DEP Accountability…Too Late?

This video with Jude Stiles giving testimony of what her family has dealt with since 2010 at a hearing for the Pennsylvania DEP accountability standards. Her husband is now deceased and she and her children are very sick due to the contamination of there well water from gas drilling. At one point in the video she lists the chemicals and heavy metals that were found in her well…you don’t need to be a scientists to know they are not the sort of things you’d want to have anywhere near your body, let alone be drinking or bathing in.

At this point the courts will decide how this ends but I don’t see how any amount of money can fix this. I remember watching Gas Land for the first time and being sick to my stomach with the stories of the people in CO who’s health had been so severely compromised….and now it’s happening in Pennsylvania.


Everything’s a Mess and No One’s Responsible…

I received a link to this article from my mother who lives near the Tioga County/Potter County line and keeps tabs on that area for me. Both she and some local friends have been monitoring the smaller creeks in that area for a while now…thank you!

So the article found here talks about one of the main issues that occur when only the type of short sightedness this industry creates finally comes into play. Where the hell do we put all this radiation frack water once were done with it? (what, there’s radiation in that stuff?) If you read the article you’ll find out that nobody seems to know and apparently no one (no regulatory office, no state office, no federal office, etc) is responsible for regulating or disposing of this type of thing. It seems to fall in between the gaps of the existing laws we have, probably because this is the first time deep horizontal, hydraulic fracturing of wells has been done at this stupendously high level and SO very close to people’s homes and water supplies. In short, no one thought it through and no one bothered to test and see if there was radiation and then make a plan for disposing of it.

The finding of this article actually comes from here. This is a fellow blogger who I think is located in the Potter County area. They posted the article I mention above on February the 6th. The interesting part of this are the comments after the post. read through them to discover some scary experiences from a frack truck driver and get a bit of a feel for how some folks feel about this.

State Impact PA

I’ve posted links to the State Impact PA site before but wanted to remind folks that there is a great resource here and even though the gas industries have slowed down for now there is still a lot of good journalism work being done by Chris Amico, Danny DeBelius, Scott Detrow and Matt Stiles of my local NPR station; WITF. here’s a link to the State Impact map which gives you a quick look at all the wells, where they are and who owns them.

You will also find some interesting new stories as you scroll further down the page on the left under the heading “Latest News”.

Worried about Water in Blossburg, PA

Blossburg, PA had a scare the other day of high mercury levels in their water supply. Update info says new tests show the levels are now reading appropriately but folks living in the borough of Blossburg should avoid drinking the water or washing their dishes in it. You can read more details about this issue here. Just the title of that story doesn’t make me feel to reassured and if they don’t want you to drink it or eat from it then you probably shouldn’t be bathing in it either, even though they are not warning people to avoid that.

Community Workshop in Tioga County on Environmental and Health Impacts of Natural Gas Operations

The Clean Air Council and Penn Environment, state-wide environmental groups, will give an educational workshop in Tioga County for residents of north-central Pennsylvania on Saturday, March 24, 1-4 PM. The training will be held at the W.M. Tokishi Training Center, NYPUM Drive, Wellsboro, PA 16901.The workshop will focus on information and skills that residents can use to be aware of and participate in decisions about natural gas development. The presenters will provide an overview of how natural gas operations can potentially impact public health and the environment. They will train people on how to track and report disturbances, write comments that generate public hearings, and achieve media coverage with letters to the editor. Admission is free and light refreshments will be provided. For more information, contact Matt Walker at Clean Air Council, 215-567-4004 (ext 121) or

New State Impact PA App

Since I now live in south central PA (I moved south from Tioga County; north central PA) and have less access to the center of the gas drilling, I frequently use State Impact PA as a resource as well as tune in to WITF radio on my commutes to work, when I’m not pedaling my bike. This site has a lot of current info and wide coverage from gas drilling incidents and accidents, politics and interviews. Their latest info includes a new App that shows you exactly who is drilling and where.

I believe this sort of program is run through NPR and you can find this sort of info for all 50 states from this map.

I happen to be looking for the location of a specific Northwest Savings Bank in PA and when I pulled up their website I found the below link.

It looks like Northwest Savings Bank has put together a section of their website to answer questions or help folks who are considering leases. The “Oil and Gas Resources” section has some interesting info available. At the very least, another resource for those who like to have all the facts before they make decisions.

