Archive for the ‘PA DEP’ Category

Former PA DEP Secretary Krancer Wants Sunoco To Condemn Your Property

May 7, 2014

What’s the fastest way to get approval to build a hotly contested, demonstrably volatile 299-mile gas liquids pipeline through numerous densely populated suburban Pennsylvania municipalities?

First, elevate your corporate status to Public Utility. Then, claim the right of Eminent Domain to bulldoze over local zoning restrictions and the objections of local residents. At least that’s how former Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, Michael L. Krancer, would like to see construction of Sunoco Logistics Mariner East Pipeline proceed. In fact, he’s leading the charge.

Litigate, Baby, Litigate

For a brief moment, it appeared Sunoco Logistics Partners was listening. Angry Chester County residents had literally “Boo’d” the company’s request for an expedited permit to erect a large pumping station at Rt. 202 and Boot Road in West Goshen Township. After that remarkable meeting, the public’s interest and participation only grew more intense.

West Goshen crowd boos Sunoco plan, Kendal Gapinski, Daily Local News, April 4, 2014

Sunoco Pipeline plan draws political resistance, Andrew Maykuth, Philadelphia Inquirer, April 5, 2014

West Goshen Township Proposed Natural Gas Pumping Station Controversy, Chris O’Connell, Fox29 Philly, April 14, 2014   10171659_540700596038378_4605842749527561474_n

Sunoco reps meet with angry community, Kendal Gapinski, The Daily Local, April 23, 2014

250 grill Sunoco on pumping-station plan, Michaelle Bond, Philadelphia Inquirer, April 24, 32014

 

On April 29, 2014, Kendall Gapinski reported in The Daily Local, Sunoco withdraws West Goshen zoning request: “According to township manager Casey LaLonde, Sunoco has withdrawn its application for special exception for a public utility status that was before the zoning hearing board. No reason for the application’s withdraw has been given, LaLonde said.”

But there was a reason, and soon it was obvious. Sunoco Logistics and its partners had simply gone to get a bigger bat.

(more…)

What’s It Gonna Be, DRBC?

November 1, 2013

Deciding The Fate Of “The Little Giant”

Outgoing Delaware River Basin Commission Director, Carol Collier, has done an impressive job withstanding extreme political pressure. I’ve been highly critical of the DRBC, yet I do believe Collier deserves our gratitude – as long as she doesn’t do anything rash.

The small interstate agency has received sharp letters of admonition from an impatient, gas-happy governor, experienced even sharper budget cuts, and suffered an uneasy tension with an increasingly feckless PA DEP.  By July, 2013, the working relationship between the two agencies had deteriorated so badly that former DEP secretary, and current gubernatorial candidate, John Hanger informed readers of The Times-Tribune that “DRBC Should Have ‘No Confidence’ In Corbett’s Drilling Oversight.

It’s true, DRBC has approved too many pipelines.  In March 2013, Maya van Rossum, The Delaware Riverkeeper pressed the Commission on the need for greater oversight of planned projects. Deforestation and watershed fragmentation are growing concerns, as are leaks, ruptures and explosions.

dinner_collier_9042

But generally speaking, under Collier’s leadership, DRBC has stood firm in the face the mighty gas extraction lobby, and it has managed to keep them at bay, and protect our vital, shared fresh water resources all this while. For this, we owe Collier our thanks. She must be exhausted.

Carol Collier, DRBC  Credit:  www.nj.gov

At this point, it seems unlikely that Collier, who departs in March, 2014, will rally a vote on gas drilling regulations in the Delaware River basin, but one never knows. All you can do is check the DRBC website from time to time.

Taking the long view, however, has been a hallmark of Collier’s tenure. Meetings are long and tedious, populated by scientists and engineers, and packed with data. Collier has led the agency along this plodding, empirical course for the past 15 years, so there’s little reason to suspect she’s planning to suddenly go out with a bang.   (more…)

Philly’s Having An LNG Party (And We’re Not Invited)

August 3, 2013

There are two kinds of people in Philadelphia, those who oppose a Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) export facility, and those who don’t know about it yet. Oh, right, and then there’s a few who’ve been quietly getting LNG done for years.

