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Friday, September 30, 2011

Peters Township PA Gets "Fracked" by Their Council

Judge to rule on Peters drilling referendum
Tuesday, September 13, 2011
A Washington County judge has set a Sept. 28 hearing for arguments over whether to block a voter referendum on natural gas drilling in Peters.
At a brief hearing this morning, Judge Paul Pozonsky said he will try to make a decision about a petition from Peters Solicitor William Johnson before the first week in October, when absentee ballots for the general election are to be printed and mailed.
Mr. Johnson, at the behest of Peters council, is trying to prevent the referendum from making it onto the Nov. 8 ballot, saying he believes it to be "patently illegal."
"The township has spent the past year and a half attempting to formulate a defendable zoning ordinance" regarding Marcellus Shale drilling, Mr. Johnson told the judge.

» A website for ongoing coverage, resources, comments and more.

The referendum asks Peters voters whether to ban gas drilling and hydraulic fracturing -- or fracking -- of the Marcellus Shale, and other natural gas extraction activities. If approved, it would override an ordinance passed by council last month.
Members of the Peters Township Marcellus Shale Awareness group, which last month presented a petition with 2,422 signatures of residents to the county elections office to get the referendum included on the ballot, said they want voters to decide the issue.
"We think it's important to the citizens and voters of Peters Township," said Cathy Eddy, one of the group's members.
Ms. Eddy said PTMSA plans to file a brief defending the referendum.
"We're in the legislative process; we're trying to change the law," she said. "Our home rule charter gives us that right."
Specifically, the referendum would ask voters in the county's largest municipality to establish a "bill of rights" that would amend the home rule charter and ban drilling.
If it's approved by voters, the referendum would make the township's position "untenable" and "indefensible" for a number of reasons, Mr. Johnson said, including that it would violate the state's Oil & Gas Act, which governs gas well drilling regulations and pre-empts local governments from regulating most aspects of gas drilling.
Peters Council voted unanimously last night to mount a legal challenge to the referendum, saying they feared it would expose taxpayers to "tens of millions of dollars" in liability from drilling companies and property owners with leases.
The county elections office will not fight the issue either way, because paperwork for the referendum appears to have been filed properly, said county Solicitor Mary Lynn Drewitz.
"We're neutral," said Ms. Drewitz.
The judge ordered all parties to submit briefs to his office by Sept. 21.
Janice Crompton: jcrompton@post-gazette.com or 412-851-1867.

Peters council heads to court to block shale referendum
Tuesday, September 13, 2011
A lawyer representing Peters council is expected to be in Washington County court this morning in an attempt to block a voter referendum on whether to ban natural gas drilling.
"In my opinion, it's patently illegal," said solicitor William Johnson.
The referendum, which is slated to appear on the Nov. 8 ballot, asks Peters voters whether to ban gas drilling and hydraulic fracturing -- or fracking -- of the Marcellus Shale, and other natural gas extraction activities.
Council members Monday night voted unanimously to mount a legal challenge to the referendum, organized by members of the Peters Township Marcellus Shale Awareness group, which last month presented a petition with 2,422 signatures of residents to the county elections office to get the referendum included on the ballot.

» A website for ongoing coverage, resources, comments and more.

