Thursday, June 30, 2011

Towanda Area (PA) Ground Zero For Drilling Boom and its Opponents

Main Street, Towanda, PA
Non-stop traffic compliments of the natural gas industry
Photo: Carol Manuel

I have heard from the locals that it often takes upwards of 25 minutes to go about two miles through downtown Towanda these days.  Welcome to Boomtown and the Occupation of the Gas Drilling Industry where gas reigns supreme.  The people who deal with leases have virtually taken over the court house.  Try to find a place to sit down in the hallway these days.  And every eatery is thriving.  You will find roughnecks in most of them. Well, they do deserve a good meal.  But they don't change clothes or boots.  What are they bringing in with them?  Some say drilling chemicals. 

Traffic concerns are many.  Elderly citizens are intimidated by the traffic, both when walking and trying to drive in their cars.  School bus drivers are hampered by heavy traffic and road closings. Emergency vehicles have encountered problems in answering calls for help due to road conditions.

Unemployment has gone down according to Commissioner Mark Smith.  However, Michael Lovegreen, District Manager for the Bradford County Conservation District, recently told me that he has had to let people go in his office because he cannot compete with the pay offered by gas drilling-related jobs.  When the boom is over, the unemployment may very well rise to even greater proportions.  Not only that, but what kind of jobs are currently available?  Are they jobs with decent pay?  I talked with a 31-year-old man in June who is living with his parents because his pay working for a company that prepares well pads (I won't mention the company just in case someone could identify him and cause a problem) doesn't pay enough and the rents have gone sky-high as a result of the influx of gas workers.

As for the gas drilling jobs providing a great  future for our young people, where is the moral outrage in encouraging them to seek jobs in oil and gas?  These are very dangerous jobs in regard to health and mortality.  Constant exposure to toxic chemicals is only one issue.  Wouldn't it be better for all of us if our young people could be trained in green technology jobs which would lead to energy sustainability? 

Read the article in the Rocket-Courier (the fourth in a series of five articles) by Rick Hiduk.

Aubrey McClendon Has a Hard Time at Lecture in Boston (2010)

CEO Aubrey McClendon
Poor old Aubrey is confronted with real people about the real problems they are experiencing due to his gas drilling ventures in Pennsylvania.  Watch as he tries to stay above water.  It would be funny if it weren't so sad.

Click here to see the video.

Note:  I was recently in Pennsylvania (Bradford County) where I just happened to run into three young men who work for a company that constructs well pads.  One of the men told me that Mr. McClendon recently did a flyover of several Chesapeake well pads in a helicopter.  The men had to clean up the well sites so that McClendon would be pleased with the neatness and orderliness of the pads.  They said even a stray Coke can would be noticed.  Wouldn't it be great if McClendon would be so concerned about what he is putting in the ground underneath these beautifully kept well pads? 

Frackonomics 2.0: Ponzi Gas Frackers

Click here to watch Chip Northrup's presentation about the Ponzi-like scheme that is the natural gas industry. It is clear, concise, and downright infuriating to find out how we are being scammed out of our collective future.

We are being had.  Get control of your town and county boards now before it is too late for New York State.

Major Gas-Fired Power Plant Proposed for Asylum Township, PA

The Susquehanna River at Old Mill Park, French Azilum, PA
Photo: Carol Manuel

Today the Rocket-Courier, a weekly newspaper published in Wyalusing, PA,  printed an article announcing Moxie Energy's plan to propose a gas-fired power plant to be built in Bradford County, PA, in Asylum Township.  This troubling news is fraught with problems.  I hope the Asylum Township Planning Commission, which will review the proposal, if and when it is formally presented, will have the foresight to recognize the inadvisability of such a plan.  The facility would need a large parcel of land.  One spot that has been considered is a  30-acre tract owned by Larry Fulmer located on Route 187. However, Tom Hughes, Chair of the Asylum Township Planning Commission,  made it clear to me that nothing is decided about location at the present time. In fact, Moxie has not made any formal overtures yet.  This is all speculation right now.  Any action will take time, perhaps years, before a power plant would become a reality there.

Yet red flags are everywhere.  This whole plan ignores the elephant in the room.  Power plants need natural gas, and therein lies most of the problems.  Extracting natural gas from deep in the earth's surface is a very dirty process.  Water, air, and soil contamination are very common.  The industry will tell you that the gas industry has a very safe record.  They can claim a 95% safety record.  However, a 5% failure is very significant when we consider how many wells there are now and how many more are coming soon.  For every one thousand wells, we are talking about fifty wells where an accident, spill, or blowout will occur.  Who will volunteer to live next door to these 50 wells?

