Pennsylvania lawmakers say bill that halts drilling in Marcellus Shale aims to protect forests

By DONALD GILLILAND, The Patriot-News

March 28, 2010, 7:38PM

Pennsylvania lawmakers should learn from history and from Dr. Seuss, said Robert F. Davey Jr., a retired forester with 38 years of experience in Penn’s Woods. The state’s forests were decimated by rampant logging in the 19th century and a number of its streams were polluted by unrestricted mining, Davey said. He compared those scenarios to “The Lorax” by Seuss, the tale of a species of trees being nearly wiped out, with only one seed remaining.  Davey said lawmakers should be careful when profiting from the Marcellus gas boom “so that future generations won’t be saddled with mistakes we made because of a myopic view of natural-resource limitations or outright greed.”

To read the full article with comments, click here:

http://www.pennlive.com/midstate/index.ssf/2010/03/pennsylvania_lawmakers_claim_b.html

Gasland on PBS

Tapwater on fire

Here’s a link to the coverage PBS did on “Gasland”.

This film won the Special Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival.

http://www.pbs.org/now/shows/613/index.html

Tanker Truck Rear-ends car and kills woman in Covington, PA

Here’s the Star Gazette’s coverage of the accident in Covington, PA yesterday. Check out the posted comments after the article.

Covington A 74-year-old Lock Haven woman was killed Saturday afternoon when the Honda Civic in which she was riding was struck from behind by a 2000 International tanker truck.

Mildred L. Barnard was pronounced dead at Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hospital in Wellsboro by Dr. Laura Rice after the 1:25 p.m. crash at the state Routes 2005 and 2022 intersection in Covington, said state police in Mansfield. Bernard was a passenger in the front seat.

Read the rest of the article here:

http://www.stargazette.com/article/20100320/NEWS01/3200374/Tanker-truck-car-crash-kills-Pa.-woman

Boldness must arise locally to save roads

This issue is just one of many that will arise. Classic freeze/thaw cycles in PA already compromise our secondary and tertiary roads without heavy truck traffic. Many of these roads have 10 ton weight limit bridges as well as weight limitations for the roads themselves, and much of the truck traffic greatly exceeds those limits. Not only does the question of “who will pay to fix these roads” come up again and again but the quality to which they are fixed may become an issue. Elk Run Road in Gaines, PA is being attended to daily by the company whose trucks destroyed the road. The gas company’s trucks, with a high clearance and/or 4-wheel drive, might be able to manage this fix of gravel and muck but the people who live on this road are struggling to get their every day vehicles in and out.

Published: March 14, 2010

It’s nearly spring and the secondary roads here are in poor shape. Some of the main roads, as well. It’s an annual occurrence. But, this year there is a dramatic difference More roads are in far worse shape than perhaps ever before, in large part because of the battering from heavy trucks, many of which are in the area tending to the burgeoning natural gas industry….

Inconvenience is an issue for motorists, of course. But far more important is safety for drivers. Safety for cars, safety for small trucks, safety for school buses carting children, and safety for big trucks, farm equipment and other vehicles.

Residents were warned about such looming hardships two years ago by county commissioners who saw early on some of the pros and cons of the natural gas boom resulting from exploitation of the Marcellus Shale play under Bradford County.

But, no one foresaw such a rapid expansion of prospecting and drilling – and infrastructure deterioration. Oversight, direction, regulation, control all lagged while the county was being transformed for better or for worse. Virtually all the mineral rights in Bradford County have been leased to gas companies, according to the Shirley Rockefeller, county register and recorder. Permits for 430 wells were issued by the state Department of Environmental Protection in 2009 for Bradford County alone, and 113 new wells were drilled. The rapid pace continues this year with 29 more drilling permits issued in January, second in the state only to Tioga County.

Plans for pipelines to transport the gas to markets are in the works. PennDOT, which only last week warned of a regional problem, says more than 60 roads in the county have been posted with weight restrictions. It is hard-pressed to keep up.

Behemoths lumber down the highways, some oversized, some overweight and, in too many cases, going too fast. They include 5,500 gallon and larger water tankers, flat beds to haul equipment, and dump trucks to haul material, all of which clog the roads, and grind the pavement. Crashes are more and more common. State police are levying unheard of fines for illegal loads running in the tens of thousands of dollars.

The roads, especially the secondary and tertiary roads are being pounded and pulverized into pot holes, gullies and broken shoulders. Driving is a hazard. Residents are growing impatient, even angry. Township supervisors and other municipal officials are at wits end.

It’s a crisis….

To read the full article, click here:

http://thedailyreview.com/opinion/boldness-must-arise-locally-to-save-roads-1.678530

Prof. from Cornell to speak about Drilling Impacts for NY

Professor Anthony Ingraffea, nationally recognized Cornell University researcher, to speak in Vestal, NY about Natural Gas Drilling

WHEN:  Wednesday, March 31, 7 PM, Free and open to the public.
WHERE: Vestal Public Library, 320 Vestal Parkway,Vestal, NY

Residents concerned about natural gas drilling in New York State are invited to the first meeting of NY Residents Against Drilling
(NYRAD) on Wednesday March 31, 7PM, at the Vestal Public Library, located at 320 Vestal Parkway.

