Archive for April, 2011

Fracking is Bad for Business

April 27, 2011

An Open Letter to Mayor Michael Nutter:

April 27, 2011

Hon.  Michael A. Nutter
Mayor of Philadelphia
215 City Hall
Philadelphia, PA 19107 686-2181

Dear Mayor Nutter:

We are writing in regards to the potential NEGATIVE ECONOMIC IMPACTS of Natural Gas drilling in the Delaware River Watershed Region on businesses operating “downstream” in Southeastern Pennsylvania. I hope you will join the growing number of concerned citizens who are alarmed by this serious threat to the water supply of over 15.6 million people and numerous regional industries.

The idea that Natural Gas will be a unilateral boon to our state economy is mostly a perception, and it remains largely unchallenged. Loss of tax revenue from businesses and industries who would be adversely affected by water and air pollution amounts to a very large sum. And, certainly, cleaning up after a major industrial gas accident could drain much of our state’s fiscal resources in one fell swoop.

Just like humans do, many types of businesses need a reliable source of fresh, unpolluted water. It’s a vital element in their supply chain. They include: Agriculture, Healthcare, Food & Beverages, Breweries, Recreation: Waterfront Attractions & Outdoor, Restaurants, Scientific Research, Tourism & Hotels, and many more. Hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” also uses massive volumes of water (4.5 – 6 million gallons of fresh water per gas well). With global water shortages a reality, Philadelphia residents and business owners are lucky to have the Special Protection Waters of the Delaware River. The Natural Gas Boom in Pennsylvania poses a serious threat to our municipal Fresh Water Security. We simply cannot let the profit motives of a single industry jeopardize the wellbeing and profitability of so many.

Of course, jobs are vital right now, however, history demonstrates how cities with abundant clean fresh water thrive while those with polluted or diminished supplies decline. So do we want jobs in filthy, dangerous natural gas extraction services? Or groovy green ones? Raising the knowledge base will raise the tax base, too. Philadelphia Is the birthplace of American Independence, and we think, if we play our cards right, it has the potential to be the Seat of our National Independence from Fossil Fuel, too.

Please consider supporting the Fracturing  Responsibility  and  Awareness  of  Chemicals  Act  (FRAC  Act)  of  2011  (HR  1084)  in  the  House  and  the  Fracturing  Responsibility  and   Awareness  of  Chemicals  Act  of  2011  (S.  587)  in  the  Senate  to  remove  the  Safe  Drinking  Water   Act  exemption  granted  in  2005; also, the Bringing Reductions to Energy’s Airborne Toxic Health Effects Act (BREATHE Act, H.R. 1204). Every voice matters at this critical time for our river, and your support would be particularly welcome!


PA DEP Asks Drillers To Pretty Please Stop Dumping Waste Into Waterways

April 23, 2011

For those of us who are pro-water, this is good news indeed. Frack waste is radioactive. But let’s not get carried away. It’s not a law. Heck, it isn’t even a regulation. Is it the first step in the PA DEP’s effort to rigorously regulate? Or it is a red herring put forth to ease public concern while drilling moves forward at an increased pace?

Recycling flowback, even injecting the frack water back into new wells, is hardly an answer to a very serious problem: tons and tons of toxic, carcinogenic chemicals, along with massive volumes of fresh water pulled from our Special Protection Waters aquifers, are being blasted into the bedrock beneath our feet. Along with all the other dangerous compounds brought up, they are spewing forth, bubbling up and floating on the breeze. They are radioactive, and the state can’t handle it. The fact remains, the only way to completely mitigate adverse environmental and health effects is to NOT FRACK.


Fracking Terminology: Glossary of Problems

April 23, 2011

Fracking for Natural Gas in the Delaware River Watershed Region, which is sitting on top of a concentration of sweet spots in the Marcellus Shale formation, brings a host of issues and problems. Most notable is the way fracking seems to be ‘fracturing’ otherwise quiet, if economically stressed, communities by pitting neighbors’ divergent interests against one another. NG is creating serious strife. Here’s a list of some of the largest problems confronting communities in Pennsylvania, and what they mean: (more…)

River to River Walk in Philly on Saturday, April 23

April 23, 2011

Is it just me or do we need more than one day to celebrate the Earth? More and more people are organizing to protest Fracking in the Delaware River watershed, and many of them are walking together from the Schuylkill River to the Delaware River today. Here’s a list of the citizen action groups who sponsored the event. For a list of the largest groups working in our state, and their mission statements, check out the page at right. Consider lending your support to these hard-working grassroots movements.

Yo, Philly, these are the people fightin’ to keep our tap water safe!

