Archive for July, 2011

Local Leaders Leach & Gerber: Getting Gas Right

July 26, 2011

One of the most objectionable items in the new Pennsylvania budget is deep cuts to the Department of Environmental Protection – over $165 million. How can this be? Hydrofracking is ramping up at a record pace, particularly in the watersheds in the Northeast. The DEP has approved a record-breaking 2,461 new drilling permits since January 2011, and with 1,512 overall inspections in 2010, we totaled 2,754 known violations. Clearly, the need for stronger regulation and enforcement has never been greater. (more…)

Faklempt Over Fracking in the Poconos: Jewish Overnight Camps Sign Leases

July 25, 2011

When I first read Josh Nathan-Kazis’ July 13 article in The Jewish Daily Forward, entitled Fracking Comes to Jewish Summer Camp, I was appalled that any children’s camp, or school or university, would lease their land for money, and expose children in our state to the horrible pollution associated with hydrofracking. Yet the Wayne Country property, home of the B’nai B’rith Perlman camp, is not the only one. About ten Jewish Camps, including the New Jersey Y, have already signed leases or entered negotiations with companies like Hess and Chesapeake. (more…)

Marcellus Advisory Commission Files Shale Drilling Recommendations

July 25, 2011

The Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission, led by Lt. Governor Jim Cawley, has filed its long awaited report complete with 96 new suggestions. Many environmental groups agree that while the recommendations are a good start, they do not go far enough. To read the full recommendations, or a shorter summary, click here.

If The Delware River Had Exxon’s Ad Budget

July 25, 2011

Anti-Fracking Slogns, Help Yourself! Feel free to share yours in the Comments.

“Hey, Liz, Exxon called, they said Frack You!” My mom is giggling like a naughty kid, and while I know she thinks she’s being clever, I’ve heard that one before. Fractivists are way more highbrow than that! Here are a few of the best slogans I’ve seen:

Hey Obama: Don’t Pass Gas!

Frack is Wack
Methane Blows

Solar Doesn’t Spill

Drill, Baby, Burn!

Get The Frack Out!
They Get Rich. You Get Cancer.
Can’t Drink Money


Love Your River
Health Over Profit

Don’t Be Fracking Crazy!

Fraccidents Happen

Solar Now!
Save Philly Water Ice!
A River Is A Terrible Thing to Waste
NOPE: Not On Planet Earth
Thank You for Not Leasing

Stop Fracking US!

Fracking: F-Bomb of the Future
Water & Fracking Don’t Mix

Not So Fast, Natural Gas

Berm, Baby, Berm! Freaked Over Fracking in Westmoreland

July 22, 2011

This week, Anthony Brino at SolveClimate News reported that residents near Beaver Run Reservoir in Westmoreland County are concerned over the risk of toxic pollution from a CNX frack wellpad which sits on a low-lying peninsula in the reservoir(more…)

Marcellus Shale Coalition Report Out Today, Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission Report Due Tomorrow… Same Difference?

July 21, 2011

According to a Reuters article by Dave Warner, the Marcellus Shale Coalition, a gas drillers advocacy group, commissioned a Penn State study which was released today. It concluded that Marcellus wells are more productive than anticipated, and that jobs in Pennsylvania are falling from the sky. Immediately, the PA Budget and Policy Center, a liberal-leaning think tank, disputed their findings, stating that the Coalition’s estimated $1 billion in 2010 tax revenue was overstated by at least $781 million, (more…)

Shale Gas Outrage – A Growing Movement

July 17, 2011

Dear Friends & Neighbors,

No doubt by now you’ve heard a lot about hydraulic fracturing – or fracking – for natural gas. The issue of fresh water depletion and toxic water and air pollution just won’t go away, no matter how much our pro-gas, anti-tax governor would like it to. In fact, the EPA has recently begun studies of fracking’s impact in three Pennsylvania counties. The industry, however, is not willing to wait for science, and they are moving full steam ahead, taking advantage of Pennsylvania’s no-tax status and lax regulation. At the same time, the new state budget includes $160 million in cuts to the Department of Environmental Protection. Go figure.

If you’re not outraged yet, then consider the recent vote to approve “Forced Pooling” in which landowners can be compelled to sign drilling leases simply because their neighbors have.

Corbett’s Marcellus Commission Votes for Impact Fees, Forced Pooling

July 15, 2011

More Study, But Mostly Cement

Governor Corbett’s Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission voted today to include 96 measures in their final report today. Populated heavily by drilling advocates with a token sprinkling of environmentalists, the group will file its final report on July 22, at which time it will be made public. Not surprisingly, their recommendations are more about making sure gas happens than making sure it happens right. (more…)

Will The Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission Recommend More Study or More Cement?

July 14, 2011

Regardless of how you feel about fracking taxes, it’s obvious that when it comes to natural gas extraction in the Marcellus Shale, the Corbett administration puts far too much faith in corporate good intentions, a few hundred DEP inspectors and cement. We need to come together on this complex and divisive issue, yet the upcoming July 22 report from the Governor’s Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission promises to further deepen the ideological fractures among citizens and stake-holders.


