PRESS CONFERENCE – Moratorium on Drilling in State Forest

March 9 – 10 AM Moratorium on future gas leases in State Forests

Representative Vitali will hold a press conference in Media Room, main Capitol.

Greg will announce the introduction of a bill for 3 year moratorium on leasing in State Forests. He would like to have a stage full of representatives from Environmental Groups at the Press Conference.

Call Rob Fogel at Greg Vitali’s District Office 610 – 789 -3900 OR 717 – 787 – 7647

If you can’t get through to either number, the backup is 717-787-7647

to say “I’ll be there with bells on”

If you can’t be there, please find a warm body to represent your organization.

The press conference will take about 45 minutes.

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

Marcellus Shale and Other News from PA Enviromental Digest

Lots of info from the RDA in this entry.
There are a number of articles about Marcellus Shale drilling in this week’s PA Environment Digest:

http://www.paenvironmentdigest.com/newsletter/default.asp?NewsletterID=682

(1) See especially this about DCNR’s latest leasings. It was announced at the Trout Unlimited meeting in Williamsport this week that PA now has one third of its state forests under lease for gas drilling.
(2) Note also additional cuts to state agencies that are critical to monitoring the gas industries activities and for oversight of state forests: http://www.paenvironmentdigest.com/newsletter/default.asp?NewsletterArticleID=14570&SubjectID=
(3) Also seethe note about the Susquehanna River Basin Commission shutting down operations in Tioga County by Texas-based driller, Novus Operating, LLC.

My Turn by Joe Sestak

Pike County Courier > Opinion

MY TURN By Joe Sestak

Published: December 24, 2009

Caution required in gas drilling

I believe in the responsible development of Pennsylvania’s energy resources, including natural gas, as part of the transition to a cleaner, more renewable and more secure energy supply. In Pennsylvania alone, there are several hundred trillion cubic feet of natural gas — enough to supply this country’s demand for decades to come. Natural gas can boost our economy and cut our dependence on foreign oil. And it also causes less than half the carbon emissions of coal, allowing us to reduce our impact on climate change in the near term.

Our abundant natural resources are a blessing for our Commonwealth. We should never have to sacrifice our health and safety, clean air and water, natural lands, and communities to companies seeking access to our natural wealth. Clear regulations and strict accountability for violators can protect us from abuse and carelessness. Reasonable fees can offset the cost of these protections and provide a sustainable investment in Pennsylvania.

Done improperly, drilling can seriously harm our health and safety, environment, and land values. It should be done only with clear and transparent reporting and strong oversight. That’s why I have written to the Secretary of DEP urging the Department to make its reports on the oversight of the drilling operations readily available to the public.

It’s also important that Pennsylvanians know that this drilling, called hydrofracking, falls under the so-called “Halliburtron Loophole” that was slipped into President Bush’s energy bill in 2005 and allows energy companies to ignore the rules of the federal Safe Drinking Water Act. These protections exist for a reason. Fracking involves using huge amounts of water laced with chemicals, and it has already contaminated drinking water in seven counties across Pennsylvania. That’s why I co-sponsored the FRAC Act to close this loophole. I also helped pass legislation calling on the Environmental Protection Agency to look into threats this drilling method poses to our water supply.

Right now, the Pennsylvania legislature and the Department of Environmental Protection have the power and responsibility to protect the people of Pennsylvania from potential harmful effects of drilling. Wastewater regulations that have been proposed by DEP are a start, but much more needs to be done.

New regulations should not favor, by grandfathering, the use of older, less capable treatment processes at the expense of encouraging use of state of the art facilities. Regulations should cover all major components of fracking wastewater so that harmful substances don’t end up in our streams and rivers. Furthermore, the Commonwealth owes it to this, and future, generations to make sure drilling does not cause irreparable harm to our natural resources, especially our protected state lands.

I believe the state legislature and DEP must establish clear and effective regulation prior to further expansion of drilling in order to decide how best to protect our citizens and our natural resources. There is no doubt in my mind that if proper forces come to bare this can be done, and done quickly, so that we can move into a new era of economic prosperity for the Commonwealth while ensuring Pennsylvanians that their health and natural resources are adequately protected.

I am not convinced we currently have strong enough environmental, health, and property safeguards — and I am not satisfied that people will have the access to just compensation should even the best safeguards fail.

Let’s take a lesson from an earlier generation of energy development. Acid mine drainage is the legacy of abandoned coal mines. It has left 2,500 miles of deteriorated streams and 250,000 acres of contaminated land in Pennsylvania at an expense of $15 billion to clean up.

We have a real opportunity in Pennsylvania to benefit from the resources of Marcellus Shale, one of the largest natural gas reserves on the planet. There is no reason to allow this bounty to ultimately turn out to be a net harm for our state and our families.

Let’s not cash in on our resources today in a way that causes disproportionate harm, brings little lasting benefit, and results in a greater cost in the future. This is our state, these are our resources. Let’s utilize them in a way that is best for all the people of Pennsylvania and the generations that follow.

Editor’s note: This statement was delivered by US Senate candidate Rep. Joe Sestak (D-7-PA) At an Environmental Quality Board Public Hearing on the Proposed Wastewater Treatment Requirements Regulations:

Marcellus Shale Muster!!!

Marcellus Shale Muster – January 30, 2010

A Muster to build a strong coalition
in support of a natural gas extraction tax and protection of public forest and park land

Nittany Lion Inn, State College, 10:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Join the fight to:

  • Require big drilling companies to pay a severance tax on the extraction of Marcellus Shale gas so we can invest in the land, water wildlife and communities “hosting” the drilling;
  • Protect the precious resources our state forests provide and stop them from being treated like an ATM machine, by imposing a moratorium on further leasing of public land for gas drilling until we know the environmental and economic impacts;
  • Ensure that the Oil and Gas Lease Fund is used primarily for conservation purposes so our children are left with more than empty gas wells and degraded public lands.

We cannot do this alone. We need you to join the campaign to ensure that gas drillers pay their fair share to the people of Pennsylvania for the use of their natural and community resources and to gain adequate protection of our state forest and park lands.

At the Summit you will:

  • Hear from key legislative leaders about the importance of a severance tax on natural gas drilling;
  • Get a briefing about the challenges of managing gas drilling on state forest and state park land;
  • Learn how profitable the Marcellus Shale deposit is for gas drillers;
  • Find out how volunteers are becoming watch dogs;
  • Find out how you can help build a strong campaign.

Cost to attend the Muster is $25; registration is required. Click here to register toda