Delaware Riverkeeper Network

Drexel Student Sierra Club

Food and Water Watch

Protecting Our Waters

Temple Students for Environmental Action *

Lawsuits are Piling Up Against Drilllers & Complacent Commissions

April 19, 2011

NY Attorney General Prepares to Sue DRBC; Maryland AG Sues Chesapeake O&G; PA’s Croton Watershed Commission Sues New York State DEP

Posted April 18, 2011, Updated May 11, 2011 (more…)

Concern Over Fracking is Bi-Partisan

April 19, 2011

In a Rodale Institute survey concluded in 2010, among Pennsylvanians who say they are very or somewhat aware of fracking, 40% are “very concerned” and nearly 30% are “somewhat concerned” about its effect on water quality. Concerns about fracking and water quality are bipartisan, including 57% of Republicans, 74% ofIndependents, and 86% of Democrats.* SOURCE: Survey: Red State or Blue, Most People Are Concerned About Fracking’s Effect On H2O, Article by Leah Zerbe,

Nationally, the Energy issue seems to divide democrats and republicans. Fracking, however, which is negatively impacting another more valuable resource – water –  seems to spill over party lines in Pennsylvania.  Yet, with all the discussion about Energy these days, there is a disproportionately small amount of attention paid to the Fresh Water Security of the 15.6 million people who rely on the Delaware River Watershed. Regardless of political affiliation, we need to wake up to the fact that we’ll run out of fresh water long before we burn up all the fracked natural gas in Pennsylvania.

Fracking depletes and pollutes water supplies in many ways, and we cannot have a truly logical discussion about ENERGY in our state without discussing WATER. If further privatization of water utilities is the future for Pennsylvania, then I’d like to know who is protecting our fresh water resources upstream, as well as down the line? We need to direct our thrust investment spending in the direction of Renewables, Conservation and Efficiency Standards, not on polluting, dangerous natural gas. And given that Republicans and Democrats appear to agree on this issue, doesn’t it truly “stink” that our governor continues to resist implementing a PA Natural Gas Drilling tax?

Record Number of Letters Delivered to the DRBC

April 16, 2011

Over 35,000 letters were delivered by Environmental and Citizen Action Groups who are opposed to Fracking in the Delaware River Watershed. That number greatly exceeds any Public Comment Period in the Delaware River Basin Commission’s history. I, for one, am holding my breath to see what happens next.

Recycling Frack Flowback: A Reality Check

April 13, 2011

It takes 4.5 to 6 million gallons of fresh water to hydrofrack 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 6,755 frack wells currently operating, that equals 165 BILLION GALLONS OF FRESH WATER FROM PENNSYLVANIA largely from the Special Protection Waters of the Delaware River Watershed Region, destined to become toxic, often radioactive, frack “flowback.” And, by the way, that’s much more water than we actually have.

Our municipal water treatment facilities, which were designed to handle the bio solids of sewage not the RADIOACTIVE COMPOUNDS contained in frack flowback, cannot handle the current volume of frack waste produced in the state. Philadelphia Water Department Chairperson, Chris Crockett, is worried about his intakes. (more…)

PA DEP Secretary Pushes Back

April 12, 2011

In a strongly worded reply to  Federal EPA Regional Administrator, Shawn M. Garvin, Acting Secretary of the PA Department of Environmental Protection, Hon. Michael Krancer, stands behind the agency’s current regulatory approach. He states:

“Unfortunately, your letter, along with the recent New York Times articles, overlooks DEP’s strong and ongoing efforts to protect the environment and public health. More specifically, the radionuclides and other pollutants of concern (barium and strontium) that were highlighted in your letter had all been previously identified by DEP and targeted in regulation, guidance, the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permitting process, in-stream sampling, and public drinking water sampling.”

There’s nothing wrong with a strong stance from the PA Department of Environmental Protection! If we’re to have timely, effective, common sense regulations created and enforced, now more than ever, we need a DEP that will serve as a model to other states. Go Team Go! I only hope Mr. Krancer’s words and policies deliver the same measure of push-back to the pro-drilling interests and those who say they favor research and regulation, as long as they can keep drilling in our state.

For the complete text of Krancer’s letter:

The “Bridge Fuel” Fantasy

April 7, 2011

Is Large-Scale Fracking for Natural Gas Inevitable in Pennsylvania?

Yes, it’s already begun. And we’re the only state that allows frack waste water to be dumped in our rivers and streams. New York State has wisely placed a Moratorium on new frack wells until more science is concluded. New Jersey is considering one, too, though they don’t have much gas there. Nevertheless, realistically, there are more than  10,000 lucrative permits poised to be approved in Pennsylvania. The clock is ticking, and many people downstream, in the Philadelphia area, are decidedly alarmed. Strict regulation may be our only salvation, yet these same powerful commercial interests are also working to de-fund the EPA and The PA Department of Environmental Protection. Even President Obama seems pretty keen to frack away at our poor, beautiful state.

