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 fd20@state.pa.us.

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.

Shale Gas Drilling Photos

The below link will take you to public web album with photos from folks who live in areas where the gas drilling is happening.  Click the link and see what the truth looks like.

https://picasaweb.google.com/chec.pitt/ShaleGasDrilling

Marcellus Shale on This American Life

If you missed this program, it is well worth listening to.

http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/440/game-changer

Gas industry no longer must comply with stricter air quality guidelines!

Deadline for policy reversal looms
TAKE ACTION TODAY

The facts: In December, 2010, a policy document was put in place by DEP, advising air quality professionals responsible for permitting of gas industry compressors and other sites to consider the aggregation (total toxic accumulation) of air emission sources, as opposed to just permitting each site based on the emissions of that single-point source of pollutants.

On February 26, 2011 – this policy was rescinded by the Corbett administration. The new policy advises air quality permitting staff to look ONLY at individual pollution-emitting sites rather than the cumulative impacts the gas industry will have on PA’s air quality.

The problem: Due to the topography of our region, we already have poor air quality. With the increasing presence of the gas industry, a change for the worse is certainly headed our way. A variety of emissions are emitted at compressor sites: NOx, CO2, VOC, Formaldehyde, PM10, Ethane, Methane, Propane, I-butane, n-butane, Non Methane Hydrocarbons, Heavy Non Methane and Non Ethane Hydrocarbons, etc.

Compressors will grow in number and size as the gas fields grow. They will emit a mix that can create ground level ozone that will regularly be held in place by the air inversion factor we see in our valleys and hollows, including the Susquehanna River Valley, where many of you live.

What might this mean to your family, especially children, the elderly and those with respiratory challenges?

The solution: DEP must be made to rescind the recent order and reinstate tighter controls. Your participation in this public comment process is critical. Please take action today. Below is a template with the address and necessary subject line information. Please write to the Environmental Engineer Manager, Mr. Trivedi at: vtrivedi@state.pa.us 

The final deadline day is May 26, 2011. He prefers emails but you can send real mail to him at:

Virendra Trivedi, Environmental Engineer Manager
New Source Review Section
Division of Permits
Bureau of Air Quality
12th Floor
Rachel Carson State Office Building
PO Box 8468
Harrisburg PA 17105-8468

Do not discuss the chemicals – Lessons from the landman’s handbook

So, I’m posting this email I received from the RDA (responsible Drilling Alliance) out of Williamsport, PA because it is full of all the things that I’ve been certain of since the gas companies and their land men showed up, but now there is actually some proof. At least it is proof enough for me. I always encourage you all to educate yourselves and draw your own conclusions so if you’re just starting to feed your mind with gas drilling info you may want to take a few deep breaths before reading through this one.

“Do not discuss the chemicals”
Lessons from the landman’s handbook

The story of the “Landman’s Manual” hit the Internet with a flourish last week. Many of you may have seen this from other news sources and listservs.

First, a bit of background. The term landman refers to an agent hired by a gas company to negotiate with landowners in order to get a lease signed at the lowest possible price per acre, with the lowest possible royalty payments for any extracted gas.

John Trallo, an RDA member and resident of Sullivan County who has been tireless in his efforts to oppose the gas industry’s industrialization of PA, tells the story as it unfolded. Trallo writes:

“A few weeks ago, I received an email from a woman in Ohio regarding gas drilling. Apparently, someone had forwarded some emails and postings I sent out. The woman had expressed serious concerns about drilling, stemming from reports of problems in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Arkansas, and Texas that included ground water contamination, reduction in air quality, public health and safety issues, and property devaluation. She told me about a “Landman’s Manual” that she acquired when it was dropped in her driveway after a landman had visited her trying to get her to sign a gas/oil lease. She was concerned about retaliation from the landman, and/or the company he represented, and was reluctant to distribute this to the press. I assured her that her identity would be protected, and that I would look the manual over. Based on my own experiences in dealing with landmen, the combined experience of many people I know, as well as industry reports such as the 2009 Certus Strategies report Managing Stakeholder and Community Resistance to the Marcellus Shale Gas Extraction Project” (delivered at the Pennsylvania Natural Gas Summit in 2009), I’ve no doubt that this document is genuine. I also contacted the company who dispatched the landman, but my calls were not returned.  I therefore decided to distribute the manual to the press, various community groups, and PA legislators.” 

The entire document is available at: http://www.greenlink.org/uploads/pdfs/OIL_TalkingPoints.pdf  

These are the highlights:

Don’t give them time to think: “It is critical to obtain a lease signature in the first meeting, or at least the agreement to sign and take the lease to a notary. Drive them to the notary if you have to.”
Avoid talking about the environment: “At any point in the pitch if talk turns to local issues, environmental hazards, etc.. a good way to re-direct the conversation is to re-engage over the nation’s energy needs and the desire to be oil self-reliant.”

Whatever you do, don’t let them talk about fracking: “Hydraulic Fracturing, ‘Fracking’ – This technique to develop gas resources is coming under scrutiny, both in the mainstream media with articles appearing in the New York Times, and even in Hollywood with the movie ‘Gasland’. Expect questions on this topic and be ready to diffuse land owner concerns.”

Really, really avoid talking about fracking: “If anyone knows about slick water fracturing, avoid the topic. DO NOT discuss the chemicals and other material used during slick water fracturing. The best strategy is to say that the chemical mixtures used are proprietary and are highly diluted with water when injected. Reassure landowners that no well contamination has ever been documented. Do not mention water contamination in Pennsylvania.”
Truck traffic is awesome: “Just tell landowners the more trucks, the more royalties. Money will normally deflect most arguments.”

