* 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: firstname.lastname@example.org
* 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-
To read former Updates please visit our blogspot listed above.
WMCG Thank You
Contributors To Our Updates
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.
The action to Tenaska and State Reps: http://tinyurl.com/stoptenaska
The hearing request to DEP: http://tinyurl.com/tenaskahearing
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. Email Jan for directions. All are very welcome to attend.
***The Great March for Climate Action –Event in Butler
WHAT'S NEXT FOR PITTSBURGH-AREA CLIMATE ACTIVISTS?
How about this? Can you help make it happen?
The Great March for Climate Action
Coming to Monroeville October 16. On March 1, 2014, hundreds of everyday Americans set out from Los Angeles, CA, on a 3,000-mile walk to Washington, D.C., with a goal of inspiring others from all walks of life to take action on the climate crisis. The march has delivered to thousands of Americans the message that urgent action is needed on climate change. Dozens of newspaper and television reports have resulted. Thousands have marched for at least a day, with a core group of 25-35 persons walking the entire distance. Thousands of one-on-one conversations between Americans concerned about our future have taken place. Songs around the campfire and sermons in church sanctuaries and coalition-building gatherings have reverberated across the country.
Take a look at the website to learn more: http://www.climatemarch.org
The march will enter Pennsylvania on October 10, with stops in Bessemer on Oct 10 at Maggie Henry's farm, Darlington (Oct 11) [with an excursion that day to Butler, PA for a Global Frackdown rally], Freedom (Oct 12), Ben Avon (Oct 13), Pittsburgh, (Oct 14-15), Monroeville (Oct 16), South Greensburg (Oct 17), Ligonier (Oct 18) and five other stops in PA before exiting to Maryland on October 25th.
. The marchers want nothing more than to be helpful in adding their voices and bodies to the fights we have on our hands.
If you are interested in helping this march amplify its impact as it comes through Pennsylvania, then let me know and I will try to connect you with events along the Pennsylvania rout.
CONTACT: Stephen Cleghorn, Paradise Gardens and Farm
email@example.com or 814-932-6761
***Conference-Shale and Public Health Features Dr Paulson, Dr McKenzie, Dr Panettieri- Oct. 26/27
The League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania's Straight Scoop on Shale initiative will hold a conference "Shale and Public Health: Days of Discovery" on Sunday afternoon October 26 and Monday October 27 at the Pitt University Club.
Featured speakers on Monday October 27 include Dr. Jerome Paulson, Director of the Mid-Atlantic Center for Children's Health and the Environment (MACCHE), and Dr. Lisa McKenzie of the Colorado School of Public Health.
On Sunday afternoon October 26, Dr. Reynold Panettieri of the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine will present new research on the health impacts of shale gas development.
The conference is open to the public and free (with a small charge for lunch on October 27), but pre-registration is required.
For more information and to register, please visit our website, http://shale.palwv.org
Or call 1-800-61-SHALE (800-617-4253)
***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:
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
***Tell Susan G Komen--Pink Drill Bits Are Not Cute
The breast cancer organization Susan G. Komen and fracking giant Baker Hughes have partnered to distribute 1,000 specially painted pink drill bits around the world.
This “Doing Our Bit for the Cure” partnership is pinkwashing. Komen claims to care about ending breast cancer but is taking money from—and providing good PR for—corporations that are poisoning and contaminating our air, water and bodies with chemicals linked to a range of diseases and disorders, including breast cancer. Shame on Komen.
Take action: Tell Komen founder Nancy Brinker to stop fracking with our health. Brinker plans to accept the Baker Hughes’ donation on Oct. 26 at the Pittsburgh Steelers NFL game. Signing this petition immediately sends an email to Susan G. Komen saying, “Don’t Frack With Our Health.” Your name will also be included with the list that will be hand-delivered to Brinker prior to the NFL game.
“Dear Nancy Brinker, founder and chair of global strategy of Susan G. Komen,
We are outraged that as the largest breast cancer organization in the world, you are partnering with a fracking corporation that is poisoning our health. Pink drill bits are a pinkwashing publicity stunt.
Fracking is a toxic process—at least 25 percent of the more than 700 chemicals used in fracking are linked to cancer. By taking money from these companies and giving them permission to use your name, you are complicit in a practice that endangers women’s health. You have created a perfect profit cycle whereby Baker Hughes contributes to causing the very disease you raise money to cure. This is unacceptable to us. Our health is not for sale.
If you really care about women’s health, break your relationship with pinkwashers like Baker Hughes, and take a stand against fracking.
***Should Sunoco Be exempt From Zoning Laws and Ordinances
“Here is the action alert for pressuring the PUC to deny Sunoco Logistics' petition during their upcoming meeting on October 2nd. Please pass along this blurb and link to your networks!
If granted a designation as a Public Utility Corporation, Sunoco Logistics would be exempt from complying with all local zoning laws and ordinances that would otherwise prevent them from constructing a pipeline and flaring stacks in residential areas. Send a strong message to the PUC to deny Sunoco's petition!
Thanks! Sam Koplinka-Loehr”
*** Tell EPA: Our Ocean's Not a Dump for Fracking
From: "Center for Biological Diversity" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
The agency charged with protecting our environment is failing to do its job, and we need your help to right this wrong. Off California's coast the EPA has been letting oil companies dump up to 9 billion gallons of toxic fracking wastewater directly into the ocean every year.
Many of the nearly 250 chemicals used in fracking wells are toxic to people and to wildlife like whales, dolphins and sea otters. Some chemicals are known carcinogens; others cause immune and nervous-system damage. Still others hover in the shadowy category called "unknown" -- oil companies say their contents are trade secrets, and the EPA blindly agrees to assume they're harmless.
We can't let this dumping continue. If you wouldn't drink well water tainted by fracking fluids, surely no animal should have to live in such water.
Act now to tell the EPA to do its job and bring an immediate ban to the discharge of toxic fracking chemicals off the coasts of Southern California and the Gulf of Mexico. Click here to take action and get more information.
If you can't open the link, go to http://action.biologicaldiversity.org/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=16356.
***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!
Best Regards, Amy Nassif
***Sign On To Letter To Gov. Corbett-- Urge Him to Implement De Pasquale’s Recommendations For DEP
“I know you are as concerned as I am about the recent news out of Harrisburg regarding the protection of our drinking water from the dangers of natural gas drilling. Then join me to take action now.
It started with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection’s (DEP) acknowledgment that there have been 209 known cases of water contamination from oil and gas operations since 2007. http://powersource.post-gazette.com/powersource/policy-powersource/2014/07/22/DEP-Oil-and-gas-endeavors-have-damaged-water-supply-209-times-since-07/stories/201407220069
If that wasn’t enough, Auditor General Eugene DePasquale also released his much anticipated audit http://www.auditorgen.state.pa.us/reports/performance/special/speDEP072114.pdf
of DEP’s ability to protect water quality in the wake of escalated Marcellus Shale drilling. The report shows how the explosive growth of shale development caught the DEP flat footed, how the agency is underfunded, and slow to respond to monitoring and accountability activities. Some of the more alarming findings where:
DEP would rather seek voluntary compliance and encouraging industry to work out a solution with impacted homeowners instead of issuing violations for cases where industry impacted a water supply.
