SRBC meeting in MD

Here is some info from Stargazette.com

The Susquehanna River Basin Commission is to vote this week on whether to relax regulations governing water used for gas drilling.The quarterly meeting is scheduled to be held 8:30 a.m. Thursday at the Chesapeake Lodge Hotel and Conference Center at Sandy Cove Ministries, 60 Sandy Cove Road, North East, MD., according to a news release.

Blossburg Council Votes to Change Zoning for Water Fracking Plant

http://splashdownpa.blogspot.com/2009/09/blossburg-council-votes-to-change.html

Check out this article by Cheryl Clarke of the Sun Gazette.  The issues that arise out of this article in my mind are as follows. What will the gas companies do with the water after it has been sold back to them? The word “diluted” is used, which  means that the toxins used from  fracking wells will not be completely removed from the water, just mixed with enough clean water to dilute the mixture to what point? To the point that they deem it is okay to back into the ground? Can it be reused for fracking other wells? Even if the fracking mixture is a very low percentage of chemicals when used on millions of gallons of water that percentage adds up and could be quite astonishing. In short, these chemicals and toxins should not be in our drinking or bathing water at all.  I am also concerned about the people who are supposed to make a decision about the permit for drawing water from the steams in the Blossburg area. At this point, the ability of the local conservation districts to review permits in full has been removed and it is very easy for the gas companies to get these permits. How can we be sure that the streams can handle this amount of water withdrawal?

If you live in Blossburg you really need to read this and be concerned. If you live nearby you should also be concerned.Personally, I think we should all be concerned about these events, even the ones happening on the other side of the country. I have heard one too many local people exclaim that they will “just move somewhere else” if their well gets contaminated. Well, at this point there are very places you can move to avoid this because almost all the rural areas of this country are being bombarded with oil and gas drilling or coal mining, and every single place is dealing with the same issues of water contamination and natural resource destruction as well as major health issues to the residents.

We cannot afford to sit idly by while these large companies come in and take the safety of our homes and drinking water away. These companies have money but we have voices and we need to use them. We also have the power of choice. We can choose to stop signing the lease agreements. Stop letting ourselves make decisions with only half the information, or accepting the information these companies want us to hear. Stop feeling like we are powerless to do anything and thus give up on our land and our homes as well as the beautiful natural resources that we have in north central PA! There are many paths we can choose to follow. This is not an inevitable road of destruction and greed with no other option and the more we can educate ourselves and others the less powerless we will feel.

There is much to do and not as much time to do it as we would like.  Everyone is busy. Everyone finds it easier to shake their heads and say “what can I do?” or “They’ve already started drilling now and we can’t stop them”.  If we follow that course of action then there will truly be nothing we can do.

We have the power of Voice!

Fired Up!

Ready To Go!

Water Problems From Drilling Are More Frequent Than PA Officials Said

http://www.propublica.org/feature/water-problems-from-drilling-are-more-frequent-than-officials-said-731

News on the CBF appeals to DEP and Water Pollution!

This is a must read article!

Group appeals DEP’s expedited permits for gas drilling
Thursday, September 10, 2009
By Don Hopey, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation is challenging the state’s new expedited permitting process for Marcellus shale gas wells, claiming that it fails to police drilling and doesn’t protect streams from erosion and sedimentation runoff.

The foundation yesterday filed an appeal with the state’s Environmental Hearing Board of permits granted by the state Department of Environmental Protection to Fortuna Energy Inc. to drill in the Tioga State Forest in Tioga County.

Last week, the foundation filed similar appeals of two other DEP permits granted to Fortuna and Ultra Resources for Marcellus shale gas wells on private land in Tioga County.

All of those permits were granted by the DEP since April when it stripped County Conservation Districts of the authority to review gas well drilling erosion and sedimentation plans. The DEP, without public notice, also instituted an expedited permitting process that requires only an administrative review to determine if all permit paperwork has been submitted.