So what if it’s noisy: “If pressed for details tell them we monitor noise to ensure it is approximately 80 db at 200 feet. They will likely not understand the details, and will not admit that the technical data means little to them. Do not compare it to anything tangible, like train noise or airplane noise. Stick with the numbers, they provide the truth but make it hard to understand the exact implication.”

Denial is a river in drilling country: “Some might ask how many wells will be in a square mile. Don’t answer that question. Most landowners will not realize that 10-20 wells can be placed in a square mile.”

Don’t worry about water: “Residential owners will not know that we pull water directly from the local aquifer.”

What radioactivity?: “ENSURE you tell the landowner that we use NO RADIOACTIVE materials. The radioactivity comes from natural sources in the ground and is released by the process, but don’t tell them this. Most landowners will not know.”

The value of your home is not important: “Multiple studies have shown that property values decrease for land with oil and gas leases on the property. Avoid this topic. Some major banks have stopped issuing mortgages on properties with leases for mineral and oil/gas rights, including Wells Fargo, Bank of America, and other large financial institutions. This is a no-win discussion point. ”

Did I mention to avoid fracking?: “The overall plan is to drill exploratory wells, and then use more advanced techniques to get at the small oil pockets we find. This will require multiple well heads, where we pump in a high volume of water and chemicals, in much the same manner as in the fracking process. DO NOT DISCUSS this point. We want no correlation between fracking and enhanced oil recovery processes.”

Whatever you do, don’t talk to women: “Men are more likely to sign than women. Men don’t like to believe that you know more than they do, so they are also less likely to ask questions. In the state of Ohio, the husband can sign the lease without spousal permission. Go that route if required. Tell them it is their decision. Write the lease agreement with only the husband’s name on the paperwork. This will make it more likely that they will sign alone. Men are also more conservative, and more likely to want oil and energy independence. Women will have more concern for the environment and will challenge you more often. Knowing who to approach can seal the sale.”

Still not willing to sign?: “Tell the landowner that all their neighbors have signed. Even if the neighbors have not, this often will push an undecided landowner in favor of signing.”


Corbett names pick for Conservation and Natural Resources

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

By Laura Olson and Don Hopey, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

HARRISBURG – Gov. Tom Corbett announced his pick for one of two remaining cabinet posts this afternoon, selecting Richard J. Allan to head the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.

Mr. Allan, 57, has spent his career working in scrap recycling. His family operates Allan Industries, a metal recycling facility, in Wilkes-Barre, and he has run his own energy consulting firm since 2005. The Cumberland County resident also is an executive director for the PA Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries, and serves on the board of the Pennsylvania Environmental Council. He earned his bachelor’s degree in environmental sciences and biology from Wilkes University in Wilkes-Barre.

The conservation agency has gained attention for its oversight of the growing number of Marcellus Shale gas wells being drilled on state forestland. Cuts in DCNR funding in recent budgets have shrunk the department’s resources for drilling oversight, state park operations and forest management.

“Richard Allan is a proven leader and commands a wealth of knowledge and experience in environmental and energy issues,” said Mr. Corbett in a news release. “I am confident that his abilities and background will be a tremendous benefit to DCNR, especially during this critical time in the agency’s history.”

Mr. Allan is the nephew of Pat Solano, former Luzerne County Republican chairman and a power broker in the state’s northeastern GOP politics. His wife, Patricia, was recently named policy director for the Department of Environmental Protection. He contributed $2,150 to Mr. Corbett during the last campaign cycle, according to the Department of State’s campaign finance database. He also was a member of Mr. Corbett’s transition team for energy and environmental issues.

The department has been run by Acting Secretary Cindy Dunn, formerly a deputy secretary for the agency, since the Corbett administration took over in January. The remaining department without an announced secretary is Labor and Industry. Mr. Corbett said earlier this month that he had made offers to candidates for both of the unfilled positions.

Below are comments from Anne with the Responsible Drilling Alliance (RDA). Definitely some things to think about and be concerned with.

COMMENTS:

I have highlighted parts of the above text in bold for emphasis.

Mr. Allan brings to the post of head of PA’s Department of Conservation & Natural Resources (DCNR) an unusual background. Only time will tell whether one whose career has been in scrap recycling understands the depth and breadth of environmental issues facing Pennsylvania – particularly issues regarding deep shale natural gas extraction, processing and transmission.

Mr. Allan would be wise to listen carefully to DCNR’s experienced staffers, particularly its scientists and attorneys, whose training and daily work experience in environmental areas is more recent than Mr. Allan’s bachelors degree.

Besides the issue of adequate background for an understanding of PA’s environmental complexities, there are some other areas of potential concern. There’s the obvious one of whether campaign contributions, family and political connections fostered a political appointment. And, there are questions about Mr. Allan’s status within Allan Industries, including whether he continues to profit from this corporation and whether its activities are regulated by either DCNR, which he will head or PA DEP, where his wife holds a key position.

More important, however, is how this appointment may affect the relationships among regulatory agencies. When considering the long term and critically important connection that DCNR has had with PA’s Department of Environmental Protection (PA DEP), some may question the appropriateness of having DCNR’s head coming from the same household as PA DEP’s Policy Director. Both agencies have working relationships in such crucial areas as permit reviews. With budget cuts and mandates for expedited permit reviews coming from the new Governor, one can only hope that concerns of potential conflicts of interest will not materialize and DCNR’s role will not be further marginalized than it has been to date from its severe budget cuts.

Anne