Saturday, December 20, 2014

High Volume Horizontal Hydrofracking: New York State Says No!

For a good read, check out this response from Chip Northrup:

What's going to happen next in New York State?  Chip Northrup says, "Nothing!"  We will not have horizontal gas drilling in New York.  Game over for the frackers.  The sad part is that the drillers will just take their marbles and go somewhere else to destroy the landscape and put human beings and other living things in harm's way.  So we must all get busy and ban fracking wherever we live.  Many communities in NY have done this, and it has made it very difficult for frackers to operate. Click here to see an excellent map showing the actions against drilling in New York communities.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Cuomo Says No To Fracking in NY: Sandra Steingraber Responds

Hallelujah!  The news is astounding, but the report from Acting Health Commissioner Zucker and Commissioner Martens of the DEC have weighed in today on the matter of horizontal slickwater hydrofracking.  Based on the findings of the long-awaited report of health risks and harm caused by this extractive industry, the commissioners recommended that Governor Cuomo ban fracking at least for the foreseeable future. The Governor has agreed with the report and announced this afternoon that horizontal gas drilling will not be permitted in New York State.   This is a huge day for all those who have worked so hard to stop fracking which has destroyed water, air, and soil in areas of the country where this industry has operated.  There is much work to be continued, especially in regard to infrastructure related to the gas industry which will still affect NYS:  pipelines, wastewater treatment, railroad transportation of gas, among other issues. 

Friday, December 12, 2014

Compendium of Health Risks (drilling and fracking): Hot off the press!

A new report is out from Concerned Health Professionals of New York (December 2014)

Compendium of Scientific, Medical, Media Findings Demonstrating Risks and Harms of Fracking (unconventional gas and oil extraction)

Executive Summary
Evidence of risks, harms, and associated trends demonstrated by this Compendium:
Air pollution – Studies increasingly show that air pollution associated with drilling and fracking operations is a grave concern with a range of impacts. Researchers have documented dozens of air pollutants from drilling and fracking operations that pose serious health hazards. Areas with substantial drilling and fracking build-out show high levels of ozone, striking declines in air quality, and, in several cases, increased rates of health problems with known links to air pollution. Air sampling surveys find exceedingly high concentrations of volatile organic compounds, especially carcinogenic benzene and formaldehyde, both at the wellhead and at distances that exceed legal setback distances from wellhead to residence. In some cases, concentrations exceeded federal safety standards by several orders of magnitude.

Water contamination – Emerging science confirms that drilling and fracking inherently threaten groundwater. In Pennsylvania alone, more than 240 private drinking water wells have been contaminated or have dried up as the result of drilling and fracking operations over a seven-year period. A range of studies from across the United States presents strong evidence that groundwater contamination occurs and is more likely to occur close to drilling sites. The nation’s 172,000 injection wells for disposal of fracking waste also pose demonstrable threats to the drinking water aquifers. Disposal of fracking waste in sewage treatment plants can encourage the formation of carcinogenic byproducts during chlorination. Overall, the number of well blowouts, spills and cases of surface water contamination has steadily grown. Meanwhile, the gas industry’s use of "gag orders," non-disclosure agreements and settlements impede scientific study and stifle public awareness of the extent of these problems.

Inherent engineering problems that worsen with time – Studies and emerging data consistently show that oil and gas wells routinely leak, allowing for the migration of natural gas and potentially other substances into groundwater and the atmosphere. Recent research suggests that the act of fracking itself may induce pathways for leaks. Leakage from faulty wells is an issue that the industry has identified and for which it has no solution. For instance, Schlumberger, one of the world’s largest companies specializing
in fracking, published an article in its magazine in 2003 showing that about five percent of wells leak immediately, 50 percent leak after 15 years and 60 percent leak after 30 years. Data from Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) for 2000-2012 show over nine percent of shale gas wells drilled in the state’s northeastern counties leaking within the first five years. Leaks pose serious risks including potential loss of life or property from explosions and the migration of gas or other chemicals into drinking water supplies. Leaks also allow methane to escape into the atmosphere, where it acts as a powerful greenhouse gas. There is no evidence to suggest that the problem of cement and well casing impairment is abating. Indeed, a 2014 analysis of more than 75,000 compliance reports for more than 41,000 wells in Pennsylvania found that newer wells have higher leakage rates and that unconventional shale gas wells leak more than conventional wells drilled within the same time period. Industry has no solution for rectifying the chronic problem of well casing/cement leakage.

Radioactive releases – High levels of radiation documented in fracking wastewater from shale raise special concerns in terms of impacts to groundwater and surface water. Studies have indicated that the Marcellus Shale is more radioactive than other shale formations. Measurements of radium in fracking wastewater in New York and Pennsylvania have been as high as 3,600 times the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) limit for drinking water. One recent study found toxic levels of radiation in a Pennsylvania waterway even after fracking wastewater was disposed of through an industrial wastewater treatment plant. In addition, the disposal of radioactive drill cuttings is a concern. Unsafe levels of radon and its decay products in natural gas produced from the Marcellus Shale, known to have particularly high radon content, may also contaminate pipelines and compressor stations, as well as pose risks to end-users when allowed to travel into homes.

Occupational health and safety hazards – Fracking jobs are dangerous jobs. Occupational hazards include head injuries, traffic accidents, blunt trauma, burns, toxic chemical exposures, heat exhaustion, dehydration, and sleep deprivation. As a group, oil and gas industry workers have an on-the-job fatality rate that is 2.5 times higher than the construction industry and seven times that of general industry. A new investigation of occupational exposures found high levels of benzene in the urine of workers on the wellpad, especially those in close proximity to flowback fluid. Exposure to silica dust, which is definitively linked to silicosis and lung cancer, was singled out by National Institutes for Occupational Safety and Health as a particular threat to workers in fracking operations where silica sand is used. At the same time, research shows that many gas field workers, despite these serious occupational hazards, are uninsured or underinsured and lack access to basic medical care.

