Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Oppose XTO/Exxon’s Massive Water Withdrawal from the Upper Delaware!

May 28, 2011

XTO Energy wants to take 250,000 gallons of water per day from Oquaga Creek, a trout stream that flows to the West Branch of the Delaware River, to develop gas wells they plan to drill there. Such water depletion would tragically alter the Upper Delaware watershed region. Please sign the Delaware Riverkeepers letter to voice your opposition before the June 1 hearing in Deposit, NY. Go to:

The Delaware Riverkeeper Network seeks to protect the Delaware River. They want to see a comprehensive environmental impact study to examine how natural gas development will impact the water resources and natural assets of the Delaware River Watershed prior to any permits for gas related projects (more…)

Shale Gas Tax Debate Moves to Front Burner

May 26, 2011

Rep. Greg Vitali (D-166th, Delaware County) wants gas drillers to pay 4.6¢ for every 1,000 cubit feet of they frack out of Pennsylvania’s shale. He’s sponsoring House Bill 33, which is intended to help fill a $4 billion shortfall in next year’s state budget, and to replenish funds for important environmental programs such as the Environmental Stewardship Fund. Local co-sponsors of HB33 include Mike Gerber (D-148th, Montgomery), Tim Briggs (D-148th, Montgomery), and Pamela DiLissio (D-149th, Montgomery/Philadelphia).

“Pennsylvania is the only major natural gas producing state that does not have a drilling severance tax or fee in place,” Vitali said in a press release. “Out-of-state companies are profiting from the Commonwealth’s resources, and the Commonwealth should benefit too.” (more…)

PA Senate Committee Unanimously Approves Gas Emergency Preparedness Bill, Sends It to Senate

May 25, 2011

After weighing direct input from emergency responders and gas companies operating in the Shale, the Senate Veterans Affairs & Emergency Preparedness Committee unanimously approved a bill requiring “natural gas drilling companies to post emergency information at drilling sites and file response plans with local authorities.” It’s the second laudable step taken by Harrisburg in the last few weeks. The first being the DEP’s imposing the largest fine ever (more…)

PA Gas Extraction Tax or Local Impact Fees?

May 25, 2011

If you live in and around Philadelphia, there ain’t much good a local Impact Fee collected in a county “up there” will do for you. Revenue from shale gas drilling fees are intended for local use, to mitigate fracking’s most immediate impacts, yet a state-wide tax would be distributed across the state, into things like Education, roads and bridges. In terms of how the state raises revenue, Corbett has said he doesn’t care where the money comes from as long as it’s in the PA State House’s version of his $27.3 billion budget, which is due on his desk June 30th. (more…)

EPA vs. State Regulators: Administrator Jackson’s Testimony on Fracking

May 25, 2011

Lisa Jackson is a soft spoken yet firm woman. Born in Philadelphia, raised near New Orleans, she attended Tulane University on a grant from Shell Oil Company and graduated summa cum laude. She earned her Master of Science degree from Princeton University. A chemical engineer, Jackson spent 16 years with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, serving as Commissioner and leading a regulatory staff or 2,990 people. She was known for mobilizing large enforcement sweeps in Camden and Paterson. Jackson was named Chief of Staff to former New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine, but was tapped days later by Obama to become Administrator of the EPA , and she resigned on December 15, 2008. The buzz on her career in New Jersey is that Jackson earned high marks from those who work on energy and policy, but not so much from those who work on toxic clean up at the local level.

Here is an Excerpt from Administrator Jackson’s Testimony Before the U.S. House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on May 24, 2011:

Thanks to advances in drilling technology, including hydraulic fracturing – or “fracking” – America’s potential natural gas resource is nearly 50 percent larger than we believed it was just a few years ago. The price we pay for natural gas is not set on a global market the way the price of oil is, and burning natural gas creates less air pollution than burning other fossil fuels. So increasing America’s natural gas production is a good thing.

Fracking involves injecting chemicals underground at high pressure, and various substances come back to the surface with the gas. It is not surprising, then, that Congress has directed EPA to study the relationship between fracking and drinking water. We are doing that, with input from technical experts, the public, and industry.  

In the meantime, EPA will step in to protect local residents if a driller jeopardizes clean water and the state government does not act. President Obama has made clear that we need to extract natural gas without polluting our water supplies.  

Read the entire Press Release:

PA DEP Fines Chesapeake Over $1Million – Largest Ever in PA

May 17, 2011
$1,088,000 is the largest amount the PA DEP has ever fined a company, but considering Chesapeake pulled in $1.6 BILLION in revenue in the first quarter of 2011, it actually seems more like a slap on the wrist. Let’s just hope it signals stronger regulation and higher penalties for drillers in PA.
Article by David E. Hess, PA Environment Daily Blog,
The Department of Environmental Protection today fined Chesapeake Energy $1,088,000 for violations related to natural gas drilling activities in Bradford and Washington, counties. Under a Consent Order and Agreement, or COA, Chesapeake will pay DEP $900,000 for contaminating private water supplies in Bradford County, of which $200,000 must be dedicated to DEP’s well-plugging fund. Under a second COA, Chesapeake will pay $188,000 for a February 23 tank fire at its drilling site in Avella, Washington County.