The article also presents reasons why this gas-fired power plant is a great idea.  By citing these benefits, it admits that there are problems with the industry, for example, using good water from the Susquehanna River.  This plant would not require river water.  A casual reading of that statement might look good to the local people who are concerned about the millions of gallons of water being taken out of the hydrolic cycle, never to be suitable for anything ever again.  Of course, another ploy is to dangle money out there to hook people into thinking they might have a better life.  During the building phase, this project is expected to have a payroll of $40 million and indirect income of $80 million.  It would be completed in 2015 and then provide a steady tax base and provide a whopping 25-30 high-paying jobs. 

Next the issue of noise and visual impacts are addressed,  thereby admitting that these issues are problematic and that people do become concerned about them, especially because they live near these industrial areas.  The promise is that efforts will be made to minimize these problems.  Air pollution would be low compared to older plants, they claim.
This shift away from inefficient, dirty power is both a local benefit and a regional benefit in terms of air quality.
The article does not remind readers that the air pollution caused by the extraction process all over the area will already have had major impacts on public health and the environment.

Next we have the problem of waste.  All wastes will be managed on-site in accordance with state and federal regulations and will be shipped off-site for recycling or disposal.  Well, on-site waste management is not always good.  We know that sludge pits are sometimes just plowed under in the clean-up process, putting toxic chemicals into the ground, at least the stuff that didn't leak through tears and holes in the plastic liners.  Admittedly, frack pits are not involved in these power plants, but the industry has a bad record in regard to waste disposal.  How careful will it be this time?   As for off-site disposal, will it go to New York?

Moxie Energy calls this natural gas energy "clean power."  I don't think this lie is going to be so easily perpetrated on the public anymore.  We are smartening up.  When considering the entire cycle of getting this "magical" energy source from deep in the ground to our homes, we are not talking about a clean process at all. 

Let us hope that the Asylum Township Planning Commission will not approve this proposal.  Here is some basic information about Asylum Township government:

Today, Asylum Township is run by a board of Supervisors and has an active Planning Commission, which consists of 5 members. In 2003, the planning commission adopted a comprehensive plan. Although the Township currently has no zoning regulations, they do have a set of regulations for their own subdivisions and land development projects that was updated in the summer of 2008.

The Township boasts an historic landmark; the French Azilum Site is open to the public during the months of May through October and remains to be a popular tourist and educational site for locals and visitors alike. Aside from the Historic Site, there is a public Asylum Township park (Old Mill Park) that is open from dawn to dusk and has boat access to the Susquehanna River and picnic sites.

If you wish to express your opinion about this gas-fired plant proposal in Asylum Township, call the Asylum Township Planning Commission secretary, Billie Jo Tuttle, at 570-265-4339.
Call 570-265-4339

LINK to the article about the proposed gas-fired power plant as it appeared today in the Rocket-Courier.

Related reading:

Read about Professor Howarth's recent study concerning natural gas compared to coal, "Natural Gas From Fracking Could Be 'Dirtier' Than Coal"

Here is an article which appeared in the NYT April 11, 2011, entitled "Studies Say Natural Gas Has Its Own Environmental Problems."

Another article worth looking at: "Cornell Scientist Tarnishes Natural Gas's Clean Image"

Finally, read the letter submitted by Robert W. Howarth, Renee Santoro, and Anthony Ingraffea, entitled "Methane and the Greenhouse-Gas Footprint Of Natural Gas From Shale Formations"

A gas-fired power plant

Doesn't this look appalling appealing?

Monday, June 27, 2011

Colorado Man Speaks in Vestal, NY, About His Life After Hydrofracking

Appaloosa horses

Rick Roles comes from Colorado to warn us in Vestal, NY,  about the effects of hydrofracking. It has poisoned his land and destroyed his livestock, including his beautiful Appaloosa stallions, all but one dead and buried. The rancher's health is ruined, too, and his story will bring you to tears.           

Watch Rick Roles' talk here:

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Rafters Paddling Down the Susquehanna, Listening To Local Stories

Film crew ties up along the Susquehanna River

I spent about four hours with these delightful, thoughtful, creative, and intelligent women last week in French Azilum, PA.  The feature length film "The River Twice" will come out in about a year.  Watch for it! Here's the trailer (filmed during their 2010 river adventure). LINK

Read this article from the Rocket-Courier:  LINK

Meryl O'Connor, Dagmar Weaver-Madsen, and Cecily Anderson are an impressive group.  They are great listeners, interested in stories about living on the Susquehanna River.  I wish them the very best in making this feature film.  They are still on the river until July 4th.

Morning on the river

Good luck to the crew!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Pennsylvania Gas Industry: Not Everyone Loves Gas

On Route 187 in Bradford County, PA
Photo by Carol Manuel

Not everyone is happy about natural gas drilling in Pennsylvania. 

[The finger on the left hand is not the index finger.]