There is no system in place for frequent inspections of drilling pads, especially during critical drilling operations much less during the lifetime of the well.
DEP relies on a voluntary system of reporting where and how fracking waste is disposed, instead of using a system, where regulators can see how waste is handled from well site to disposal.
DEP’s system to track complaints related to oil and gas development is “woefully inadequate.”
In addition to his findings, Auditor General DePasquale made 29 recommendations, 18 of which require no additional funding, for how DEP can address these issues and improve operations. Email Governor Corbett today and urge him to have DEP implement all 29 of the Auditor General’s recommendations.
These types of events shake the confidence Pennsylvanians like you have in our government’s ability to protect our drinking water. However, they also serve as a call to action. DEP owes it to you to do everything it can to protect water supplies and public health, Contact Governor Corbett TODAY and tell him to have DEP take steps to improve the protection of our drinking water from natural gas drilling.
Best, Steve Hvozdovich - Campaign Coordinator
Pennsylvania Office, Clean Water Action http://org.salsalabs.com/o/2155/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=16207
***TRI (Toxic Release Inventory) Action Alert-Close the Loophole:
“We need your help!! Please send an email to the US EPA urging them to "Close the TRI Loophole that the oil and gas industry currently enjoys".
We all deserve to know exactly what these operations are releasing into our air, water and onto our land. Our goal is to guarantee the public’s right to know.
Please let the US EPA know how important TRI reporting will be to you and your community:
Mr. Gilbert Mears
Docket #: EPA-HQ-TRI-2013-0281 (must be included on all correspondence)
Some facts on Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) – what it is and why it’s important:
What is the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI)?
Industrial facilities report annually the amount and method (land, air, water, landfills) of each toxic
chemical they release or dispose of to the national Toxics Release Inventory.
Where can I find the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI)?
Once the industrial facilities submit their annual release data, the Environmental Protection Agency
makes it available to the public through the TRI’s free, searchable online database.
Why is this important?
The TRI provides communities and the public information needed to challenge permits or siting
decisions, provides regulators with necessary data to set proper controls, and encourages industrial
facilities to reduce their toxic releases.
Why does it matter for oil and natural gas?
The oil and gas extraction industry is one of the largest sources of toxic releases in the United
States. Yet, because of loopholes created by historical regulation and successful lobbying efforts,
this industry remains exempt from reporting to the TRI—even though they are second in toxic air
emissions behind power plants.
What is being done?
In 2012, the Environmental Integrity Project filed a petition on behalf of sixteen local, regional, and
national environmental groups, asking EPA to close this loophole and require the oil and gas
industries to report to the TRI. Although EPA has been carefully considering whether to act on the
petition, significant political and industrial pressure opposing such action exists.
What is the end goal?
Our goal is to guarantee the public’s right to know. TRI data will arm citizens with powerful data,
provide incentives for oil and gas operators to reduce toxic releases, and will provide a data-driven
foundation for responsible regulation.
What can you do?
You can help by immediately letting EPA know how important TRI reporting will be to you and your
Send written or email comments to:
Toxics Release Inventory Program Division, Environmental Protection Agency
1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20460
Docket #: EPA-HQ-TRI-2013-0281 (please be sure to include in all your correspondence)
From: Lisa Graves Marcucci
Environmental Integrity Project
PA Coordinator, Community Outreach
***Link to DEPs Water Violations List
“The link lists 250 water supplies across PA compromised by fracking...the tip of the iceberg, since the DEP can't be depended on to know about or report on the actual number of spills. The spread of fracking across the state is reflected in when and where these spills occur, so you'll find the arrival of fracking (and the inevitable spills) here in Westmoreland County on page six, with spills in Donegal in 2013 and 2014.”
***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 1400 residents of Pennsylvania who have placed their names on the list of the harmed when they became sick after fracking began in their area. http://pennsylvaniaallianceforcleanwaterandair.wordpress.com/the-list/
*** 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 checks the site notes that the site still does not list testing of other frack chemicals including the BTEX group or cesium for example. Here is a link to the IUP site:
All articles are excerpted and condensed. Please use links for the full article. Special thanks to Bob Donnan for many of the photos.
Note From Group Member: “Just remember, however, that an overlay cannot change the underlying zoning district. For example, a residentially zoned area may have an overlay applied that enhances its characteristics as a residential area but cannot create a use incompatible with residential zoning.”
***Parents/Environmental Groups Challenge Middlesex Township Zoning Changes That Allows Fracking Near Schools and Homes
Appeal Filed With Zoning Hearing Board
“Parents in Middlesex Township, and environmental groups Clean Air Council and Delaware Riverkeeper Network have challenged an amendment to Middlesex Township’s zoning ordinance which allows shale gas extraction and gas infrastructure to nearly blanket the community. The parents and groups argue that the zoning amendment removes core protections to residential neighborhoods from dangerous industrial activities. The challengers claim that the amendment violates the people’s right to pure water, clean air, a healthy environment, and fails to protect public health, safety, and welfare by allowing shale gas extraction, drilling, and gas infrastructure to occur so close to where children, families and residents live, learn, work, and play. The appeal was filed with the Middlesex Township Zoning Hearing Board.
Despite continued opposition by parents, the three Middlesex Township Supervisors voted to approve the zoning amendment on August 13th, which allows shale gas extraction, including fracking and related infrastructure, like compressor stations and processing plants, to operate in agricultural and residential areas. Two of the Township Supervisors had to recuse themselves due to conflicts of interest, but were called back to take the vote in order to achieve a quorum. The DEP approved permits to allow Rex Energy to drill and frack 6 wells at the Geyer site which is less than a half mile away from 3,200 students at the Mars School District campus.
“The zoning changes clearly reflect Rex Energy’s desire to frack in the locations Rex determined to be most cost effective and highlight the company and Township Supervisors’ disregard for the health and safety of children and residents,” said Joseph Otis Minott, Chief Counsel and Executive Director for Clean Air Council. “Prior to the zoning changes, Rex Energy would not have legally been able to frack in the same location, even though they had proposed the idea publicly and received written support from the township.”
Maya van Rossum, the Delaware Riverkeeper and head of the Delaware Riverkeeper Network says, “The Pennsylvania Constitution ensures protection of our pure water, clean air and healthy environments for present and future generations. Permitting shale gas extraction so close to a school filled with children, and throughout the communities where people live, is an obvious breach of this obligation and trust. Our kids and communities need and deserve the thoughtful and concerted attention of our lawmakers and regulators and are entitled to a level of protection that protects them in the present and the future. Allowing shale gas extraction in every part of Middlesex Township, including at the Geyer site, is a betrayal of trust and law that the Delaware Riverkeeper Network cannot sit silently by and let happen.”