Public health effects, measured directly – In Pennsylvania, as the number of gas wells increases in a community so to do rates of hospitalization. Drilling and fracking operations are correlated with elevated motor vehicle fatalities (Texas), self-reported skin and respiratory problems (southwestern Pennsylvania), ambulance runs and emergency room visits (North Dakota), infant deaths (Utah), birth defects (Colorado), and low birthweight (multiple states). Benzene levels in ambient air surrounding drilling and  fracking operations are sufficient to elevate risks for future cancers in both workers and nearby residents, according to new studies.

Noise pollution, light pollution and stress – Drilling and fracking operations and ancillary infrastructure expose workers and nearby residents to continuous noise and light pollution that is sustained for periods lasting many months. Chronic exposure to light at night is linked to adverse health effects, including breast cancer. Sources of fracking-related noise pollution include blasting, drilling, flaring, generators, compressor stations and truck traffic. Exposure to environmental noise pollution is linked to cardiovascular disease, cognitive impairment, and sleep disturbance. Workers and residents whose homes, schools and workplaces are in close proximity to well sites are at risk from these exposures as well as from related stressors. A UK Health Impact Assessment identified stress and anxiety resulting from drilling-related noise—as well as from a sense of uncertainty about the future and eroded public trust—as key public health risks related to fracking operations.

Earthquake and seismic activity – A growing body of evidence, from Ohio, Arkansas, Texas, Oklahoma and Colorado, links fracking wastewater injection (disposal) wells to earthquakes of magnitudes as high as 5.7, in addition to "swarms" of minor earthquakes and fault slipping. Many recent studies focus on the mechanical ability of pressurized fluids to trigger seismic activity. In some cases, the fracking process itself has been linked to earthquakes and seismic activity, including instances in which gas corporations have acknowledged the connection. In New York, this issue is of particular concern to New York City’s aqueduct-dependent drinking water supply and watershed infrastructure, as the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (NYC DEP) has warned repeatedly, but similar concerns apply to all drinking water resources. The question of what to do with wastewater remains a problem with no viable, safe solution.

Abandoned and active oil and natural gas wells (as pathways for gas and fluid migration) – Millions of abandoned and undocumented oil and gas wells exist across the United States, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. All serve as potential pathways for pollution, heightening the risks of groundwater contamination and other problems when horizontal drilling and fracking operations intersect with pre-existing vertical channels leading through drinking water aquifers and to the atmosphere. New research from Pennsylvania shows that, cumulatively, abandoned wells are a significant source of methane into the atmosphere and may exceed cumulative total leakage from oil and gas wells currently in production. No state or federal agency routinely monitors methane leakage from orphaned and abandoned wells. Industry experts, consultants and government agencies including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. General Accounting Office (now the Government Accountability Office), Texas Department of Agriculture, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, Illinois Environmental Protection Agency and the British Columbia Oil and Gas Commission have all warned about problems with abandoned wells due to the potential for pressurized fluids and gases to
migrate through inactive and in some cases, active wells.

 Flood risks – Massive land clearing and forest fragmentation that necessarily accompany well site preparation increase erosion and risks for catastrophic flooding, as do access roads, pipeline easements and other related infrastructure. In addition, in some cases, operators choose to site well pads on flood-prone areas in order to have easy access to water for fracking, to abide by setback requirements intended to keep well pads away from inhabited buildings, or to avoid productive agricultural areas. In turn, flooding increases the dangers of unconventional gas extraction, resulting in the contamination of soils and water supplies, the overflow or breaching of containment ponds, and the escape of chemicals and hazardous materials. In at least six of the past ten years, New York State has experienced serious flooding in parts of the state targeted for drilling and fracking. Some of these areas have been hit with "100-year floods" in five or more of the past ten years. Gas companies acknowledge threats posed by flooding, and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has recommended drilling be prohibited from 100-year flood areas; however, accelerating rates of extreme weather events make existing flood maps obsolete, making this approach insufficiently protective.

Threats to agriculture and soil quality – Drilling and fracking pose risks to the agricultural industry. In California, fracking wastewater illegally dumped into aquifers has threatened crucial irrigation supplies to farmers in a time of severe drought. Studies and case reports from across the country have highlighted instances of deaths, neurological disorders, aborted pregnancies, and stillbirths in cattle and goats associated with livestock coming into contact with wastewater. Potential water and air contamination puts soil quality as well as livestock health at risk. Additionally, farmers have expressed concern that nearby fracking operations can hurt the perception of agricultural quality and nullify value-added organic certification.

Threats to the climate system – A range of studies has shown high levels of methane leaks from gas drilling and fracking operations, undermining the notion that natural gas is a climate solution or a transition fuel. Major studies have concluded that early work by the EPA greatly underestimated the impacts of methane and natural gas drilling on the climate. Drilling, fracking and expanded use of natural gas threaten not only to exacerbate climate change but also to stifle investments in, and expansion of, renewable energy.

Inaccurate jobs claims, increased crime rates, threats to property value and mortgages and local government burden – Experiences in various states and accompanying studies have shown that the oil and gas industry’s promises for job creation from drilling for natural gas have been greatly exaggerated and that many of the jobs are short-lived and/or have gone to out-of-area workers. With the arrival of drilling and fracking operations, communities have experienced steep increases in rates of crime – including sex trafficking, sexual assault, drunk driving, drug abuse, and violent victimization, all of which carry public health consequences, especially for women. Social costs include strain on law enforcement, municipal services and road damage. Economic analyses have found that drilling and fracking operations threaten property values and can diminish tax revenues for local governments. Additionally, gas drilling and fracking pose an inherent conflict with mortgages and property insurance due to the hazardous materials used and the associated risks.

Inflated estimates of oil and gas reserves and profitability – Industry estimates of oil and gas reserves and profitability of drilling have proven unreliable, casting serious doubts on the bright economic prospects the industry has painted for the public, media and investors. Increasingly, well production has been short-lived, which has led companies drilling shale to reduce the value of their assets by billions of dollars, creating shortfalls that are largely filled through asset sales and increasing debt load, according to a recent analysis by the US Energy Information Administration.

