these trucks?
Gas equipment, once in place, is far from silent and runs 24/ 7. On a recent hike in the Allegheny National Forest, I was trying to enjoy an otherwise lovely hike along a river that was running exceptionally high due to recent rains. But even above the roar of the water, I could hear the hum of a gas compressor station for a good half hour. Camping anyone?
But even if you are not someone who appreciates the great outdoors and are not moved or outraged by the threats I present, perhaps I can appeal to your economic sensibilities.
Ohiopyle State Park adds over $30 million per year to the local economy and completely supports the town and everyone who works there. The entire state parks system adds more than $1.1 billion per year to the commonwealth’s economy.
The Corbett administration estimates that the state would gain $75 million in revenue from leasing land under state parks for fracking. But how much would we lose if people stop visiting the parks because neighboring areas have been industrialized?
During our 10th anniversary trip, my mother came to visit and babysit our 2-year-old daughter so we could get away for the weekend. On our way home, we talked about how great it will be to take her rafting on the Yough when she’s old enough.
Gov. Corbett, I really hope that by that time it hasn’t been spoiled.” Christine Dauhlin
Read more: http://wwww.post-gazette.com/opinion/Op-Ed/2014/07/06/Dont-frack-under-Ohiopyle-by-Christine-Dahlin/stories/201407060113#ixzz3A6MofYdm
***PA Must Address Methane
“….The League (Of Women Voters) believes the PA DEP must take the lead in regulating methane — specifically from natural gas emissions. Why? According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, methane, as a greenhouse gas, is more than 80 times as potent as carbon dioxide over a 20-year time frame.
Throughout the commonwealth, wellheads, pipes, valves and compressors are releasing increasing volumes of methane into our atmosphere. Although the rates vary, their cumulative impact is significant. In fact, some project that methane could be worse than coal if methane is not addressed. Efforts in the reduction of both methane and carbon emissions will truly be worth a pound of cure for generations yet to come.”
Read more: http://220.127.116.11/opinion/letters/2014/07/27/Pa-must-also-address-methane-emissions-carbon-Hescox/stories/201407270077#ixzz3A6NnTrrT
***Despite Industry Denials, Diesel Is Still Used To Frack
“At least 33 companies drilled 351 wells in 12 states using prohibited diesel fuels without required permits in violation of the federal Safe Drinking Water Act.
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The illegal injection of diesel fuel during hydraulic fracturing has continued over the last four years, despite repeated denials by the drilling industry, according to a report by the Environmental Integrity Project (EIP). In its investigation, EIP also found troubling evidence that drilling companies have been changing and eliminating their disclosures of past diesel use from the industry self-disclosure database of chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing, called FracFocus.
Injecting diesel fuel into the ground to fracture shale and extract gas or oil is a potential threat to drinking water supplies and public health because diesel contains toxic chemicals, such as benzene, that cause cancer or other serious health problems, even at low doses.
EIP’s report, “Fracking Beyond the Law,” uses self-reported data from drilling companies and federal records to document at least 33 companies fracking at least 351 wells across 12 states with fluids containing diesel from 2010 through early August 2014. Diesel fuels were used to frack wells in Texas, Colorado, North Dakota, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Wyoming, New Mexico, Utah, Kansas, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Montana without required Safe Drinking Water Act permits.”
Read the full report and see the well data by visiting this link: http://environmentalintegrity.org/archives/6940
***Cove Point Delay Likely
“Monday’s court ruling will likely delay permitting for the controversial Cove Point liquefied natural gas (LNG) export facility proposed in Calvert County, Maryland.
Here is a statement from Mike Tidwell, director of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network:
“For months, the Chesapeake Climate Action Network and our partners have been warning that corporate leaders and elected officials were cutting dangerous corners in the permitting process for the proposed fracked gas export facility at Cove Point in southern Maryland. Thankfully this week a Calvert County circuit court judge agreed with a big part of our argument. Judge James Salmon ruled with the AMP Creeks Council that Calvert County commissioners had illegally exempted mega-company Dominion Resources from a host of local zoning ordinances.
“At a minimum, this ruling will likely cause real delay in the ability of Dominion to begin major construction of this controversial $3.8 billion fossil fuel project. The ruling should certainly give pause to the Wall Street investors that Dominion is seeking to recruit to finance this expensive, risky project. As fracked-gas exports grow increasingly controversial nationwide, we believe the court ruling in Calvert County this week is just the opening step in exposing the truth about this unsafe, climate-harming, and economy-damaging facility.
“On behalf of CCAN’s supporters and concerned citizens nationwide, we congratulate the attorneys at the AMP Creeks Council in southern Maryland for their extraordinary—and now successful—legal work in this case.”
