Archive for July, 2013

Marcellus Spills Fill PA Waterways

July 25, 2013

“Pretty Please” Doesn’t Stop Surface Discharges

Nearly everyday it seems there’s a new report of Marcellus shale gas waste spilling in Pennsylvania’s wetlands and streams, DEP violations like this recent “discharge” reported by SkyTruth:

Issued to Energy Corporation of America on July 22, 2013 — Code 307CSL: Discharge of unconventional industrial drilling waste to waters of Commonwealth without a permit in Clearfield, Girard Township (ID#673076)

And this large spill reported by Laura Legere in DEP: Spill At Well Site Seeps Into House, Miniature Horse Farm in The Times Tribune on May 1, 2013:

An unknown amount of the fluid escaped the pad, flowed down a hill, crossed a road and entered the basement and garage of a nearby farmhouse, Ms. Connolly said. It soaked property at the horse farm, whose owners were out of state, but a farmhand kept the animals safely away from the fluid.

On both sides of the shale gas safety debate, experts agree that “surface spills” hold the greatest threat for surface water and groundwater contamination. Pennsylvania, by the way, is home to more fresh water resources than any other state in the continental U.S.

Surface spills of fracturing fluids appear to pose greater risks to groundwater than hydraulic fracturing itself,” writes Bryan R. Walsh in Shale Gas: It’s Not the Fracking That Might Be the Problem. It’s Everything Else, Time Magazine, on February 17, 2012. While Walsh pays short shrift the long term impacts of deteriorating wellbore seals, his premise certainly rings true right now. Every week, we see more spills, more overturned tankers and leaky valves, each one a small-scale, highly toxic event unto itself, and it invariably concludes with a dead stream and DEP asking drillers to promise not do it again.

A Water-Tight Case?

And then there are spills so big and negligent that the EPA has no choice but to step in and sue the driller, as is the case of this EXXON/XTO Energy violation, reported earlier this week:

US Sues Exxon Fracker in Pennsylvania Over Polluted Drinking Water:  A federal lawsuit claims hydraulic fracking has polluted public drinking waters in Pennsylvania with toxic wastes by Erin McAuley, AlterNet, July 24, 2013

Yup, it’s true. Obama Administration Sues Exxon for Polluting Pennsylvania Drinking Water with Toxic Fracking Waste, AllGov.com, July 24, 2013   (more…)

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Ode To ‘Joy Of Fracking’

July 25, 2013

GrowthBusters wants you to know “what’s cooking in the public debate about fracking” so they made this “fair use sampling” of video clips about one the most important public debates currently raging across Colorado and the United States.

Frack-Free TV:  Lives and groundwater are routinely destroyed yet the shale gas industry keeps on drilling, spending millions to buy the silence of those impacted, and often their real estate, too. Big Gas has also been spending hundreds of millions in advertising to convince you that these Americans don’t exist.

Thing is, they do.

#ThinkAboutIt

Endless Truck ‘Fraffic’ Jams Roads, Parks & Dreams

July 18, 2013

Pine Creek Valley, Lycoming County, Pennsylvania

Doug Shields, the former Pittsburgh city councilman who most recently appeared in Gasland II, and a tireless advocate for Pennsylvania’s natural resources, recently posted this Postcard From The Sacrifice Zone on several anti-fracking facebook pages:

[Pine Creek] isn’t too far from Williamsport, PA, the self-named ‘Energy Capital of Pennsylvania.’ I was there on June 19th for the screening of Gasland Part II later that evening. On the morning of, I took off for a drive up into the Pine Creek Valley with a backroad map of the area provided to me by a local who had marked out the drilling fields for me.

“The valley, mostly a series of state parks and forests, is a place that is stunningly beautiful with dramatic. steep-sided hills covered with verdant forests spilling down to Pine Creek. I also noted how the locals felt very much a part of this landscape and how they appreciated the beauty that surrounded them and the lifestyle it provided.“I left Rt 44 and headed up the unpaved back roads to the top of the plateaus above the valley. First, I see the signs restricting trucks from roads deemed too small to use in the State Parks. Then, the pipeline rights-of-way carved through the forests for miles, cutting up hills once filled with forest. At the top, more pipelines then, the well pads.
“A helicopter breaks the silence of the forest, the sound the engine’s roar covers this valley I am in, hovering with wire cables dangling about a half mile away above a steep hillside. Roads, leading off into the dark corners of the park, were gated and posted with warnings by the drillers to keep out.“As I drove by a gas worker in Tiadaghton State Park, we exchanged brief looks filled with suspicion, both of us thinking, “What is he doing here?” My car had no drilling company logos on the side and I was taking pictures. I thought to myself, “How sad it is that we don’t simply wave and greet one another.” I think we both understood that we were some sort of threat to one another just by being there. The character of this community had been changed in so many ways.”

Shields included a link to this clip from the ever-upcoming documentary Groundswell Rising in which Pennsylvania’s scenic Pine Creek Valley is overrun with 24 hour heavy duty truck traffic due to hydraulic fracking.

Groundswell Rising: Protecting Our Children’s Water

Heavy Fraffic equals to 400 to 600 water trucks to frack one natural gas well!!” says Elizabeth Greico, a Northeastern Pennsylvania resident. “Where will they get all this water? Extract it from local streams and ground wells? How long can the environment support this kind of aggression? Can you believe 80,000 gallons of toxic chemicals injected into one fracked well? Benzene? Fight back and write to you Congressmen, Representatives and local elected officials! Ban Fracking in your Town! Go CELDF.org ! They will help you organize! Don’t wait! Do it now!

Dear President Obama, Please Meet With Citizens Impacted By Fracking

July 11, 2013

Right after the release of Gasland II on HBO, Josh Fox sent this letter to President Obama, and he asked fellow fractivists to share it, too.

Finally got to see the film, and I felt relieved and recharged because Fox has successfully captured, in granular detail, an accurate portrait of big energy fracking U.S. democracy, and a fossil-free movement that is growing larger and ever more determined. The complexity of images, information, and emotions validated my impression of the shale gas invasion over the past few years, both in Pennsylvania and around the world. Given that this form of extreme fossil fuel extraction is ramping up exponentially worldwide, and entire regions of my home state are being transformed into endless industrial zones, the request seems pretty damn reasonable. Sharing!

Request to President Obama: Please meet with the Scientists and Families in GASLAND, Part II

Josh’s letter to President Obama, July 8th, 2013:

Dear President Obama, Vice President Biden, Secretary Moniz, Heather Zichal and Valerie Jarrett,

I write to request a meeting with you and families directly impacted by oil and gas drilling and fracking—as documented in Gasland Part II—to…gether with a small group of scientists and engineers who are also featured in the film.   (more…)