Saturday, November 20, 2010

SPLASHDOWN Flicks: Bradford County, PA, Gas Drilling

This video was filmed by Karen Korell of Towanda, PA.  She was an artist and an environmental activist all her life.  She died last August after a long illness.  I miss her so much.  She would be doing more videos if she were still with us.  Her last blog post was written only two weeks before she died.  She kept up the fight as long as she possibly could. 

This video shows the well pad on Vial Hill Road, Bradford County, PA.  NOMAC Rig #117.  I watched this well site go up.  It is a hideous blemish on a beautiful landscape.
In memory of Karen Korell
She loved the Earth.

Friday, November 19, 2010

PA Constitution: Is gas drilling constitutional?

William Penn, Founder of Pennsylvania


of the


Article I, Section 27

Natural Resources and the Public Estate
The people have a right to clean air, pure water, and to the
preservation of the natural, scenic, historic and esthetic values
of the environment. Pennsylvania’s public natural resources
are the common property of all the people, including
generations yet to come. As trustee of these resources, the
Commonwealth shall conserve and maintain them for the
benefit of all the people.

Well, what do you think?  Is the gas drilling industry following this article in the PA Constitution?  Do the citizens of Pennsylvania have clean air and clean water? Are their natural resources and historic areas being preserved?  What part is the gas industry playing in this?


White Pick-up Truck Plows Through Old Cemetery in PA

Hanover Township, PA-  A truck driver apparently fell asleep while driving his white pick-up truck and hit a telephone pole before continuing on through an historic cemetery, damaging large headstones in the process.  The accident happened between 3 and 4 a.m., but the driver, still asleep behind the wheel, was not discovered until around 5:45 a.m.  Police who responded to the scene after receiving a call from a passer-by said that alcohol and excessive speed appear to have been factors in the accident. The truck was owned by a company involved in natural gas drilling.

Watch the video:

My comment is this:  Yes, accidents happen everywhere.  However, gas drillers are subjected to long hours.  They are often without their families for weeks, months at a time. They have been known to have above average use of drugs and alcohol.  They have also been known to drive too fast, causing injury and death.  So when a person lives in an area with gas drilling, one must watch out for these drivers and take precautions, especially with little children.  No judgement here, just plain common sense.  Be on the lookout.

Chesapeake Energy: We want water 24/7!

Water extraction site in Ulster, PA, near Susquehanna River
Chesapeake Energy wants more...more hours to steal  extract fresh water from the Chemung River on Route 199 in Athens, PA.  This water use has been approved by the Susquehanna River Basin Commission.  The term is "consumptive use" because the water will never be suitable to return to the hydrologic cycle.  It will be turned into contaminated water of one form or another (brine, flowback, frack waste, etc.).  At present, Chesapeake can only withdraw water at the Barrett site in Athens 12 hours a day.  They wanted that extended to 24 hours a day, but the board of supervisors granted only a 4-hour extension.  

Having visited a water withdrawal site in Ulster, I can attest that the truck traffic is relentless.  It's noisy, kicks up a lot of dust, and is a blot on the landscape of otherwise beautiful rural communities. It's an ugly place.  Imagine the bright headlights at night.  The Athens supervisors requested that Chesapeake install a chain link fence with slats at the Barrett site to help deflect headlight and noise from the residential properties along Route 199 nearby.  Oh yes, there are homes nearby.  The facility was built near where people live.  And what do these huge trucks run on?  DIESEL!  Air pollution. 

And that's just a small problem compared to the environmental destruction caused by actual drilling.  The negative effects of trucks used in the gas industry just adds insult to injury.  One more way our quality of life and the future of our children and grandchildren are degraded.
(Read more...)

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Chesapeake Energy: Goodwill Ambassadors???

One of the things that really gets my dander up are the efforts of gas drillers to appear philanthropic.  Puhleeeez!  The Rocket-Courier (Wyalusing, PA, newspaper) reports that Chesapeake Energy has donated $100,000 to Sayre House of Hope.  Of course, that amount of money is chump change to Chesapeake Energy.  But to average middle class people in Pennsylvania (like you and me) it looks like a lot of money.  Social agencies are suffering everywhere.  Donations are accepted gladly no matter where they originate. 

This is nothing short of a bribe, my friends.  That is what the gas industry does at every turn.  These donations are bribes in exchange for allowing the industry to literally destroy the lives of the local people: their health, their environment, their soil, their air, their water, their livelihoods.  And just as important: their SILENCE.  Who is going to complain when these corporations of mass destruction have given money to charity, sponsored fall festivals, held pleasant town meetings with refreshments, and fixed the roads they have demolished or will demolish?   These nice gestures ease the pain of life during and after drilling.  Never mind that it is the essence of condescension and perhaps even contempt.  Our lands have something they want which is going to make them extremely rich.  They can afford to be very nice.

The mission of the house is to alleviate the additional emotional burden on patients and their familes while enduring a medical crisis.  While it is good that people in need will be helped, it is still tainted money.  It is almost like a poison apple. Perhaps it is appropriate that Chesapeake Energy give this money since its presence is making people sick with all manner of ailments, many serious, some fatal.  In recognition of this gift, Chesapeake will be named the title sponsor of the Guthrie Gala for the next five years.  I find this to be so objectionable!  Don't let this corporation lull us into thinking they are doing us any favors.  They aren't.