The new DEP permit requires no technical review of the environmental impacts on wetlands or streams by the state, which is illegal under state and federal clean streams law, according to Matt Royer, Chesapeake Bay Foundation attorney.

“The DEP is rubber-stamping permit applications without any independent environmental review,” Mr. Royer said. “And it’s putting Pennsylvania’s precious waters and streams at risk.”

He said winning the appeal would set a statewide precedent and require DEP to perform environmental reviews on each permit application.

Teresa Candori, a DEP spokeswoman, would not comment on the appeal.

When the DEP removed the Conservation Districts from the permitting process, it said the changes would consolidate permit review and inspection within the department’s regional oil and gas offices where 37 new inspectors had been hired to handle a flood of drilling permit applications for Marcellus shale wells.

But the Pennsylvania Campaign for Clean Water, a coalition of 36 environmental groups, immediately condemned the change as illegal because it was done without public notice and provided for no meaningful agency review of the drilling operations.

It’s estimated that Pennsylvania could have as much as 363 trillion cubic feet of natural gas worth as much as $1 trillion deep underground in the shale formations that underlie three-fourths of the state. The gas wells to tap those deposits are 5,000 to 8,000 feet deep and each uses up to 4 million gallons of pressurized, chemically treated water to crack or “frac” the shale and release the natural gas. The wastewater left over contains high levels of salts, dissolved solids and fracing chemicals.

Mr. Royer said the Tioga County Conservation District had approved an erosion and sedimentation plan for earth disturbance caused by construction of a single eight-acre well pad after doing field surveys of wetlands and stormwater runoff conditions in the state forest.

But in recent months the DEP has approved 13 amendments to that permit, including nine for additional well pads and three for impoundments for drilling waste water that authorized clearing 105 acres of timberland without conducting technical reviews of the plans or their cumulative effects on the forest or nearby streams.

Don Hopey can be reached at dhopey@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1983.


A Couple of Incidents

Here are a couple of incidents involving gas wells going on in PA.  Please make an effort to call DEP if you see anything going on that you think may be in violation. Examples would be something like excessive water withdrawal from streams or erosion and sediment concerns. You can call Patty Dillman at 570.662.0830 or Barb Santonico at 570.327.0549. Patty works in our local area for the DEP and Barb is the Williamsport area representative who will make sure the complaint gets to the right program. These complaints must be responded to by a DEP inspector and they are REQUIRED to respond within 10 days.

Chesapeake Appalachia Penalty, Asylum Township, Bradford County: Chesapeake was drilling a gas well at the Chancellor well site in Asylum Township.  During operations there was a release of about 295 gallons of hydrochloric acid between February 9 and 10.  Chesapeake performed remedial activities to address the release in a timely manner and made institutional changes in an effort to avoid future releases.  Chesapeake agreed to a civil penalty assessment in the amount of $15,557.38, which included $619.88 in DEP costs.  The consent assessment was finalized on Sept. 9.  (Jennifer Means 570-321-6557)

EOG Resources Inc., Lawrence Township, Clearfield County: During a complaint investigation on Aug. 25, Oil and Gas program staff discovered elevated water quality parameters in a small spring and the headwater portion of Alex Branch.  These waters are located near several EOG Resources natural gas well sites in Lawrence Township.  Oil and Gas program staff and Pa. Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) staff subsequently conducted further testing on Aug. 27 in an effort to determine the extent of the pollution.  The results of this testing confirmed our initial suspicions of pollution.  On Sept. 4, DEP and PFBC staff met on site with representatives from EOG Resources to initiate an implementation schedule that addresses the extent of the pollution and proactive measures the company has initiated to address this issue.  There are two gas well sites that DEP is investigating at this point–8H well and 9H well–and an associated surface release of fracking flow back material.  This release was associated with a “misting event” that occurred as the company was flowing back the 9H well.  Due to the high pressures associated with this part of the drilling process, some of the flow back material is released to the fracking pit as a mist.  Some of this mist left the pad location and deposited on the ground.  One of the pits associated with the 8H well has been completely removed, including cuttings and liners.  EOG has been cooperative in the process and has retained an environmental consultant to conduct further sampling.  Oil and Gas and Environmental Cleanup program staff are continuing to investigate these incidents to determine what further remedial measures and enforcement actions will be necessary. 