Rex Energy announced plans to begin drilling the Geyer wells as early as January or February 2015. As a result of the challenged zoning changes, the Geyer well is likely the first of many proposals to drill or operate gas infrastructure near the Mars School District and residential areas.
Matt Walker is the Community Outreach Director with Clean Air Council. “Middlesex Township should not have allowed major industrial uses like fracking to operate near vulnerable populations like children,” said Walker. “The zoning changes contradict sound planning practices and could dramatically change the Mars area into a heavy industrial and polluting landscape complete with fracking, compressor stations, processing plants and pipelines. The Council is highly concerned about the air quality and public health impacts to our members and their families that will come with increased shale gas operations like Rex’s Geyer well and others. Drilling and fracking 6 gas wells on the Rex Energy Geyer well pad will emit harmful pollutants into the air near the Mars School District campus where 3,200 children breathe the air every day. Children are especially vulnerable to environmental health hazards because they breathe more air per unit of body weight than adults do and because their lungs are still developing.”
Maya van Rossum, Delaware Riverkeeper Network
***Rural Neighborhoods At Risk Of Becoming Industrial Areas
6 Robinson Twp. Residents File a Challenge
“Families in Robinson Township, Pennsylvania filed a legal challenge to a new zoning ordinance that promises radical change to the rural character of the area by allowing oil and gas well site development, including drilling and fracking, as a permitted use in agricultural and rural residential neighborhoods
Fearing dramatic change to the rural and agricultural character of their community, six residents of Robinson Township today filed a challenge to the township’s recently amended zoning ordinance, which opened up a majority of the zoning districts to oil and gas development and related industrial facilities.
On August 7, the Board of Supervisors of Robinson Township, Washington County, amended the local zoning ordinance to allow the development of oil and gas well sites—which includes heavy industrial activities such as drilling and hydraulic fracturing that bring traffic, noise, and pollution—as a permitted use in rural residential neighborhoods and agricultural areas.
By making such sweeping changes to the township’s zoning map, the Board of Supervisors is alleged to have ignored its duties under the Pennsylvania Constitution and other state law by elevating the commercial interests of private oil and gas development above the public’s interest in developing and preserving the township in a manner consistent with the township’s comprehensive plan.
The township residents filing the challenge are Cathy and Christopher Lodge, Brenda and Nolan Vance, and Irene and Richard Barrie. On their behalf, attorneys with the firm Cafardi Ferguson Wyrick Weis + Stanger llc in consultation with the Environmental Integrity Project filed a substantive validity challenge of the ordinance with the Robinson Township Zoning Hearing Board.
The six residents seek to preserve the rural character of the township and the agricultural way of life they have known for decades. Their families live in either agricultural conservation or rural residential districts. They worry about a sharp increase in oil and gas activity near their homes, including the construction and operation of well pads, wastewater impoundments, compressor stations, processing facilities, and large swaths of temporary housing for well site workers. The new ordinance makes it easier to construct and operate an oil and gas well in the agricultural district than a seed store, and removed the requirement that oil and gas development demonstrate that it would be harmonious with the uses permitted in the zoning district.
Under the township’s prior zoning ordinance, oil and gas development was prohibited in agricultural conservation or rural residential districts like those the six residents live in unless the Zoning Hearing Board granted a “special exception,” requiring a formal public hearing and vote by the board, under rigorous standards.
By contrast, the new zoning ordinance allows drilling and related work as a permitted use and eliminates the right to a public hearing and the need for Zoning Hearing Board approval. This removes the ability of impacted citizens to raise their concerns and objections in a formal hearing before decisions are made to allow heavy industrial activity. Under the special exception process, the Zoning Hearing Board would tailor its approval of any oil and gas use to account for the particular facts of each case and could include conditions, restrictions, and safeguards for local residents.
The purpose of the challenge is to overturn the August 7 zoning ordinance and restore the protections to the rural and agricultural character of the township.”
Cafardi Ferguson Wyrick Weis + Stanger, LLC, is a business law firm based in Wexford, PA, with experience in litigation, construction, land use and development, zoning, municipal law and other business-centered areas of practice.
The Environmental Integrity Project, begun in 2002, is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization founded by former EPA attorneys to ensure the enforcement of environmental laws and the protection of public health.
Tom Pelton, Director of Communications, Environmental Integrity Project, (202) 888-2703.
Dwight Ferguson, Founding Partner, Cafardi Ferguson Wyrick Weis + Stanger, llc (412) 515-8900.
To read the zoning board challenge: http://environmentalintegrity.org/wp-content/uploads/Zoning-Hearing-Board-challenge.pdf
***University of Pennsylvania Study: Gas Wells Lead to Hospitalizations
WILKES-BARRE — “The more natural gas wells in an area, the more of its residents end up in the hospital.
The results of the unreleased study were revealed at a state Senate Democratic Policy Committee hearing on the subject of tracking, reporting and acting on public health concerns related to natural gas drilling.
However, there needs to be “consistent, constant communication” between the Department of Health and the state DEP which state Auditor General Eugene DePasquale says does not have the resources and technology to effectively do its job.
DePasquale said there should be a dedicated staff person in each of the two departments — Health and Environmental Protection — to keep in touch with each other.
The hearing, requested by state Sen. John Yudichak, D-Plymouth Township, and chaired by state Sen. Lisa Boscola, D-Bethlehem Township, included testimony by Trevor M. Penning, professor of pharmacology and director of University of Pennsylvania’s Center of Excellence in Environmental Toxicology.
Since 2011, the center has had a Marcellus Shale working group to address the public health impact, he said. The center did a study focusing on two counties where natural gas drilling has grown dramatically between 2007 and 2013: Bradford and Susquehanna. Wayne County, where no gas drilling is taking place, was used as a control.
Researchers collected data from seven different insurance providers for the three counties, Penning said. They compared the density of the gas wells with inpatient health records, adjusting for population density.
“Our studies indicate that over time, an increasing number of wells is significantly correlated with inpatient rates of hospitalization,” Penning stated.
Sen. John Wozniak, D-Johnstown, asked if there was any diagnosis.
Penning said the center is not ready to divulge the conditions yet because the study hasn’t been reviewed, but as soon as it is published, it will be made public.
Yudichak and Sen. Stewart Greenleaf, R-Upper Moreland Township, sponsored Senate Bill 790, which would give $3 million in natural gas impact fees to the Department of Health to research whether health services are adequate in drilling areas, including collecting and reporting health data and training health care providers. The bill also calls for researching health effects of air pollutants generated by oil and gas operations.
The bill’s purpose is to push Pennsylvania towards a statewide database of public health information regarding natural gas drilling, Yudichak said.