Read more.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Pittsburgh Says No To Gas Drilling

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Hurrah for the City Council of Pittsburgh!  They have voted to ban gas drilling in their city.
The vote was 8-0. 

Read more....

Monday, November 8, 2010

Hydraulic Fracturing Expert Speaks

DEP personnel find methane bubbling in the Susquehanna River at Sugar Run in Bradford County, PA
Kudos to Wes Skillings and The Wyalusing Rocket-Courier (PA) for printing this article about the problems and dangers of hydraulic fracturing in Pennsylvania.  I think it is refreshing to see this information in a newspaper in an area that often promotes gas drilling without providing a balance.

Read what Cornell University professor, Dr. Tony Ingraffea, said about hydrofracking at a recent gathering in Browntown, PA.
...the industry claims a success rate of 98.5%, which is essentially at least one accident waiting to happen for about every 150 wells drilled. That is totally unacceptable from an engineering standpoint.
Do people realize what is happening in an area where drilling is occuring? Dr. Ingraffea told his audience that
...there are all kinds of ways for natural gas to migrate into groundwater acquifers. We're dealing with Mother Nature in a way that we can't see what we're doing, smell what we're doing, hear what we're doing, and we can't taste what we're doing, because it's thousands of feet down there...
He also pointed out a very important fact: Hydraulic fracturing in the unconventional gas drilling being done on the Marcellus is a very specific kind of fracking that had never been done in the Commonwealth of PA before 2004. It had never been done anywhere before 1997.

There is lots more easy-to -understand (the kind I like) information in this article.  We all should read it!  Thanks again to the Rocket-Courier and Mr. Skillings!


Sunday, November 7, 2010

Marcellus Shale: Crime Is Increasing in Bradford County, PA

This report from the Towanda Daily Review claims that crime is on the rise in Bradford County.  The state police are receiving many more calls than in the past.  More money is needed to hire another officer.  Will local taxes go up to pay for this?

Read more....

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Natural Gas Drilling: Nineteen Minutes in Dimock, PA

Hundreds of diesel truck trips are required to service each gas well, polluting the air with noxious compounds in diesel exhaust fumes. This quick little film captures 58 trucks on one road on one Fall afternoon in Dimock PA over a 19-minute period of real time. One truck, poignantly, carries fresh drinking water for a Dimock family whose water has been ruined by gas fracking.

Guitar music by Jason Shaw at, "Plantation" and "Mountain Sun," permission for use licensed under Creative Commons by Jason Shaw.

"19 Minutes in Dimock" © 2010 by Jane Prettyman, host of 'Public Comment' (username 'Dissenta'):

Friday, November 5, 2010

Natural Gas Industry: "I can't stop the truck!"

Tractor-trailer Hits Antique Shop in Ulster, PA
Photo: Brian Bishop, The Towanda Daily Review
Cindy Chase was closing her store Thursday afternoon in Ulster, PA, when she heard someone yelling at her to get out of the way.  She turned and saw a huge truck coming right for her.  Read more...

This is just one more example of the danger we face.  Even the trucks on our roads pose a significant risk, to say nothing of what happens on well sites themselves in terms of contamination of our water, soil, and air.  Cindy Chase was able to jump out of the way.  What if there had been a child there or an elderly person walking along the sidewalk?  The impact was so great that it appeared to have shifted the building off its foundation slightly. 

The truck involved in the crash was presumably owned by Washita Valley Enterprises, Inc., a company headquartered in Springtown, Texas.  Where are the local jobs we were promised?

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

PBS Station Airs "Marcellus Shale: The Price of Progress"

Chris and Stephanie Hallowich of Hickory, PA
Photo: National Geographic
Used by permission.
Some say it's the answer to an energy-hungry nation's needs, and that properly monitored it's a boon to the economy. But people who live on or near Marcellus Shale drilling sites say the process has ruined their drinking water and property values. WQED's Chris Moore examines the promise and heartbreak of Marcellus Shale drilling in the Pittsburgh region.

Watch this video.  Chris and Stephanie Hallowich and other homeowners tell the real story.  The Hallowich home, which they built, is now worthless and unsellable.  They are forced to leave their home due to health risks and lack of safe drinking water, not to mention air pollution, noise pollution, and truck traffic.
From WQED TV, Pittsburgh

To read an excellent article from National Geographic about the Hallowich family and their personal tragedy caused by gas drilling, click here.

"I could smell his brakes, and I knew he was in trouble..."

Runaway truck crashes in Camptown, PA
Photo credit: David Keeler, Rocket-Courier
UPDATE:  The driver of this tanker was driving too fast.  His brakes had NOT failed as initially assumed.  The Towanda Daily Review report is here.

So it's 8:30 at night.  Rich and Hope Minyon were at home near Brewer Hollow Road on Route 409.  They heard the sound.  They ran to the other side of the house- away from the road.  The runaway water tanker had lost its brakes and was speeding downhill toward the Minyon home.  It flipped on its side, slid down the road, and careened over a small embankment, coming to rest in front of the Minyon's house.  Read more...

I am familiar with the terrain in Bradford County, PA.  There are many houses at the bottom of many hills on narrow country roads.  These houses are sitting ducks.  These large tankers are too big to drive on these winding, hilly roads.  Everyone knows that.  It is also known that the drivers of these trucks often drive too fast.  They drive while drowsy.  They drive while on drugs.  This is a formula for more accidents and injuries and deaths.  How many deaths will it take?