Disclosure of serious risks to investors – Oil and gas companies are required to disclose risks to their investors in an annual Form 10-K. Those disclosures acknowledge the inherent dangers posed by gas drilling and fracking operations, including leaks, spills, explosions, blowouts, environmental damage, property damage, injury and death. Adequate protections have not kept pace with these documented dangers and inherent risks.

Medical and scientific calls for more study and more transparency – With increasing urgency, groups of medical professionals and scientists are issuing calls for comprehensive, long-term study of the full range of the potential health and ecosystem effects of drilling and fracking. These appeals underscore the accumulating evidence of harm, point to the major knowledge gaps that remain, and denounce the atmosphere of secrecy and intimidation that continues to impede the progress of scientific inquiry. Health professionals and scientists in the United States and around the world have urged tighter regulation of and in some cases, suspension of unconventional gas and oil extraction activities in order to limit, mitigate or eliminate its serious, adverse public health hazards.

Go to this website to read the entire document.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Gas Wells Can Cost You: Glenn Aikens of Bradford County, PA

Published on Nov 4, 2014
Mr. Aikens received checks for ten cents and $1.10 from a division of Chesapeake Energy as royalty payments for his three Marcellus shale gas wells, after the company deducted post-production costs from his royalty payments.

Read the full story here.

"In Litchfield Township, Glenn Aikens, a member of the Bradford County Planning Commission, also has three shale gas wells on his land. Signing a lease brought a host of unexpected costs, Aikens says : $22,000 to set up an L.L.C. to make sure that his children could inherit the farm's suddenly valuable acreage in spite of estate taxes, pre-drilling water testing for the farm's seven wells (“He charged me $14,500 dollars, but I wouldn't have had a leg to stand on had I not,” says Aikens. “If they ruin the water, what do I do with this farm?”), and perhaps most painfully, the permanent loss of a valuable tax credit for farmland, now that the leased land is considered commercial property instead. Land that was assessed at $500 an acre was now assessed at $2,500 – and taxes were due retroactively."

Mr. Aiken had to pay literally thousands and thousands of dollars for the privilege of having gas wells on his property.  One royalty check from Chesapeake Energy was for 10¢.  The cost of testing the water was $14,500.  Does this sound like a lucrative enterprise for a land owner?


Hold Your Breath: Fracking and Clean Air Don't Mix

Published on Dec 8, 2014 IS IT CLEAN? This video examines the impact of oil and gas development on the health of people living it. Using a FLIR (infrared) camera designed to detect normally invisible, sometimes toxic volatile organic compounds (VOCs), mother and activist and FLIR-certified-technician Sharon Wilson went on a road trip to document pollution at oil and gas operations -- and its human cost. EPA might require that oil and gas companies clean up their pollution. They're deciding now. Go to to urge them to act. FOR MORE INFO: 5-state study finds unsafe levels of airborne chemical near oil and gas fields, Oil & gas wells map: CREDITS: FLIR video - Sharon Wilson, Earthworks Dir. of Photo. for non-FLIR video/photo - Video Production -

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Fracking America: Is It Worth It?

Published on Dec 3, 2014
In the past decade, we've fracked 80,000+ wells in the United States.


** Learn a LOT more at

DISCLAIMER: Well locations and numbers are approximations based on best available data.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

I Hate Goodbyes: Fracking Kills So Many Things

Resident of Susquehanna County, saying goodbye to the life she once had on her parents' property and growing up there and now grieving for the coming changes, as Fracking starts next door to her and her family homestead.....
Yesterday, I swam in the pond. It was November 9.

It started with a run. I’m not much of a runner, but in deer season there isn’t much woods walking to be done, and I needed to get outside. I donned my orange vest and started up the same hill that I have been running or walking for 25 years.

This time, I passed two gas pads. One has been there for a few years, but the most recent rig was towed away in pieces a few days ago. In better days it was a just a dairy farm and home to my bus driver and township commissioner. Now, periodic methane releases break the silence like a jet engine, sending me running the other way. A coyote darted across the road with the same idea.

The other started as a logging road. Months ago, I stood at the entrance on the edge of our property, holding my breath until a dirty logging truck limped out. My neighbor had never mentioned a surface lease, but the rig came anyway. The drilling was finished about a week ago.

Now I wait, in the space between drilling and fracking; the space between the life and death of our little place in the world. This land was a labor of love for my parents, who personally collected the fieldstones that they used to build our house, stone by stone. Three of our beloved dogs are buried by the pond, and my mother’s spirit still lingers in the garden.

Last week, a reporter asked me what brought me home. In the same way that I would sit at the bedside of a dying loved one, I choose to sit beside my land. If I can't stop it, I want to witness the sad reality. To have closure.

Yesterday, I wandered to the pond, as I often do after a jog. Even though I hate cold water, I realized this might be my last chance to swim here. I ran straight in.

Today, the frack trucks came.
Thanks to Vera Scoggins for this Facebook Post.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Frac Sand Mines: Are they contaminating water?

We have been inundated with the word "fracking."  Most people now recognize that word and know a little bit about it.  But the gas industry would love to distract us with that word, and in some cases, use truthiness to claim that fracking is safe, which, of course, it really isn't, and never will be.  So we have to spread the word that fracking is only a small part of what is wrong with fossil fuel extraction.  We now know about pipelines, spills on well sites, air pollution, noise pollution, truck traffic, and, perhaps the newest worry which has actually been around all along: frac sand mines.  We are starting to notice the ill effects of silica sand and possible water contamination at frac sand mines. 

Here is a news report and article about this issue from Trempealeau County, Wisconsin.

To investigate further, check out this link which discusses the detrimental health effects of acrylamide.  The news report referred to above states:

"Polyacrylamide is used to wash frac sand. It contains the chemical acrylamide, which studies have linked to cancer. The Guza mine in Trempealeau County is allowed to use polyacrylamide in its settling ponds, but the pond must be lined with concrete. During an investigation last week at the mine, Trempealeau County officials discovered two ponds did not have that concrete. Now the mine's neighbors are concerned their drinking water is contaminated."