One is left to wonder, then, how exactly will Natural Gas serve as a bridge fuel?

If Natural Gas is truly a bridge to renewable alternatives, and a panacea for our ailing economy, then what’s the whole strategy? Better cement jobs? Politically appointed state oversight commissions? Taxation? It seems like a new chapter in the same old ugly fossil fuel story. Nothing that is happening in Harrisburg indicates that being a bridge fuel is the end-goal here. We cannot allow the profit motives of a handful of large corporations to leave us with a legacy of pollution and disease. Over a million residents in PA share my concerns, and that number is growing every day as this critical issue continues to come to the fore. What will it take for leaders in America to realize that there is indeed a link between our health and pollution in our environment?

A Thousand Cuts

April 6, 2011

Michael Krancer, the new Secretary of the PA Deptartment of Environmental Protection, is perilously close to becoming a part of the fracking pollution problem. In his new three month “Pilot” program, all pollution violations must go through his office BEFORE they can be reported and become part of official public record.

Say What?? (more…)

My Lawyer Can Beat Up Your Scientist

April 4, 2011

There’s a lot of information about Fracking for Natural Gas out there, and more everyday. In February, the EPA Science Advisory Team announced that it will be further studying the relational impacts of hydraulic fracturing on drinking water supplies. Great! Waiting to pass regulations is not in either side’s interest.

The only logical answer is to weigh all the facts, and address the issues one by one. There is a lot of hard work involved, both by scientists, and lawyers. Large Philadelphia law firms like Blank Rome already have legal frack teams rolling out their defense strategies for possible polluters. Big money is now pumping through the legal and business sectors, paving the way for a sonic speed gas boom.

No one wants to wait for Science, but quality, peer-reviewed data must at least exist and have an “at-bat.” And it would do anyone who stands to profit from the Natural Gas Boom in Pennsylvania well to remember:

Nature Bats Last!


February, 2011
The EPA proposes to characterize toxicity in almost every stage of the hydraulic fracturing life-cycle. EPA also plans to summarize all available data obtained on chemicals and naturally occurring substances used and released during the hydraulic fracturing process in order to characterize and understand potential human health effects.
1) Water Acquisition
2) Chemical Mixing
3) Well Injection
4) Flowback and Produced Water
5) Wastewater Treatment and Waste Disposal


March, 2011
Among other supposedly soft and unnecessary programs, politicians in Washington DC aim to slash EPA funding and regulatory reach. The Clean Air Council has pushed back hard as Clean Air attacks are being led by a few members of both the House and the Senate who are especially cozy with polluter industries: Sens. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), James Inhofe (R-OK), Mitch McConnell (R-KY), and Max Baucus (D-MT); and Reps. Fred Upton (R-MI) and Ed Whitfield (R-KY) in the House. In the House, the powerful Energy and Commerce Committee passed its own so-called Dirty Air Act authored by Reps. Fred Upton and Ed Whitfield, with help from Sen. James Inhofe. This bill is expected to come to the House floor for a full chamber vote in the next few weeks. It is critical to stop the House and Senate from passing these Dirty Air bills and amendments! We must take action now to tell them that obstructing these protective pollution limits is not only hurting us, but threatening our environmental security, and our very way of life.

A Single Sane Voice In The Lamestream Media?

April 4, 2011

To Rachel Maddow, The Rachel Maddow Show, MSNBC TV:

Dear Rachel:

The waste water produced by hydraulic fracturing, which many on the MSNBC network now refer to with the innocuous industry term “flowback,” is not merely toxic, it’s radioactive. Disposing of the massive volumes of this carcinogenic, endocrine-disrupting “flowback” has become a major industrial dilemma.

In Southeastern Pennsylvania, gas companies have been illegally dumping frack waste water in our rivers and streams.

With 2,755 frack wells in Pennsylvania in 2010, there were 2,486 documented violations including illegal discharges into streams and tributaries, explosions, frack water spills and toxic air pollution. The source of the drinking water for the 15.6 million people living in Philadelphia and the Lower Delaware Region is at serious risk. I’m a resident, a parent and an environmental blogger, and I don’t want to raise my children in a Disease Cluster.

We need viable solutions, and we need them now!

Of course, this issue is not limited to pollution. The average single frack well pulls nearly 4.5 million gallons of water from an aquifer. We might have hundreds of years’ worth of gas trapped in the Marcellus Shale but we’ll run out of fresh water long before we burn through it all. Also, we’re not seeing the landscape merely “change,” we’re seeing it destroyed.

Liz R.
Don’t Frack With The Delaware River Watershed!