Think About It – LNG Is A Bad Idea

Sierra Club Wants to Stop LNG Exports and they’re not mincing words. The new “Beyond Natural Gas” campaign website states: “EXPORTING LIQUEFIED NATURAL GAS (LNG) TO OVERSEAS MARKETS IS A DIRTY, DANGEROUS PRACTICE THAT LETS THE INDUSTRY MAKE A KILLING AT THE EXPENSE OF HUMAN HEALTH -

Exporting natural gas would increase fracking and carbon emissions, put sensitive ecological areas at risk, and do nothing to address our country’s energy challenges. Natural gas companies envision a network of winding pipelines and noisy, polluting compressors that connect the drills to the docks, slicing through wild lands, rivers, and backyards. Pipelines and gas wells will inevitably leak or rupture, risking lives and fouling the environment where people live and further polluting the air we breathe and the water we drink.

Included in the post is the link to a recently published Sierra Club report entitled, LOOK BEFORE THE LNG LEAP: Why Policymakers and the Public Need Fair Disclosure Before Exports of Fracked Gas Start by Craig Segall, Staff Attorney, Sierra Club Environmental Law Program, with research assistance by legal fellow, Philip Goo.

Basically, Sierra researchers conclude that “The United States is sleepwalking through one of the biggest energy policy decisions of our time.”   (more…)

Marcellus Spills Fill PA Waterways

July 25, 2013

“Pretty Please” Doesn’t Stop Surface Discharges

Nearly everyday it seems there’s a new report of Marcellus shale gas waste spilling in Pennsylvania’s wetlands and streams, DEP violations like this recent “discharge” reported by SkyTruth:

Issued to Energy Corporation of America on July 22, 2013 — Code 307CSL: Discharge of unconventional industrial drilling waste to waters of Commonwealth without a permit in Clearfield, Girard Township (ID#673076)

And this large spill reported by Laura Legere in DEP: Spill At Well Site Seeps Into House, Miniature Horse Farm in The Times Tribune on May 1, 2013:

An unknown amount of the fluid escaped the pad, flowed down a hill, crossed a road and entered the basement and garage of a nearby farmhouse, Ms. Connolly said. It soaked property at the horse farm, whose owners were out of state, but a farmhand kept the animals safely away from the fluid.

On both sides of the shale gas safety debate, experts agree that “surface spills” hold the greatest threat for surface water and groundwater contamination. Pennsylvania, by the way, is home to more fresh water resources than any other state in the continental U.S.

Surface spills of fracturing fluids appear to pose greater risks to groundwater than hydraulic fracturing itself,” writes Bryan R. Walsh in Shale Gas: It’s Not the Fracking That Might Be the Problem. It’s Everything Else, Time Magazine, on February 17, 2012. While Walsh pays short shrift the long term impacts of deteriorating wellbore seals, his premise certainly rings true right now. Every week, we see more spills, more overturned tankers and leaky valves, each one a small-scale, highly toxic event unto itself, and it invariably concludes with a dead stream and DEP asking drillers to promise not do it again.

A Water-Tight Case?

And then there are spills so big and negligent that the EPA has no choice but to step in and sue the driller, as is the case of this EXXON/XTO Energy violation, reported earlier this week:

US Sues Exxon Fracker in Pennsylvania Over Polluted Drinking Water:  A federal lawsuit claims hydraulic fracking has polluted public drinking waters in Pennsylvania with toxic wastes by Erin McAuley, AlterNet, July 24, 2013

Yup, it’s true. Obama Administration Sues Exxon for Polluting Pennsylvania Drinking Water with Toxic Fracking Waste, AllGov.com, July 24, 2013   (more…)

161 Reasons You Can’t Trust The DEP

May 22, 2013

Pennsylvania State Documents Reveal Rampant Water Contamination In Gas Sacrifice Zones  

Several excellent articles have been posted recently about the inadequate, often shoddy, records keeping practices of The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection. They’re linked here and shouldn’t be missed. Bottom line is, if you think PA DEP is actively protecting Pennsylvania’s water supplies from the impacts of shale gas drilling, think again.