One of the concerns the center’s researchers have is how it could be affected by the provision of Act 13 that Penning says “puts a gag order on physicians.”
Studies tend to focus on the effects of air pollution from natural gas-related activities rather than water contamination. For one thing, there is a lack of baseline data on water contamination. For another, under Act 13 of 2012, which established the impact fee drillers pay to the state, natural gas companies do not have to disclose what substances are in the fluids they use in hydraulic fracturing or “fracking.”
Ruth McDermott-Levy, associate professor and director of the Center for Global and Public Health at the Villanova University College of Nursing, has been researching health needs in communities in Pennsylvania where fracking is taking place and supports Senate Bill 790.
There is a relationship between certain air pollutants and lung cancer and heart disease, she said. The air pollution doesn’t just come from drilling sites, but from support facilities including compressor stations, dehydration stations and truck transport, she said.
Wozniak pointed out that “we don’t know the ‘secret soup”” used in fracking, and wanted to know if there was any way to ask what to look for.
McDermott-Levy said health care providers need to know the chemical composition of the fracking fluids.
“We need disclosure. That’s the bottom line. We’re forced to work in the dark,” she said.
It is important that the state-collected health data is made available to the public as soon as possible, and the Department of Health must develop a health registry that is accessible to the public so they can learn, McDermott-Levy said. The current culture of silence is no benefit to Pennsylvanians and only creates more distrust, she said.
Raina Rippel, director of the Southwest Pennsylvania Environmental Health Project, also said the state needs to focus on getting information out in a timely fashion and regaining the public’s trust.
Right now the community does not know where to turn, and people do not trust the resources they are getting from the state, she said.
“The state of Pennsylvania has lost the trust of a lot of its citizens,” Rippel said.
After the hearing, Gas Drilling Awareness Coalition member Scott Cannon said he considered it a step in the right direction, but is concerned because he believes “$3 million isn’t going to cover much at all.”
***Testimony: DEP Water Report’s Conclusion Written by Range Resources
By Don Hopey / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
“State regulators did not consider available water chemistry test results and had limited knowledge of past spills and leaks at Range Resources’ Yeager Farm gas development site in Washington County before deciding the operation did not contaminate the nearby private water supply of Loren Kiskadden, according to testimony in the ongoing case before the state Environmental Hearing Board in Pittsburgh.
DEP geologist, Michael Morgart, also testified that a hydro-geological report he wrote in response to Mr. Kiskadden’s contamination complaint contained an unattributed conclusion by Range Resources’ that an analysis of Mr. Kiskadden’s water, “does not indicate contamination by gas well drilling.”
The DEP geologist, sent that report to his superiors in the department’s Bureau of Oil and Gas in August 2011, the month before it determined there was no impact from the Marcellus gas development to Mr. Kiskadden’s water well in rural Amwell Township.
Mr. Morgart, testified that he was unaware of many of the spills and leaks in 2011, during his hydro-geologic investigation, and a hydro-geological link between the Kiskadden water well, located 2,800 feet down gradient from Range’s drill site and leaky 13.5 million gallon impoundment and drill cuttings pit, was “unexpected.”
That conclusion differed from his sworn deposition testimony, and he later testified that such a connection was “possible but not probable.”
He also testified he wrote two different reports on water flow around the Yeager drill site, but denied the second was changed by a DEP supervisor to weaken the hydro-geological link between the site and Mr. Kiskadden’s well.
The hearing on Mr. Kiskadden’s appeal of that DEP determination is the first in the state to challenge a department ruling that a private water well was not contaminated by Marcellus Shale gas development and has been going on for two weeks with two more scheduled.
The DEP’s own witnesses in the Kiskadden appeal testified on cross examination that the department used an old laboratory testing menu -- the 942 standard analysis code from 1991 -- that didn’t report all of the contaminants in the Kiskadden well. A new one developed in 2010 analyzes more chemicals and metals and was created especially for testing potential water impacts from Marcellus Shale gas development.
In questioning by DEP attorney Richard Watling, Taru Upadhyay, director of the DEP’s Bureau of Laboratories, testified that her lab followed all regulations and accepted practices in analyzing water samples from Mr. Kiskadden’s kitchen faucet in June and August 2011 and January 2012, providing results for contaminants requested by the department’s Bureau of Oil and Gas Management.
But under cross-examination by Kendra Smith, an attorney representing Mr. Kiskadden, Ms. Upadhyay admitted that the lab’s chemical “data package” for water samples was much more detailed and extensive than that requested by and reported to the oil and gas bureau, and contained results for a variety of man-made chemicals and 24 metals, including some that are associated with shale gas drilling and hydraulic fracturing.
Those additional chemical analyses were not requested by the Bureau of Oil and Gas for the review of Mr. Kiskadden’s water faucet sample tests. If they had been, Ms. Upadhyay testified, they were available and could have been provided.
Byron Miller, a DEP water quality specialist who visited Range’s Yeager drill pad and impoundment many times since 2011 and took water samples from Mr. Kiskadden’s kitchen faucet, said he wasn’t told about the new more detailed and expansive water testing codes and continued to use older codes.
On June 5, 2011, Mr. Miller wrote in a report generated after his first visit and water test that the Kiskadden property was not contaminated by the Yeager drilling operations, but admitted on cross-examination he never looked at any pre-drilling water test results that could have shown changes in the water quality, and was unaware at that time that Range was bringing drilling mud from other well sites to the Yeager pad for processing and storage.
Mr. Miller also testified that there were multiple leaks and spills at the Yeager drill site. Those included:
• On March 25, 2010 a drilling mud and cutting pit on the Yeager well pad leaked into the ground, contaminated two springs on the Yeager farm and required the eventual excavation of 2,135 tons of contaminated soil and cuttings — the waste rock mud, and fluids from the drilling process. Mr. Miller said he didn’t know how much material leaked from the pit. The contaminated springs continue to flow onto the ground and into small streams that drain in the direction of Mr. Kiskadden’s property in the narrow agricultural valley 4 1/2 years later.
• In April 2010, the impoundment began leaking when a hole was mistakenly left in the double liner as it was filling and on April 20, a truck carrying residual drill cuttings dumped its load into the impoundment.
• On July 14, 2010, flowback water, the wastewater from fracking, overflowed the secondary containment around the impoundment. Range reported that Weavertown Environmental Group had “vacuumed” it up.
• on Dec. 7, 2010, there was a reported overflow of 84 gallons of refrack fluid and 15 gallons of diesel fuel at the impoundment.
• on Feb. 8, 2011, between 10 and 20 gallons of “production fluid” was spilled on the ground from a truck, along with an unknown amount of diesel fuel.
• on Apr. 6, 2011, a truck overturned and leaked fracking wastewater down the drill pad access road and across McAdams Road where the fluids seeped into a 50-by-70-foot section of a farm field. No remediation or soil excavation was ever done.