Centre County Transfer Station Inspection, College Township, Centre County: On Sept. 9, the Waste Management program conducted a trash vehicle inspection at the Centre County Solid Waste Authority’s transfer station in College Township.  DEP staff conducted operational and safety inspections.  There were 43 vehicle inspections with 16 violations found on 12 vehicles. There were three violations for having incomplete or no signs on the vehicle, nine violations for not maintaining a daily operational log, two violations for leaking load, one violation for a discharged fire extinguisher and one violation for not having a tarp on the load.  There were 12 notice of violations issued. The assessments for the violations could go as high as $1,500 per violation.  

PA Budget and Taxing the Oil and Gas Industries

Below is a letter from the PA State Forest Coalition. Has some good contact numbers and other info in it.

72 Days without a State Budget  – Help the Politicians Solve the Budget Impasse

Pennsylvania is poised to be the center of the Marcellus Gas industry.  Our location, close to pipelines and the big markets on the East Coast, is ideal because their biggest cost is transportation – getting the gas to markets.

The Gas Industry will make billions of dollars from drilling in the Marcellus. That’s a given.  Pennsylvania taxpayers should not be stuck paying for the damage they do to our roads, bridges and water supplies.

Natural gas is not subject to local taxation in Pennsylvania (PA Supreme Court 2/19/09), so the Townships & Counties suffering the damage will have a big problem footing the bill for repairs.

Pennsylvania State Representative Bud George has proposed a Natural Resource Severance Tax Act (House Bill 1489).  Of the 14 states with large natural gas fields, only California and Pennsylvania do not have a gas severance tax.  HB 1489 is a fair bill. It would ensure that tax dollars would be returned to the communities suffering the impact of the industry.

The Pennsylvania bill is nothing new – it is simply copying what West Virginia had recently enacted – but the Lobbyists are crying to our politicians “Don’t kill our infant industry with a tax on the gas we take”.                             Bullfeathers, folks.

The Oil & Gas industry can certainly afford the extraction fees.

The 200 largest O&G companies now operating in Pennsylvania all have between 108 and 5,374 wells.  A total of almost 98,000 wells.

See DEP’s listing at:

http://www.dep.state.pa.us/dep/deputate/minres/OILGAS/2008%20Operators%20w%20GT100%20Active%20Wells.htm

A recent Penn State publication titled “Marcellus Shale: What Local Government Officials Need to Know,” stated on page 15 that local municipalities will “very likely will face higher demands for services and thus higher costs, and yet receive little new revenues to pay for those services. The result could be higher local taxes  .  .  . ”

View the entire document at:

http://downloads.cas.psu.edu/naturalgas/pdf/MarcellusShaleWhatLocalGovernmentOfficialsneedtoknow.pdf

HB 1489 would ensure that the gas industry pays its own way for the impact it will make on the boroughs and townships in Pennsylvania because the municipalities would share part of the revenue.

When we remember the damage left behind by previous extraction of oil and coal in Pennsylvania  (taxpayers are still footing the bills for that damage), it is only fair that the industry pays their own way this time around.

We’ve been 72 days without a State Budget.   Go to www.legis.state.pa.us, enter your zip code in the upper-right corner and contact your State Senator and Representative.

Use a few of the talking points we covered to convince your legislators that we’ll be stuck for the bills associated with the Marcellus Gas extraction unless the Gas Companies pull their own weight for a change.

.   .   .   Do your good deed for the week for Pennsylvania

Dick Martin
Coordinator,  PaForestCoalition.org

Toxic Waters

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/13/us/13water.html?_r=1&scp=1&sq=water%20and%20coal%20mining&st=cse

Please read this article and don’t for get to check out the video along side it on the left. This is in regards to the coal mining in West Virginia but the results of this and the gas drilling are very similar and extremely scary!