Monday, May 31, 2010

Seismic Testing: This Is What Happens

Seismic Mapping in Dimock, PA from Debbra Nagle on Vimeo.

The person who narrates this video does not seem to mind the idea of testing. This is an interesting video, showing a lot of the seismic testing process. This kind of testing is being done in many, many areas right now. When a landowner signs a permit to allow this testing, the workers feel free to come on the property and do their job unannounced unless the landowner requests a phone call. I tried this on a property in PA but was never contacted.

Here is an account of one resident of PA when a worker entered a property this week where she keeps her horses and her cow:

I was sitting out on the grass with a few friends today on Post Pond Road at a friend's house where I keep my horses and cow and on walks a seismic tester surveyor; one lone man with his ribbons and stakes and walked past us, up the driveway and opened the gate to the barn and proceeded to tie ribbons on the gate and fence and walked past the barn and into the field and did his dirty deed without saying a word to us or acknowledging us at all, like we didn't exist.

A very surreal, strange experience and I felt pissed off and angry, wanting to kick his ass off the property; the property is leased and the owner signed the permit for this nonsense and felt he had to because of how his lease was written. But to see this guy walk on the property and ignore us and do his thing, was disturbing--I had to take some breaths and cool down.
This is my (Peacegirl's) personal story: Last summer seismic testing was done on our family property in PA against my wishes, but another relative signed the permit. Geokinetics came on our property, driving all over the plce with their little Caterpillar vehicles, trampeling areas of our woods, and putting in dynamite right next to a little brook that I have crossed over for years in the summertime. They left there equipment on our property for several weeks. Blue, orange, and yellow ribbons were ominously tied on trees. When other family members were gathered there for a weekend later, men appeared walking on our property, unannounced. Reportedly, they were foreign, did not speak English, and did not interact with my family. (This is not to say that these men were anything but good people just doing their jobs.) However, it is just a bad feeling to encounter these things in a place that has felt safe and quiet for decades. Welcome to the new era of gas drilling.

Rachel Maddow Reports on the Gulf Oil Disaster: Deja Vu All Over Again?

Has the oil and gas industry made any improvements in the last 30 years? Yes, says Rachel Maddow, they have! They have improved their profit capabilities, making more money than any other industry in the history of the planet, and they have figured out how to drill deeper and deeper. Any advancements in disaster control or safety techniques?  No. That part hasn't been figured out yet. Isn't it too late now for the Gulf of Mexico, the people, the wildlife, the economies of many communities, the livelihoods of thousands of people, all the ecosystems impacted? Isn't it too late? I think it probably is.

South Florida Raging Grannies Tell BP What They Think!

The Raging Grannies of South Florida have recorded this little song to express their outrage about the preventable oil "spill"  in the Gulf of Mexico.  My hats off to these fine ladies.  They are wise and sing the truth to us all.  Go Grannies!  (In case your sensibilities might be insulted, watch and listen at your own risk. These grannies don't mince words!  Don't say you weren't warned.)

Wikipedia on the Raging Grannies

The South Florida Raging Grannies Sing For Healthcare for All

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Hydrofracking: Democracy Now's Amy Goodman Reports

Amy Goodman and her co-host Juan Gonzales report on hydraulic fracturing.  Democracy Now! has been featuring numerous reports lately on the negative effects of natural gas drilling.  This program airs on Free Speech TV channel 9415.  You can view it at  It is well worth checking out if you are not yet a devotee of Amy Goodman. 

Friday, May 28, 2010

Waxman Squelches Plan To Unveil Chemicals In Hydraulic Fracturing

Hickory, PA, water

The Energy Daily Network

May 27, 2010

Waxman Squelches Plan To Unveil Chemicals In Hydraulic Fracturing

In a rare instance where he sided with drillers over environmentalists, House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman Wednesday squelched an amendment to proposed water safety legislation that would have imposed chemical disclosure requirements on hydraulic fracturing, saying he wanted to wait until a federal study is completed in 2012 on the groundwater impacts of the controversial procedure, which is vital to the booming shale gas industry. Waxman’s action comes amid growing indications that the congressional Democrats and the Obama administration are counting on plentiful and cheap shale gas to provide a low-cost means for utilities to cut their greenhouse gas emissions by switching to cleaner gas-fired generation. However, his move to quash the hydraulic fracturing amendment is somewhat surprising because it is sure to anger some environmentalists who say communities near shale gas fields are entitled to know what kind of chemicals drillers are injecting into the ground.