For most of those spills and leaks, the DEP did not issue any Notice of Violation and did not know the chemical makeup of the spilled and leaked fluids and materials, according to the testimony of Mr. Miller. The soil impacted by the April 2011 truck spill that seeped into the farm field was analyzed, Mr. Miller said, and was found to contain a host of man-made and natural contaminants, including arsenic, barium, strontium, mercury, acetone, benzene, carbon disulfide, ethyl benzene, toulene, oxylene and oil and grease.
Mr. Miller also testified he had “concerns” about leaks at the impoundment in August 2010 when he found out Range applied Acroclear, a highly toxic chemical product, to the water to combat a strong hydrogen sulfide or ‘rotten eggs” odor. Despite his concerns about leaks and the toxicity of the product he did not order the company to drain and inspect for leaks.
Despite the detailing of spills, leaks, and flushing of the drill cuttings pit, groundwater contamination and water contamination test results, when asked if his opinion on Mr. Kiskadden’s well contamination had changed, he said, “No.”
Although the Yeager impoundment was one of five leaky Range wastewater holding lakes in Washington County last month the DEP ordered the shale gas driller to drain and close in a consent agreement that also included a $4.15 million fine, the company has maintained that Mr. Kiskadden’s water problems are caused by natural contaminants, bacteria from livestock and septic systems.”
Testimony in the case is scheduled to resume Tuesday.
***Fracking Chemical Classified As “Anticipated to Cause Cancer”
Jennifer Sass, Natural Resources Defense Council October 6, 2014
“The National Toxicology Program’s Report on Carcinogens—the nation’s authoritative public list of substances “known” or “reasonably anticipated” to cause cancer in humans—added four chemicals, making a total of 243 substances in its 13th Report:
1-bromopropane used as a cleaning solvent and in spray adhesives;
Pentachlorophenol, a complex mixture used as a wood preservative to treat utility poles;
Ortho-Toluidine, used to make rubber chemicals, pesticides, dyes, and some consumer products;
Cumene, found in fuel products and tobacco smoke.
Cumene is classified as “reasonably anticipated” to cause cancer. It’s also on the congressional list of chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” for oil and gas. It’s been listed as a Hazardous Air Pollutant (HAP) by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency since 1990, so it’s been known to be bad for health for a long time.
We need more than disclosure of chemical identities. We also need chemicals to be hazard-tested before they are marketed, before they are allowed into commercial products, and before they are allowed to be used in industrial processes where workers and communities can be exposed.
And, cumene isn’t the only health hazard associated with fracking. Diesel particulate matter, nitrogen oxides (NOx), road dust, BTEX chemicals (benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylene) are all potential pollutants associated with fracking that pose health risks. Benzene is also a known carcinogen listed by the Report on Carcinogens , VOCs and NOx contribute to the formation of regional ozone which causes smog and is very harmful to the respiratory system. Particulate matter can cause respiratory problems including coughing, airway inflammation and worsening of existing respiratory illnesses such as asthma and COPD, and premature death.
I co-authored a paper with Natural Resource Defense Council (NRDC) expert Dr. Tanja Srebotnjak that provides a summary of the fracking process and all the ways that it can pollute and pose health risks to workers and surrounding communities.
NRDC is speaking out and taking action: on the dangers of unregulated oil and gas pipelines; on the risks to children from unsafe exposures; on faulty gas wells contaminating water supplies; on risks to wildlife; and the Halliburton Loophole that exempts fracking from the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) and other regulatory loopholes like the one in the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). That’s why NRDC has joined with organizations and individuals across the country to demand nationwide rules requiring the disclosure of chemicals used in fracking, along with the environmental and health risks associated with those chemicals.
We need more than disclosure of chemical identities. We also need chemicals to be hazard-tested before they are marketed, before they are allowed into commercial products, and before they are allowed to be used in industrial processes where workers and communities can be exposed. And, right now, chemical manufacturers don’t have to conduct any hazard testing at all. That’s why NRDC is fighting hard for meaningful reform of our Nation’s laws, including the broken Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).”
***Study on Health Risks of Fracking's Open Waste Ponds, WVA
By Zahra Hirji, Lisa Song and David Hasemyer
“When Mary Rahall discovered that oil and gas waste was being stored in open-air ponds less than a mile from a daycare center outside Fayetteville, W. Va., she started digging for information about the facility's air emissions and protections for a nearby stream.
Eventually her questions found their way to William Orem, a chemist at the U.S. Geological Survey office in Reston, Va., and he began collecting air and water data at the site last fall.
Orem's small study could have implications far beyond Fayetteville, because it's among the first scientific efforts directed at how air emissions from oil and gas waste could be affecting human health
The industry's waste isn't subject to regular air monitoring, because in 1980s the energy industry lobbied Congress and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to exempt most of it from hazardous waste laws, even though it can contain benzene and other chemicals known to affect human health. In a recent story about waste pit emissions in Texas, InsideClimate News discovered that, nationally, there's little data or regulatory oversight regarding air quality at oil and gas waste disposal sites.
A handful of short-term air studies involving drilling wastewater—the most toxic form of drilling waste—have been conducted. But most were designed to determine how the emissions contribute to ozone, not how they might directly affect public health. Orem's waste pond study is apparently the first prompted by local health and environmental concerns and the first to collect continuous air sampling over many months.
Rahall said the foul stench from the ponds at the Danny Webb Construction facility, outside Fayetteville, sometimes drifted into town. "It smells like it's going to explode," she said.
Orem hasn't smelled anything, but he has heard similar complaints from other residents.
"Whether those [citizen] concerns are justified or not is still unclear," he said.
Orem hasn't begun analyzing his data. When he does, he said the following questions will serve as his guide: "Is there a problem? Is there not a problem? If there is a problem, what are the contaminants of concern?"
Short-term studies of waste-pond emissions in Utah, Colorado and Wyoming between 2009 and 2013 have either focused on how the emissions contribute to ozone (a major respiratory irritant), or to test air-monitoring equipment that could be used by the EPA. But several of these studies have produced data and anecdotal evidence that the emissions can reach levels that might trigger health problems.
A 2009 EPA report examined emissions data collected near three evaporation ponds operated by a drilling company in Western Colorado. The goal wasn't to gauge the risk to human health but to test equipment and measurement techniques the agency could use to track emissions from oil and gas or similar industries, according to EPA spokesman Richard Mylott.
While benzene, toluene and xylene levels were generally below risk levels established by the federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, the EPA found that a few of the measured concentrations exceeded those guidelines, particularly downwind of the ponds.
In their introduction to the report, the authors said there was an "immediate need" to better understand emissions from volatile organic compounds (VOCs), including benzene and toluene, from oil and gas waste pits. Depending on the concentration and length of exposure, these chemicals can cause a range of ailments, from headaches to neurological damage and cancer.