The Passage of House Bill 1950…

I thought I’d highlight a few of the items that I find horrifying that passed with house bill 1950 during yesterdays vote. Municipalities will no longer be safe from drilling and the acceptable distances of drilling pads and compressor stations from homes or public spaces, such as schools, have been set or reduced. For example, a well pad can be placed as close as 300 feet away from your home.

Thanks to everyone who made an effort to halt this sort of legislative coddling of the natural gas industry.

If you want more info on this bill use this link.



Update on PA Roads Effected by Gas Drilling from DCNR

From the DCNR website:

In recent years there has been a marked increase in natural gas activity in state forests in north central Pennsylvania . Visitor experiences and road usage can be impacted by this activity.

Loyalsock State Forest

Bodine Mountain Road: Heavy gas activity is to be expected . Traffic control will be established at Grays Run Road intersection. Expect 10-15 minute delays during periods of heavy truck traffic.

Brown Road: Heavy gas activity is to be expected. Traffic control will be established at Hagerman Run and Long Run Road intersections. Traffic is one way from Hagerman Run Road to Long Run Road . Outgoing truck traffic may be heavy.

Grays Run Road: Heavy gas activity is to be expected. Two way traffic. Drive with caution.

Hagerman Run Road: Heavy gas activity is to be expected. Hagerman Run Road is one way from Rte. 14 to Newman Fields and the intersection with Browns Road. Parking on Hagerman Run Road is extremely limited.

Long Run Road: Heavy gas activity is to be expected. Long Run Road is open to public travel and must be used to exit the area. Traffic is one way from Browns Road to Grays Run Road. Parking along Long Run Road is limited.

Loyalsock State Forest has sustained severe damage to its road system due to flooding from Hurricane Lee. All roads except Pleasant Stream Road , lower Shanerburg Road, Walker Road, Dry Run Road and lower Rock Run Road ( Sullivan County ) are now passable, but visitors must travel with caution. Visitors should contact the Resource Management Center for updates before traveling at 570-946-4049 or email at

Rock Run Road in Sullivan County is closed in the vicinity of CCC Camp 95. The iron bridge crossing the Loyalsock Creek is closed to vehicles. Pedestrians may continue to cross. The bridge was damaged by flooding during Hurricane Irene. View map here.

High Knob Road is accessible only from Worlds End Road . Dry Run Road from Rte. 87 to High Knob Road is closed due to severe flood damage. There is no estimated date of opening.
Moshannon State Forest

Four Mile Road: Open to the public but heavy truck traffic should be expected due to gas development. Drivers should be aware of increased height of road berms and soft road shoulders.

McGeorge and Lower McGeorge Roads: Open to the public but heavy truck traffic should be expected. Pipeline construction may create short delays.

Knobs Road: Expect long delays due to pipeline construction. The road surface may be impassable at active construction zones.

Caledonia Pike: Long delays are possible due to pipeline construction. The road surface may be impassable at active construction zones. Construction zones are continually changing and drivers should be vigilant.

Billote Road: Open to the public but it is the main access road for construction associated with the Caledonia Pike. Truck traffic may be heavy at times and drivers should remain vigilant.

Merrill Road: Open to the public but truck traffic may be heavy at times.

Ardell Road: Open to the public but truck traffic may be heavy at times.

Claymine Road: Bridge is closed for bridge replacement near Six Mile Road. There is no through traffic. Access to most of the road is possible from Strawband Beaver or Shirks Road from the south and east.

Little Medix Road : Closed for bridge work. There is no through traffic.

Sproul State Forest

Beech Creek and Shoemaker Roads: Increased traffic due to gas development is to be expected. There are no travel restrictions at this time.

Ritchie Road: Will be impacted due to a natural gas pipeline under construction from Hyner Mountain Road to Old View Road . Expect heavy truck traffic.

Pats Ridge Road: Will have a guard station for natural gas activity just beyond the power line corridor. The last quarter mile of this road is closed to public travel.

Benson Road: Will be impacted by the construction of a new entrance from Rte. 44. Expect heavy gas truck traffic.

Dry Run Road: Will be impacted by gas development. Expect heavy truck traffic.

Carrier Road: Will be impacted by gas development from Haneyville to Ponderosa. Expect heavy gas truck traffic.

Route 144: From State Game Lands 100 to Allen Dam road heavy gas truck traffic should be expected.