Indeed, Waxman himself has questioned what substances are used in hydraulic fracturing, and recently released information obtained from a few drillers showing they injected diesel fuel underground. Waxman (D-Calif.) sidelined the hydraulic fracturing legislation during an Energy and Commerce Committee markup of the so-called “Assistance, Quality, and Affordability Act” (H.R. 5320), a bill he introduced to reauthorize and boost funding for various Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) programs.

The amendment  to the bill (H.R. 5320) proposed by Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Colo.) would have required companies employing hydraulic fracturing to disclose to states—or to the Environmental Protection Agency in some cases—the chemical constituents used in the so-called “fracking” process. Hydraulic fracturing involves injecting chemicals, water and sand into subsoil rock formations to open up cracks and seams, making it easier to suck out gas and oil. DeGette’s amendment is similar to legislation she introduced with Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D-N.Y.)—whose district is near the red-hot Marcellus Shale—dubbed the Fracturing Responsibility and Awareness of Chemicals (FRAC) Act.

The industry says hydraulic fracturing, currently regulated at the state level through a patchwork of varying rules and regulations, is absolutely essential to developing the nation’s burgeoning shale gas resources and has been used safely for decades. However, environmentalists charge that injecting additive-laced water underground has been shown to despoil groundwater and harm nearby crops and water bodies.

DeGette said her proposal was “reasonable” in that it would protect the proprietary formula of fracking fluids that each drilling services company uses and allow reporting to the states, which the industry says it prefers to federal regulation. DeGette also said her amendment was critical in that hydraulic fracturing is currently only regulated in three states: Colorado, Pennsylvania, and Ohio. However, industry officials dispute that, citing at least 18 states that require various levels of reporting. However, Waxman told DeGette her amendment was premature because EPA has just begun a two-year study of hydraulic fracturing that is far from complete. He noted that the committee’s subcommittee on oversight and investigations also has a study underway. Waxman asked DeGette to drop her proposal, saying: “We need to learn more. “I understand what the gentlelady is proposing,” he added. “Hydraulic fracturing is a technique that merits our attention. EPA is studying the technique’s effect on drinking water and, as you well know, this committee is conducting its own investigation. “This is an issue that merits further consideration and now is not the right time for this change,” said Waxman.

However, Waxman recently released troubling information uncovered during the initial phase of a probe he launched into hydraulic fracturing. Waxman in February said he received information from Halliburton Co., Schlumberger Ltd. and BJ Services Co. that shows that at least Halliburton and BJ Services continued to use diesel fuel in their fluids between 2005 and 2007 as well as xylene, benzene and other chemicals regulated under the SDWA because of their toxicity. Waxman fired off letters to the companies as well as five smaller gas services firms seeking updated data on the types and volumes of chemicals the companies use in unconventional oil and gas production and information on how they dispose of their chemical-laden waste water. While noting the key role of hydraulic fracturing in the development of massive U.S. shale gas resources, Waxman said in a statement at the time that the gas industry “must ensure we are not creating new environmental and public health problems. “This investigation will help us better understand the potential risks the technology poses to drinking water supplies and the environment, and whether Congress needs to act to minimize those risks,” Waxman said.

DeGette agreed to drop her amendment, but said she plans to attach “compromise language” to H.R. 5320 before it reaches the House floor for a vote. DeGette said she did not see how her amendment would stand in the way of the studies. “We have been contacted… in the last few days by several representatives of the oil and gas industry, which believes that there is compromise language that we can reach,” said DeGette. “But based on the chairman’s request and these ongoing negotiations… I will be happy to withdraw my amendment at this time,” said DeGette.

Waxman said he was willing to work with DeGette and the committee’s ranking Republican, Rep. Joe Barton (Texas), on the compromise language in the coming days. However, several GOP lawmakers on the committee hotly contested DeGette’s amendment, saying such a proposal is unnecessary. They expressed doubt about claims by green groups and some congressional Democrats that fracking fluids have been shown to leach into groundwater. Barton said increasing federal oversight of hydraulic fracturing would be “detrimental” to the industry and that “states have done an outstanding job of regulating” the practice.

Click on this link for the above article.

Read Natural Gas: DeGette withdraws fracking amendment  (Greenwire, 05/26/2010)
Colorado Democrat Diana DeGette withdrew a proposed amendment on May 26 from House water legislation that would have expanded regulation of a controversial oil and gas production technique some say has contributed to groundwater pollution......