Mike Tidwell, 240-460-5838, firstname.lastname@example.org
Diana Dascalu-Joffe, 240-396-1984, email@example.com
***Sen. Scarnati Opposes Fracking in His Watershed
Commentary from Elizabeth D:
“Not in his backyard.... After working very hard to help fracking spread across PA (Scarnati pushed Act 13 relentlessly, jan), Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati (R-25), doesn't want drilling in a portion of his district.
What about all the other watersheds fracking will compromise, Joe...such as the Laurel Highlands watershed, for example? Why is the watershed in his district more deserving of protection? Protection from the pollution and destruction that frackers say doesn't happen... .
HARRISBURG – Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati (R-Jefferson) has issued the following statement regarding the Flatirons Development, LLC decision concerning the Brandon-Day well:
“Flatirons Development, LLC, has agreed to discontinue Marcellus drilling operations of the Brandon-Day well which is located upstream of the Brockway Borough Municipal Authority Rattlesnake Reservoir. The existing bore hole will be abandoned, sealed and reclaimed to eliminate the possibility of watershed contamination.
“This recent decision by Flatirons Development to stop plans for drilling at the Brandon-Day well is a good and responsible decision for our community. Earlier this year after taking part in numerous discussions and meetings regarding this well, I reached out to the DEP to express serious reservations with permitting any further drilling at the proposed site or any nearby site which could potentially compromise the reservoir.
“Toby Creek Watershed Association President Bill Sabatose and members of the Toby Creek Watershed have done an outstanding job monitoring the process surrounding this well and working to make sure the watershed remains clean. This decision is a strong testament to the successful teamwork of area residents, local leaders, DEP and Flatirons to do what is in the best interest of our community to ensure public safety and protect our natural resources.”
***Wanda Guthrie: Fossil Fuel Divestiture Is A Moral Issue
Religious and liberal groups see environment as a ‘moral issue’
“When she learned of an international campaign to divest from the fossil fuel industry, Wanda Guthrie didn't wait long to join in.
As environmental justice committee chair of the Thomas Merton Center -- a faith-based social activist group in Bloomfield -- she has been urging religious and other groups to use their investment decisions to promote a halt in the burning of carbon-emitting fossil fuels.
"I've been pushing it everywhere," said Ms. Guthrie. The aim is "to let fossil fuel companies know that this is a moral question," she said.
And she's worried about the cataclysmic effects of global warming: "I have grandchildren and they're going to have children."
A small but growing number of liberal religious groups and other groups are heeding such calls. They've been voting to shed their investments in the fossil fuel industry -- an effort they acknowledge that can have only token financial impact on a vast industry, but one they say makes a symbolic statement linking carbon emissions to the threat of climate change.
Like many social movements from gay marriage to the anti-apartheid campaign, the effort is seeing its first successes on the left flank of the religious landscape and slowly gaining the notice of more established groups.
The United Church of Christ last year became the first national denomination to take such a stand. In recent weeks, momentum has built.
The Unitarian Universalist Association's national General Assembly voted June 29 to divest over five years from any holdings in 200 fossil fuel companies included on climate activists' Carbon Tracker list, with the option of keeping small amounts of holdings so it could do shareholder resolutions and other activism.
Mark Tomlinson, who was a delegate to that assembly representing Allegheny Unitarian Universalist Church on the North Side, said advocates on both sides made strong arguments, but he supported divesting as in harmony with one of the denomination's core values -- "respect for the interdependent web of all existence." For Ms. Guthrie, an Episcopalian, the effort is a spiritual issue. "For a long time, we've considered ourselves just stewards of creation, instead of part of creation," she said.
The divestment effort clashes with the current natural-gas drilling boom in the Marcellus and Utica shales, not to mention the Tri-State Region's longstanding ties to the coal industry.”
Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/news/environment/2014/07/06/Religious-and-liberal-groups-target-fossil-fuel-divestiture/stories/201407060217#ixzz3A6OW2R8F
***Judge Overturns Fort Collins Five-Year Fracking Ban
“A judge overturned Fort Collins’ five-year moratorium on hydraulic fracturing Thursday, making it the third big blow to efforts by grassroots groups and politicians working to ban fracking in communities throughout the state.
The moratorium in Fort Collins stopped new wells from being fracked within city limits, while the city performed a study on the health impacts of fracking. City officials now have seven weeks to decide if it plans to appeal the court’s decision.
