Susquehanna River Sentinel

I just wanted to pass along this link to another blogger’s site who is offering some great information. His recent post addresses water withdrawls and there is a note about Pine Creek (the one that runs through Tioga County, PA) and the water that is being taken from that source.

http://srs444.blogspot.com/2011/04/hydrofracturing-minus-water-moratorium.html

Pittsburgh Sets Model to Reject Corporate-Imposed Energy Policies; passes ban on natural gas extraction

November 30, 2010

By S.B. Thompson

Chambersburg, PA –

Edited for length *

The Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF) is actively involved in many issues to help prevent corporations from raping America’s land and resources, including speaking out against uranium mining and mountaintop removal.

Earlier this month, CELDF issued an “Open Letter to Communities Working to Stop Fracking,” bringing attention to Pittsburgh, PA – which has set a great example for other cities, towns, and communities to follow to take back their power.

Pittsburg’s recent ban against hydrofracking within their city limits really sends a message.  Local officials – acting against the heavy lobby of energy companies – have moved to protect the people from the significant threats posed to their life and health by natural gas drilling companies engaged in hydrofracking (a.k.a. “fracking” in the energy industry) within the Marcellus Shale area of the United States (i.e. from the New England, down into The Mid Atlantic).

 

Here is what CELDF reported:

“This morning, the Pittsburgh City Council became the first municipality in the United States to ban natural gas extraction within its boundaries. The ordinance isn’t just a ban – it consists of a new Bill of Rights for Pittsburgh residents (which includes a right to water along with rights for ecosystems and nature), and then proceeds to ban those activities – including natural gas extraction – which would violate those rights. But it doesn’t stop there…

 

New Pittsburgh Ordinance Takes Back Rights from Corporations

The ordinance seeks to undo over a hundred years’ worth of law in the United States which gives corporations greater rights than the communities in which they do business. Those rights come in two primary forms – first are corporate constitutional rights and powers (including court-bestowed constitutional rights of persons, or “personhood” rights), and second, are corporate rights that have been codified by statewide laws (like Pennsylvania’s Oil and Gas Act), which liberate the corporation from local control in individual issue areas.

When a community makes a decision which runs afoul of either of those corporate rights frameworks, corporate decision makers use the courts to throw out the community’s decision. If a municipality bans a State-permitted activity, it gets sued for “taking” the corporation’s property as a constitutional violation. If it attempts to legislate in an area in which the State has created a regulatory program which permits the activity, the community then gets sued by the corporation for violating preemptive state law.  .  .

 

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What does this have to do with fracking in the Marcellus shale formation?

Everything. The rationale behind the Pittsburgh ordinance is a simple one. If we respect and comply with those frameworks of law – playing within the sandbox that has been constructed for us – we’ll get drilled. It’s as straightforward as simple arithmetic.

Which brings us to another logical conclusion: if we want to stop the drilling, we must therefore undo those false corporate rights frameworks. Over a hundred other municipal governments across Pennsylvania have joined Pittsburgh in reaching that revelation – that the only way to stop agribusiness factory farms, sewage sludge dumping, corporate waste disposal, and natural gas extraction is to frontally and directly challenge those layers of corporate law which have removed any vestige of community self-government.

As with the passage of similar ordinances by municipalities in Pennsylvania over the past several years, which have dealt with an array of issues, the Pittsburgh ordinance will result in a lot of hand-wringing by statewide environmental groups, which have made long careers out of not coloring outside of the lines.

 

As they see it, their job is to work within existing law and do their best to limit environmental damage. That’s why they call for more zoning laws (even though horizontal drilling defeats the purpose of zoning the placement of drilling pads, for example), or a severance tax (which ironically, encourages even more drilling to produce more revenue). It’s why they talk about “responsible” drilling and natural gas as a “bridge” to a sustainable energy future.