Specifically, the referendum would ask voters in the county's largest municipality to establish a "bill of rights" that would amend the home rule charter and override a drilling ordinance passed by council last month.
That ordinance, passed after months of debate and public hearings, limits Marcellus Shale gas drill sites - and any other mineral extraction activities - as a conditional use in a specially designed overlay district.
Drilling would be limited to parcels of at least 40 acres along main roads, and companies would be required to test water and soil before drilling and after hydraulic fracturing.
But members of PTMSA had pressed council to either ban drilling or confine it to industrial areas, and members continued protesting the issue Monday night, wearing red-and-black anti-fracking T-shirts and carrying signs urging council to let the voters decide the issue. Members held up their signs during the nearly two hours that council debated whether to challenge the referendum.
"If you want to commit political suicide, go ahead," said Peters resident Ann Shaner, a member of PTMSA.
Ms. Shaner said residents who signed the petition felt it was "the fair and honest thing to do; to give the people the right to vote."
"This is an anathema, that we in a residential community have to even discuss this," said resident Susan Derko. "It's hard to even get your head around."
But council members said they were concerned that not challenging the referendum would place the township on the hook for perhaps "tens of millions of dollars in liability" from drilling companies and property owners who signed leases.
Mr. Johnson said that if the referendum passes, it would immediately invalidate council's ordinance and make the township's position "untenable" and "indefensible" for a number of reasons, including that it would violate the state's Oil & Gas Act, which governs gas well drilling regulations and preempts local governments from regulating most aspects of gas drilling.
"I just don't think it's prudent to put ourselves in this position right now," he said.
Several council members said they would have preferred to ban gas drilling, but said it isn't a legal option.
Council said it wants the courts to decide the issue.
"It's not illegal until the court says it's illegal," council President Robert Atkison said of the referendum. "If it's legal, it will be on the ballot."
Mr. Johnson, along with representatives from PTMSA and the county elections office, are expected to appear before Judge Paul Pozonsky at 9:15 a.m. today.
Janice Crompton: jcrompton@post-gazette.com or 412-851-1867.


EPA Talks About Fracking Rules

First hearing on proposed EPA fracking rules to be held in Pittsburgh
Friday, September 16, 2011
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will hold in Pittsburgh the first of three hearings on proposed oil and gas emissions standards, from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sept. 27 at the David Lawrence Convention Center, Downtown.
The rules are meant to control and reduce toxic air pollution from oil and gas wells that are hydraulically fractured, like those tapping into the Marcellus Shale formation in Pennsylvania and other Appalachian states.
Hearings will also be held Sept. 28 in Denver and Sept. 29 in Arlington, Texas.
The public can comment on the proposed rules -- the first changes in oil and gas emissions regulations in decades -- which would use existing technologies to reduce pollution from well drilling, leaking pipes, storage tanks and gas compressor stations that contributes to smog and can cause cancer. Those emissions control technologies, including capture of volatile organic compounds and other gases now routinely vented into the atmosphere, are already employed by some companies and required by some states, but not Pennsylvania.
The EPA must finalize the new emissions standards by Feb. 28, 2012, under a mandate in a court-ordered consent decree.
Persons wishing to present hearing testimony, limited to 5 minutes each, should contact Joan C. Rogers, USEPA, Office of Air Quality, Planning and Standards Sector Policies and Programs Division (E143- 03), Research Triangle Park, North Carolina 27711; telephone: 1-919-541-4487; fax number: 1-919-541-3470; email: rogers.joanc@epa.gov(preferred method for registering), no later than 4 p.m., two business days prior to each hearing. The last day to register for the Pittsburgh hearing is next Friday.


More From PA Governor Tom Corrupt-bett

From the Post Gazette on 9-16-11

On Marcellus Shale, Mr. Corbett said his administration would push legislation within the next two weeks to create an impact fee.
He said the funds would not go into the general state budget but would be used primarily to compensate communities where drilling is taking place for the damage to their roads and bridges from heavy truck traffic and other local impact.
The primary amount of money will go to the counties, and let the counties work with the municipalities," Mr. Corbett said. "What comes to the state, in my mind, will be used exclusively for the [Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency] and will be used for environmental cleanup."
Mr. Corbett has been under intensifying pressure for months -- from some fellow Republicans as well as Democrats -- to support a fee that would pay for environmental cleanup and compensate communities where drilling is taking place.
He had stuck to a pledge made in last year's gubernatorial campaign to oppose any new taxes -- or fees -- on anyone for anything.
Since taking office in January, Mr. Corbett has softened that stance, saying at first that he would consider a local impact fee on the drillers, then saying he was in talks about one with GOP legislative leaders. His Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission studied the issue and recommended an impact fee.
Mr. Corbett did not specify the size or scope of his impact fee proposal, but he said he has had preliminary talks with legislative leaders. "We will give them our package in a week or two," he said.


