Archive for May, 2011

Oppose XTO/Exxon’s Massive Water Withdrawal from the Upper Delaware!

May 28, 2011

XTO Energy wants to take 250,000 gallons of water per day from Oquaga Creek, a trout stream that flows to the West Branch of the Delaware River, to develop gas wells they plan to drill there. Such water depletion would tragically alter the Upper Delaware watershed region. Please sign the Delaware Riverkeepers letter to voice your opposition before the June 1 hearing in Deposit, NY. Go to:

http://www.delawareriverkeeper.org/act-now/urgent-details.aspx?Id=74

The Delaware Riverkeeper Network seeks to protect the Delaware River. They want to see a comprehensive environmental impact study to examine how natural gas development will impact the water resources and natural assets of the Delaware River Watershed prior to any permits for gas related projects (more…)

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PA DEP Considers Natural Gas a “Homegrown Alternative”

May 28, 2011

While natural gas is regarded as an “alternative” to oil and gasoline in the fossil fuels marketplace, it’s not a truly “Alternative Fuel” because it’s not Renewable. It is inaccurate and, some might say, misleading for the DEP to lump natural gas and with genuinely green alternatives when awarding Alternative Fuel Incentives Grants from the state’s Alternative Fuels Incentive Fund. Referring to natural gas as a “homegrown alternative” is disingenuous at best, as it echos verbatim popular Gas Industry jargon. (more…)

Shale Gas Tax Debate Moves to Front Burner

May 26, 2011

Rep. Greg Vitali (D-166th, Delaware County) wants gas drillers to pay 4.6¢ for every 1,000 cubit feet of they frack out of Pennsylvania’s shale. He’s sponsoring House Bill 33, which is intended to help fill a $4 billion shortfall in next year’s state budget, and to replenish funds for important environmental programs such as the Environmental Stewardship Fund. Local co-sponsors of HB33 include Mike Gerber (D-148th, Montgomery), Tim Briggs (D-148th, Montgomery), and Pamela DiLissio (D-149th, Montgomery/Philadelphia).

“Pennsylvania is the only major natural gas producing state that does not have a drilling severance tax or fee in place,” Vitali said in a press release. “Out-of-state companies are profiting from the Commonwealth’s resources, and the Commonwealth should benefit too.” (more…)

PA Senate Committee Unanimously Approves Gas Emergency Preparedness Bill, Sends It to Senate

May 25, 2011

After weighing direct input from emergency responders and gas companies operating in the Shale, the Senate Veterans Affairs & Emergency Preparedness Committee unanimously approved a bill requiring “natural gas drilling companies to post emergency information at drilling sites and file response plans with local authorities.” It’s the second laudable step taken by Harrisburg in the last few weeks. The first being the DEP’s imposing the largest fine ever (more…)

PA Gas Extraction Tax or Local Impact Fees?

May 25, 2011

If you live in and around Philadelphia, there ain’t much good a local Impact Fee collected in a county “up there” will do for you. Revenue from shale gas drilling fees are intended for local use, to mitigate fracking’s most immediate impacts, yet a state-wide tax would be distributed across the state, into things like Education, roads and bridges. In terms of how the state raises revenue, Corbett has said he doesn’t care where the money comes from as long as it’s in the PA State House’s version of his $27.3 billion budget, which is due on his desk June 30th. (more…)

EPA vs. State Regulators: Administrator Jackson’s Testimony on Fracking

May 25, 2011

Lisa Jackson is a soft spoken yet firm woman. Born in Philadelphia, raised near New Orleans, she attended Tulane University on a grant from Shell Oil Company and graduated summa cum laude. She earned her Master of Science degree from Princeton University. A chemical engineer, Jackson spent 16 years with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, serving as Commissioner and leading a regulatory staff or 2,990 people. She was known for mobilizing large enforcement sweeps in Camden and Paterson. Jackson was named Chief of Staff to former New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine, but was tapped days later by Obama to become Administrator of the EPA , and she resigned on December 15, 2008. The buzz on her career in New Jersey is that Jackson earned high marks from those who work on energy and policy, but not so much from those who work on toxic clean up at the local level.

Here is an Excerpt from Administrator Jackson’s Testimony Before the U.S. House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on May 24, 2011:

Thanks to advances in drilling technology, including hydraulic fracturing – or “fracking” – America’s potential natural gas resource is nearly 50 percent larger than we believed it was just a few years ago. The price we pay for natural gas is not set on a global market the way the price of oil is, and burning natural gas creates less air pollution than burning other fossil fuels. So increasing America’s natural gas production is a good thing.

Fracking involves injecting chemicals underground at high pressure, and various substances come back to the surface with the gas. It is not surprising, then, that Congress has directed EPA to study the relationship between fracking and drinking water. We are doing that, with input from technical experts, the public, and industry.  