DEP Suggests New Rules! to Marcellus Advisory Commission

July 12, 2011

1,000 Feet
That’s how close to your water supply (water well, surface water intake, or reservoir), a gas company could legally frack a gas well, unless waived by operator.

500 Feet
That’s how close to your private water well a gas company could legally drill.

When a gas well is hydraulically fractured, the drill bit goes down vertically for a few thousand feet, then it turns horizontally. It travels sideways for up to a mile before a charge is detonated to blast water, sand and chemicals into the rock.

The last time I checked, a mile was 5,280 feet. (more…)

Stray Shallow Gas a Challenge for Drillers, Water Drinkers in Northeastern PA

July 11, 2011

An article by Times-Tribune staff writer Laura Legere on Friday entitled “Stray Gas plagues NEPA Marcellus wells” drew a lot of thoughtful and detailed comments online. Mostly, the discussion revolved the causes of local water pollution, shallow, thermogenic methane migration and cement casings. Yet it seems all sides, including the experts cited in Legere’s actual reporting, acknowledge that there’s a lot more gas in the water up there now that fracking has begun in earnest. What’s more, the problem is a riddle that’s far from being solved. My head starts to spin as try to comprehend all the social and geological complexities of Northeastern Pennsylvania. Then, a single comment, clearly written from the heart, shifts the paradigm for me, yet again: (more…)

Got Gas? PA Storage Sites in Short Supply

July 9, 2011

The price of Natural Gas on the NYMEX was down to $9.32 on Friday. Not a big deal, still a few dollars above its ten year average, but interesting when you consider it means gas companies will have to store even more gas to ride out this slightly protracted dip in prices. So where, and how, is natural gas being stored? (more…)

PA DEP’s Report Card

July 8, 2011

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP)  has had a productive year so far! It approved new 2,461 hydraulic fracturing permits since January, 2011. In 2010, the DEP issued 6,581 gas drilling permits, and it is right on track for increasing those numbers in the fall. Enforcement is also on the rise. With 1,512 Inspections overall in 2010, there were 2,754 Total Violations, and 769 Enforcements. This year, between January and May 2011, the DEP already has 977 Inspections under its belt, has issued 1,751 Total Violations (Wow!) and it has enacted 311 Enforcements.  SOURCE: (more…)

DEP Secretary Krancer Has Wealthy Dad: This Is Not News

July 7, 2011

An article by Laura Olson in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette today reports that a few state minority leaders are irked by the somewhat flamboyant timing of Ronald Krancer’s donation to the state GOP – it was on the eve of the confirmation of his son’s appointment to Secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection. It’s curious why, all the sudden, this matters. Michael Krancer’s appointment by Gov. Tom Corbett was widely applauded on both sides of the aisle, and his later confirmation was smooth sailing. And it’s odd because while Corbett has made some questionable appointments, this isn’t one of them. (more…)

Fraccidents Happen, Especially in Eastern PA

July 6, 2011

In 2010, drillers spent $33.5 million literally drilling the message that fracking is safe into the public’s collective pretty head. Horizontal hydraulic fracturing, however, is not an exact science. The end product, natural gas, is indeed a significantly cleaner burning fossil fuel, as it has fewer carbon emissions than oil or coal, but the process of blasting it out of shale a mile underground remains totally fraught.

The Fraccidents Map is the interactive website you hate to love. I check it like an analyst watches over stocks. I squint at the tiny pictures and contemplate rural landscapes tainted by gas drilling pollution. (more…)

The End of Country by Seamus McGraw: A Great Fracking Read!

July 3, 2011

You may already know what fracking is, but The End of Country (Random House) deftly illuminates the way it is done. Set in a small town in the Endless Mountains of Pennsylvania, where gas drillers have come a knockin’ along with grand promises and grave pitfalls, author Seamus McGraw recounts how fracking has turned his mother’s quiet rural community, and his family legacy, inside out. (more…)

Clean Water Action Calls on Lawmakers to Reject Cuts to DEP

July 3, 2011

State lawmakers are set to vote on  $160 million in budget cuts to the PA Department of Environmental Protection

In Pennsylvania this week, the Republican-controlled PA senate approved a new budget without a gas tax or impact fee. PA remains the only gas drilling state without one. Anti-gas-tax Governor Tom Corbett’s administration is issuing drilling permits (primarily in the Upper Delaware) with mercurial speed. At the same time, they are cutting funding to the Department of Environmental Protection. Regulation is one thing, enforcement quite another. And fracking’s cumulative impacts are already accumulating.

Corbett would like to table the frack-tax debate indefinitely, but even a steadily increasing number of house Republicans are growing impatient with all the lost revenue. On July 22, the Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission’s final report is due on Corbett’s desk. Until then, he’s promised to veto any gas tax or impact fee. Maybe he figures drillers can afford to regulate themselves? (more…)