EPA Asks State to Improve Gas Well Water Checks”

May 16, 2011

Article By Don Hopey, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Monday, May 16, 2011

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has asked Pennsylvania to do a better job sampling, monitoring and regulating Marcellus Shale wastewater discharges near public drinking water sources. The EPA also has reminded the state Department of Environmental Protection that any new methods for disposing of drilling wastewater must comply with federal rules. The federal agency last week directed six of the major Marcellus Shale drilling companies in Pennsylvania to disclose, by May 25, how and where they will dispose of or recycle wastewater now that they can no longer use municipal sewage treatment facilities. (more…)

PA Environmental Groups Make Commonsense Recommendations

May 10, 2011

According to’s David E. Hess, the PA Environmental Council ( and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation of PA ( have jointly submitted a legislative proposal to the Corbett administration and state lawmakers designed to help ensure safe and responsible gas extraction from the Marcellus Shale in Pennsylvania. They are two highly-regarded environmental groups who understand the need for Pennsylvania to “get gas right.” The entire proposal can be viewed at Here, the main recommendations: (more…)

Philly Hosts The World Series of Energy

May 10, 2011

It’s the Drilling Giants vs. the PA “Team Players” in the biggest Industrial-Environmental League match-up of all time! While the Drillers are known for their massive salaries and star gas-letes like T. Boon Pickens, the Team Players have the ability to play a really smart game with a deep bench including PA DEP Secretary Michael Krancer, Rookie energy executive Patrick Henderson, and All State Geologist George Love… It’s going to be a power-packed contest of brains and brawn under the big lights tonight!
…It’s the bottom of the ninth, runs are tied, and Science is on the mound. The Drillers are at bat. (more…)

Fracking is Bad for Business

April 27, 2011

An Open Letter to Mayor Michael Nutter:

April 27, 2011

Hon.  Michael A. Nutter
Mayor of Philadelphia
215 City Hall
Philadelphia, PA 19107 686-2181

Dear Mayor Nutter:

We are writing in regards to the potential NEGATIVE ECONOMIC IMPACTS of Natural Gas drilling in the Delaware River Watershed Region on businesses operating “downstream” in Southeastern Pennsylvania. I hope you will join the growing number of concerned citizens who are alarmed by this serious threat to the water supply of over 15.6 million people and numerous regional industries.

The idea that Natural Gas will be a unilateral boon to our state economy is mostly a perception, and it remains largely unchallenged. Loss of tax revenue from businesses and industries who would be adversely affected by water and air pollution amounts to a very large sum. And, certainly, cleaning up after a major industrial gas accident could drain much of our state’s fiscal resources in one fell swoop.

Just like humans do, many types of businesses need a reliable source of fresh, unpolluted water. It’s a vital element in their supply chain. They include: Agriculture, Healthcare, Food & Beverages, Breweries, Recreation: Waterfront Attractions & Outdoor, Restaurants, Scientific Research, Tourism & Hotels, and many more. Hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” also uses massive volumes of water (4.5 – 6 million gallons of fresh water per gas well). With global water shortages a reality, Philadelphia residents and business owners are lucky to have the Special Protection Waters of the Delaware River. The Natural Gas Boom in Pennsylvania poses a serious threat to our municipal Fresh Water Security. We simply cannot let the profit motives of a single industry jeopardize the wellbeing and profitability of so many.

Of course, jobs are vital right now, however, history demonstrates how cities with abundant clean fresh water thrive while those with polluted or diminished supplies decline. So do we want jobs in filthy, dangerous natural gas extraction services? Or groovy green ones? Raising the knowledge base will raise the tax base, too. Philadelphia Is the birthplace of American Independence, and we think, if we play our cards right, it has the potential to be the Seat of our National Independence from Fossil Fuel, too.

Please consider supporting the Fracturing  Responsibility  and  Awareness  of  Chemicals  Act  (FRAC  Act)  of  2011  (HR  1084)  in  the  House  and  the  Fracturing  Responsibility  and   Awareness  of  Chemicals  Act  of  2011  (S.  587)  in  the  Senate  to  remove  the  Safe  Drinking  Water   Act  exemption  granted  in  2005; also, the Bringing Reductions to Energy’s Airborne Toxic Health Effects Act (BREATHE Act, H.R. 1204). Every voice matters at this critical time for our river, and your support would be particularly welcome!