In Open Records Case Produced Untracked Drilling Documents The Times-Tribune, May 19, 2013, Laura Legere writes:

Scattered records kept by the state Department of Environmental Protection offer one answer to a key question in a new age of fossil fuel extraction in Pennsylvania: How many water supplies have been damaged by drilling?

Gas proponents might continue to insist that gas drilling has never damaged a single water supply, yet we now know there are plenty of instances where it has. As it turns out, PA DEP knows this, too, though they had to be sued to produce the evidence. They claimed, unsuccessfully, that the public records requested by The Times-Trbune were “too burdensome” to find. In The Times-Tribune’s Sunday Times Review of DEP Drilling Records Reveals Water Damage, Murky Testing Methods, Legere reviews the pages eventually furnished by the civil servants of this hyper-reluctant state agency:
“State environmental regulators determined that oil and gas development damaged the water supplies for at least 161 Pennsylvania homes, farms, churches and businesses between 2008 and the fall of 2012, according to a cache of nearly 1,000 letters and enforcement orders written by Department of Environmental Protection officials and obtained by The Sunday Times.”

The Times-Tribune editors have even included a detailed groundwater complaints map with the help of the genius geeks at FracTracker.org, “a non-profit organization that collects, shares and visualizes data related to the oil and gas industry.

Drilling Complaints Map, The Times-Tribune, May 19, 2013.   (more…)

Ban v. Moratorium: What Pennsylvania Fractivists Want

May 7, 2013

TELL THE PA DEMS – Stop Fracking, Start Using Common Sense

Political actions are monumental labors, but when they strike the right chord, they’re anything but laborious. They unite the grassroots, attract support from big greens and inspire new voices. Successful actions activate the rusty apparatus of democracy, and they tend to take on a life of their own.

CALL TO ACTION! – Tell the PA Dems, “STOP FRACKING NOW!”

Pennsylvania State Democratic Committee Meeting 

on

Saturday, June 15th in Lancaster, Pa.

PLUS A Week of Anti-Fracking Actions!   June 3rd – June 8th

In step with Stop The Frack Attack’s National Week of ActionTell The PA Dems “STOP FRACKING NOW!”  will include a week of local lobbying and recruiting efforts, and culminate in strong, united representation at the next State Democratic Committee policy meeting on June 15, 2013. Here’s why the action was created (from the Event Description):

A member offered a resolution calling for a moratorium on fracking at their last meeting. The resolution never made it to the floor. A revised version will be offered this time and we think it deserves a floor vote. 

Senator Jim Ferlo is introducing a moratorium bill. Berks Gas Truth helped deliver over 100,000 signatures calling for a moratorium to the Governor’s office on April 30th. It’s clearly time, actually way past time, for a moratorium, so why do the PA Dems hang onto the severance tax/regulation stance that is as outmoded as fossil fuels?

The party sets the platform on which candidates run. We can’t go into the 2014 campaign with our only alternative to Corbett a string of candidates who are still willing to give Pennsylvania to the drillers, as long as they pay a little in the process. We deserve better than that! Our natural resources deserve better. Our state constitution says so! Now it’s time for the Democratic Party to chime in and throw their support behind a moratorium.

For time and location, plus updates on accompanying actions, please visit the event on Facbook:  Tell the PA Dems, “STOP FRACKING NOW!

(more…)

Best Documentary On Fracking Ever

May 6, 2013

Triple Divide  – Trailer

Visit TripleDivideFilm.org to get your sustainably-produced DVD of the highly acclaimed new film Triple Divide – considered essential viewing by Organizations United for the Environment.

At TripleDivideFilm.org, you’ll also find more information on Public/Private screenings in Pennsylvania, New York and Ohio.

Find even more local screenings at Triple Divide on Facebook.

Largest Petition Ever Submitted In Pennsylvania

April 30, 2013

And It Calls For A Fracking Moratorium

April 30, 2013 is an historic day.