It’s why they’ve talked themselves into seeing drilling as inevitable, and that the best we can do is simply to endure it. In doing so, they’ve condemned our communities to the same kind of damage that the gas corporations are forcing upon us. They may be nice people, but they’re not our friends in this mess. They’re too obedient in a situation that demands fighting back.

 

Stopping the drilling means coming face-to-face with the reality that this country isn’t what we thought it was…. that the rights-frameworks claimed by the corporations are not just a tragic mistake, but are the underlying reality demonstrated by our existence in a system in which the legal system serves corporate production, but not community democracy.

These local ordinances intend to turn that structure upside down – subordinating corporate “rights” and corporate production to local self-governance and the rights of nature, rather than the other way around. For that reason, if we truly believe in economic and environmental sustainability, variations of the Pittsburgh ordinance must spread to a thousand other communities in the path of the Marcellus shale drillers.

* Read the complete, original article at:

http://7bends.com/2010/11/30/pittsburgh-bans-hydrofracking-victory-for-the-peope/

EPA’s Public Meeting on Hydraulic Fracturing

EPA’s Public Meeting on Hydraulic Fracturing Study to Take Place in Binghamton, New York; Meeting Scheduled for September 13 and 15 at the Broome County Forum Theater

Release date: 08/31/2010

Contact Information: John Senn, (212) 637-3667, senn.john@epa.gov

New York, NY – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has selected a new venue and dates for the public meeting on EPA’s upcoming hydraulic fracturing study originally scheduled for August 12, 2010. The meeting will now be held at the Broome County Forum Theater in Binghamton, New York, on September 13th and 15th, 2010.

Meeting Information:
EPA will hold four identical sessions during a two day session at the same location:

Date: Monday, September 13, 2010
Location: Broome County Forum Theater, 236 Washington St., Binghamton
Time:

  • 12:00pm – 4:00pm (pre-registration begins at 10:30am)
  • 6:00pm – 10:00pm (pre-registration begins at 4:30pm)

Date: Wednesday, September 15, 2010
Location: Broome County Forum Theater, 236 Washington St., Binghamton
Time:

  • 12:00pm – 4:00pm (pre-registration begins at 10:30am)
  • 6:00pm – 10:00pm (pre-registration begins at 4:30pm)
Transition from the Postponed August 12 Meeting
The four sessions scheduled for September 13 and 15, 2010 will be identical to those already convened in Dallas, Texas; Denver, Colorado; and Canonsburg, Pennsylvania. The agenda will match that of the meetings previously scheduled for August 12. As with all previous meetings, EPA will make a short presentation at the beginning of each session and registered speakers will then have the opportunity to provide verbal or written comments directly to EPA.

All individuals who pre-registered for the August 12 meetings will retain their registration for the September 13 and 15 meetings. Because the timing of the sessions has changed from a one-day event to a two-day event and EPA has added another meeting session, EPA needs pre-registered individuals to specify the session they would like to attend.

  1. Pre-registered speakers for the August 12 session will be sent an e-mail from the Cadmus Group requesting they select one preferred session in which to provide verbal comment. The email notification will provide instructions on how to choose a session. Speakers who pre-registered using the telephone registration will be contacted by Cadmus by phone to confirm their preferred session.
  2. Pre-registered attendees (those who opted not to give verbal comment) will be asked to indicate the session they would like to attend via the registration website. The registration website is located at http://hfmeeting.cadmusweb.com and will open beginning at 9:00 am on Friday, September 3, 2010…….
For additional questions or comments, please email hydraulic.fracturing@epa.gov or call 1-866-477-3635. Meeting information may be found on the EPA Hydraulic Fracturing Study website athttp://water.epa.gov/type/groundwater/uic/class2/hydraulicfracturing/wells_hydroout.cfm……

For Gas-Drilling Data, There’s a New Place to Dig

by Nicholas Kusnetz
ProPublica, July 12, 2:01 p.m.

