Archive for June, 2011

PA House Appropriations Chair Bill Adolph (R-165th) Co-Sponsors HB 1700

June 30, 2011

Dear Ms. Rosenbaum:

Thank you for your email urging my opposition to Senate Bill 1100.  I appreciate hearing from you on this issue.  As you may know, Senate Bill 1100 is currently in the Senate for consideration.  Please know that I will keep your concerns in mind if and when this bill reaches the House for consideration.  

I wanted to take a moment to update you and let you know I have signed on as a co-sponsor to House Bill 1700. This legislation would establish a graduated impact fee that starts at $50,000 per well in the first two years of production and trails off to $10,000 per year after 21 years and remains in place for the life of the well.  This fee structure would generate approximately $1.1 Billion over the next five years. (more…)

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Lower Merion: What’s in Your Water?

June 29, 2011

Testing the Tap in Montgomery County

Lower Merion Township Drinking Water originates in the Schuylkill River Sub-Watershed. The Schuylkill River is the largest tributary to the Delaware River. In a sense, our watershed is the hydrological little sister to big brother Delaware. The Schuylkill extends through several counties as it winds towards Philadelphia. The name is derived from a Welsh word meaning “hidden river.” (more…)

Energy Advisory Board Natural Gas Subcommittee Holds Public Meeting #1 in DC Today

June 28, 2011

The Energy Advisory Board Natural Gas Subcommittee on Fracking Issues didn’t foresee the flaring passions of Pennsylvanians when they convened a meeting at Jefferson College in Washington, Pa. a few weeks ago. Well, now they know, and they’ve taken the proactive step of scheduling two more, longer meetings at their DC offices. While the Committee is heavy on industry insiders, the meetings are open to the public. The first one is today, and the second will be held on Wednesday, July 13, 2011 at 10am. The Committee is also accepting emails and written comments. Let’s bombard them! Feel free to paste in the letter below. Take a moment to get your two cents in and you’ll be glad you did, promise. Thanks for speaking up!

email: shalegas@hq.doe.gov

or write: (more…)

“EPA Identifies Hydraulic Fracturing Case Studies”

June 24, 2011

CONTACT: 
Cathy Milbourn 
Milbourn.cathy@epa.gov 
202-420-8648
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 
June 23, 2011, WASHINGTON – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today, in keeping with the administration’s focus to ensure that the agency leverages domestic resources safely and responsibly, announced the next steps in its congressionally mandated hydraulic fracturing study. EPA has identified seven case studies to help inform the assessment of potential impacts of hydraulic fracturing on drinking water resources.

The sites identified were selected following extensive input from stakeholders, including the public, local and state officials, industry, and environmental organizations. To ensure the agency maintains the current timeline for the study, the EPA will begin field work in some of the selected regions this summer. (more…)

Delaware Riverkeepers Oppose SB 1100 – The Scarnati Bill

June 16, 2011

The Delaware Riverkeepers oppose Senate Bill 1100 – the Scarnati Impact Fees Bill. They are organizing a petition against it. “We need Pennsylvania residents to speak out and urge their elected officials to vote NO on Senate Bill 1100  introduced by Senate President Joe Scarnati should it come to the House or Senate floor. We oppose SB1100 because it would trade the rights of citizens and local governments for drilling fees and taxes.  A democratic society supports local decision-making. Pennsylvania’s citizens must be able to have input into the laws and practices that affect them and municipal officials must be able to represent their constituents.” SOURCE: DelawareRiverkeepers.org

To sign learn more about the DelawareRiverkeepers position and current actions Opposing Hydraulic Fracturing, click here.

PA Water Groups: Who’s Who Among Environmental “Stake Holders”

June 16, 2011

Diversity among Pennsylvania’s various Environmental “Stake Holders” is both their greatest strength and most unfortunate weakness. Coordinating their objectives might be the biggest hurdle facing the rapidly expanding, totally grass roots, refreshingly bi-partisan movement to protect The Delaware River Watershed from the singularly focused, heavily lobbied shale gas drilling industry.

Water Action Groups have sprung up across the the state, particularly in Eastern PA, as drillers prepare to tap the ready, pure gas available a mile below the Upper Delaware River Watershed in Northeastern PA. In suburban Philadelphia, an understanding of the issue is still coming to light as more local Democratic representatives like Greg Vitali, Daylin Leach and Mike Gerber take up the environmental cause. (more…)

Fracking Is Fracturing Pennsylvania Communities

June 14, 2011
“Raucous Crowd Meets on Shale Debate”
Forces for and against drilling clash at session run by the U.S. Secretary of Energy Advisory Board’s Natural Gas Subcommittee in Washington, PA. SOURCE: Erich Schwartzel, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Tuesday, June 14, 2011
Competing crowds tried to out-shout each other for more than four hours Monday night as Department of Energy representatives came to Washington & Jefferson College for help in forming a national plan for gas drilling, but instead sat quiet as a vicious neighbor-versus-neighbor ordeal played out in the auditorium before them. (more…)

“My Marcellus tale: Would the gas companies steal our stream?”