One of my questions is this: Isn't concrete permeable?  I think it is.  The same kind of problem happens with fracking wastewater ponds which are supposed to be lined with plastic.  I have personally seen with my own eyes these plastic liners falling in on themselves, allowing contaminated frackwaste to seep into the soil.  And several years ago I saw a video showing a bulldozer pushing a liner under the dirt as a well pad was being closed down.  The point is that there are many examples of procedures going awry.  And there is little oversight. 

Thursday, October 9, 2014

PA law enforcement sharing intelligence with Marcellus Shale drillers

"Anti-fracking activists protesting a natural-gas conference in Philadelphia last fall were being monitored by a private security company that sent a photo of a demonstrator to the Pennsylvania State Police, according to an email obtained by Pittsburgh City Paper.

A few months earlier, at another industry-led conference, state trooper Michael Hutson delivered a presentation on environmental extremism and acts of vandalism across Pennsylvania's booming Marcellus Shale natural-gas reserves. He showed photographs of several anti-fracking groups in Pennsylvania, including Shadbush Environmental Justice Collective protesters demonstrating at an active well site in Lawrence County, in Western Pennsylvania."

An intelligence-sharing network has emerged in Pennsylvania that brings together law enforcement in many forms: FBI, Pennsylvania Office of Homeland Security, the oil and gas industry, and private security firms.

"They're using the state police to try to silence us."

Read entire article here.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Friday, September 19, 2014

The Wrong Direction: Compressed Natural Gas Public Fueling Stations

Governor Corbett (PA) is celebrating the opening of a new "clean-burning" CNG public fueling station in Philadelphia.  "Clean-burning" is a total lie because the process of getting the fossil fuel out of the ground is a very dirty, polluting process.  Fracking is not the only, or even the most worrying, part of the whole industry.  The infrastructure needed, the pipelines, the impoundments, the trains, the quarries, the silica sands, to name a few, and the leaks on well pads, the surface contamination, the explosions, all these things are a very real threat to our environment.  To make the use of natural gas the up and coming trend for our vehicles, busses, trucks, is insanity.  So Governor Corbett is really leading his state into a terrible mess which will be expensive and ultimately ill-advised.  State tax dollars are funding this. 

Gas companies have harvested too much natural gas and love this idea of making natural gas more needed domestically.  But there is a lot of exportation of gas, too, since foreign countries pay so much more for it.  Why are we exporting natural gas?  The idea of energy independence as the reason for drilling is questionable, given the rate of exportation.
Governor Corbett Opens New Clean-Burning Natural Gas Fueling Station in Philadelphia
PHILADELPHIA -- Governor Tom Corbett today joined officials from VNG Co. to announce the opening of a new compressed natural gas (CNG) public fueling station in Philadelphia to support the widespread use of natural gas vehicles in the region.
“Pennsylvania has the second-largest energy field in the world, and cities from Pittsburgh to Williamsport to Towanda to Philadelphia are benefiting from our game-changing energy resources,” Gov. Corbett said. “The convenience of a local CNG fueling station makes it possible for local governments, organizations, companies and residents to make the switch to this cleaner and affordable alternative fuel. By harnessing natural gas, we are reducing greenhouse gas emissions, improving air quality and putting Pennsylvania at the forefront of American energy independence.”
The VNG public fueling station was constructed in-part with a $253,752 Alternative and Clean Energy (ACE) grant and $169,150 ACE loan from Commonwealth Financing Authority (CFA) which is administered by the Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED). VNG provided matching funds of more than $422,000. The CFA approved the funding at its public board meeting on September 17, 2013.
The ACE Program provides financial assistance in the form of grants and loan funds that will be used by eligible applicants for the usage, development and construction of alternative and clean energy projects in the state, including CNG and Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) filling stations.
The company also received Alternative Fuels Incentive Grant (AFIG) awards totaling nearly $270,000 from the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), to support the purchase of 35 natural gas vehicles by its partners at Comcast, Aqua America, H.B. Electric Services, and the Safelite Group, to be fueled at the station. AFIG grants are an annual solicitation, administered by DEP, providing financial incentive for a variety of transportation projects with the result of reducing air emissions in Pennsylvania.
Governor Corbett was joined today by DEP Secretary Christopher E. Abruzzo, along with Philadelphia Gas Works CEO Craig White.
In 2013, Pennsylvania became the second-largest natural gas producing state in the nation.  The abundance of low-cost natural gas has driven electric and natural gas prices down nearly 40 percent since 2008, saving the average Pennsylvania resident nearly $1,200 annually in lower energy costs. After importing 75 percent of its natural gas just five years ago, Pennsylvania has become a net exporter of gas for the first time in more than 100 years.

To learn more about the Natural Gas Vehicle grant program, visit, Keyword: AFIG.

To learn more about the ACE program, visit

Read the announcement here.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

North Dakota farmers fight soil contamination

One county's infertile land offers a test case of the long-term effects of wastewater spills....

Read the article here.

"Bottineau County offers an unusual, decades-long test case, since the region has a long history of contamination and a plethora of aging wells, tanks, pipelines, disposal sites and other infrastructure left from North Dakota's earlier oil booms in the 1930s, 1950s, and 1980s.  And the experiment is not over yet...."

Nothing will grow.
The crop is dying as we watch it.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Shalefield Stories: "I will not be quiet anymore."

Michelle Beegle: PA farmer, nurse, grandmother
Clearville, Bedford County, PA
We’ve lived on our land since 1983. It was given to our generation by my father-in-law. I loved it here. It was quiet. If you saw more than one car all day something was going on. We could sit on
our porch and be out in the yard, and only hear birds singing all the time. We never worried about what we were drinking or breathing. Our three children were born and raised here. Back then everyone got along with their neighbors. Everyone is family. We keep an eye out for everyone. You could count on people. Now there’s a division between people.