In the meantime, EPA will step in to protect local residents if a driller jeopardizes clean water and the state government does not act. President Obama has made clear that we need to extract natural gas without polluting our water supplies.  

Read the entire Press Release: EPA.gov
PRESS CONTACT: EPA Press Office
press@epa.gov 
202-564-6794

PA Gas Drillers Voluntary No-Dumping Deadline Today

May 19, 2011

Today is the day that DEP Secretary Krancer has asked Industrial Gas Drillers in Pennsylvania to “stop sending toxic wastewater to 15 treatment plants unequipped to purify it.” The drillers have agreed to comply. To mark the occasion, The Philadelphia Inquirer ran the following editorial, “Save our water” supporting PA State Senator (R) Joe Scarnati’s proposed Gas Drilling Impact Fee. The effectiveness of a such a fee, however, is heavily disputed. And the beat goes on…   (more…)

Ever Hear of Radium 226? (Hint: It’s the stuff that causes Radon in basements)

May 18, 2011

“Two Landfills in South Central PA Approved by DEP to Accept Marcellus Shale Drill Cuttings”
In Februray of this year, two landfills in South Central Pennsylvania—the Cumberland County Landfill and IESI Blue Ridge Landfill—have state approval to accept drill cuttings from Marcellus Shale gas drilling operations. Drill cuttings are the leftover dirt, rock, mud and lubricants that come out of the bore hole. (more…)

“EPA Releases Searchable Website for Drinking Water Violations”

May 17, 2011

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 


EPA hosts webinar to show how to use the public health data

CONTACT: 
Stacy Kika 
kika.stacy@epa.gov

May 16, 2011,
 WASHINGTON — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today announced improvements to the availability and usability of drinking water data in the Enforcement and Compliance History Online (ECHO) tool. ECHO now allows the public to search to see whether drinking water in their community met the standards required under the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA), which is designed to safeguard the nation’s drinking water and protect people’s health. (more…)

PA DEP Fines Chesapeake Over $1Million – Largest Ever in PA

May 17, 2011
$1,088,000 is the largest amount the PA DEP has ever fined a company, but considering Chesapeake pulled in $1.6 BILLION in revenue in the first quarter of 2011, it actually seems more like a slap on the wrist. Let’s just hope it signals stronger regulation and higher penalties for drillers in PA.
Article by David E. Hess, PA Environment Daily Blog, paenvironmentdaily.com
The Department of Environmental Protection today fined Chesapeake Energy $1,088,000 for violations related to natural gas drilling activities in Bradford and Washington, counties. Under a Consent Order and Agreement, or COA, Chesapeake will pay DEP $900,000 for contaminating private water supplies in Bradford County, of which $200,000 must be dedicated to DEP’s well-plugging fund. Under a second COA, Chesapeake will pay $188,000 for a February 23 tank fire at its drilling site in Avella, Washington County.
(more…)

PA DEP Splits Hairs, Drags Heels Over Duke Water Study

May 17, 2011

Duke University scientists published “The Duke Water Study” on May 9, 2011 in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. They found “systematic evidence” that fracking increases methane contamination at least 17 times in wells near gas drilling sites in 68 wells tested in NY and PA. Much as industry groups, such as the Marcellus Shale Coalition, would like to detract from Duke’s conclusions, the science is there. The “good” kind. (more…)

AquaPA’s Official Position on Wastewater Re-Use

May 16, 2011

Local and regional water authorities don’t have it easy these days in Pennsylvania. AquaPA, our local, privatized water supplier is no exception. According to AquaAmerica’s 2010 Sustainability Report, the company spent $10 million upgrading Bristol’s aged water treatment plant in 2006 and $33 million on Crum Creek’s in 2009. The 30-page report makes no mention of Natural Gas Drilling. Here, an excerpt outlines Aqua’s position on wastewater re-use: (more…)

EPA Asks State to Improve Gas Well Water Checks”

May 16, 2011

Article By Don Hopey, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Monday, May 16, 2011

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has asked Pennsylvania to do a better job sampling, monitoring and regulating Marcellus Shale wastewater discharges near public drinking water sources. The EPA also has reminded the state Department of Environmental Protection that any new methods for disposing of drilling wastewater must comply with federal rules. The federal agency last week directed six of the major Marcellus Shale drilling companies in Pennsylvania to disclose, by May 25, how and where they will dispose of or recycle wastewater now that they can no longer use municipal sewage treatment facilities. (more…)

PA DEP “Gets It Right” About 5% of the Time

May 16, 2011

“It Looked Like the Mountain Was Bleeding…”

