Ignorance isn’t the problem

Here is another wordpress blog that was emailed to me. Add it to your list if you have time or room for one more.

http://boatrocker.wordpress.com/2010/06/14/ignorance-isnt-the-problem/

Health Effects of Water Contamination from Fracking

World-Renowned Scientist Dr. Theo Colborn on the Health Effects of Water Contamination from Fracking

Coburn

The Environmental Protection Agency has begun a review of how the drilling process known as hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” can affect drinking water quality. We speak to Dr. Theo Colborn, the president of the Endocrine Disruption Exchange and one of the foremost experts on the health and environmental effects of the toxic chemicals used in fracking.

To listen to the webcast or read the transcript of the program, click here:

http://www.democracynow.org/2010/4/14/world_renowned_scientist_dr_theo_colborn#

Getting the water in your well tested?

If you are having a gas well put in on your property, I hope you are also having the water in your well tested prior to any drilling. Despite the costly manner of having your well water tested I would say that it should be a mandatory procedure. A basic test can be anywhere from $300.00 to $1,000.00. If you live next to someone else who is having a well put on their property you should also seriously consider having your well water tested.

There has been some discussion and worries about what sort of metals of chemicals and toxins should be tested for and who should/can to do the tests. Seewald laboratories out of Williampsort, PA offers well water testing that covers all the basic tests AND the procedures used by Seewald to test the water are acceptable and will hold up in a court of law. If you are using some of the other “mom & pop” testing companies who may not always follow all the correct procedures, such as “chain of custody”, or doing it yourself (which can be much more affordable – $80.00) the chances of the test being useful for a court case is pretty insignificant. The phone number for Seewald is 570.326.4001. If you think the chance of needing to take the gas company drilling on your land, or your neighbors, is not likely, check out this link.

http://www.topix.com/com/cog

Penn State Cooperative Extention has published this, which you might find useful if you are wanting more information about water well contamination, what’s in the ground that can get in your well and water testing.

http://resources.cas.psu.edu/WaterResources/pdfs/gasdrilling.pdf

Clean Water in PA seems harder and harder to come by

Published: October 31, 2009 by Newsitem.com

Gutting DEP, aging Clean Water Act all wet

A report by the environmental advocacy group PennEnvironment illustrates the folly of state lawmakers eviscerating the Department of Environmental Protection and a need for Congress to reinvigorate the Clean Water Act of 1972.

PennEnvironment analyzed the federal Toxic Release Inventory for 2007 and found that industries released 2.6 million pounds of pollutants into the Susquehanna River that year. That’s more than 25 percent of the 10 million pounds of industrial pollutants that were released into waterways statewide in 2007, a year in which Pennsylvania was among the top five states in total volume.

The report puts a disturbing exclamation point on the new state budget, which reduces the budget for the Department of Environmental Protection by about a third.

And the study is an incomplete picture because it deals with “point source” discharges alone, that is, known quantifiable discharges from known sources. It does not catalogue non-point source pollution such as fertilizer and animal waste the enter waterways from farms.

Nor does the report deal with so-called “legacy” pollution – toxic matter deposited in the river for more than a century by mines and other industries that no longer exist.

The report is drawn from existing data. It should serve as a reminder to Harrisburg and Washington that water pollution remains an enormous problem.

State lawmakers and regulators should ensure that clean water enforcement remains a priority despite the hatchet that the Legislature took to the DEP. Perhaps lawmakers can stop hoarding their own $200 million surplus and dedicate some of it to the cause of clean water.

Congress should proceed with a revision of the Clean Water Act that sets higher standards, includes all streams and wetlands under regulation, and limits the discharge non-point source pollution along with industrial toxins.

 

Here is a link to the 2008 Bureau of Water annual report.

http://www.hbgauthority.com/Monthly%20Reports/Water/2008%20Bureau%20of%20Water%20Annual%20Report.pdf

And here is a link to a consumer confidence report by United Water for 2008.

http://www.unitedwater.com/uploadedFiles/Localized_Content/UW_Pennsylvania/50/UWPA_Harrisburg_Consumer_Confidence_Report.pdf

Neither of these reports has direct information regarding the gas industry but there is some good information about water in PA and where it comes from, especially if you do not live in a rural area. Just some FYI as well as a few eye openers here and there that we rarely think about, yet drink every day. There are also some interesting findings on bottled water in PA especially in places like State College. Voices of Central PA, a public newspaper out of Centre County, is currently working on some research regarding this. Check out their website for details although the articles may not be up on the web yet.

Funding Cuts Mean Potential Collapse of Environmental Oversight in Pennsylvania

October 15, 2009
Press Release from the Chesapeake Bay Foundation

(HARRISBURG, PA)—The Chesapeake Bay Foundation expressed grave concern over environmental funding cuts in the recently adopted Pennsylvania budget that threaten to further reduce Pennsylvania’s commitment to clean up rivers and streams, and fail to provide much-needed environmental oversight and funding to limit impacts from Marcellus Shale natural gas drilling.

“The budget approved last Friday rolls back years of progress in cleaning up Pennsylvania rivers and streams.” said Matthew Ehrhart, Executive Director of CBF’s Pennsylvania office. “It contains the biggest cuts ever made to environmental programs in the history of the Commonwealth.”

The new state budget reduces the state’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) personnel by $21.1 million, representing over 300 people responsible for implementing the agency’s environmental protection duties. The inequity of these cuts is stark—the 26.7 percent reduction in the DEP budget was nearly triple the average 9 percent cut other state agencies took in this budget.

