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Friday, July 22, 2011

Marcellus e-Alert: Pennsylvania's Shale Commission Issues Final Report


Here it is everyone—Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett and his corporate benefactors are about to takeover the state’s resources. Corbett, or Mr. Corrup—ett, is about to let the private drilling and fracking and gas industry right Pennsylvania law on their own financial behalf.

Were we not told that cigarettes were actually good for you, at one time. Were those living in Utah during the nuclear testing era, told that watching the nuclear testing out in the desert, was safe. Yet today, most, if not all, those viewers sitting out in the desert with their specially issued paper glasses, in their lawn chairs, have cancer. Were we not told that drilling thousands of feet in the Gulf of Mexico was safe, until it wasn’t. And now, we were told that nuclear power facilities were safe, and Japan told us it wasn’t.

But now, here in Pennsylvania, we are being told that Marcellus Shale drilling and Fracking are safe. And actually, in this report (read the document for yourselves here) we are being told that the benefits out way the risk, until they aren’t!

What I mean by that is that until our drinking water sources, such as wells, rivers, and aquifers are poisoned by an accident that is unfixable. Just ask those people living along the Gulf of Mexico’s northern coastline; or, those children living within the 15 mile radius of Japan’s nuclear meltdown!

THE ONLY WAY TO STOP TOM CORBETT AND HIS PRIVATE MARCELLUS SHALE INDUSTRY BENEFACTORS FROM HARMING YOUR COMMUNITY IS TO BAN IT FROM YOUR COMMUNITY.

THE PLAN IN THIS REPORT HAD NOT OUTRIGHT SAID, BUT INTIMATED THAT A MODEL ORDINANCE HAD BEEN ADOPTED BY A FEW COMMUNITIES, AND THAT SOUNDED LIKE A GOOD APPROACH. TO HAVE A STATEWIDE “MODEL” DRILLING AND FRACKING ORDINANCE WOULD OVERRIDE THE INDIVIDUAL ORDINANCES OF LOCAL ELECTED OFFICIALS AND THOSE COMMUNITY CITIZENS. (READ THE FOLLOWING SECTIONS OF THE REPORT BELOW.).

IF YOU DON’T BAN IT, THEN YOU WILL END UP PAYING A HIGH COST, EVEN IF THERE IS NO ACCIDENT!! YOU WILL HAVE TO PAY LARGE SUMS TO IMPLEMENT THE COMMISSION’S EMERGENCY RESPONSE RECOMMENDATIONS. AND, THAT MEANS RAISING LOCAL TAXES TO MEET THESE COSTS. TO AVOID ALL OF THESE COSTS, A COMMUNITY MIGHT BEST BAN DRILLING AND FRACKING ENTIRELY. THE REPORT ALSO SAYS GET READY FOR THE IMPACT!!! HOLD ONTO YOUR HATS, FOLKS!!!

Also, you will read in the following except that in regards to land use rules, a community must accommodate not only the needs of the citizens, but those of the drillers!! Therefore, a community MUST make sure that drillers and Frackers get the locations they find most desirable. So, what this is saying is “go screw yourselves” when the drillers and Frackers come to YOUR town. I say “JUST BAN IT!”

I WOULD SAY THIS REPORT HAS GIVEN ALL OF US, AND OUR ELECTED OFFICIALS ENOUGH WARNING OF THE NEGATIVE IMPACT OUR COMMUNITIES MAY ENCOUNTER!!

Marcellus e-Alert: Shale commission issues final report

Gov. Tom Corbett's Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission today issued its final report on natural gas drilling in the state. The report makes 96 policy recommendations on how Pennsylvania should deal with the environmental and economic impacts of drilling in the state, including local impact.

The 137-page final report can be accessed here. The recommendations will be used as a basis when the legislature takes up the issue this fall. I expect it to be thoroughly examined and debated.

In the meantime, I invite you to join me in reading this report that addresses an issue of vital importance to our area. I welcome your feedback.