In 2011, Gabrielle Petron, a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration scientist working at the University of Colorado, was trying to determine whether emissions from two well sites in northeastern Utah were causing a rise in winter ozone. During the course of their work, Petron and her team of researchers discovered "out of this world" levels of benzene and toluene coming from small ponds of untreated wastewater near the well sites. At one point, the vapors were so thick that Petron felt nauseous and moved her team out of the area.
"You had to go upwind of the ponds," she said. "You could not stand to be in the downwind emission stream."
Robert Field, a University of Wyoming scientist, had a similar experience when he led a winter ozone study funded by his school and state and federal regulators. Field and his co-researchers spent three winters in the Upper Green River Basin taking air samples near hundreds of wells in a rural area where oil and gas production is the main industry. There was also a wastewater recycling facility with large open ponds, where liquid waste from fracking and other processes evaporates into the air.
Field said he often smelled a strong chemical odor at the fence line of the facility. "You don't want to breath this pollution," he said.
Air monitoring data he collected close to the facilities found concentrations of toluene and xylene that far exceeded levels found in urban areas. This chemical signature, characteristic of oil and gas wastewater, was also present in air Field measured about three miles downwind of the facility.
Field's team also found occasional spikes in benzene. About half of the 20 samples taken near the facility in 2012 exceeded health guidelines set by the California EPA for short-term benzene exposure (9 parts per billion). One sample had a benzene concentration of 109 parts per billion. (Neither Wyoming nor the federal EPA has short-term guidelines for benzene).
Field said the data show VOCs from the facility, most likely from the large treatment and storage ponds, contribute significantly to the area's ambient air quality. The impact of the facility's emissions was an unexpected discovery, he said.
Results from the study were published as a discussion article by the journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics. Although the study wasn't designed to address human health effects, Field said he hopes scientists studying waste health effects will take notice of his findings.
Last winter Seth Lyman, an environmental scientist who directs the Bingham Entrepreneurship and Energy Research Center at Utah State University, measured air emissions from ponds at disposal sites and other oil and gas facilities in northeastern Utah's shale region. The air quality testing was part of an ozone study supported by a Uintah County group and the Trust Lands Administration. Some of the ponds had frozen over and had very low levels of VOCs. But some air samples taken from ponds that didn't freeze exceeded California's EPA standard for short-term benzene exposure.
Lyman recently received federal funding to extend his study of air quality near industry waste ponds, and also to test the air near pits containing solid waste.
A third winter ozone study in Utah, by NOAA scientist Carsten Warneke, took short-term samples of air downwind of three oil and gas waste ponds. It has also been published on the Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics website. Benzene levels at two sites were low, but they exceeded California's standards at a third site.
Orem, who is conducting the West Virginia study, and his team set up four air monitors around the site. The facility's owner wouldn't let him install a monitor at the ponds, so he positioned one as close "as legally possible," he said. He installed the other three further away, to track how chemicals in the air might travel and identify any other sources of emissions.
The monitors are equipped with foam discs that continuously absorb volatile organic compounds from the air. He swaps out the discs every couple of months.
The parameters of Orem's study have shifted since he began his work. Danny Webb Construction's operating permit was renewed in February, but on the condition that the ponds be closed. When environmental groups appealed that decision, the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection revoked the permit, although an injection well used to dispose of wastewater deep underground still operates at the site.
Orem had gathered five continuous months of air quality data while the ponds were up and running. He continued collecting data during and after the reclamation process, which involved removing the waste and liners and backfilling the depressions with dirt.
Meanwhile, Orem is trying to expand his understanding of the air and water issues surrounding oil and gas production waste. He's searching for additional disposal sites to monitor, as well as active drilling sites that have on-site waste storage and disposal.”
This article is part of an ongoing investigation by InsideClimate News and The Center for Public Integrity into air emissions created during oil and gas production. CPI's Jim Morris contributed to this report.
***PSATC Opposes Sunoco Becoming Public Utility
“Ms. Rosemary Chiavetta, Secretary PA Public Utility Commission Keystone Building 400 North Street, 2 n d Floor Harrisburg, PA 17120
Re: Sunoco Pipeline Petition - P-2014-2411941, et seq.
At its recent Annual Business Meeting, the PA State Association of Township Commissioners (PSATC), voted to oppose Sunoco Pipeline's petition filed with the PUC to be regarded as a public utility for the purpose of implementing its Mariner East Pipeline Project.
From the local government perspective, if Sunoco is awarded public utility status, it will be exempt from the zoning and subdivision and land development regulations adopted by the municipalities in the project's footprint. This will significantly hamper each municipality's duty to protect the health, safety and welfare of its residents. Sunoco's facilities would be able to be placed anywhere, without regard to municipal planning, review or approval.
Sunoco, as a distributor of a bulk resource, is very different from the traditional public utility that provides an essential service to individual customers. Beyond preemption of local zoning and land use regulations, granting public utility status to Sunoco would also give it status to invoke the use of eminent domain to take public and private property for its project.
PSATC opposes Sunoco's request and supports the myriad of petitioners seeking to have public utility status denied.
H. Edward Black
Commissioner, Lower Allen Township President, PSATC”
***Confirmed: California Aquifers Contaminated With Billions Of Gallons of Frack Wastewater
Water Wells Contaminated
“After California state regulators shut down 11 fracking wastewater injection wells last July over concerns that the wastewater might have contaminated aquifers used for drinking water and farm irrigation, the EPA ordered a report within 60 days.
It was revealed yesterday that the California State Water Resources Board has sent a letter to the EPA confirming that at least nine of those sites were in fact dumping wastewater contaminated with fracking fluids and other pollutants into aquifers protected by state law and the federal Safe Drinking Water Act.
The letter, obtained by the Center for Biological Diversity, reveals that nearly 3 billion gallons of wastewater were illegally injected into central California aquifers and that half of the water samples collected at the 8 water supply wells tested near the injection sites have high levels of dangerous chemicals such as arsenic, a known carcinogen that can also weaken the human immune system, and thallium, a toxin used in rat poison.
Timothy Krantz, a professor of environmental studies at the University of Redlands, says these chemicals could pose a serious risk to public health: “The fact that high concentrations are showing up in multiple water wells close to wastewater injection sites raises major concerns about the health and safety of nearby residents.”
The full extent of the contamination is not yet known. Regulators at the State Water Resources Board said that as many as 19 other injection wells could have been contaminating protected aquifers, and the Central Valley Water Board has so far only tested 8 of the nearly 100 nearby water wells.
Fracking has been accused of exacerbating California's epic state-wide drought, but the Central Valley region, which has some of the worst air and water pollution in the state, has borne a disproportionate amount of the impacts from oil companies' increasing use of the controversial oil extraction technique.
News of billions of gallons of fracking wastewater contaminating protected aquifers relied on by residents of the Central Valley for drinking water could not have come at a worse time.