Friday, June 17, 2011

Athens Township Says No To Frack Water Treatment Plant

The Athens supervisors turned down an application for a frack water treatment facility in Sayre.  Why?  Because there was concern that it was next to a soccer field and residential areas which depend on well water.  Finally people are thinking about the inevitability of accidents.  Here's the link.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Water Well in Geneva, NY, Tainted After Hydrofracking

Here is a woman who lives in Geneva, NY, whose well water became discolored right after Chesapeake Energy fracked a gas well nearby.  She is being interviewed by Walter Hang of toxicstargeting.

What are her immediate concerns?  She has quite a few.  Who will be next?

Proposed Frack Water Treatment Plant in Sayre, PA

The Athens Township supervisors will hold a hearing tonight, June 16th, on Integrated Water Technologies Inc.'s proposal to construct a plant to treat for waste water from hydraulic fracturing.  My family has a summer home on the Susquehanna downstream from this site.  I do not want a frack water treatment facility upriver from our home.  I pray that this conditional use application will be denied.

Read the article from the Towanda Daily Review here.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Sinkholes and Gas Drilling Go Hand in Hand

A sinkhole in Troy causes a problem
Photo: Eric Hrin
 Tuesday a resident of Troy, PA,  found herself in a pickle.  Her car got stuck in a sinkhole in a parking lot.  My question is:  Is the gas drilling in the area possibly responsible for this sinkhole?    It was reported by the car's owner that there have been at least 7 cars stuck in the sinkhole before.

According to, there are 71 wells drilled so far in Troy.  It is something that should be investigated.

Read the Towanda Daily Review, click here.

 Here is a blog post dealing with the sinkhole issue in Texas:

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Bradford County, PA: Gas Drillers Get Religion

Sign on Main Street, Towanda, PA
Photo: Carol Manuel

Marcellus Shale: Cabot Hearts Animals?

Mule deer
Cabot Oil and Gas has done it again.  It is showing us how much they care about the local community and animals.  Their gas drilling is destroying animal habitat and providing light and noise pollution that disrupt the lives of animals.  And well pads cause runoff which puts toxic chemicals in local fields and streams which serve as water sources for animals.  Fish kills and sick and dying farm animals are reported with regularity.  Nonetheless,  Cabot is offering to match donations to True Friends Animal Welfare Shelter in Montrose, PA.  The gas company is described as "a good corporate citizen for the community."  They are offering $10,000.  Such a pittance compared to the harm they are doing to animals every single day.  If only animals could read signs:  Do not drink the water.

Read the article in the Rocket Courier: LINK

Monday, June 6, 2011

Pennsylvania Dairy Farmers Tell Their Story About the Effects of Gas Drilling in Bradford County, PA

Dairy farmers Carol French and Carolyn Knapp tell their stories about their experiences with gas drilling in Bradford County, PA.  They speak on the theme of economic impacts of gas drilling on their lives.  Listen to them and find out what is really happening in PA. 

Here is the video:  LINK

If you have an hour, watch this video.  It is a MUST SEE!  You will not believe what these Bradford County dairy farmers are going through! You will be amazed!

Marcellus Shale: Economic Impacts Not All Good

Economic Impacts of Heavy Industrial Activities in the Town of Ulysses, New York

A talk by Dr. Jannette Barth, PhD, given in May 2011.

Jannette Barth, PhD (Economist). Other speakers include Carolyn Knapp and Carol French (PA dairy farmers); and members of the Ulysses Town Board. May 21, 2011, Trumansburg Fire Hall. Co-sponsored by Back to Democracy, Concerned Citizens of Ulysses, and Ulysses Gas Drilling Advisory Board.

Watch this outstanding talk by Dr. Barth here: LINK  (Total time: 38 minutes)
Introduction of Jannette Barth prior to her talk: LINK
Read an article by Dr. Barth (Economic Impact of Gas Drilling in the Catskills) here.

Breaking News: Fishkill in Mt. Pisgah State Park, Bradford County, PA

Ken Gwin, park manager, said he counted 250 dead fish -- mostly pan fish (perch, crappie and blue gill) in Stephen Foster Lake at Mt. Pisgah State Park. Due to spawning stress, some dead fish always turn up this time of year, he said, but this is an unusually high number. The park, Bradford County Conservation District and the Pa. Fish and Boat Commission are all trying to find out why.

Conservation District Manager Mike Lovegreen confirmed they routinely monitor the water quality in the lake. They are anxious to get the most recent results back, saying he hopes the chemistry of the samples give them some leads. Gwinnn said they have a working theory, that the usual spring spawning stress, coupled with a temperature gradient from runoff coming in to the lake, could have caused the problem. But they are taking steps to make sure.

Look for additional information as it becomes available in the print and Web editions of The Towanda Daily Review.

Access the article here.
Related article here.

Will keep you posted as details emerge.

