Archive for the ‘DEP’ Category

It’s Time To Mother Earth

April 22, 2013

Happy Earth Day, 2013! 

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As they say, every day is Earth Day. What Will You Do To Protect The Planet Today?

There are EARTH DAY RALLIES TODAY at DEP Offices ACROSS PENNSYLVANIA!    (more…)

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Lessons From The PA Farm Show

January 12, 2013

This week, I tabled at the Pennsylvania Farm Show in Harrisburg. The booth was co-sponsored by Delaware Riverkeeper Network, Food and Water Watch, PennEnvironment, Protecting Our Waters and Berks Gas Truth. It was an amazing experience, despite the fact that I had to park in Pittsburgh.

We put a lot of good information in the hands of farmers, food producers, land owners, students and laypeople. We did receive a few dirty looks, but far more people stopped by to ask questions and thank us for our good work.

Meeting others who are committed to the clean energy cause is always a pleasure, and interacting with the show’s visitors was absolutely incredible. The highlight for me, however, was slapping Ban Fracking Now! stickers on the tote bags being handed out by the Marcellus Shale Coalition a few booths away.

Here are a few of my personal observations from the show:   (more…)

Damned Data! PA DEP Still Withholding Vital Water Test Results

November 23, 2012

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection has held out long enough.

It’s time for the state to release the full test results from a Washington County, PA water well near a Range Resources fracking operation. It is, after all, the taxpayers who pay for such testing, and these taxpayers ought to know what pollutants have been identified in their drinking water. It’s perfectly reasonable to want to know to which toxic chemicals you have been exposed, especially when those chemicals have been intentionally omitted from your well water report by the DEP.

Now that the infamousSuite Code 942” has been revealed, the jig is up. Am loathe to moralize, but it sure seems like the right thing to do.

Many groups across Pennsylvania are calling for the release of these results. In Fracking’s Toxic Secrets: Lack Of Transparency Over Natural Gas Drilling Endangers Public Health, Advocates Say, Huffington Post, November 21, 2012, Lynne Peeples reports:

Critics suggest the purported ‘filtering’ of testing data is just one of the ways people are left in the dark about the assortment of heavy metals and other toxic contaminants that may be in their air and water as a result of drilling, hydraulic fracturing and other phases of natural gas production. Recent studies have identified more than 600 chemicals used throughout the process of natural gas production, and often left undisclosed by companies. Additionally, natural but equally hazardous substances can be released from the wells.

Doesn’t DEP get it yet? Dismissing the drumbeats of concerned citizens only makes them louder.  

The Delaware Riverkeeper Network is asking people to please send this letter via the link on their site, or write you own, to those directly responsible for keeping this vital health information a secret. Addresses below.   (more…)

EPA Shoots DEP “In The Back” Says Krancer

November 17, 2012

DUG In Deep

PA DEP Secretary Krancer was in Pittsburgh last week, marshaling his forces at the Drilling Unconventional Gas (DUG East) Conference, and peppering his pro-gas speech with an unnerving number of Civil War references. According to Don Hopey in The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Krancer “referred to several dozen protesters outside as less imposing than opposition he sees as a Civil War re-enactor.”

Lest we forget, the Mason-Dixon line once divided The Marcellus Shale, too.

Access to the Pittsburgh conference was limited to those who meet DUG’s self-prescribed “press pass policy.” Indeed, it’s only getting more difficult to gain entry to big gas shows, even if you are willing to pony up nearly a grand to register, even if you are a legitimately credentialed member of the press, like Buck Quigley of ArtVoice.   (more…)

Jesse White 4 Prez

September 11, 2012

Jesse White [D-146th] isn’t afraid of the Pennsylvania GOP. Quite the contrary. He regularly wrangles with state republicans and Corbett’s DEP. According to a recent press release from his office, “White Legislation Would Make DEP Boss An Independently Elected Position,” he believes this key post ought to be on par with our state Attorney General, accountable to the highest possible authority. In a democracy, that’s the voters.