 Susquehannock State Forest

Card Creek Road: Open to public travel but be aware of ongoing natural gas activity. Expect heavy trucks and other gas related traffic. Several pull offs have been installed along the road to aid in passing oncoming vehicles.

Big Fill Haul Road : This gated road is currently being impacted by natural gas activity. The road can still be used for walk in access for hunters and other recreational users as it has traditionally. Parking is still available in the area between Rte. 6 and the gate. Be alert for heavy truck and other gas related traffic.

Tiadaghton State Forest

Narrow Gauge Road: Heavy gas activity is to be expected. Drive with caution.

Francis Camp Road: Heavy gas activity is to be expected. Drive with caution.

Lebo Vista Road: Heavy gas activity is to be expected. Drive with caution.

Browns Run Road : Heavy gas activity is to be expected. Drive with caution.

Sinking Springs Road: Heavy gas activity is to be expected. Drive with caution.

Bull Run Road: Heavy gas activity is to be expected. Drive with caution.

Big Springs Road: Heavy gas activity is to be expected. Drive with caution.

Limbaugh Road: Heavy gas activity is to be expected. Drive with caution.

Parker Road: Heavy gas activity is to be expected. Drive with caution.

Ramsey Road: Heavy gas activity is to be expected. Drive with caution.

Okome Road: Heavy gas activity is to be expected. Drive with caution.

Armstrong Road on Bald Eagle Mountain east of South Williamsport  and U.S. Route 15 has been closed due to storm damage that has rendered the roadway impassable.

Tioga  State Forest

Mill Run Road in Elk Township will be closed from November 19 to December 11 from the intersection of Mill Run and Elk Run south to the top of Cedar Mountain (approximately 2 miles). Visitors wishing to use the area can access Mill Run Road from Thompson Hollow Road.

Visitors should use caution when using the Old Arnot Drivable Trail Road (also known as the Walnut Street Extension) which is located north of Arnot ( Bloss Township ) due to heavy truck traffic associated with natural gas development. Users should expect a traffic control point stop and controlled one way traffic flow with short time delays.

Armenia Mountain area drivers should use caution on River Road , Fellows Creek Road, Hemlock Road and Ridge Road due to heavy truck traffic associated with natural gas development.

A Letter from the Responsible Drilling Alliance (RDA)

Responsible Drilling Alliance Newsletter
Fooled Again

Februrary 2nd, 2012 

Dear RDA Members,


Minus a last minute miracle, an incredible shift in the course of the future of Pennsylvania is about to occur. With the Governor set to unveil his version of the budget on Tuesday, it is crunch time for gas development legislation. Senate and House Republican leaders are furiously pushing to get a deal done and out of the way before having to focus on the budget.


Unlike the other 38 states that produce NG and impose a severance tax, here in Pennsylvania we are witnessing the spectacle of our legislature compromising over a woefully inadequate “impact fee” rate to place on a commodity that managed to jump 10% in price in just a few days last week.


The opportunity to set ourselves up for much-needed, imaginative fiscal opportunities from an industry that brings with it huge changes to our landscape and lives – not to mention the risk of air and water quality degradation and perhaps eventually, our health – is slipping away without more than a dim murmur from the very few citizens who are paying attention.


The Governor and the majority of legislators have bought into gas industry fear tactics, warning us of the risk of industry economic retaliation by taking holding our ground for rightful share off the table. They ignore the reality of the billions already invested here and what our close geographical proximity to major markets, including industrial, heavily populated Ontario, means for the profitability of Pennsylvania’s shale gas.


They ignore the rationale behind strategic corporate moves regarding tying up leases, drilling, fracing, pipeline and infrastructure projects and delivery contracts, among the 80-some drilling operators in our midst. In the meantime, the industry’s operational free-for-all is leading to a tremendous supply glut and the downward trending price drop for NG everywhere in the country.

Perhaps someday we’will have an administration and a legislature that will make up for lost revenue during the Corbett era with a reasonable severance tax (a tax imposed by the state for the extraction of its natural resources to be used out of state ) with a percentage rate similar to that of ragingly red state Alaska (22.5%), or at least that other bastion of liberalism, Texas (7.5%).