Today, a coalition of environmental organizations and anti-fracking activists deliver the largest petition ever submitted to the Pennsylvania state legislature. It calls for a moratorium on new shale gas drilling permits in Pennsylvania.

The petition, Protect Pennsylvania From Gas Drilling, includes the names and signatures of more than 100,000 Pennsylvania residents, and it sends a stunning message to state legislators and the shale gas industry. This is what it says:   (more…)

Krancer Dabbles In Climate Denial, Throws Wide-Mouth Bass Under Bus

February 25, 2013

Global Squirming

We know the Marcellus Shale Coalition never put it to a vote, but does Pennsylvania DEP Secretary, Michael Krancer, believe that climate change might determine the new “price of doing business” in our state?

On February 20, 2013, at a Pennsylvania House Budget Hearing, Rep. Scott Conklin [D-77th, Centre County] asked the Secretary exactly that, but the newly bearded Krancer didn’t want to answer.

Published on Feb 20, 2013

Rep. Conklin deserves kudos for asking about the cost of climate change. So does Rep. Matt Bradford [D- 70th, Montgomery County] for following up, as State Impact Pennsylvania’s Marie Cusick reports in DEP Secretary Michael Krancer Clarifies Views on Climate Change, February 21, 2013:

“Climate change. Is it real?”

“Representative, I couldn’t be more clear,” Krancer replied, “the lowering of greenhouse gases and carbon emissions is a good thing.”

“You couldn’t be more opaque!” shouted Bradford.

And, so, the question remains: Is Pennsylvania’s rush to frack increasing or decreasing the amount of carbon in the atmosphere?

Methane may be a cleaner fuel to burn (until it explodes) but it’s certainly not a clean fuel to frack from the ground. One glimpse at this infrared video of gas production sites shows how much gas is released, intentionally and otherwise.

Are we really willing to bet it all on gas drillers best practices, minimal air sampling and lousy DEP record-keeping? This seems ignorant and brash when our planet is so perilously close to an atmospheric carbon tipping point.

Pennsylvania deserves better.

“Witnesses criticized the state Department of Environmental Protection for failing to enforce drilling regulations. Some residents in drilling areas brought what they consider as evidence — jugs of orange-brown tap water.”

“As committee member Rep. Kevin Boyle of Philadelphia County said Tuesday, ‘I apologize for DEP. As Pennsylvania citizens, you deserve better.’ ”

Many times over the last few years, we have reached out to the DEP for help, with little or no success,” Headley said. His family has had issues with contaminated water and grass that refuses to grow, as well as issues with a pipeline going in under their stream, he said. “I think DEP stands for ‘don’t expect protection,’ ” Headley said.

At issue is whether deliberate actions by state officials are letting Texas gas industry robber barons do more damage to the environment than was done by coal industry robber barons in the last century, and are endangering people’s health in the process. As I reported in September, I submitted several questions to DEP, in writing, about new DEP rules supposedly designed to protect the environment. Many of the rules, it seemed to me, did the opposite. For example, DEP now allows fracking fluids to accumulate in pits that are only 20 inches above groundwater tables. I’m still waiting for answers.

There is no uniformity within the scientific community on how much the warming is occurring,” said Krancer, “And there’s no agreement about how much is attributable to the human part of it and how much is attributable to other factors.

DEP Throws Wide Mouth Bass Under The Bus   (more…)

Frack Brine On Montgomery County Roads?

November 14, 2012

DEP’s Permit Pickle

Pennsylvania’s municipal water treatment plants were designed to handle the bio solids of sewage, not the radioactive compounds contained in shale gas drilling waste. They can’t handle the massive volumes of frack flowback produced in our state.

It takes 4.5 to 9 million gallons of fresh water to hydro-frack a single natural gas well. There are more than 30,000 permits awaiting approval in Pennsylvania over the next 10 years. In addition to the 8,982 frack wells currently operating in Pennsylvania, that equals 165 billion gallons of fresh water, largely from the Special Protection Waters of the Delaware River Watershed and the Susquehanna River Basin. Once removed, this water is destined to become toxic, radioactive frack “flowback.” And, by the way, that’s way more water than we actually have.