District Judge Gregory M. Lammons ruled on the lawsuit filed in late 2013 by the Colorado Oil and Gas Association challenging the bans passed by voters in Fort Collins and Longmont stating that the Fort Collins moratorium is preempted by the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Act because it “impedes a state interest and prohibits what the state law allows.”
“The City’s five-year ban effectively eliminates the possibility of oil and gas development within the City,” Lammons writes. “This is so because hydraulic fracturing is used in ‘virtually all oil and gas wells’ in Colorado. To eliminate a technology that is used in virtually all oil and gas wells would substantially impede the state’s interest in oil and gas production.”
The moratorium in Fort Collins stopped new wells from being fracked within city limits, while the city performed a study on the health impacts of fracking. City officials now have seven weeks to decide if it plans to appeal the court’s decision.
“We are disappointed at the outcome,” Interim City Attorney Carrie Daggett told the Coloradoan. The city is reviewing the judge’s order and will be considering its options, Daggett said.
“The decision of overturning the protective moratorium in Fort Collins against the inherent human and environmental dangers of fracking is yet another display of puppetry enforced by the regulatory scheme,” said Shane Davis, aka The Fractivist.
On Monday, Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) pulled two ballot measures from the November ballot that sought to provide far greater local control of Colorado’s fracking industry. The initiatives would have forced fracking wells to be 2,000 feet from schools, hospitals and other community facilities, and established an environmental bill of rights allowing local governments precedence when laws conflict with the state.
Late July, Boulder County District Court Judge D.D. Mallard ruled against Longmont’s fracking ban in favor of “state’s interest,” clearly stating that concerns about health risks to residents don’t quite stack up against Colorado’s stake in the oil and gas industries. Voters approved the ban in 2012, but the Colorado Oil and Gas Association never stopped fighting to overturn it.
***On Frack Chemicals
“Out of nearly 200 commonly used compounds, there's very little known about the potential health risks of about one-third, and eight are toxic to mammals.
Stringfellow's team at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and University of the Pacific scoured databases and reports to compile a list of substances commonly used in fracking. They include gelling agents to thicken the fluids, biocides to keep microbes from growing, sand to prop open tiny cracks in the rocks and compounds to prevent pipe corrosion.
Fracking fluids do contain many nontoxic and food-grade materials, as the industry asserts. But if something is edible or biodegradable, it doesn't automatically mean it can be easily disposed of, Stringfellow notes.
His team found that most fracking compounds will require treatment before being released. And, although not in the thousands as some critics suggest, the scientists identified eight substances, including biocides, that raised red flags. These eight compounds were identified as being particularly toxic to mammals.
"There are a number of chemicals, like corrosion inhibitors and biocides in particular, that are being used in reasonably high concentrations that potentially could have adverse effects," Stringfellow says. "Biocides, for example, are designed to kill bacteria—it's not a benign material.” They’re also looking at the environmental impact of the fracking fluids, and they are finding that some have toxic effects on aquatic life.
In addition, for about one-third of the approximately 190 compounds the scientists identified as ingredients in various fracking formulas, the scientists found very little information about toxicity and physical and chemical properties.
"It should be a priority to try to close that data gap," Stringfellow says.
Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2014-08-fracking-fluids-red-flags.html#jCp
***Sand Mining Takes Toll on Wisconsin As Fracking Escalates Nationwide
“To keep fractures from snapping shut when the fracking operation is completed and the pressure is eased, you need to prop them open with something. That’s why fracking fluid—a highly engineered fluid that is mostly water by volume, but can contain dozens of different chemicals—always includes a “proppant.” The drilling industry has developed manufactured proppants, but often the proppant of choice is a clean, consistent, well-rounded, tough, fine-grained sand. A typical fracking operation in the Eagle Ford Shale in Texas, for example, can use 4 million pounds or more of sand.
Where is all the sand coming from? As you might expect, Texas is one place where sand-mining is booming. But surprisingly, most of this sand comes from a place more famously associated with beer and brauts: Wisconsin. The rapid proliferation of sand-mining operations is getting a lot of attention there and raising concerns about public health and safety, property values, quality of life and environmental impacts.
Responding to these concerns, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) just published an interactive map showing the locations of all the facilities, active and inactive, involved in the mining and processing of sand in that state. Their map doesn’t have imagery, so you can’t actually “see” any of these mining operations. But when we asked, the DNR promptly gave us the facilities data (updated as of May 1, 2014), so we could make our own map using Google Maps Engine: from EcoWatch http://ecowatch.com/2014/08/04/sand-mining-toll-on-wisconsin-fracking-escalates/?utm_source=EcoWatch+List&utm_campaign=caa401f508-Top_News_8_5_2014&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_49c7d43dc9-caa401f508-85333001”