June 13, 2011

SOURCE: Patriot-News Op-Ed by Ann Whitner Pinca, Sunday, June 12, 2011

Clean water was something we took for granted whenever we traveled to Sullivan County. Whether it was swimming in the clear waters at Worlds End State Park, splashing in the Loyalsock Creek among the giant sandstone boulders of the Haystacks or just poking around for frogs in Bear Wallow Pond, water was always a big draw. (more…)

FrackTrack.org – The Website Drillers Don’t Want You To See

June 12, 2011

The most valuable tool for Pennsylvania water activists yet comes in the form of FrackTrack.org.  It’s Google Maps meets Fracking Facts in Pennsylvania. For example, do you want to know which is the closest waste treatment facility to accept frack waste near you? If you live in Montgomery County, it’s: (more…)

“Irresponsible to Forgo a Drilling Tax” Says PA Budget & Policy Center

June 11, 2011

On Thursday, June 9, 2011, Michael Wood, Research Director of the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center testified before a House Democratic Policy Committee Hearing on Marcellus Shale in Philadelphia. To read the complete text of Woods’ testimony, visit: http://www.pahouse.com/PolicyCommittee

Here, a few highlights: (more…)

Aqua Testifies Before PA Democratic Policy Committee

June 11, 2011

At long last, Aqua PA has given its 3 million water-consuming customers a definitive position on Gas Drilling and its impacts on the drinking water quality in the Susquehanna and Delaware River Watersheds. Speaking on behalf of the company, Preston Luitweiler, Vice President and Chief Environmental Officer presented the testimony of Regional President, Karl Kyriss. The testimony is reprinted here in its entirety:

Testimony of Karl Kyriss, Regional President, Aqua America, Inc.
Before the Pennsylvania House Democratic Policy Committee
June 9, 2011, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
(more…)

“Darn Close to Zero” Wastewater In PA Treatment Facilities, Says Secretary Krancer

June 9, 2011

Yesterday evening, DEP Secretary Michael Krancer joined a four member panel at The Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia. The panel included University of Pennsylvania Professor Richard Pepino, Rep. P. Michael Sturla (D., Lancaster) and ANS Senior Scientist, David Velinsky, who has studied the deleterious effects of industrial shale gas drilling on water supplies.

It was a full, but not packed, auditorium and heckling was – for the most part – polite. It was by design a calm conversation about why we have to frack for shale gas (cuz we like air-conditioning) and why we gotta “get it right” right now (cuz it’s coming, ready or not). It was generally agreed among all panelists, save Krancer, that the Delaware River Watershed is particularly appealing to drillers and Governor Corbett’s Office is basically a fact-free zone. Tom Corbett was the invisible boogie man in the room. (more…)

Tracking Frack Wastewater “Cradle to Grave”

June 6, 2011

“Tracking Fracking Water Goes High-Tech”

ARTICLE by Bill Toland, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
A worker connects a hose to a truck to collect foam from a drill pit used in a Rice Energy Marcellus Shale drilling rig in Lone Pine, Washington County. The foam is created by combining soap, air and water, and is used to flush out drill cuttings to the surface. Once in the drill pit, it breaks down again into soap and water. The water is then taken to a disposal facility for treatment.

Water, as much as natural gas, is the lifeblood of the Marcellus Shale play. Drillers need millions of gallons of water to flush the gas out of its hiding spot, deep below ground. Water is hauled by truck, imported by pipeline, collected on-site by retention impoundments and spirited away to a treatment or disposal facility once the fracking fluid has been spent. Not only do drillers need a lot of water, they also need a very specific amount of water — per week, per day, even per hour.
So how do they track all that water? (more…)

PA Frack Wastewater To Get “Full Treatment”

June 4, 2011

Exactly how industrial gas drillers are required to recycle frack wastewater will make all the difference when it comes to the safety of municipal drinking water supplies.

As of now, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, Industrial Gas Drillers are no longer disposing of untreated wastewater in Pennsylvania facilities that discharge into rivers and streams. This is “big” indeed. Gas Drillers must either re-use the water they pull from local aquifers to frack another well, or they must recycle it. So how, exactly, does an industrial gas driller “recycle” millions of gallons of produced, toxic wastewater? (more…)

“DEP says Marcellus Shale drilling waste no longer being discharged into streams”

June 4, 2011

SOURCE: DONALD GILLILAND, The Patriot-News, Friday, June 03, 2011; pennlive.com
Pennsylvania has accomplished a “dramatic sea change” in its protection of water from pollution by drilling for natural gas in the Marcellus Shale, according to the state’s top environmental regulator.
Environmental Protection Secretary Michael Krancer told officials in a meeting in Washington, D.C., on Thursday that drilling wastewater is no longer being discharged to rivers or streams in Pennsylvania without full treatment. (more…)