At first blush, recycling frack flowback – both onsite and at regional treatment plants – seems like the perfect solution. There’s now a long list of companies who want to sell or lease their services to drillers, along with their glorified mobile distillation units. But this, too, poses new problems and raises even more questions about shale gas waste regulation and oversight. Ultimately, waste recyclers still have to deal with the disposal of the super salty waste bi-product known as brine.

So now, recycled frack brine is to be sold – at around $.05 a gallon – to PennDOT (Pennsylvania Department of Transportation) to spray on our roads for deicing in winter, and something called “dust suppression.”

Seriously, dust suppression.

Untreated frack brine has been shown to include barium, radium, strontium and a range of radionuclides. Sometimes, there’s even uranium. (Yes, there’s uranium down there, too.) Flowback may also contain sodium and calcium salts, iron, oil, numerous heavy metals, diesel fuel and industrial soaps. And now this stuff might be on my running shoes, and the wheels of my kids’ bikes. Heavy snows and spring rains will carry these compounds into our rivers and streams, lacing our waterways with toxins. Are you kidding me?

How is it, though they’re using taxpayer dollars to buy this supposedly “clean” brine, that there was no public input?

Because DEP stamped a permit.

(more…)

Does the Marcellus Shale Coalition Accept Global Warming?

September 17, 2012

This question was put to the Marcellus Shale Coalition’s Executive Vice President of Technical Affairs, Andrew Paterson, who was testifying on behalf of the 250-member gas industry trade group at a House Democratic Policy Committee hearing on Marcellus Shale Air Pollution at Delaware County Community College in Media, PA on October 12, 2011. (more…)

Get The Truth From SkyTruth

August 27, 2012

Environmental incidents such as unconventional gas drilling accidents – or fraccidents – must be reported, wherever they occur.  SkyTruth is a whiz-bang non-profit based in West Virginia. Their team uses remote sensing and digital mapping technologies to combine environmental protection with environmental awareness. Their motto: “As soon as WE know – YOU know.”  (more…)

The Dirtiest DEP

August 17, 2012

Does The Corbett Administration Hate Nature As Much As They Hate Environmentalists?

Not all Pennsylvanians are prepared to accept the governor’s latest executive order for a fracking “Permit Decision Guarantee” without crying foul, as Kevin Begos of the Associated Press reports via Businessweek in Foes: Pa. State Permit Order Threatens Environment.

StateImpact’s Scott Detrow appears to concur that Corbett’s new decree is a potential political misstep in How Will Corbett’s Executive Order Change The Marcellus Permitting Process? on August 13, 2012. Though he barely hints at it, Detrow’s article earned him a proper bitch-slapping in the Comments section by the governor’s hyper-conservative energy czar, Patrick Henderson, who takes to task both StateImpact and the AP for their apparent and willful lack of “context.”  (more…)

An In-Depth Look at Energy-In-Depth

July 10, 2012

And Plenty of PA Politics, Too

You may have noticed a new approach by the Gas Industry to reach out and touch us with their concern. The Marcellus Shale Coalition has taken to the radio to promote its new online forum. Their new web-effort, which runs until July 20th, focuses on Southeastern PA, and was createdto better understand the questions residents of greater Philadelphia have about natural gas development in Pennsylvania.” Another major industry lobby group, Energy In Depth, has been busy debunking Gasland with all its might, along with all the other documented evidence which proves shale gas development pollutes land, water and air. If all this makes you uneasy, then your instincts are right on. Writer Dory Hippauf takes a good look at this latest industry tack, delving into the people and companies behind it, in Energy-In-Depth: The Dots. (more…)

Protect Chester County Streams!

May 31, 2012

Marcellus Gas Pipeline To Cut Across Wyeth Country

Think Marcellus Shale Gas pollution won’t come to Southeastern PA? Think again.