In 2014 we applied for a second mortgage. We wanted to update the furnace, the bathroom, and put in a pool for the grandchildren and my husband, Robert. The water therapy is good for him. He suffers from severe back pain and neuropathy that was caused when a tree fell on him in January of 1988. We applied for a $15,000 loan. Our credit was excellent and our home had recently been appraised at $125,000. We didn’t expect a problem. Our home and our credit is all we have.
Robert doesn’t believe in credit cards. “If you can’t afford it, you don’t need it,” he always says. We had previously taken out a loan on the house to help pay for our youngest daughter to go to nursing
school. We’ve never missed a payment on the house and we paid off our last car loan early. We went straight to Hometown Bank of Pennsylvania. We have banked with them for the last 10 years. We filled out the paperwork and were initially approved. A few days later, Carol at the bank called us. She explained that the attorney had looked at the loan and it was too big of a risk for them. She said that since the water well was contaminated, the property wasn’t even worth the $33,000 we
still owed on it. They said it was worth nothing. We tried three other banks, but the result was the same. At first they would approve us but as soon as they saw the tax assessment said “contaminated well” they turned us down.

Read the full article here.

Alleged Underreporting of Frack Waste Disposal In PA Exposed

"EQT Corp. told the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection that it sent 21 tons of drill cuttings from its Marcellus Shale wells to area landfills in 2013."

"But landfills in southwestern Pennsylvania told a different story.
Six facilities in this part of the state reported receiving nearly 95,000 tons of drill cuttings and fracking fluid from the Downtown-based oil and gas operator last year."

"The landfills’ records are the correct ones, said Mike Forbeck, waste management director with the DEP. He said the agency has opened an investigation into [SEVERAL] drillers’ under-reporting of landfill waste."


Stan Scobie, Binghamton, NY, 607-669-4683

Shale drillers’ landfill records don’t match those of Pennsylvania DEP

Documents tell different story on drilling waste

August 31, 2014 12:00 AM
By Anya Litvak and Maxwell Radwin / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

EQT Corp. told the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection that it sent 21 tons of drill cuttings from its Marcellus Shale wells to area landfills in 2013.

But landfills in southwestern Pennsylvania told a different story.
Six facilities in this part of the state reported receiving nearly 95,000 tons of drill cuttings and fracking fluid from the Downtown-based oil and gas operator last year.

The landfills’ records are the correct ones, said Mike Forbeck, waste management director with the DEP. He said the agency has opened an investigation into drillers’ under-reporting of landfill waste.

The EQT case — 21 tons vs. 95,000 tons — may be the most dramatic example of how data submitted by oil and gas operators don’t match up to reporting required of landfills. The DEP said it has been aware of the problem for “a number of months” and is looking into why the different reporting channels aren’t yielding the same results.
When the EQT figures were brought to its attention, the DEP launched an investigation into the company’s reporting practices, said John Poister, a spokesman for the agency.

“We don’t understand why there’s that discrepancy,” Mr. Forbeck said.
Asked for comment on inconsistencies in waste sent to landfills by Range Resources last year, the DEP started another investigation and found that Range’s numbers were off by 22,000 tons compared with what landfills reported receiving from the Texas-based driller in 2013.

“We’re also having discussions with the company to try to find out what’s going on there,” Mr. Forbeck said.
Range’s spokesman Matt Pitzarella said the company did its own review and “noted document discrepancies that we are currently working with our vendors and the DEP to correct.”

“It appears as though, through basic human error perhaps, that we only submitted the paperwork for one landfill vendor and not the rest, which makes up the majority of our gap,” Mr. Pitzarella said.
He added the company has “reaffirmed that all materials were safely disposed of and in compliance with regulations and properly manifested.”

EQT declined to “speculate on the landfill reports” and said trying to match where operators say their waste goes with the facilities that receive it is not an “apples-to-apples” comparison, according to spokeswoman Linda Robertson.
The DEP would not say if other companies are being investigated as part of the agency’s probe into the issue.
Across the board, nine southwestern Pennsylvania landfills analyzed for this story reported accepting three to four times the amount of waste that operators said they sent there.

Two landfills that accept a lot of Marcellus Shale waste — Yukon in the Westmoreland County community of the same name and Burger in Washington County — aren’t required to file quarterly reports with the DEP as part of a consent agreement.

However, their manager, Carl Spadaro, said Yukon took in 135,980 tons of oil and gas waste last year. Oil and gas drillers reported disposing of 26,485 tons there.

Some landfills, such as Imperial — named after its host community in Allegheny County — reported accepting waste from a handful of operators that never indicated the facility as a destination in 2013. Drill cuttings and fracking fluid waste from Range Resources, Royal Dutch Shell, Consol Energy, Rex Energy and Energy Corp. of America ended up at the landfill last year, but only Denver-based Energy Corp. of America listed Imperial as a disposal target.

Often, companies report sending their waste to facilities categorized as centralized treatment plants for recycling, such as Weavertown Transportation Leasing or McCutcheon Enterprises Inc. Then those companies bring some of that trash to landfills, as is evident from landfill reports that sometimes identify both the origin of the waste and the transportation company that hauled it.

Spotting inconsistencies in the amount of waste at landfills is difficult for several reasons, the main one being that drilling operators report their waste electronically and the data are stored in a publicly accessible database on the DEP’s website. Landfills, on the other hand, send paper copies of spreadsheets that are stored in binders at regional DEP offices.

“We also believe that, in many cases, what is filed electronically are estimates and not necessarily based on real numbers which would be available from the landfills,” Mr. Poister said. To that end, the DEP’s investigation might result in standards for estimating and reporting, he said.

Landfills also are required to report more types of waste than oil and gas operators. For example, a Marcellus driller doesn’t have to say how much construction trash was taken off the well site. Landfill reports — which are more detailed — indicate that’s a small fraction of incoming oil and gas waste.

Landfills are just one destination for Marcellus Shale waste, which includes drill cuttings, fracking water and brine, flowback sand and other liquid streams.

The majority of liquid waste that operators don’t recycle onsite goes to a centralized treatment facility. Another large chunk is pumped into injection wells. Both of those disposal destinations have to report to the DEP — on paper — how much waste they receive, but the agency said it isn’t looking into whether their numbers match what the operators say they’re sending to those facilities.

The DEP currently has no reason to suspect they don’t match, Mr. Poister said.

The Post-Gazette analysis examined landfill records from 2013 only. The DEP said its investigation showed discrepancies between operator and landfill reporting have actually narrowed over the years.