New Rules! Environmental Contingent Makes Recommendations to Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission

June 4, 2011

Environmentalists Push Stricter Regulation for Gas Drillers
SOURCE: Donald Gilliland, THE (HARRISBURG) PATRIOT-NEWS, Thursday, June 2, 2011
The four environmental groups on the governor’s Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission agree they want to see stricter regulation of wastewater from drilling, better planning, and updates to the Oil and Gas Act aimed at improving safety and collecting data. The Chesapeake Bay Foundation, The Nature Conservancy, the Pennsylvania Environmental Council and the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy submitted a total of 20 recommendations to the commission. Three of the four groups support the “timely enactment of a fair and meaningful fee or tax” on shale gas, with some of the proceeds allocated to “Growing Greener” programs.

The groups were unanimous in their support of tighter regulation of highly polluted wastewater from drilling. They say the recent Department of Environmental Protection request that companies not take wastewater to treatment plants where it is released into rivers “should become a legally enforceable requirement.” (more…)

New Rules! PA’s Top Docs Weigh In

June 3, 2011

PA Department of Health Makes Recommendations to Marcellus Shale Advisory Committee

As the July 22nd deadline approaches, several statewide constituencies are weighing in with their recommendations for the regulation of industrial shale gas drilling development in Pennsylvania and amending the state’s Oil & Gas Act (1984). Some of our best minds have been noodling the limited data available, striving to solve the perplexing dilemma of how to Do Gas Right. Perhaps Senator Bob Casey expresses the importance of this best when he says, “We have to.” As early as this summer, the public could see new legislation emerging from Harrisburg on this particularly hot hot-button issue. Last week, the PA Department of Health presented the Governor’s Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission with their recommendations. The most important one: a requirement that the Department of Health routinely evaluate and assess environmental data to determine if there are any health impacts from drilling operations. (more…)

Marcellus Advisory Commission Daytrips Through Gasland

June 3, 2011

Lt. Governor Jim Cawley, Chairman of the Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission, took members on a tour of Lycoming County recently. They visited several Anadarko drilling sites, spoke with residents who have gas wells on their properties, and met a plastic liners manufacturer who, like so many business owners is seeing his gas-drilling related sales and services explode. The Commission is comprised of “key stakeholders” including experts from the environmental community, natural gas industry, local government representatives and state government officials. The trip was arranged by the Lycoming County Chamber of Commerce. (more…)

DRBC Postpones XTO Water Withdrawal Decision – Again

June 2, 2011

Turning Tide?

Deposit, NY: Delaware River Basin Commission spokesman Clarke Rupert said a transcript of the four-hour hearing on June 1, 2011, and over 9,000 written comments will be reviewed before a decision is reached on whether to approve the application. There is no timeline on the process. SOURCE: Press & Sun-Bulletin, June 2, 2011

A Surprising Twist…

New York State’s Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner, Joe Martens, had sent a letter to the DRBC requesting that all Delaware River Basin Commission water withdrawal applications within New York that are associated with high volume hydraulic fracturing be postponed until completion of the New York environmental review process.  SOURCE: Press & Sun-Bulletin

Industry groups are unhappy. They don’t like to wait.

Of course Mr. Martens didn’t mention that his boss, Gov. Andrew Cuomo, has just told Martens to essentially stop dragging his feet and get the draft drilling guidelines completed by July 1—a mere month from now. But after the draft is done, there will be a new public comment period etc etc which may continue to drag things out for a while. Still, Mr. Marten’s request is superfluous because XTO would not be able to start withdrawing any water until it has received drilling permits from both the DEC (Martens’ own agency) and from the DRBC, neither of which will happen any time soon.  SOURCE: marcellusdrilling.com

Frack Flowback in the Schuylkill River Basin?

June 1, 2011

Bryn Mawr-based AquaAmerica, Inc., one of the nation’s largest and fastest growing water utilities, is vastly expanding its waste management services in the Schuylkill River Basin, source of drinking water for 1.5 million residents of Montgomery, Chester and Delaware Counties. Since 2005, Aqua Wastewater Management, Inc., a solely owned Pennsylvania subsidiary, has been systematically building their portfolio of non-regulated waste-hauling ventures including Leary and Higgins waste hauling business in Chester County and Concord Wastewater Services, Inc. in Delaware County.

In July, 2006, Aqua Wastewater Management, Inc, acquired Perna Wastewater Management in Souderton, the largest residential septage hauling operator in the Schuylkill basin for $5.1 million. The purchase represents Aqua’s strategy to expand its waste hauling and treatment business in the region, which the company hopes will come to represent approximately two percent of annual sales. (more…)