UPDATE: “State Extends Comment Period for Gas Pipeline Plan” by Sara Mosqueda-Fernandez in The Daily Local News, June 3, 2012  http://www.dailylocal.com/article/20120603/NEWS01/120609891/-1/news/state-extends-comment-period-for-gas-pipeline-plan

(more…)

Delaware River is “Exceptional” – Riverkeeper Wants to Make It Official

May 18, 2012

[UPDATED: May 25, 2012] Including more info on Reclassification to Exceptional Value or High Quality Stream

The Delaware Riverkeeper Network (DRN)  is petitioning the PA Department of Environmental Protection to upgrade the Upper and Middle Delaware River to Exceptional Value (EV) Quality,” states Faith Zerbe , DRN’s Water Watch Director.

To this very productive end, Delaware Riverkeepers and over 20 organizations and 300 co-petitioners have submitted a petition to to PADEP, and they are actively seeking  signatures and letters of support. If you value this magnificent, historic American River, please lend your voice and sign on to the Original Petition to elevate the Delaware’s environmental, economic and social status. Demand adequate protections for drinking water today!  (more…)

The Simplest Way To Save The Delaware

April 8, 2012

The simplest way to ensure lasting protections for the fresh water resources of 15.6 million people is to raise the status the Upper and Middle Delaware River to “Exceptional Value” (EV). It would also help to ensure that EV or High Quality (HQ) tributary streams remain un-fragmented. At any rate, drillers seem to be getting along without having to drill in yet another precious watershed.

A statewide moratorium on new Unconventional Shale Gas Drilling permits in Pennsylvania might seem like a long-shot, but I gladly signed the Pennsylvanians for Clean Land Air and Water (CLAW) Petition. A ban on Fracking in the Delaware River Watershed ought to be more feasible, but as the CLAW signatures are rapidly accumulating, it occurs to me that maybe I’m just being cynical. (more…)

CNNMoney Breaks the PA DEP Enforcement Code

March 14, 2012

Caveat Emptor: DEP Not Required to Report Gas Drilling Violations to Landowners

Violations at Pennsylvania Mar­cel­lus Shale gas drilling well pads and asso­ci­ated infra­struc­ture occur at an average rate of 12-a-day, according to Iris Marie Bloom, director of Protecting Our Waters in Showdown Expected at the SRBC Corral by Susan Phillips of StateImpactPA. Some violations are more serious than others, but one thing they all have in common: the PA Department of Environmental Protection is not required to notify landowners of any violations on their leased properties, even though they’re on the line for damages. (more…)

DEP Water Tests Aren’t “Naturally Occurring”

March 13, 2012

Dimock…  Butler County… and now Franklin Township, PA… Whose water will be polluted next?

UPDATE  [March 22,2012]Marcellus shale driller offers water to Franklin Homes by Laura Legere, in The Times-Tribune, Thursday, March 22, 2012.

UPDATE [March 15, 2012]:  DEP announces sampling of Franklin Township water wells DEP tracking-source-of-more-methane-in-wells by abc27.com

[Original Post]:  Gas drillers want you to think Pennsylvania’s water supply was rife with shallow methane before they began fracking the Marcellus Play. Obviously methane deposits can migrate, but why would these towns have been settled in the first place if the water table was bad? Listening to residents in these Northern and Western gas drilling locales, you hear recurring themes about a whole new kind of water problem.

Up until November, I could drink my water.

It’s black.

It’s really slimy.

Up there, a coupla houses, they’re starting to have some issues.

It won’t freeze.

Now, there are elevated chemicals…(more…)

DEP’s Permit-Fee Economy

March 7, 2012

Can steep budget cuts to the PA Department of Environmental Protection be offset with gas drilling permit fees?

At the February 27, 2012 Democratic Policy Committee Meeting in Bryn Mawr, PA, the word “overwhelmed” was repeatedly used to describe the PA Department of Environmental Protection. Most notably, George Jugovic, Jr., then Senior Attorney and newly named CEO for PennFuture, and former Southwest Regional Director of the PA DEP, stated that when he asked Joyce Epps, DEP Bureau of Air Quality director, what her department needed most to effectively regulate Marcellus air emissions, she replied emphatically, “We need more people.” (more…)


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