Starving for data about natural gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale? A new website hopes to feed your need. A couple of environmental and public health groups have teamed up to create FracTracker, a web tool that brings together different data sets and presents the information on a map. Launched in late June, FracTracker allows users to upload their own data on all-things-gas-drilling, from lists of drilling permits or incident records to maps of air monitoring stations. Others can then go to the site and either look at the data in map form or download it raw. The site is run by the University of Pittsburgh’s Center for Healthy Environments and Communities (CHEC), which is funded by the Heinz Endowments. It is hosted by the Foundation for Pennsylvania Watersheds, an environmental group that funds local projects aimed at protecting the state’s waterways….

To see the entire article about Frack Tracker, click here:

http://www.propublica.org/article/for-gas-drilling-data-theres-a-new-place-to-dig

To go directly to Frack Tracker click here:

Natural Gas Company’s Disclosure Decision Could Change Fracking Debate

By MIKE SORAGHAN of Greenwire

A Texas natural gas producer’s decision to voluntarily disclose the chemicals it injects into the ground could prompt other drillers to do the same, and pave the way for regulators to require such disclosure. But Range Resources Corp.’s move also reflects the desire of industry to get out ahead of the issue to prevent federal regulation of the key drilling practice called hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. At least one other major driller, Chesapeake Energy Corp., says it is considering disclosing chemicals used in fracking on a well-by-well basis as Range is planning. And members of the industry’s main trade association, the American Petroleum Institute, are finalizing their own proposal for disclosure, an API spokeswoman said yesterday. But it could provide less information than what environmentalists and lawmakers have sought, and also less than what Range is preparing to disclose.

Read the whole thing here:

http://www.nytimes.com/gwire/2010/07/15/15greenwire-natural-gas-companys-disclosure-decision-could-5706.html?pagewanted=all

Seeing Gas Drilling’s Ugly Side Firsthand

The following is a blog – a personal perspective –  on visiting Dimock, PA and seeing for the first time gas drilling’s impact on that area. After taking the last couple of weekends to travel around PA to see this sort of thing for myself I know how scary and powerful it can be. This blog is well done and I wanted to share it with all of you. Thanks for the link Anne!

Visiting Dimock, Seeing Gas Drilling’s Ugly Side Firsthand

Kate Sinding
Senior Attorney, New York City
Posted April 15, 2010 in Curbing Pollution

Like so many who have been following controversial gas drilling issues in the Northeast’s Marcellus Shale region (the geological formation that stretches from West Virginia to upstate New York), I have been hearing and reading about, and seeing images of, Dimock, PA for the past roughly year-and-a-half.  For those not in the know, Dimock has become the unfortunate poster child for all that can go wrong when industrial gas drilling in the Marcellus isn’t adequately regulated and companies make mistakes.  Residents have experienced the wide array of adverse effects associated with shale gas production – many of them, it should be noted, inherent in the activity even under the best of circumstances. These impacts include: exploding water wells, contaminated water supplies necessitating daily fresh water deliveries (complete with home invasion in order to accept the regular deliveries), rural landscapes utterly transformed into industrial zones, constant diesel fumes, 24-hour-a-day traffic and noise that literally shakes the walls of homes.

I finally had the opportunity to visit Dimock in person earlier this week.  This is the first of a series of posts that I’ll file giving some of my impressions.  I’m doing this not because I have something new or unique to offer, but because the experience so affected me.  And the people who invited me into their homes deserve to have their stories told. I have been working on the Marcellus Shale gas drilling issue for about two-and-a-half years, but as much as I have read, listened to stories, seen photos and video footage and talked about the potential adverse impacts, nothing can compare to seeing, hearing and smelling them live….