Until then, it is not too late to focus on what is possible, and attempt to persuade our Republican friends to come to their senses, return to their conservative roots, and halt the assault on municipal rights in the current legislation. As most who follow the news out of Harrisburg are aware by now, the Governor and Republican legislative leaders have been pushing the gas industry’s agenda to require oil and gas operations be a permitted use in all zoning districts in every municipality. In addition, proposed legislation in both the PA House and Senate would give the Attorney General the power to review a local zoning ordinance for “reasonableness” if a well operator or an individual challenges it.


The former is too outlandish an intrusion to need commentary here, but 84th District State Rep. Garth Everett recently explained why the latter, the so called “preemption” law, has gotten support. He wrote, “The reason for the desire for limits on what local municipalities can do is that some municipalities have already passed ordinances which ban gas development in the municipality. That is totally contrary to the Municipal Planning Code (MPC) and zoning law in general. The goal of the legislation, as far as most of us are concerned, is to allow reasonable development and afford reasonable local control …”.


If Representative Everett is correct on the reasoning of the administration and their cohorts, it appears to be a huge overreaction at best. Once again, masterful gas industry PR initiatives, lobbyists and our own short sighted business boosters are running circles around our elected officials, our gullible media and those normally protective of local control of their community’s destiny.


Ordinances to ban gas drilling outright, such as those advocated by of the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF), are clearly illegal under existing law. Such bans, adopted by the Pittsburgh City Council and other communities where drilling in unlikely to occur, are designed to ultimately end up in the U.S. Supreme Court to challenge the concept of corporate personhood. The industry has yet to take the bait here in PA, and won’t, as long as these initiatives occur where it isn’t worth the risk. And CELDF is not getting traction in communities with extractable gas and the required space to develop the infrastructure needed to get it to market. That fact isn’t about to change unless a large majority of a municipality’s residents can persuade local officials to forgo the monetary promise of gas and take on the cost of a likely legal challenge.


The gas industry’s Marcellus Shale Coalition CEO Kathryn Klaber laid the groundwork for our legislative nightmare when she testified before in Governor’s Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission in May of 2011. Klaber complained to Commission members that well operators were having difficulty navigating the zoning ordinances in 1,491 municipalities where shale gas drilling is likely.


Klaber neglected to add that a great number of those communities have no zoning ordinances at all. In November, she switched tactics when she issued this statement, “The establishment of a predictable framework of heightened health, safety, and environmental protections will benefit all Pennsylvanians, particularly those residing in nearly half of the [commonwealth’s] communities in the Marcellus fairway without formal zoning rules…”.


Klaber’s credibility on health and environmental protections was shot long ago, with her frequent pronouncements on what her employers think is best for all Pennsylvanians. Communities that want to hold certain of their zoning districts free from some or all gas operations should not be denied the decision. If they overstep their bounds, we already have a judicial system in place.

True, when compared to the hopelessly outdated PA Oil and Gas Act, there are setback improvements in the proposed legislation. But how were these new setback distances derived, other than what Klaber and company have decided they can live with? Where is the sound science Corbett so often talks about? Since people’s health, safety and environment in un-zoned communities need “heightened” protections from this industry, why has it taken so long, and where was the DEP?


Leased landowners need protection from undue industry influence in other ways, as in a legislative proposal by Representative Everett that has yet to gain traction which would void (cause to be re-written), predatory leases that placed the burden of government imposed charges on their share of royalties and not the well operator’s.


By now landowners must surely recognize the arbitrary nature of when their property may host a producing well. Community decisions on the placement of various drilling operations is a much lesser impediment to ultimately receiving royalties than market and infrastructure realities. The gas industry is full up of clever and motivated people. Give them restrictions that maximize good outcomes for the vast majority of all Pennsylvanians, and not just that small percentage directly benefitting from gas operations, and they will figure out a way to produce more than enough gas.


It is understandable why the industry tries to impose their desires to do business their way upon our Commonwealth, but that doesn’t mean we have to perform a legislative lapdance for them.

With horizontal wells already being drilled out as far as 8400 feet, and no limit yet in sight, there ought to be enough willing properties on which to put a well pad to keep operators busy for a long time to come, maybe long enough for concerned communities to acquire the necessary information needed to figure out just what health, safety, environmental, and economic protections are needed for their residents. Until then, tampering with local decisions is an endeavor those legislators with active consciences need to rethink.


Place a call and read your legislator the riot act. From the Governor’s office to the halls of the General Assembly, those in control have done enough succumbing to gas industry seduction, threats and bullying. It’s time they act with a visionary look to the future of Pennsylvania instead of a fear based reaction today.