Adding insult to injury, fracking is a water-intensive process, using as much as 140,000 to 150,000 gallons per frack job every day, permanently removing it from the water cycle.
Hollin Kretzmann, an attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity, says these new revelations prove state regulators have failed to protect Californians and the environment from fracking and called on Governor Jerry Brown to take action now to prevent an even bigger water emergency in drought-stricken California.
“Much more testing is needed to gauge the full extent of water pollution and the threat to public health,” Krezmann says. “But Governor Brown should move quickly to halt fracking to ward off a surge in oil industry wastewater that California simply isn’t prepared to dispose of safely.”
***Landowners Refuse Williams Co. Easement Offers For Pipeline
“A group of Lancaster County landowners held a press conference Saturday to publicly reject what they call Williams Partners’ “disrespectful” and “ludicrous” offers to buy easements allowing a massive natural gas pipeline to cross their properties.
At the event, Ed Saxton defiantly tore up the contract Williams sent him.
The company had attached a Post-It saying one copy was for him to keep for his records.
“Williams, for my record, I do not accept your proposal,” Saxton said, adding: “Stay off my land.”
His comment alludes to an incident in early August when surveyors working on Williams’ behalf trespassed on his and others’ properties. Williams acknowledged the violation and banned the crew from future work.
Williams is proposing to build 35 miles of 42-inch-wide high-pressure gas pipeline through Lancaster County. It is part of the company’s 177-mile Atlantic Sunrise Project to transport Marcellus Shale gas to market.
Hundreds of county properties would be affected.
` In September, landowners reported that Williams had begun sending them offers, typically a few tens of thousands of dollars, for right-of-way for the pipeline.
Williams promises to pay several thousand dollars upfront if property owners sign within 60 days.
The Tulsa, Oklahoma-based firm has yet to file an application with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the agency that must approve the pipeline.
The speakers at Saturday’s event, organized with the group Lancaster Against Pipelines, raised concerns about safety and privacy.
Williams will be able to add more pipelines to the corridor once it’s established, they warned.
The clear-cutting for the pipeline will create a de facto pathway “for anyone to run up and down our properties,” said Kevin Shelley, Saxton’s neighbor.
He questioned the industry’s assurances about safety. Displaying a photo of an aftermath of a pipeline explosion, he asked: “Are we going to have this in our back yards?”
“We’re rural, but I think we matter, too,” he said.
Should a rupture occur, the blast radius would be many hundreds of yards wide, Conestoga Township landowner Kim Kann said.
Saxton called Williams’ contract offers a “ploy.” If the company can get enough contracts signed, it will look to FERC as though the community welcomes the pipeline.
“Do not sign this document,” he urged other landowners.
If you’re even considering it, see an attorney, so you understand clearly what you’re giving up, he said.
Tony Haverstick said Williams’ easement offer “doesn’t touch” what the pipeline will do to the value of his historic Manor Township farmland.
Tim Spiese lives in Martic Township, but in his case, Williams is seeking an easement on his vacation property in Clinton County, where he has a cabin.
He promised Williams he and fellow landowners would fight every step of the way.
“Our goal is, it’s going to cost you so much money you’re going to go back to Oklahoma and leave us alone,” he said.
The landowners said they’re acting in the interest of the broader community.
The pipeline route hasn’t been finalized yet, Kann said.
“If it is in my back yard right now it could be in your back yard tomorrow,” she said.”
Landowners reject Williams pipeline offers
***Benzene Exceeds Texas Exposure Limitations at Denton, Texas Playgrounds
“A new report published by ShaleTest, an independent environmental research agency in Denton, found levels of benzene in several Denton parks that exceed the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality's long-term exposure limitations. Benzene is a carcinogen found in cigarettes, gasoline and is a common byproduct of oil and gas drilling sites.
McKenna Park is one of the playgrounds where unsafe levels of the chemical were found. The playground is located next to Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital of Denton, within a neighborhood, next to several churches and across the street from one of Denton's many Rayzor Ranch gas wells.
"The effects of benzene are well-known. It causes cancer at low exposure rates, in adults. And we're talking about a playground where children are going to play. So that's very concerning," says Calvin Tillman, a spokesman for ShaleTest. As a part of the Project Playground national initiative, the group collected air samples from several DFW playgrounds to test for potentially harmful air quality.
Wilma Subra, a chemist who is the consultant for ShaleTest, says inhaled low doses of benzene over an extended period of time can cause any number of health problems. "This is one example of the chemicals that are associated with oil and gas processing being released into the air," she says. "You usually don't have drilling production on the playground, but there's no restriction on how close you can drill to a hospital, playground, home, things like that."
In 2013, the city of Denton passed an ordinance that prohibited fracking operations within 1,200 feet of homes, schools, playgrounds, or hospitals. But Dr. Adam Briggle, a bioethics professor at UNT, says the local law is flimsy at best, as it does not apply to any drilling site in operation before 2013. "Everything that existed was grandfathered under existing laws," he says. "The opposition is calling for responsible fracking, and in fact we have a responsible ordinance. But the problem is it doesn't apply to anything."
Briggle says the initial exposure to benzene was a much higher level than the current amount. That's to be expected, but the City assured residents that after the first jump in chemical production, exposure would taper off to TCEQ-approved levels.
"This study is troubling because it shows those emissions linger for years at a lower level, but still at level above what is considered safe," Briggle says. "There's no way to prevent these exposures in our community. They're vested under older laws, so it underlines the need for a ban."
The drilling near McKenna Park began in 2010, after a heated debate by residents failed to prevent the site. Dentonites consider this site the beginning of the local anti-fracking movement. Cathy McMullen, who lives close to McKenna, first became involved with the movement when she heard about operation.
"It's my neighborhood, I see kids playing down there all the time. In what world is this right? I don't know when we decided this was acceptable," says McMullen. "You look at the safe levels, and you realize they're established on adult men. It's concerning. Is this something you want to tolerate? And if it's not we're going to have to step up and demand change. We've been asking for a long time." Denton residents will have the chance in November to pass the first local ban in Texas against fracking operations.” http://blogs.dallasobserver.com/unfairpark/2014/10/fracking_benzene_denton_playground.php
***Rep. Rothfus Speaks For Fracking
“Murrysville's US Congressional Representative, Keith Rothfus, recently spoke at a pro-fracking event in Pittsburgh supporting liquid natural gas exports (which, by extension, supports gas pipeline proliferation and Marcellus fracking). Exporting gas is where the drilling industry is looking for profits, NOT by selling the gas to local Western PA markets for heating our homes because there is much more gas being produced than W PA can use:
"As a bevy of liquefied natural gas export projects inch their way along, one organization is trying to activate shale supporters to lean on their legislators to speed the process.