Only when you’re standing in the front yard of someone’s dream home – which was once surrounded only by their residential neighbors and farms – and see, hear, smell and feel the vibrations of the incessant truck traffic that passes at all hours of the day and night can you truly understand how transformative it is when gas production arrives in a community.  Only when you hear the constant industrial noise from every direction as new well pads are cleared, well bores drilled and then fracked – noise that likewise exists around the clock – can you comprehend how those whose lives have already been turned upside down by drilling gone wrong can never escape the constant auditory reminders.  And only when you stand in the backyard of a family who moved to the beautiful Dimock countryside after their last home burned to the ground and see the well pads to both their immediate left and right does it become clear that – even if everything had gone “right” – this family now lives in an industrial zone….

Visiting  Dimock, Seeing Gas Drilling’s Ugly Side Firsthand

To read the full blog, see photos and read others’ reactions to the blog, click here:

http://switchboard.nrdc.org/blogs/ksinding/visiting_dimock_seeing_gas_dri.html

Gas and drilling not clean choices

Robert Howarth

Natural gas is marketed as a clean fuel with less impact on global warming than oil or coal, a transitional fuel to replace other fossil fuels until some distant future with renewable energy. Some argue that we have an obligation to develop Marcellus Shale gas, despite environmental concerns. I strongly disagree.

Natural gas as a clean fuel is a myth. While less carbon dioxide is emitted from burning natural gas than oil or coal, emissions during combustion are only part of the concern. Natural gas is mostly methane, a greenhouse gas with 72 times more potential than carbon dioxide to warm our planet (per molecule, averaged over the 20 years following emission). I estimate that extraction, transport and combustion of Marcellus gas, together with leakage of methane, makes this gas at least 60 percent more damaging for greenhouse warming than crude oil and similar in impact to coal.

The most recent method of hydro-fracking is relatively new technology, massive in scope and far from clean in ways beyond greenhouse gas emissions. The landscape could be dotted with thousands of drilling pads, spaced as closely as one every 40 acres. Compacted gravel would cover three to five acres for each. New pipelines and access roads crisscrossing the landscape would connect the pads. Ten or more wells per pad are expected. Every time a well is “fracked,” 1,200 truck trips will carry the needed water.

Drillers will inject several million gallons of water and tens of thousands of pounds of chemicals into each well. Some of this mixture will stay deep in the shale, but cumulatively, billions of gallons of waste fluids will surface. Under current law, drillers can use absolutely any chemical additive or waste, with no restrictions and no disclosure. Recent experience in Pennsylvania indicates regular use of toxic, mutagenic and carcinogenic substances. Out of 24 wells sampled there, flow-back wastes from every one contained high levels of 4-Nitroquinoline-1-oxide, (according to the New York Department of Environmental Conservation). It is one of the most mutagenic compounds known. Flow-back wastes also contain toxic metals and high levels of radioactivity extracted from the shale, in addition to the materials used by drillers.

Industry tells us that surface and groundwater contamination is unlikely, since gas is deep in the ground and drilling operations are designed to minimize leakage. Nonsense. The technology is new and understudied, but early evidence shows high levels of contamination in some drinking water wells and rivers in other states.

Accidents happen, and well casings and cementing can fail. The geology of our region is complex, and water and materials under high pressure can move quickly to aquifers, rivers and lakes along fissures and fractures. Flow-back waters and associated chemical and radioactive wastes must be handled and stored at the surface, some in open pits and ponds unless government regulation prevents this. What will keep birds and wildlife away from it? What happens downstream if a heavy rain causes the toxic soup to overflow the dam? What happens to these wastes? Adequate treatment technologies and facilities do not exist.

What about government regulation and oversight? The DEC is understaffed,underfunded and has no history with the scale and scope of exploitation now envisioned. Federal oversight is almost completely gone, due to Congress exempting gas development from most environmental laws, including the Safe Drinking Water Act, in 2005.

We can be independent of fossil fuels within 20 years and rely on renewable green technologies, such as wind and solar. The constraints on this are mostly political, not technical. We do not need to sacrifice a healthy environment to industrial gas development. Rather, we need to mobilize and have our region provide some badly needed national leadership toward a sustainable energy future.