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Gulf of Mexico Oil Catastrophe: ProPublica Slide Show

Cleaning an oil-covered pelican

ProPublica is covering the oil spill disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.  These powerful images tell the heart-rending story of what is unfolding there.  This is only the very beginning of decades of destruction and hardship.  Much, much worse than the Exxon Valdez debacle.  Click here to view the slides.

Have we had enough of "Drill, Baby, Drill" yet?  When someone says offshore drilling is usually pretty safe, are we going to fall for that again?

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Before There Was Erin, There Was Wilma

Wilma Subra, chemist and environmentalist

Can a 66-year-old grandmother from Louisiana have any impact on the big issues plaguing communities suffering from  the chemical effects of industry?  The answer is yes, if you are talking about Wilma Subra. She is fearless (was the presumed target of a drive-by shooting- the bullet lodged in a brick a few feet from where she was sitting) and tireless (she travels all over the country to talk with people worried about pollution).  Even people who disagree with everything she stands for often come to her when their loved ones fall ill.  They want to know what the prospects are, what might have caused the illness.  Suddenly the issue of chemical contamination becomes personal.  Subra is ready to help.  She carries about 30 active cases at a time.  Some take years to be settled.  She never gives up.  Asked if she is like a modern-day Erin Brockovich, she laughs.  "I've been doing this since way before Erin was doing it."

Read this inspiring article about Wilma Subra here.

Natural Gas Drilling in NEPA: Sadly, This Is How Ordinary Landowners Think

Dushore, Pennsylvania

If someone came to your door and offered to make you a rich person, would you be interested?  Of course.  Even if it meant making a pact with the Devil himself I suppose.  Read the story of one Pennsylvania man, Richard Kriel, who finally succumbed to the pressure of a landman and signed away his 60 acres of land to a gas company.  He is now excited about the prospects of getting what he calls "free money."   The negative consequences of his decision will undoubtedly be revealed as time goes on, but he says he is willing to take the bitter with the better. He said he was given an offer "he couldn't refuse." Mr. Kriel also said:
The last thing I want to see is the water messed up and the fish to die. I don't want to see that.
There is little hope that his wish for everything to go on without a hitch- without a high cost to his environment, his land, and his family- will be a possibility, but I hope he can be the one or two few exceptions. Time will tell. Perhaps Mr. Kriel's dream will come true. He said:
I see it as a potential gold mine.
And I say- I see it as a potential disaster.  Here are some serious incidents that have happened in PA in the last few years.  Does the money seem worth it when you put yourself in danger or possible death?  If something happens, it is a 100% disaster for everyone involved.  There is no such thing as getting back good water after a well or spring is contaminated.  Some things can't be fixed.  A million dollars will not help.

Read the article from the Sun Gazette here.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Marcellus Shale: Professor Dan Volz Challenges Boom Town Sales Pitch

University of Pittsburgh Professor Dan Volz challenges the "boom town" sales pitch for natural gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale- a model that claims the benefits far outweigh the risks.
"Much is said about the benefits of drilling in the Marcellus Shale," Volz said. "But none of the cost-benefit analyses touted by the gas industry and government take into account what is known as 'public goods'- like impacts on air and water."
Dr. Volz is Assistant Professor of Environmental and Occupational Health at the Graduate School of Public Health at the University of Pittsburgh. He is also Director for the Center for Healthy Environments and Communities there.

Volz's point was illustrated in a recent "Energy Report" published by The Wall Street Journal (May 10, 2010). The cover essay is titled, "How Shale Gas Is Going to Rock the World," by Amy Myers Jaffe. Her analysis of shale gas runs more than 2,000 words, yet "environmental risk" is dismissed in 129 words, as observed by Spectra Energy Watch.

Visit Spectra Energy Watch  which inspired this blog post.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Marcellus Shale: Chesapeake Energy Marketing Ploy

Chesapeake Energy Photo-Op
Chesapeake Energy Corp. has donated a 2007 Chevy Trailblazer to the Bradford County Sheriff's Office.  Even if this vehicle is needed, which it probably is,  this is really nothing more than a ploy by Chesapeake Energy to appear to care about the citizens of Bradford County.  They have done several other "nice" things, like donating to "Newspaper In Education" program.  There is always a picture in the newspaper and an article, submitted by Chesapeake, attempting to show how much it cares.  In reality, inspite of the money that a few landowners are receiving, and a few jobs,  Bradford County is, in my opinion, headed for trouble.  It is being transformed before our very eyes into an industrial wasteland which will ultimately destroy our soil, our air, and our water.  People will become sick with cancers and other illnesses, as will our animals.  Deaths will occur.  Chesapeake doesn't want us to think about that, so they give us an SUV.  Isn't that wonderful?