Some companies appeared better able to match their numbers to landfill figures, while others had far larger gaps.
Mr. Poister and Mr. Forbeck said the discrepancies are a concern, but DEP uses landfill numbers in decision-making about the waste program, not operator-submitted figures.

“We know the number. We know the amount [of waste]. We know it’s accurate at the landfill level,” Mr. Poister said. “The area of discussion is going to be why the discrepancy and why under-report it.”

Anya Litvak: or 412-263-1455.


Saturday, August 30, 2014

Opinion: Our Susquehanna River Is Sick

Opinion: Our Susquehanna River Is Sick
By Douglas E Fessler, Sunbury, PA

My story starts at just one point along the life-giving Susquehanna River. Sunbury primarily gets its drinking water from Little Shamokin Creek (Plum Creek), secondarily it pulls from the Susquehanna River.

Using too much cow manure on fields, use of pesticides and herbicides, and contamination from mine acid runoff are just some of the problems in our local area relating to keeping our water clean and safe.

So the problems that are in our waterways cannot fall on the shoulders of the water treatment plants alone, they can only do so much as explained below.

The Loyalsock Creek is a 64-mile tributary that empties into West Branch of the Susquehanna River. Recent talking about fracking in the Loyalsock State Forest is leading to another example how hasty decisions 64 miles inland can affect future generations (who will be left to deal with unforeseen problems). People will tell you what that it’s safe now, but again, unforeseen consequences come into play. For example, the effects of mine runoff have made the Shamokin Creek one of the most polluted waterways in Pennsylvania. This creek transports around 5,000 pounds of lead to the Susquehanna River annually.

The Shamokin Creek contributes 53 percent of the total lead that reaches the Susquehanna River. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency advises against any swimming in or consumption of the water of the Shamokin Creek, this means water treatment plants can't clean the water.
This example shows exactly how the unregulated management of our waterways can lead to undrinkable - to literally unusable -water.

Do we sit around and wait for the Susquehanna River to reach this breaking point? Do we look at the problem individually asking what can I do about it? Do we point fingers to find out exactly whose problem it is? The truth is it’s a problem for all of us and it’s going to take communities up and down the Susquehanna River coming together to address the issues as Pennsylvanians.
The Susquehanna River and its tributaries are barometric windows to the health of the environment.  The health of the environment is directly related to us and our future generations; it’s the food we eat and the air we breathe. Despite what we are told, our river is sick and it’s up to us to fix it. We are no longer the children... we are the adults we once looked to make sure everything was OK.

Douglas Fessler is active in the annual Susquehanna River Cleanup Project and in other local watershed groups in and around Sunbury.  He can be contacted by sending email to:

Susquehanna Smallmouth Bass Send SOS
Op-Ed: Antique Sewage System Cannot Persist In Pittsburgh
Allegheny River Cleanup Sept. 6, 8, 12, 13

PA DEP Cites Water Supplies Contaminated by Gas Drilling

DEP Lists Water Supplies Damaged, High Hydrogen Sulfide Emissions From Gas Drilling
The Department of Environmental Protection Thursday released a table listing the 248 water supplies found by DEP to be contaminated by oil and natural gas drilling from 2008 to 2014, about 1.2 percent of new wells drilled during that time period.

Other complaints are still being investigated.

According to Scott Perry, DEP Deputy Secretary for Oil and Gas Management, about half the water supplies were damaged by conventional oil and gas wells and about half were unconventional (Marcellus Shale) gas wells.

The problems include methane gas contamination, spills of wastewater and other pollutants, and wells that went dry or were otherwise rendered undrinkable. The records show that some of the problems were temporary. The table with links to the letters of determination by DEP or the orders issued to correct the problems.

DEP also posted a list of 19 oil and gas wells that have high levels of hydrogen sulfide emissions-- greater than 20 ppm.  14 of the wells with high emissions were conventional oil and gas wells and 5 were unconventional (Marcellus Shale) wells.
7 of the wells are still active, 8 have been plugged, 2 were abandoned wells and 2 are in regulatory inactive status (inactive, but not abandoned or producing).
Hydrogen sulfide can cause conjunctivitis  and respiratory tract irritation at levels of 50 to 100 ppm and loss of consciousness and possibly death after 30 minutes of exposure at levels of 500 to 700 ppm.

DEP reports 20,178 conventional and unconventional oil and gas wells were drilled between January 2008 and the end of July 2014.  There were 12,098 conventional wells and 8,080 unconventional (Marcellus Shale) wells.

Copies of the list of damaged water supplies and the wells with hydrogen sulfide emissions are available online.

DEP Releases List Of 248 Wells Impacted By Drilling
DEP Releases Full List Of Wells Ruined By Gas Drilling
DEP Publishes List of Water Supplies Damaged By Drilling
Drilling Wastewater Contaminated Drinking Water In Westmoreland
Indiana County Twp Fights Drilling Wastewater Well
Study Seeks Link Between Fracking, Birth Defects

PA DEP says wastewater from gas drilling ruined drinking water

State determines wastewater from gas drilling contaminated drinking water in Westmoreland County
August 27, 2014 12:00 AM

By Don Hopey / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
The state Department of Environmental Protection has officially determined that drinking water at a third residence is contaminated by WPX Appalachia LLC’s leaky Marcellus Shale gas drilling wastewater impoundment near Stahlstown, Westmoreland County.

Whether that gets any of the three families living along rural Route 711 south of Ligonier any closer to a permanent replacement water supply is another matter.

The DEP last week ordered WPX to restore or replace the water supply at the home of Ken and Mildred Geary, both in their 80s, who first complained that their water had a foul, chemical smell and taste a year ago. The order came down two years after the DEP first received a complaint about possible ground water contamination from the  impoundment at WPX’s Kelp shale gas drilling pad.

The DEP made the contamination determination based on tests done in June, that showed the well water contained higher concentrations of chloride, barium, calcium, magnesium, manganese, strontium and total dissolved solids than it did prior to November 2011 when WPX drilled the Kelp well.
“In February, I believe the data was already there to show contamination,” said Nick Kennedy, an attorney with the Mountain Watershed Association, a local environmental advocacy group that has worked with the families. “This determination and order should have been made months ago.”