Fracking is now being widely debated in Europe and Canada, and according to a January 2011 documentary by Britain’s Ecologist TV, fracking in Pennsylvania is a study of Natural Gas Extraction done wrong. Picture postcard American landscapes are being poisoned and destroyed by toxic chemicals injected into the ground. There is Methane Migration in domestic drinking wells near drilling sites, massive volumes of highly carcinogenic, radioactive flowback (267 times the safe disposal limit) being trucked out of state, mostly to New York and, all too often, flowback is spilling into streams, ponds and wetland, killing off local ecosystems. (more…)

Four-Out-of-Five Gas Drillers Prefer PA DEP to the EPA

May 14, 2011

“The DEP for us in Pennsylvania has much greater capability to provide the level of oversight to protect the public and ensure the industry is following the law,” said Dave Spigelmeyer, Vice President of Government Relations for Chesapeake Oil & Gas. [SOURCE: Andrew Conte, Pittsburg Tribune-Review]

Chesapeake claims to recycle 100% of its flowback from fracking operations in Pennsylvania, except that which it spills of course. The company, which had voluntarily suspended operations as a result of the Bradford County well accident in April, has now resumed its business in the state. Chesapeake’s wastewater recycling claims come in response to last week’s request by the EPA (more…)

PopularMechanics Explains Frack Flowback Eruption to Lug Heads

May 13, 2011

The radical, Ultra-Left leaning publication, Popular Mechanics, published an illuminating article about what happened when Chesapeake Energy workers lost containment of a gas well in Bradford County, PA  in April, 2011. This is the largest gas drilling accident in Pennsylvania to date, among hundreds of serious drilling accidents and spills which have already occurred. PopularMechanics concluded that the same failed containment technology which precipitated the BP Gulf Disaster in 2010, was also the culprit in the massive, immeasurable spill of toxic water into nearby Towanda creek, a tributary to the Susquehanna in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed, and source of drinking water for the Harrisburg area. They report that while the blowout protector in the Atgas 2H in Bradford did not fail, it definitely broke.
(more…)

Freaked About Frack Waste on AquaPA’s “Main Division”

May 13, 2011

People used to say, “What’s Fracking?” when they saw the bumper sticker on my car. Now they want to know what they can do to keep their tap water, and their family, safe.
   Water awareness is assuredly growing as water area consumers (a.k.a. humans) begin to question Lower Merion Township’s water source and origin, and its treatment before it issues from our taps. Even those with households on well water are curious to know how PA’s Industrial Gas Boom, and the accompanying toxic wastewater disposal problem, is impacting their water quality. (more…)

EPA Wants Accounting of Frack Wastewater In PA by May 25

May 12, 2011

EPA Seeks More Information from Natural Gas Drilling Operations to Ensure Safety of Wastewater Disposal

 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: David Sternberg, Sternberg.david@epa.gov

PHILADELPHIA (May 12, 2011) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today directed six natural gas drillers to disclose how and where the companies dispose of or recycle drilling process water in the region.  EPA continues to work with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PADEP) to ensure that natural gas production takes place safely and responsibly. These actions are among the ongoing steps EPA is taking to ensure drilling operations are protective of public health and the environment. Natural gas is a key part of our nation’s energy future and EPA will continue to work with federal, state and local partners to ensure that public health and the environment are protected.

  (more…)

Roll Call: Which PA Politicians Accept Funds from the Gas Industry?

May 11, 2011

MarcellusMoney.org is a Gas Industry watchdog group formed by Conservation Voters of Pennsylvania and Common Cause/Pennsylvania. In May 2011, they jointly released the report “Deep Drilling, Deep Pockets” which found that over the past decade, Pennsylvania lawmakers of both political parties have received more than $7 million from Gas Industry. Contributions from gas interests to Pennsylvania lawmakers have more than doubled since the 2006 Gubernatorial Election Cycle. Current Pennsylvania Lawmakers have received about $3.4 million in campaign contributions from the Oil & Gas Industry.
When asked to put in place a temporary moratorium on drilling in public lands until a full study of the impact could be made, those who voted “no” had accepted an average of three times as much cash from gas interests than those who supported that reasonable measure. [SOURCE: marcellusmoney.org] (more…)

Altoona, PA – The Taj Mahal of Water

May 10, 2011

Water Authority Sells Susquehanna Waters to Gas Drillers at $.005 a Gallon…
A few months ago, Chief Oil & Gas was approved by the Susquehanna River Basin Commission to withdrawal 250,000 gallons a day to Chief Oil & Gas so they could frack up to 16 gas wells in the Blue Knob area near Altoona, PA. In April, the Altoona Mirror reported on what happens to a town when its Water Authority sells its water to gas companies. Because we have weak state laws protecting watershed regions, similar scenarios are occurring in small towns across the state. Residents around Altoona will see their streams and wells dry up, while the local Water Authority inhabits an impressive new office building, none-to-affectionately dubbed “the Taj Mahal” by local residents. Reporter William Kibler paints a dismal portrait… (more…)