Read the article in the Daily Review here.

Shell Oil Celebrates While the Niger People Suffer

Read Amnesty's report on how SHELL OIL is failing in its business principles in the Niger Delta at

[AGM= Annual General Meeting]

$9.8 BILLION profit for Shell Oil
Polluted soil, polluted rivers, polluted homes, illness, death for the people of Niger Delta

Shale Game: Playing With Unknowns Underground

Sandra Steingraber
[Photo credit: Dede Hatch]

[Published in the May/June 2010 issue of Orion magazine]

Sandra Steingraber has been called the modern Rachel Carson by some.  She is an acclaimed ecologist, author, environmentalist, educator, cancer survivor, and wife and mother.  This article is a short, but impassioned, piece which asks us to think, to think about the possible effects of natural gas drilling, in particular, high-volume slick water hydrofracturing.  She tells of four stories that need our attention in regard to gas drilling: the geological story, the engineering story, the environmental story, and the human story.  Read the whole article here.
On the way home, walking on an unbroken sidewalk made of shale above an as-of-yet unshattered bedrock made of shale, my son said, "We shouldn't wreck this place down, right, Mom?" And his words drew a battle line across my heart.

For more information on Dr. Steingraber, go here.
Her blog can be found here.
She writes a weekly post on The Huffington Post.
Here is an interview with her from

Marcellus Shale: Water Truck Crashes in Bradford County, PA

[Photo credit: David Keeler, Rocket Courier]

Another truck accident in Bradford County (NEPA) has occurred in Terry Township.  This and other incidents involving gas drilling vehicles are becoming almost commonplace.  This road does not appear to be anything but a rather straight stretch of road, although there are ditches on either side, and it is a narrow country road as most are.  Was the driver going too fast for conditions?  A fisherman called in to 911 after witnessing this accident.  Read the article here.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Natural Gas Drilling: Public Safety Officer Is Concerned in Bradford County (PA)

Gary Wilcox, Bradford County Public Safety Director (Photo credit: Eric Hrin, The Daily Review)

At a luncheon on Wednesday, May 19, at Towanda High School, Gary Wilcox, the county's public safety director,  expressed his considerable concern about deteriorating road conditions which can and do lead to serious problems- accidents, impassable roads, truck drivers unfamiliar with the PA terrain, among other unsafe situations facing first responders.  He is particularly concerned about school buses and the safety of school children.  A major stress on public safety is the gas drilling industry, he said.
One of the main concerns I have is school buses. These water trucks, the heavy equipment, they want to get from A to B as quick as they can. They're not used to driving on these roads. They're not used to the snow, the ice, the corners, the ups and downs. If you have a water truck and a school bus coming, the roads aren't that wide to begin with...
Wilcox said he can't do a lot about the roads because the county doesn't own the roads. However, he said he can call the township supervisors who can take appropriate action.

Read the whole article here.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Mother's Day: A Call For Peace

Mother's Day Proclamation - 1870
by Julia Ward Howe

Arise, all women who have hearts!
Whether your baptism be of water or of tears!
Say firmly:
"We will not have questions answered by irrelevant agencies,
Our husbands will not come to us, reeking with carnage,
For caresses and applause.
Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn
All that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy and patience.
We, the women of one country,
Will be too tender of those of another country
To allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs."

From the bosom of a devastated Earth a voice goes up with
Our own. It says: "Disarm! Disarm!
The sword of murder is not the balance of justice."
Blood does not wipe out dishonor,
Nor violence indicate possession.
As men have often forsaken the plough and the anvil
At the summons of war,
Let women now leave all that may be left of home
For a great and earnest day of counsel.
Let them meet first, as women, to bewail and commemorate the dead.
Let them solemnly take counsel with each other as to the means
Whereby the great human family can live in peace...
Each bearing after his own time the sacred impress, not of Caesar,
But of God -
In the name of womanhood and humanity, I earnestly ask
That a general congress of women without limit of nationality,
May be appointed and held at someplace deemed most convenient
And the earliest period consistent with its objects,
To promote the alliance of the different nationalities,
The amicable settlement of international questions,
The great and general interests of peace.