That’s when the DEP issued a determination that the water well used by Joseph and Sonja Latin, who live next door to the Gearys, had been contaminated by WPX and ordered the company to start the process of permanently replacing their water.

WPX appealed that order to the state Environmental Hearing Board. It has 30 days to appeal the Geary's order.

The third family, the Browns, filed a water quality complaint with the DEP in September 2012 and in July of last year the department ordered the company to permanently replace their water supply. A year later, the Browns are still drawing water from a 2,500-gallon plastic water tank, and have filed a lawsuit against the company and its subcontractors alleging damages to their property value.

Susan Oliver, A WPX spokeswoman, said she doesn’t know if the company plans to appeal the DEP order to replace the Geary’s water, but added that water tests are continuing and “until that’s done and finalized a determination on replacing the supplies can’t be made.”

John Poister, a DEP spokesman, said the process of permanently restoring water supplies for the families, though delayed by legal appeals and complications, is moving forward.

“DEP has determined that WPX’s activity has impacted these water supplies and have issued a unilateral order to permanently replace the three water supplies,” he said in a written response to questions. “We realize that this is a serious issue for these homeowners. If WPX fails to comply with this order it will result in enforcement actions, which could include an immediate permitting freeze until the issue is addressed.”

Mr. Poister said that while WPX has provided the affected families with bottled water and other temporary water sources, “it’s not a replacement for clean running water in the home.”


Water: Don't waste it for fracking!

We cannot drink natural gas.

Water is precious.  Use it wisely.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Zephyr Teachout: Hydrofracking Is Dangerous

Published on Aug 29, 2014
Zephyr Teachout Statement 8-27-14.

Tour stop: She makes statement at gas well site near Montrose, PA. She has studied the science and is firmly opposed to hydrofracking. "It poisons our soil....New York can not afford to take this reckless path......"

Zephyr Teachout for Governor of New York
Vote in the Democratic Primary Tuesday, September 9th

People's Climate Mobilisation: September 20-21

After we march together on the 21st, we start building the future together on the 22nd.
Solutions Grassroots Tour six New York City shows only!
Monday September 22nd- Friday September 26th
Irondale Center, Brooklyn
Tickets here:
Friday October 3rd
Evander Childs Educational Complex, Bronx
Time TBD
The Solutions Grassroots Tour combines classic storytelling with roll-up-your sleeves organizing to look at the impacts of fossil fuel development and provide a vision for the developing renewable energy like no other event during Climate Week.

Conceived and directed by GASLAND Director Josh Fox, with a cast of over 20 actor/dancers, live video installation and Twin Danger, the world-class seven-piece band led by Vanessa Bley and 7 time Grammy-nominee stuart Matthewman this new play with music is an event like no other on the planet.

Gasland screenings galvanized communities to organize against fracking. The Solutions Grassroots Tour seeks to do the same for renewable energy development. The tour has already inspired communities to build renewable energy community teams in updtate New York- let’s do the same in NYC!

Most of August, Josh was out west shooting for his next feature film on climate change. He witnessed the devastation of wildfires in Colorado, beetle-kill in Wyoming, and methane emissions in the Bakken Shale of North Dakota. The disastrous impacts of fossil fuel development on our communities have never been clearer. The time has come for democratic, renewable energy.
Communities impacted by fracking and other forms of extreme energy development know that the People’s Climate March is about much more than protecting our environment from climate change.
This march is about environmental justice and equality. As the video said, to change everything, it takes everyone.

Please watch and share our video of the week and get your tickets to the Solutions Grassroots Tour.

See you in New York!
Thanks and have a great weekend,
Lee Ziesche, Gasland Grassroots Coordinator
- See more at:

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Sustainable Energy: Microgrid at Rocky Mountain Institute

The UCSD Microgrid - Showing the Future of Electricity
Uploaded on Jan 13, 2012

Rocky Mountain Institute visited the University of California, San Diego to study and document the "microgrid" that controls and integrates electricity supply and demand on the campus. UCSD's microgrid is one of the best examples of an electricity network that provides local control yet is interconnected with the larger electricity grid. At UCSD, the microgrid provides the ability to manage 42 megawatts of generating capacity, including a central cogeneration plant, an array of solar photovoltaic installations and a fuel cell that operates on natural gas reclaimed from a landfill site. The central microgrid control allows operators to manage the diverse portfolio of energy generation and storage resources on the campus to minimize costs. In addition, the campus can "island" from the larger grid to maintain power supply in an emergency, as in the case of the power blackout that struck parts of Southern California, Arizona and Mexico in September 2011. The microgrid at UCSD provides a living laboratory to experiment with integration and management of local resources and to optimize the use of these resources in interaction with market signals from the larger grid. Learn how RMI is seeking to identify and amplify the kinds of solutions that have the potential to transform the electricity system by visiting

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Natural Gas Drilling Is Harmful To Our Health: Gov. Cuomo, Are You Listening?

"New Yorkers should not be placed in the crosshairs of these public health threats. We need to prioritize the health of all of our residents. It's inexcusable to consider a pilot project that brings fracking into any part of our state, putting some of our residents immediately in harm's way and releasing contaminants that do not stop at municipal boundaries drawn on a map."

— Dr. Bart Schoenfeld, cardiologist and member of Physicians for Social Responsibility, Hudson-Mohawk Chapter.

"The gas industry has been secretive with information – limiting disclosure and keeping crucial data out of researchers' hands. As a result, the pace of scientific research has been impeded. Yet, results of a number of important studies tracking short- and long-term health effects of fracking are due to come out in the next few years.

That is why my colleagues and I think a three- to five-year moratorium – at minimum – is prudent.
Clean water, clean air and a safe home and community are not privileges; they are rights. It's up to Gov. Cuomo to ensure the health of all New Yorkers and enact a statewide moratorium on fracking."

Read more here.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Terry Greenwood: We Won't Forget You

Last month, Terry Greenwood, a Pennsylvania farmer whose water had been contaminated by fracking waste, died of cancer. He was 66 and the cause of death was a rare form of brain cancer.
His death drew attention from around the globe in part because Mr. Greenwood was among the first farmers from his state to speak out against the gas industry during the early years of the state's shale gas rush.

