Shale Gas Realities

PA Watersheds Further Imperiled …

  • SRBC Approves Massive New Water Withdrawals

Yesterday, the Susquehanna River Basin Commission approved 48 more water withdrawal permits despite vocal protests and the lack of public comment. According to StateImpactPA, there were Protests, But No Arrests at the March 15, 2012 Hearing in Harrisburg. The Wall Street Journal also picked up the story by the Associated Press.

Unlike other utilities and recreations large-volume water uses, withdrawals for unconventional gas drilling – fracking – become permanently toxic and are largely un-returned to the watershed. They forever deplete the hydrological cycle.

The SRBC was wrong to approve these permits without a comprehensive impact study. Maybe they can’t afford one? Corbett has cut PA’s contribution to the SRBC by 10%. And, btw, he’s cutting our contribution to the Delaware River Basin Commission by a whopping 40.7%… Next he will suggest these multi-state watershed protection agencies fund themselves with permit fees – no joke.

  • EPA Says Dimock Can Drink Up!

Also in the news, Reuters reports that the EPA says 11 of its 60 ongoing water tests indicate that Fracking did not pollute homes in Dimock, PA, though it did make the water pretty damn gross.

Commenting on StateImpactPA’s post, EPA’s Test Results Show Safe Drinking Water in Dimock, Iris Marie Boom of Protecting Our Waters interprets the results more realistically, suggesting we take note that EPA tests detected chemicals which are known to present medical risks, yet for which no MCL limits have been established. Bloom writes:

EPA results are preliminary and raise more questions than they answer. EPA “MCL” limits are a legal line in the sand, not a definition of safe drinking water in the real world. (Just think how much lower the “safe” limit is now for lead in the bloodstream compared to what was thought to be a “safe” level of lead 40 or even 15 years ago!) MCL limits assume the person drinking the water is healthy and does not have, for example, kidney or thyroid problems — but in the real world, people do have such conditions which makes some individuals more vulnerable to lower levels of chemical contaminants. Finally, nothing in this report addresses the contaminants that independent scientists have found in some Dimock residents’ drinking water. Chronic low-level exposure to these chemicals associated with fracking — for which no MCL has been established — presents medical risk. Those chemicals include naphthalene, phenanthrene, methylnapthalene, ethylene glycol, and methylene blue active substances, to mention just a few of the more pronouncable ones. Dimock residents shouldn’t have to drink any of that stuff even at ‘low’ levels. They shouldn’t have to drink arsenic, either.

In much the same vein, Sierra Club, Water Defense and other environmental groups are now critical of EPA’s preliminary conclusions, as reported on The Huffington Post and StateImpactPA.  The consensus along Carter Road appears to remain the same: water quality is inconsistent at best, and they will “never ever, ever, drink that water again.

UPDATE [March 22, 2011]:  Propublica journalist Abrahm Lustgarten took a closer look at the EPA Dimock water test results, and asks the most important question of all: So, Is Dimock Water Really Safe to Drink?

Why EPA allowed their preliminary results to be fodder for the pro-gas lobby is unclear, yet one thing is certain… this issue is far from resolved.



  • Economic Reality Check

Today, Natural Born Drillers by Paul Krugman appeared in The New York Times, The Huffington Post and ThinkProgress, debunking the GOP claim that greater environmental protection kills job creation.

  • More Water Problems, Still

It’s like our well is crying out to us… It’s like the earth is vomiting in our yard.

A new video, Marcellus Shale Reality Tour Part 5Erupting Water Well, was posted by Scott Cannon recently, too. It’s the newest installment in this gripping series exposing industrial shale gas truths. Cannon, a member of The Gas Drilling Awareness Coalition based in Luzerne County, PA writes in the description:

State regulators are investigating the cause of high methane levels in three Susquehanna County water wells after residents reported gray or black sludgy water, and one home’s well began to erupt water through its cap.

The Department of Environmental Protection has not yet determined if natural sources, nearby natural gas drilling operations or some other cause has mobilized methane and metals into drinking water supplies. Inspectors were in the township hamlet of Franklin Forks on Wednesday to take a second round of samples from water wells.

DEP officials originally indicated to residents in January that the likely source of the gas was a natural methane seep documented for over a century in nearby Salt Springs State Park.

But the chemical markers of the Salt Springs methane have been well characterized by scientists and the department is just now in the process of determining the signature of the gas found in the water wells to compare to the seep.

Analyzing the stable carbon isotopes – a form of chemical fingerprinting of the gas – “could prove fruitful” in this case because Salt Springs is so well documented, DEP spokeswoman Colleen Connolly said.

The department also is considering the potential impact of nearby Marcellus Shale drilling on the water supplies…

Take The Marcellus Shale Reality Tour:

Marcellus Shale Reality Tour – Once You Know, You Can’t Not Know

Marcellus Shale Reality Tour Part 2 – Dimock Day Trip

Marcellus Shale Reality Tour Part 3 – EPA Comes to Dimock

Marcellus Shale Reality Tour Part 4 – Gas Well Flaring

Marcellus Shale Reality Tour Part 5 – Erupting Water Well

Do you believe in clean water, fresh air, safe roads and the natural beauty of our region? Learn about the unwanted effects of gas drilling, visit

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