Our Energy Moment — a coalition of companies, institutions and individuals tied to shale development founded in Louisiana in 2013 — staged its first event in Pennsylvania on Thursday at the Sen. John Heinz History Center in the Strip District. The event, which included short speeches from former Gov. Tom Ridge and from U.S. Rep. Keith Rothfus, R-Sewickley, was a chance for the organization to recruit Pennsylvania companies and business leaders to join their cause."
***Range CEO Opposes Being Taxed
“Imposing more taxes on record amounts of gas from Pennsylvania wells would harm an industry squeezed by low prices and insufficient infrastructure, the CEO of the state's most prolific driller said Monday.
Some major energy companies reduced drilling activity in the state because a glut of gas lowered prices to half of that seen in other parts of the country, Range Resources Corp. CEO Jeffrey Ventura told Tribune-Review reporters and editors.
An extraction tax like that proposed by gubernatorial front-runner Tom Wolf, on top of the per-well fee they're paying to the state, could push big companies to other shale plays, Ventura said.
“I think you'll see companies like Range or some of the smaller people stay pretty active, but at the end of the day, it clearly will impact the play overall,” he said.
The pipes and processing facilities needed to move gas and related liquids from wells to good-paying markets are at least two years away from catching up with supply, Ventura said.
“Until that infrastructure works itself out and demand catches up with supply, there's a huge negative basis,” he said, noting that gas that fetches $4 per thousand cubic feet at major pipeline points gets only $2 coming out of Pennsylvania.
Republican Gov. Tom Corbett, who trails Wolf, a York County Democrat, in most polls before the Nov. 4 election, opposes adding taxes on the industry.
Ventura, a Penn Hills native, said he hopes Shell builds a so-called cracker plant here and noted the company would provide it with ethane. But Range has a plan to triple its production in the next four years, mostly from the Marcellus and underlying Utica shale.
Its early presence in the shale allowed Range to sign lucrative contracts on existing pipelines, especially for shipment of ethane, he said. And the company holds what it considers some of the most valuable land leases above several shale layers.
“A lot of the growth going forward will be in Southwest PA,” he said, noting internal studies that show the highest concentration of gas and liquids below Washington County.
Infrastructure problems have caused some setbacks for Range this year. Shutdowns of a processing facility in Washington County — both planned and unplanned — limited some production for several weeks. Chronic leaks at some of its older well site impoundments — huge, earthen pools built to hold fracking water between uses at several wells — led to a $4.15 million state fine last month and an agreement with the state to improve its designs.
Environmentalists say that experience shows Range and other companies should abandon the use of such impoundments in favor of closed-tank systems.
“We don't understand why Range won't shift over to other available technologies that would allow for better protection of the water and land,” said Myron Arnowitt, state director for Clean Water Action.
Ventura said Range will shift to using fewer impoundments in more centralized locations with leak detection systems above state standards while it recycles fracking water.
“Now we understand the field better,” he said, noting the company has redesigned the pits about five times. “Our team is focused on the best solution, and at this point they're the right answer.”
Read more: http://triblive.com/news/allegheny/6918230-74/range-gas-state#ixzz3FWjSOyYw
(Concerns have also been raised about the health of people living near railways where the sand is transferred to trucks to be used at frack sites. Jan)
Report coauthor Grant Smith, senior energy policy advisor, Civil Society Institute, said: “The rapid expansion in the United States of oil and shale gas drilling, including hydraulic fracturing, has a hidden side filled with problems: the mining of the special sand that is essential to fracking a drilled well. As this report makes clear, it is essential that local and state governments assess and take action based on the impacts of the full cycle of shale oil and gas drilling, including frac sand mining. Health, water, and other economic concerns should be addressed comprehensively, rather than being ignored or dismissed. Protecting public health and safety is the first responsibility of government.”
EWG Executive Director Heather White said: “None of the states at the center of the current frac sand mining boom have adopted air quality standards for silica that will adequately protect the tens of thousands of people living or working near the scores of recently opened or proposed mining sites. EWG’s mapping research found frac sand sites in close proximity to schools, hospitals and clinics, where children and patients may be exposed to airborne silica. Chronic exposure can lead to emphysema and lung disease. We need strong state action to protect the public health from yet another troubling side effect of the unprecedented wave of shale gas development.”
MEA Executive Director Kimberlee Wright said: “Citizens living near frac sand mining in Wisconsin are witnessing a massive destruction of their rural landscape. Elected officials and our states' natural resources protection agency have largely dismissed local citizens' concerns about their health, the health of their environment and their quality of life. Without a clearer view of the big picture of frac sand mining's impact, laws that protect our communities' air and water aren't being developed or enforced.”
The U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has issued the permit for the Cove Point liquified natural gas (LNG) terminal in Maryland. Dominion Resources has proposed a tax-advantaged master limited partnership, or MLP, to own the terminal and use proceeds from a planned initial public offering to help fund construction estimated to cost as much as $3.8 billion.
Dominion, of Richmond, Virginia, is seeking to take advantage of a boom in U.S. natural gas production, driven by advances in drilling techniques including hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. Cove Point is scheduled to begin shipments from the 5.25 million tons a year capacity plant in 2017. The U.S. Energy Department has approved Cove Point’s exports to both free-trade and non-free trade agreement countries, according to FERC’s statement.
Cove Point would be the nearest export terminal to the Marcellus Shale, the most productive U.S. natural gas deposit. Cheniere Energy’s Sabine Pass and Sempra Energy’s Cameron terminal in Louisiana are the only U.S. export projects so far to win approval from the FERC and US Energy Department.
Dominion’s waterfront site, about 60 miles southeast of Washington, D.C., has already imported liquefied natural gas and requires minimal construction that would damage the environment, Dominion said in a statement yesterday following the approval.
Opponents including the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, an environmental group, have vowed to contest FERC approval in the courts. FERC failed to consider total impacts from increased natural gas production, including greenhouse-gases associated with fracking, they said in filings. FERC said the proposal, if mitigated with certain conditions, is “in the public interest.”
Advocates of natural-gas exports in Congress and the industry in recent months have seized on the potential for U.S. supplies of the fuel to cut Europe’s reliance on Russia. Europe gets about 30 percent of its natural gas from Russia, which annexed Ukraine’s Crimea region in March.
The company has in place 20-year contracts with affiliates of Japan’s Sumitomo Corp. (8053) and Gail India Ltd. of New Delhi. Neither Japan nor India have free-trade deals with the U.S.
NOTE: Dominion operates the Blue Racer Natrium complex in Marshall County, as well as other natural gas processing infrastructure in both Ohio and West Virginia, which would send material to Cove Point for export so the gas could be used in cities such as Tokyo and New Delhi. The Cove Point project is separate from Dominion’s planned $5 billion Atlantic Coast Pipeline that would ship natural gas from West Virginia for use in North Carolina via a 42-inch diameter line running 550 miles. From an Article by Jim Polson & Mark Chediak, Bloomberg News, September 30, 2014