Natural Gas Drilling: Hunting Club Faces Contaminated Water in PA

The Susquehanna River in French Azilum, PA
Site of the old Rod and Gun Club
Photo: Carol Manuel
A local watering hole called Reeds Spring is a well-known spot for hunters to get clean water.  People from nearby hunting camps used to line up with water jugs.  It was a place to meet people from other camps.  But now instead of clean water, there stands a big sign saying,  "CONTAMINATED WATER."  A torn liner under a drill cuttings pit allowed leakage of toxic chemicals which contaminated groundwater feeding the spring nearly two years ago.

Read the rest of the story here.

The economic impacts of gas drilling are affecting this major industry.  Pennsylvania would do well to protect the forests and streams and rivers in order to preserve the hunting and fishing industry which brings in money to the commonwealth.  Once the environment is destroyed, there will be no re-starting the vast areas of pristine areas thousands of people come to enjoy every year.

Note: If you look very carefully in the above photo, you will see tiny dots about midway in the picture.  These dots are members of my family floating down the river in inner tubes, a family tradition for decades. 

The Magnificent Susquehanna Comes In First: Most Endangered River

My grandson fishing in the Susquehanna in 2009
The Susquehanna River is one of the longest rivers in America and provides over half of the freshwater to the Chesapeake Bay and drinking water to six million people.  It is now threatened by natural gas development, which requires millions of gallons of water per well, produces toxic waste, and threatens clean water and the river's health.

My family has gathered every summer on the banks of the Susquehanna River as it flows past French Azilum in Bradford County, PA.  Since 1930, we have enjoyed the river- swimming, boating, tubing, fishing, picnicking, skipping stones.  We stand to lose a lot.  It's a personal issue with us.

For more information about the river, click here.

To visit the American Rivers site, click here.

Save the mighty Susquehanna!
Stop the drilling!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Chesapeake Energy: "Good" Neighbors

The Big Check from Chesapeake Energy
Photo: The Rocket-Courier

Chesapeake Energy spends a fair amount of time coming up with ways to endear themselves to the local residents of Bradford County (PA).  They have given money to schools, given an old vehicle to a charitable organization, and even replaced the roof on the local Elks Club.  Now they have given a little money ($25,000 chump change to them) to the Hometown Heroes street banner program which was started two years ago by Kelly Bradley.  The money is enough to cover the cost of 193 banners which feature pictures of veterans from the county, both young and old, dating from the civil war to the present.  If you drive down Main Street in Towanda, you will see them mounted on lamp posts.  There is going to be a dedication ceremony today, June 4th, for these banners.  I am almost certain that Chesapeake Energy will be represented at this ceremony and that Chesapeake will be thanked profusely for its donation. There will be entertainment, singing of the National Anthem and patriotic songs, even an invocation by the pastor of the Wyalusing Presbyterian Church.  Local dignitaries will speak, including congressional leaders.  Refreshments will follow. 

Why does this interest me?  On the surface it seems like a very nice gesture to give money for a project honoring the U. S. military.  People will drive by these banners daily and see the faces of these men and women who have served our country.  The problem is this: The money is dirty money.  It comes from an industry which is slowly but surely destroying the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, one well, one compressor station, one flare, one accidental spill at a time.  Despite claims that this natural gas industry is an economic boon to the community, and there is some truth to that,  I ask, At what price?  Is this a safe industry?  What about the many water wells in the county which have been ruined for good?  What about the people who have become seriously ill?  What about the air pollution which is unavoidable in a gas field like this?  What about habitat destruction which disrupts the ecology of this beautiful area?  What about the long term effects of a boomtown?  Where will we be in 40 years?  Some of us will be dead, but hopefully not all of us.  Who will be taking the helm from us, and what will they have to work with?  Our children, grandchildren and great grandchildren.  What will they face because of our misuse of the environment?  What will be our answer when they ask, "Mom and Dad, did you do all you could to preserve the Earth for us? 

It will take more than a little money thrown our way to make up for the damage being done every single day by the natural gas industry.  And just in case you are wondering what the CEO of Chesapeake Energy, billionaire Aubrey McClendon, gets paid, he got $21 million in 2010, $2 million of which was a bonus!   McLendon earned more than the CEOs of Chevron, GE, and Conoco Phillips which are much bigger corporations.  His 6-year average compensation package is $51.65 million.  So while PA is being destroyed, he is raking in the dough.  Read more here.

The next time you read in the newspaper about the generosity of Chesapeake Energy, Cabot Oil, or any other gas drilling company, just remember the reason behind the seemingly nice donation.  In my opinion it is an attempt, and a successful one at that, to keep us quiet and cooperative and supportive of what they are doing.  It is nothing more than a tactic.  I don't think there is much heart behind it.

This is my humble opinion.

Read the article published in Wyalusing's Rocket-Courier here.  LINK