Here are sections of the report that YOU might find most interesting:

 8.5

MITIGATION OF ADVERSE LOCAL IMPACTS

The communities where Marcellus Shale natural gas activity is occurring serve as the foundation for future natural gas opportunities that will have substantial, positive impacts on both Pennsylvania and our nation from an energy perspective. Therefore, development of shale gas should account for and mitigate, to the maximum extent possible, any adverse impacts on these communities. A brief overview of the impacts identified through due diligence conducted by the Local Impact & Emergency Response Work Group follows.

8.5.1

EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AND EMERGENCY RESPONSE

Municipalities have a legal responsibility for planning for and responding to all types of emergencies. Drilling activity leads to the potential for many types of incidents for which response may be necessary including: fires, well blowouts, chemical and fuel spills, and traffic accidents attributed to an overall increase in vehicular traffic.
Emergencies at drilling locations have occurred and until emergency specialists retained by drilling companies arrive on site, volunteer fire companies and other local first responders must secure a site and take appropriate action. Quite often local emergency responders in Marcellus Shale communities are unpaid volunteer fire fighters
and paramedics who face increasing demands on their service.

8.5.5
Land use tools such as comprehensive plans, zoning ordinances, and subdivision and land development ordinances can be adopted by municipalities to make certain that development is located where and at an intensity that meets both industry and community needs. However, many municipalities in Pennsylvania’s rural areas, where the majority of Marcellus Shale natural gas production is occurring, have not faced significant development activity in the past and subsequently have not adopted sufficient land use controls to protect citizen interests.

Pennsylvania’s local government associations have taken action by developing a model zoning ordinance to assist municipalities with adopting regulations to allow Marcellus Shale natural gas production while maintaining reasonable local controls. This model ordinance has been promoted and used in several municipalities.

Maintaining effective land use control in Pennsylvania requires that municipalities retain their authority to enact reasonable regulations and be afforded the opportunity to plan for the impact of such activity on their communities. According to testimony presented to the Commission, more than 800 counties and municipalities in the Marcellus Shale region have adopted zoning regulations or ordinances. The zoning regulations and ordinances may be inconsistent in substance and application, and include various restrictions on noise, setbacks, and road use. Some zoning regulations and ordinances provide for disparate treatment of the natural gas industry.


8.5.7

AFFORDABLE H OUSING AND UALITY OF LIFE

While Marcellus Shale natural gas production has had significant, positive impacts on Pennsylvania’s overall economic outlook, the impacts on quality of life should not be overlooked. While in some instances difficult to quantify, there have been substantial impacts reported in and near communities where well drilling is occurring.

From an overall increase in traffic, noise impacts near well drilling sites, and disturbance of view sheds, to rising school district enrollments, there are marked community changes pre- and post-development.


9.

COMMISSION RECOMMENDATIONS

Following are the recommendations adopted by the Governor’s Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission at the Commission’s July 15, 2011 public meeting. Roll call votes of the recommendations can be found in Appendix C.

9.1

INFRASTRUCTURE

9.1.1

Currently, there is only one gas safety inspector training center (Oklahoma) in the nation. Pennsylvania, in
partnership with industry, the federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration and educational institutions, should pursue existing opportunities which seek to locate a gas safety inspector training facility within the Commonwealth.
The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) must currently send its gas safety inspectors out-of-state to obtain needed training related to pipeline safety. The PUC has stated that its need for pipeline inspectors will grow in coming years as additional pipeline infrastructure is deployed throughout the natural gas producing regions.

9.1.2
To address the lack of coordinated permitting processes for pipeline deployment, the Commonwealth should designate a state agency to create a “One Stop” permitting process while expanding the use of General Permits to authorize routine development activities, as well as maintain jurisdiction over multi-county linear pipeline projects and ensure appropriate notifications have been made to local jurisdictions. It is not the purpose of this proposal to encourage the expansion of statutory jurisdiction of the Public Utility Commission beyond gas safety oversight in so far as non-jurisdictional gathering lines are concerned.

9.1.3
To relieve the burden imposed upon roads and bridges from the transportation of sand, water, pipe and other commodities associated with natural gas development, the Commonwealth should prioritize the utilization of its financial resources to evaluate and potentially expand its rail freight facilities and capabilities, and partner with rail authorities to seek federal rail assistance funding, such as the Transportation Investment Generating  Economic Recovery (TIGER) program.