“Not only has state government cut the Department of Environmental Protection by over 26 percent, it has failed to find the over $600 million in funding DEP says is needed by farmers and others to meet the mandates of the federal Clean Water Act to cleanup the watersheds contributing pollution to the Chesapeake Bay, Ehrhart said.”

The cut to DEP staff raises significant concerns about whether the agency can conduct basic and mandatory environmental protection duties. Without adequate staff, permits necessary for new business activity will not get reviewed and issued.

“Without the boots on the ground, full enforcement of environmental laws will not occur,” Ehrhart said.

Drastic cuts were also made to the only new resource the state has contributed to clean water in the last six years, namely the Resources Enhancement and Protection Program (REAP) farm conservation tax credit program, which was cut by 50% to $5 million this year.

In addition to cuts at DEP, the already understaffed conservation districts, a key player in water cleanup efforts, were cut by $600,000.

“Without the on-the-ground help provided by the conservation districts, not only can’t we spend the state dollars we have for farm conservation work, we will not be able to take full advantage of funding available through the federal Farm Bill to help our farmers install conservation practices.”

The new budget also eliminates completely the modest $2 million available for county stormwater management planning, another key element in reducing nutrient pollution from runoff, and reduces basic sewage planning and enforcement by 40 percent.

These cuts exacerbate a trend of cuts to critical clean water programs seen in the last several years which total almost half a billion dollars. They include:

  • $376 million reduction in grants to support wastewater treatment plant operations over the last six years;
  • $100 million diverted from the Growing Greener Program to pay for other programs and pay down the debt on bonds; and
  • $5 million cut from the highly successful REAP farm conservation tax credit this year.

Another environmental funding crisis looms as Growing Greener funding will run out in 2010, leaving a gaping multi-million dollar hole that must be filled.

“We believe many of these clean water funding gaps can be filled through the adoption of a severance tax on natural gas production being developed by out-of-state companies in Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale gas fields,” said Ehrhart. “These companies stand to make billions of dollars over the next several decades exploiting a Pennsylvania natural resource just like coal, timber and oil companies did in the past. This time, we need to be smarter and require these companies to contribute so that impacts to our land and water resources caused by their exploitation can be offset.”

Instead of passing a severance tax, lawmakers and the Governor agreed to open up our state forest lands to more drilling. While a valiant effort championed in the House of Representatives successfully limited the scale of this drilling, the severance tax ultimately did not meet demands of the Senate, nor the Governor, who had originally called for a severance tax as part of his initial budget proposed back in February. Yet the Marcellus Shale gas boom continues at an unprecedented rate, and environmental impact is mounting. In September, DEP ordered Cabot Oil and Gas Corporation to cease drilling operations after three separate chemical spills polluted streams and wetlands and caused a fish kill in Susquehanna County.

“In order to ensure the protection of our rivers and streams and prevent a battle over our public lands every year, we call upon the General Assembly to pass a severance tax as soon as possible,” said Ehrhart.

“Balancing budgets in tough economic times means establishing priorities, holding the line on spending, being creative about new revenue sources, and cutting non-essential funding,” said Ehrhart. “But the cuts made in this budget fail to prioritize both federal and state mandates to clean up our most precious, fundamental resource—our water. Our state government is not doing the job it is required to do by law and we all will pay the price for years to come.”

http://www.cbf.org/Page.aspx?pid=1453 This is the link to their website if you want more info or want to know more about the organization themselves. They also have a quarterly publication called “Save the Bay” that has an article about the gad drilling crisis. You can download it from their site or actually join the organization and get the quarterly publication in the mail.

Citizens Question Troy Water Sales

This short article from the Daily Review poses some questions from folks living in the Troy area. They asked some good questions and these questions are something that we should all be aware of and asking our own municipalities.

BY ERIC HRIN

TROY – A concerned citizens group in Troy has asked the borough about the sales of water to gas companies in the local natural gas drilling industry.

It was one of the issues brought up by the group in a letter submitted to the borough and signed by the Rev. Garry Zuber of Troy. On Oct. 1, the citizens met at the Troy Baptist Church to discuss mutual concerns regarding the borough. Zuber had presided over the meeting.

“How much is the borough (sic) making from the sale of water to the gas companies and where is that money going?” the letter read. “How is it being used?”

In a formal response to the citizens’ letter, Brian Laverty, borough council president, wrote that the sale of water has benefited all residents by keeping water rates unchanged in the face of major expenses.

“There has been a DEP (Department of Environmental Protection) required replacement of the cistern building that was collapsing,” he wrote. “The cost was $79,000 to replace. We have also updated our billing and meter reading system at a cost of $15,000. Also, many of the borough fire hydrants have been replaced and others will be repaired through funds received from the water sales.”

He wrote that many people fail to realize that many parts of the borough water infrastructure are more than 100 years old and are constantly being repaired and updated, as needed.

“A single valve can cost $1,000,” he continued. “Also, we have a multi-million dollar sewer treatment facility that is reaching the end of its life expectancy now that it is 21 years old. New regulations requiring system upgrades and replacing old pumps and motors is not going to come without major investment. Monies are prudently being set aside for all these capital improvements so that we could prevent a major rate hike which would cause an undue burden on our residents.”

Eric Hrin can be reached at (570) 297-5521; e-mail: reviewtroy@thedailyreview.com.