Lawsuits are Piling Up Against Drilllers & Complacent Commissions

April 19, 2011

NY Attorney General Prepares to Sue DRBC; Maryland AG Sues Chesapeake O&G; PA’s Croton Watershed Commission Sues New York State DEP

Posted April 18, 2011, Updated May 11, 2011 (more…)

Concern Over Fracking is Bi-Partisan

April 19, 2011

In a Rodale Institute survey concluded in 2010, among Pennsylvanians who say they are very or somewhat aware of fracking, 40% are “very concerned” and nearly 30% are “somewhat concerned” about its effect on water quality. Concerns about fracking and water quality are bipartisan, including 57% of Republicans, 74% ofIndependents, and 86% of Democrats.* SOURCE: Survey: Red State or Blue, Most People Are Concerned About Fracking’s Effect On H2O, Article by Leah Zerbe,

Nationally, the Energy issue seems to divide democrats and republicans. Fracking, however, which is negatively impacting another more valuable resource – water –  seems to spill over party lines in Pennsylvania.  Yet, with all the discussion about Energy these days, there is a disproportionately small amount of attention paid to the Fresh Water Security of the 15.6 million people who rely on the Delaware River Watershed. Regardless of political affiliation, we need to wake up to the fact that we’ll run out of fresh water long before we burn up all the fracked natural gas in Pennsylvania.

Fracking depletes and pollutes water supplies in many ways, and we cannot have a truly logical discussion about ENERGY in our state without discussing WATER. If further privatization of water utilities is the future for Pennsylvania, then I’d like to know who is protecting our fresh water resources upstream, as well as down the line? We need to direct our thrust investment spending in the direction of Renewables, Conservation and Efficiency Standards, not on polluting, dangerous natural gas. And given that Republicans and Democrats appear to agree on this issue, doesn’t it truly “stink” that our governor continues to resist implementing a PA Natural Gas Drilling tax?

The “Bridge Fuel” Fantasy

April 7, 2011

Is Large-Scale Fracking for Natural Gas Inevitable in Pennsylvania?

Yes, it’s already begun. And we’re the only state that allows frack waste water to be dumped in our rivers and streams. New York State has wisely placed a Moratorium on new frack wells until more science is concluded. New Jersey is considering one, too, though they don’t have much gas there. Nevertheless, realistically, there are more than  10,000 lucrative permits poised to be approved in Pennsylvania. The clock is ticking, and many people downstream, in the Philadelphia area, are decidedly alarmed. Strict regulation may be our only salvation, yet these same powerful commercial interests are also working to de-fund the EPA and The PA Department of Environmental Protection. Even President Obama seems pretty keen to frack away at our poor, beautiful state.

One is left to wonder, then, how exactly will Natural Gas serve as a bridge fuel?

If Natural Gas is truly a bridge to renewable alternatives, and a panacea for our ailing economy, then what’s the whole strategy? Better cement jobs? Politically appointed state oversight commissions? Taxation? It seems like a new chapter in the same old ugly fossil fuel story. Nothing that is happening in Harrisburg indicates that being a bridge fuel is the end-goal here. We cannot allow the profit motives of a handful of large corporations to leave us with a legacy of pollution and disease. Over a million residents in PA share my concerns, and that number is growing every day as this critical issue continues to come to the fore. What will it take for leaders in America to realize that there is indeed a link between our health and pollution in our environment?

My Lawyer Can Beat Up Your Scientist

April 4, 2011

There’s a lot of information about Fracking for Natural Gas out there, and more everyday. In February, the EPA Science Advisory Team announced that it will be further studying the relational impacts of hydraulic fracturing on drinking water supplies. Great! Waiting to pass regulations is not in either side’s interest.

The only logical answer is to weigh all the facts, and address the issues one by one. There is a lot of hard work involved, both by scientists, and lawyers. Large Philadelphia law firms like Blank Rome already have legal frack teams rolling out their defense strategies for possible polluters. Big money is now pumping through the legal and business sectors, paving the way for a sonic speed gas boom.

No one wants to wait for Science, but quality, peer-reviewed data must at least exist and have an “at-bat.” And it would do anyone who stands to profit from the Natural Gas Boom in Pennsylvania well to remember:

Nature Bats Last!


February, 2011
The EPA proposes to characterize toxicity in almost every stage of the hydraulic fracturing life-cycle. EPA also plans to summarize all available data obtained on chemicals and naturally occurring substances used and released during the hydraulic fracturing process in order to characterize and understand potential human health effects.
1) Water Acquisition
2) Chemical Mixing
3) Well Injection
4) Flowback and Produced Water
5) Wastewater Treatment and Waste Disposal


March, 2011
Among other supposedly soft and unnecessary programs, politicians in Washington DC aim to slash EPA funding and regulatory reach. The Clean Air Council has pushed back hard as Clean Air attacks are being led by a few members of both the House and the Senate who are especially cozy with polluter industries: Sens. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), James Inhofe (R-OK), Mitch McConnell (R-KY), and Max Baucus (D-MT); and Reps. Fred Upton (R-MI) and Ed Whitfield (R-KY) in the House. In the House, the powerful Energy and Commerce Committee passed its own so-called Dirty Air Act authored by Reps. Fred Upton and Ed Whitfield, with help from Sen. James Inhofe. This bill is expected to come to the House floor for a full chamber vote in the next few weeks. It is critical to stop the House and Senate from passing these Dirty Air bills and amendments! We must take action now to tell them that obstructing these protective pollution limits is not only hurting us, but threatening our environmental security, and our very way of life.