White Wants YOU!  (To Elect The Next DEP Chief) 

At first, White just wanted answers.   (more…)

Harrisburg Emits Toxic Gas Data

August 24, 2012

PA DEP’s Sharply Criticized, Incomplete Marcellus Production Report

A clean up effort is underway to address a serious data reporting error at The Department of Environmental Protection in Pennsylvania. The overburdened state agency has been cited several times for insufficient records-keeping, yet this latest DEP misinformation incident is proving difficult, if not impossible, to contain. As a result, reliable Marcellus production figures, eagerly sought by both those opposed to fracking as well as those seeking to profit from it, are in dangerously short supply. According to BloombergBusinessweek, Associated Press: Critics Say PA DEP Gas Data Has Serious Flaws.

In what appears to be the PA DEP equivalent of valve failure, the department recently released an incomplete Marcellus production report which, in turn, was derived from sloppy gas driller input. As a result, the official DEP report was missing key information from Chesapeake’s wells in Bradford County – the largest operator in the state’s most heavily drilled county.

Fracts Still Emerging
This isn’t the first time DEP screwed up on important Marcellus production data.

(more…)

What Else Is In Your Water?

June 12, 2012

And Is It Safe To Drink?

Annual Water Quality Reports don’t include unregulated toxins

People often ask if we drink tap water at home. “Not if we can help it” is the honest answer, but I rarely say so. I wouldn’t want anyone to feel their choice is wrong simply because it’s not my choice. Anyway, we bathe in tap water and water the vegetable garden, too. Whatever your pleasure, we all ingest our regional tap water. We’re currently looking into the possibility of drilling a well, though I’ve yet to determine the cost. Luckily, Environmental Working Group has created a great tool to inform (and justify) our water investments.

Shouted out in Toxic Shockers by Alexa Joy Sherman in the July-August issue of Natural Health Magazine, The Environmental Working Group’s National Drinking Water Database is a font of information for water consumers. EWG reports there are “Over 300 Pollutants in US Drinking Water,” some of which are regulated by the Safe Drinking Water Act, some aren’t. (more…)

Smell You Later

April 30, 2012

The Clean Air Council Is Having a Frack Attack in Pennsylvania

Clean Air Council (CAC) has launched a legal blitz to force EPA engagement on the critical air issues associated with natural gas operations in Pennsylvania. Frank Finan breaks down the issue with infrared footage from a compressor station in Northeast PA, appropriately set to “Power” by Kanye West.

Untold Emissions

CAC is focused on forcing full compliance with the Clean Air Act from the Fracking Industry. The Frack Attack Objectives:

  • Emissions inventory
  • Repeal of major exemptions
  • Proper permitting
  • Meaningful air monitoring
  • Enforcement of permits

“PA DEP: Your authority to forsake Pennsylvania’s air quality lies on shaky ground.”   – Your Friends at The Clean Air Council

Follow Frack Attack actions at cleanair.org. For more information, contact CAC staff attorneys Jay Duffy, judffy@cleanrair.org or David Presley dpresley@cleanair.org.

Frack Waste Causing Fish Cancer?

April 17, 2012

The cool, clean headwaters of the Susquehanna and Delaware Rivers, in the mountainous northern reaches of Pennsylvania and Southern New York, are home to countless species, including birds, reptiles, mammals and aquatic life. Among PA’s wild inhabitants, eagles are the most high-profile, turtles are legendary and trout among the most well loved. Personally, I’m intrigued by the diverse populations of mollusks filtering the fresh water we drink, swim in, and use to grow or food. The Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area is home to eight of the 297 recognized fresh water mussels species found in North America. (more…)

Cabot Gets a Slap on the Wrist

April 9, 2012

PA DEP Sends Cabot Oil & Gas a Stern Letter About Dimock

On March 9, 2012, the PA Department of Environmental Protection sent a certified letter to Mr. Phil Stalnaker, Vice President & Manager-North Region Cabot Oil & Gas. Basically, they found the company’s reporting on the 2008 water contamination in Dimock, PA to be significantly lacking. The report, prepared by URS Corporation, a global company based in SanFrancisco CA, has such “deficiencies” that DEP has been unable to review it, and therefore take any real action. Seems to me, DEP and Cabot have been dragging this dance out long enough.