On April 21, 2011 Governor Corbett issue Executive Order 2011- 02, which established the Governor’s Transportation Funding Advisory Commission. Among its charges, the Commission will “Study and prepare a comprehensive listing of  potential revenue sources available for current and future funding of transportation in the Commonwealth for all modes of transportation.” 

9.1.4
PENNDOT should identify a mechanism to properly invoice natural gas operators for costs incurred for inspections and improvements on non-posted roadways. Invoices must reflect actual costs apportioned to the industry utilizing engineering calculations based on traffic counts.

9.1.5
Prioritize and encourage the beneficial re-use of steel and blast furnace slag a byproduct of the electric arc and integrated steelmaking process for aggregate applications, such as well pad and access road construction, thus preserving limited landfill capacity.


9.1.6
As PENNDOT and municipalities expand the use of posting roadways for heavy truck traffic, both the Commonwealth and municipalities should evaluate the impacts this imposes upon other users of the roadway, including timber, wood product, quarry and other mine operators and others, and work to provide flexibility for all users whenever possible.

See 8.5.2 for an overview of increased posting and bonding activity related to Marcellus Shale development.


9.1.7
The Public Utility Commission should be given statutory gas safety oversight of non-jurisdictional intra-state gathering systems, including mechanisms to establish safety standards regarding the design, construction and installation of such lines within Class 1 areas. Pipelines are generally classified based on location to building density. Class I pipelines are generally defined as having 10 or fewer buildings intended for human occupancy within the “Class Location Unit” (220 yards from the centerline on either side of the pipeline).


9.1.8
The Commonwealth, through the Bureau of Aviation, should undertake a detailed assessment of air service and infrastructure needs among regional airports within the Shale area so that targeted improvements can assist in capitalizing on gas-industry generated economic opportunities.


9.1.9
Counties and municipalities should undertake an inventory and structural evaluation of locally-owned bridges currently exempt from federally mandated inspections (typically 8’ to 20’).

9.1.10
PENNDOT should calculate and evaluate increased traffic volume to continuously calculate impacts, particularly as natural gas development activities expand into currently undeveloped regions of the Commonwealth.


9.1.11
To ensure the safety, integrity and use of high quality steel (such as steel which meets API standards) annual well production reports submitted to DEP should specify the country of origin and manufacture of any steel products used in the maintenance or construction of a well during the reporting period.


9.1.12
To ensure the safety, integrity and use of high quality steel (such as steel which meets API standards) in the exploration, gathering and transmission of natural gas, operators required to register with the Public Utility Commission shall report the country of origin and manufacture of any steel products used for a PUC regulated activity during the reporting period.


9.1.13
A lead state agency should be designated to alleviate delays in linear pipeline project development and approval; to identify redundant (state and federal) natural and cultural resource reviews which should be eliminated; to properly tailor the scope of agency reviews; and the PA Natural Resource Inventory on-line tool should be expanded to accommodate linear projects longer than 15,000 feet.


9.1.14
State agencies should offer accelerated permit reviews within guaranteed time frames, provided any incremental costs associated with the accelerated review shall be paid by the permit applicant.

9.1.15
State law should be amended to authorize PENNDOT to negotiate leases which permit the location of energy and utility infrastructure within PENNDOT’s right-of-way.


9.1.16
PENNDOT shall look to add language to either the Excess Maintenance Agreement or the Road Maintenance Plan that directs the industry to evaluate the Erosion and Sediment controls already in place on a roadway to determine if interim erosion and sediment control measures are necessary while the road is in use but before road reconstruction begins.

See 8.5.2 for an overview of Excess Maintenance Agreements and challenges posed to local and state road and bridge infrastructure.

9.1.17
Develop and provide planning tools and educational opportunities relating to unconventional natural gas development to counties; require proper notice of permit applications with an opportunity to comment (similar to notice for host and adjoining municipalities); and, under DEP guidance and consistent with applicable permit conditions, allow for County Conservation Districts to engage in inspections of erosion and sedimentation controls at unconventional well sites, if they choose to do so.

9.1.18
DEP should ensure that natural gas construction activities are required to meet the same standards as general construction activities. Modifications to current construction standards as they are applied to unconventional natural gas drilling activities may be necessary.


 (http://moontownshippa.blogspot.com)

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