Professor Anthony Ingraffea, Dwight C. Baum Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Weiss Presidential Teaching Fellow at Cornell University, will speak on “The Marcellus Gas Shale Play: Information for an Informed Citizenry.”   Prof. Ingraffea will talk about  the technology, development and impact of horizontal natural gas drilling and slick water hydrofracking
in the Marcellus Shale. There will be a Q&A session.

Professor Ingraffea has been a principal investigator on R&D projects from the National Science Foundation, NASA, FAA, Kodak, IBM, Schlumberger, and the Gas Research Institute. His research concentrates on computer simulation and physical testing of complex fracturing processes.

If you care about the future of the Triple Cities & Central NY, become
involved. Learn about the impact of drilling natural gas wells in Broome County and the surrounding area, a process that could start soon after the New York Department of Environmental Conservation gives its approval. Following Professor Ingraffea’s presentation, there will be an opportunity to write to state representatives urging them to enact a ban on unconventional drilling for natural gas in New York State.
For more information call 607-341-7842

Heartbreaking Stories Warn New Yorkers of What May Be in Store if the State OKs Controversial Gas Drilling

Written by Maura Stephens

…Most of these Pennsylvanians told us they rue the day they signed the gas leases. Some of them “inherited” gas leases — or bought property on which there was a mineral rights lease they were unaware of — and now are paying the consequences.
Their stories were heartbreaking. This is some of what they told us, including several things not mentioned in other articles I’ve read about fracking:
1) There is no longer any privacy on their own property.
Posted signs are a thing of the past; there’s no way to guarantee that anyone would pay attention to them. The gas drillers have access to leased land 24/7, 365 days a year, because there is always something to deal with on a gas pad. The land owners no longer have privacy or the ability to walk at will on their own property. One woman told us she and her teenage daughter feel like prisoners in their home. They used to walk around in bathing suits or pajamas in the privacy of their 100-plus-acre farm. That’s no longer an option — they stay inside with the blinds drawn even on nice days because they never know when and where a stranger will be walking around the property.
2) The gas companies can pretty much do as they please.
There is no consultation with the landowners about placement or size of the pads, or the numerous roads that have to be cut into the property, or drainage fields, or pond sites, or planned building sites. One farmer, who had dreamed of this since his elder son’s birth in 1983, gave his son and new daughter-in-law three acres on which to build a house, on a lovely corner of his farm. The newlyweds were just about to begin building the home they’d designed when the gas company decided to drill on the very same spot. The family had no way of fighting the gas company, which refused to change its drilling location. The young man and his bride were forced to rent an apartment in town. Subsequently the drilling contaminated the well that provided drinking water to the family and farm animals. And although the site did not yield gas, the land is no longer usable for farming or placing a home. The farmer, incidentally, had bought the land in the early 1980s without realizing a gas company held mineral rights to it via a 1920s lien.
3) The gas companies do not respect the land.
The gas companies have in numerous documented cases torn out mature stands of trees — 20, 30, 60, 80 years old — leaving the tree carcasses scattered about the land. “These guys just don’t care,” one landowner told us, close to tears. “They treated my farm like a garbage dump. They moved their bowels in the woods and left their filthy toilet paper behind. They threw all their rubbish around — plastic bottles, McDonald’s bags, you name it. I used to always kept this place manicured. It’s been my pride and joy. But now, it’s a rubbish heap. I’m still finding junk they left around, long after the fracking ended.”
4) There’s light and noise nonstop.
“No amount of money can buy you sufficient sleep,” said a farmer. “It’s bright and loud, all the time. Not that I’d sleep anyway. All I do is worry about the land and the water and what we are going to do.”
5) Their property has lost its value.
“We can’t drink our water,” said the same farmer. “We can’t reclaim the land. They’re putting my farm out of business. The land is worthless. Nobody would want it, like this.”
6) They can no longer fish in their streams and ponds.
So many of these waterways have been poisoned by fracking waste, runoff, spillage, or dumping, that fishers are afraid to eat the fish they catch. One farmer, who told us he’d planned to stock his farm pond with seven varieties of fish that he would raise and sell to other landowners, has lost this income stream because his pond was polluted by fracking.
7) The water is dangerously unsafe.
“A primary reason we chose to live in this area,” says a woman from central New York, “is that is has abundant clean water. The western half or two-thirds of the United States, and the Southeast — the entire rest of the country — has precious little water. But we have always had plenty of fresh, safe, available water. Now we are threatened with gas fracturing, or ‘fracking.’ The contaminants released in the fracking process are carcinogenic (cancer-inducing) and even radioactive. Everyone around here depends on our wells for safe drinking water. Now how can we ever drink our water again? City water is no safer.”
To read the full blog, click here

http://chenangogreens.org/home/index.php?option=com_content&task=blogcategory&id=0&Itemid=70&limit=9&limitstart=18

Split Estate Free Showing at Mansfield University

Professor Russell Dodson at Mansfield University has arranged a free, public showing of the documentary ‘Split Estate’, on the risks and dangers of natural gas drilling. Our Tioga County Planner, Jim Weaver will be present to take questions.

Tell everyone you know!

Time: Monday, March 29th at 7PM.

Place: 153 Grant Science Center, Mansfield University