DEP’s Jennifer Means, Environmental Program Manager of the Eastern Oil & Gas District, wrote the letter.  She highlights the Department’s four main complaints: (more…)

Poisoning Pennsylvania’s Breadbasket

April 6, 2012

Just Add Sunshine…

If a stream dies, does anybody hear? Life in Boiling Spring Run in Central, PA ceased decades ago, yet while local residents have been reporting illegal dumping for years, the PA DEP has ignored the problem. Until 2009, that is, when DEP took samples, then declared the test results “Confidential.” (more…)

Shale Gas Realities

March 16, 2012

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. (more…)

CNNMoney Breaks the PA DEP Enforcement Code

March 14, 2012

Caveat Emptor: DEP Not Required to Report Gas Drilling Violations to Landowners

Violations at Pennsylvania Mar­cel­lus Shale gas drilling well pads and asso­ci­ated infra­struc­ture occur at an average rate of 12-a-day, according to Iris Marie Bloom, director of Protecting Our Waters in Showdown Expected at the SRBC Corral by Susan Phillips of StateImpactPA. Some violations are more serious than others, but one thing they all have in common: the PA Department of Environmental Protection is not required to notify landowners of any violations on their leased properties, even though they’re on the line for damages. (more…)

DEP’s Permit-Fee Economy

March 7, 2012

Can steep budget cuts to the PA Department of Environmental Protection be offset with gas drilling permit fees?

At the February 27, 2012 Democratic Policy Committee Meeting in Bryn Mawr, PA, the word “overwhelmed” was repeatedly used to describe the PA Department of Environmental Protection. Most notably, George Jugovic, Jr., then Senior Attorney and newly named CEO for PennFuture, and former Southwest Regional Director of the PA DEP, stated that when he asked Joyce Epps, DEP Bureau of Air Quality director, what her department needed most to effectively regulate Marcellus air emissions, she replied emphatically, “We need more people.” (more…)

PA’s Gas Regulatory Program Is “Demonstrably Deficient”

February 14, 2012

For Immediate Release                                        February 13, 2012

BRISTOL PA – The Delaware Riverkeeper Network (DRN) announced the settlement of an appeal DRN filed with the PA Environmental Hearing Board concerning one of the first shale gas wells drilled in the Delaware River Basin.  The well is a vertical gas well and was not hydraulically fractured.

The appeal — filed in coordination with Damascus Citizens for Sustainability and local residents — involved the Newfield Appalachia PA, LLC “Woodlands” well in Damascus Township, Wayne County, Pennsylvania.  (more…)

John Hanger’s “Fracking Hysteria” and the Search for Common Ground

February 13, 2012

When it comes to the pro-gas point-of-view, is there anyone worth listening to?

Last week, former DEP chief, John Hanger, earned props from the gas industry blog, Marcellus Drilling News, in a pithy post entitled, Former PA DEP Head Says Fracking Doesn’t Contaminate Aquifers. MDN, which is edited by Jim Willis in Binghamton, NY, was spotlighting Hanger’s comments in a recent New York Post article about “fracking hysteria.” From the start, that right-wing litterbox liner has been unabashedly anti-Environment in their coverage of issues surrounding Fracking. One can expect greater journalistic integrity from MDN, which simply distilled Hanger’s quotes to support their editorial position, that fracking is safe. My kinda of post, only ass-backwards. (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…)

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…)

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…)

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…)