Read more here.

Many thanks to Josh Fox for all he has done to get the truth out about the harmful effects of natural gas drilling, and for this memorial video to honor the life of Terry Greenwood.

Terry Greenwood  1948-2014
Rest In Peace

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Hats Off To Denton, Texas! Citizens Against Fracking

Fracking ban will be voted on by the citizens of Denton, TX, in November 2014.

Vera Scroggins: Grandmother Against Fracking

Vera's Update On Her Pending Court Date:

This is her update:
"My next court date is a trial date for a civil trial on Oct. 29th at 9 am. at the Montrose Courthouse, Montrose, Pa. 18801. My three lawyers, one from ACLU in Pa., one from Public Citizen in Washington, DC. and a private Pa. attorney, will be defending me and working to lessen my restrictions or remove them and show the Judge that I am not a danger to Cabot or their workers .   This is a civil trial with no jury; it will be public and public is encouraged to attend; come and witness and bring signs for display outside of the court room.  And we can meet afterward for lunch across the road from Courthouse at Mazar's Restaurant.  Cabot lawyers charged that I am a danger to Cabot , their workers, myself and those I bring on my Citizen Gas Tours; I've been doing this for five years and no one has been hurt, except the image of Cabot. Cabot is the Danger with 566 DEP Violations for 427 Active Wells in our county so far....and counting....

I am under the second, temporary Injunction, which prohibits me from going within 100' of any Cabot Gas Development Sites and any Cabot access road to their sites.  I have been under an Injunction with Cabot since Oct. 22, 2013.

Even though, I've been touring gas sites in the county peacefully for five years, and now , Cabot claims dangers and files a lawsuit without ever sending me any notices or requests to cease and desist .  Cabot had no signs at the entrances stating : "no trespassing"  Now they do after the Injunction and plastered "no trespassing" signs on all their sites."

 Vera's civil trial date: October 29, 2014
Montrose County Courthouse
Montrose, PA
The public is encouraged to attend.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

House Explosion in Orwell, Ohio, Thought To Be Caused By a Natural Gas Leak

Orwell, Ohio: One woman is dead, and her boyfriend is in critical condition after their house exploded July 16th.  A gas well is on the property, and natural gas (methane) would sometimes migrate into the water system.  The explosion occurred when the man lit a cigarette.

Read more here. Video included.

More Concern Over a Marked Rise in Earthquakes In Oklahoma

"Squinting into a laptop perched on the back of his pickup, Austin Holland searches for a signal from a coffee-can-sized sensor buried under the grassy prairie.

Holland, Oklahoma’s seismology chief, is determined to find the cause of an unprecedented earthquake epidemic in the state. And he suspects pumping wastewater from oil and gas drilling back into the Earth has a lot to do with it.

“If my research takes me to the point where we determine the safest thing to do is to shut down injection -- and consequently production -- in large portions of the state, then that’s what we have to do,” Holland said. “That’s for the politicians and the regulators to work out.” "

Read the Bloomberg article here.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

California Halts Injection of Fracking Waste, Warning it May Be Contaminating Aquifers

"California officials have ordered an emergency shut-down of 11 oil and gas waste injection sites and a review more than 100 others in the state's drought-wracked Central Valley out of fear that companies may have been pumping fracking fluids and other toxic waste into drinking water aquifers there.

The state's Division of Oil and Gas and Geothermal Resources on July 7 issued cease and desist orders to seven energy companies warning that they may be injecting their waste into aquifers that could be a source of drinking water, and stating that their waste disposal "poses danger to life, health, property, and natural resources." The orders were first reported by the Bakersfield Californian, and the state has confirmed with ProPublica that its investigation is expanding to look at additional wells."

Read the article by Abrahm Lustgarten (ProPublica) here.

My comment (Peacegirl):  First gas wells were being drilled (still are), and we didn't know for sure what harm would done to humans, animals, soil, air, and water (still don't know everything).  Next there were the pipelines and compressor stations, and we didn't know (still don't) what the negative effects would be on our daily lives.  Now we have earthquakes and injection wells, and we really have absolutely no clue about what is (or can) really happen as a result of these practices.  But we have all this frack waste.  We have to put it somewhere.  So I think we are really in a terrible bind.  One thing leads to another, and now we are in over our brilliant little heads.  Some people are getting filthy rich, and the rest of us are wondering what kind of world we will leave to our children and grandchildren, if indeed there will be a liveable planet for them.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Truck Carrying Frack Water Loses Brakes: It Could Have Been Worse

LENOX TOWNSHIP — A water truck driver walked away from a crash with another tanker on Route 407 in Lenox Township on Thursday.
That crash in Susquehanna County might have saved both driver’s lives.
“I told her to hit me. I thought I could get her stopped, well. That didn’t work,” said Joe Delancy.
Delancy and a female driver were each carrying water from a gas site in their trucks.
State police said the brakes in the truck the woman was driving stopped working.
That’s when Delancy drove in front of her and let her hit him, so she could slow down.
“She kept picking up speed and she hooked me right here and over we went,” said Delancy.

Find out more about this accident here. Watch video.

My thoughts (Peacegirl):  In a rural area such as Lenox Township (PA) or Asylum Township (PA) where my family has its summer camp, trucks were not uncommon in days gone by. But now, with the virtual occupation of these areas by gas drilling companies,  trucks are seen all over the place every day, driving on little, narrow country roads that were not built for these heavy trucks in terrain that many drivers are not familiar with.  The roads are windy and treacherous in the best of circumstances.  In this accident, the brakes gave out.  People live on these roads often very close to the road.  There are children riding bikes.  The gas industry has brought a nightmare to these communities.  What a miracle that no one was badly hurt or killed in this accident yesterday (7/17/14). 

In addition, these water trucks are not always carrying just plain water.  The water may be laced with chemicals.  The water is going to be used for another frack job.  Where did it come from?  What is in this water?  Was there a spill in this case?  All good questions IMO.