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.