Rendell assails drillers over lack of taxation

Thursday, September 08, 2011
PHILADELPHIA -- Former Gov. Ed Rendell closed out the first day of the Marcellus Shale Coalition's inaugural conference on a fiery note, saying gas drillers have continued to "screw up" for too long and that they should be more loudly supporting a tax on their industry.
A sharp rebuke from the Democratic politician who oversaw the beginning of the commonwealth's Marcellus Shale exploration was an unexpected end to a day of industry-sponsored sessions touting the new jobs, technology and investments from natural gas drilling.
Mr. Rendell, who handed over the reins to Republican Gov. Tom Corbett in January, pointed to the protesters outside the convention center around midday Wednesday as an example of how the activists have grown into "a serious, long-term problem."
"[Drillers have] screwed up so bad that there are protesters everywhere anybody associated with this goes, and the protesters grow stronger and deeper in number," he said.

» A website for ongoing coverage, resources, comments and more.

Mr. Rendell urged drilling firms to publicly support a tax on natural gas extraction and to write to Mr. Corbett indicating their support. Mr. Corbett has signed a pledge not to raise taxes during his term, specifically opposing the severance tax that Mr. Rendell twice failed to enact.
However, some drillers, particularly the larger firms active in the commonwealth, have said they would support a tax or fee on their development, repeating that position to reporters during interviews Wednesday.
Range Resources CEO John Pinkerton said enacting a tax or fee could give the industry some certainty of its future costs, and noted that his company was the one to urge the Department of Environmental Protection to hike permit fees in order to hire more staffers.
Some level of assessment directed toward impacts would show drilling companies to be "good neighbors," as well as to help "calm the masses," said Consol Chairman and CEO J. Brett Harvey.
But Mr. Rendell, who backed away from his initial push for a tax in 2009 after saying the industry needed to grow, pointed to the current year's dramatic budget cuts as a reason for the increasing public pressure for a gas levy.
"They see $2 million sliced ... or $3.8 million or $400,000 and each one of [those programs] develops a rallying cry, and the rallying cry is, 'Why aren't we taxing those Marcellus Shale companies who are making 64 percent return on investment?' " Mr. Rendell told the crowd. "There seems to be no cogent answer to respond to them."
He also urged gas companies to make more significant investments in the state's environment, scolding the drillers for what he outlined as a poor record regarding accidents that could be prevented and an unnecessary number of water buffaloes -- large plastic tanks that offer a temporary source of water for showering and doing dishes -- appearing at homes in rural Pennsylvania after water became polluted.
"Pennsylvania natural gas development is dynamic, fast-moving and strictly regulated, and the former governor's attempts to rehash issues that have since been resolved is stale and outdated," replied coalition president Kathryn Klaber in a statement.
"As the former governor has noted, 'Pennsylvania has the strongest enforcement program of any state with gas drilling. Period.' We agree."
Company executives like Mr. Pinkerton said the gas industry should focus on boosting its efforts toward public outreach and education. He noted that some questions have subsided since the company took early steps to disclose its hydraulic fracturing chemicals on a well-by-well basis.
"We have and we will continue to sit down with [critics] and talk through their concerns," Mr. Pinkerton said. "We've got landowners that want their land drilled. They want to benefit from the assets they have in the ground, that their families have owned in some cases for hundreds of years. And they don't want to be told by somebody else that we ought to drill this well five years from now versus drilling it today."
Neither a tax nor more education is likely to quell the activists who gathered outside the convention, shouting "Shut it down!" when "Gasland" film producer Josh Fox talked about the Delaware River Basin Commission and its controversial pending drilling rules.
Many of those "fractivists," as dubbed by Chesapeake Energy CEO Aubrey McClendon, sported buttons or held signs calling for a moratorium on all drilling, saying they fear any activity could spoil the quality of their water and air.
Former Gov. Tom Ridge said that's an example of the "hysteria" and "misinformation" muddling the debate over gas drilling. He defended the industry, saying the Pennsylvania workers live in those communities and drink the water there, too.
"The people in this industry in Pennsylvania are as sensitive to the quality of the water that they consume and enjoy for recreation as any environmentalist located anywhere," Mr. Ridge said.
Instead of rejecting a domestic energy source, Mr. Ridge, who spent last year as an adviser to the trade group, urged that it become a key part of an energy policy that will help boost national security and independence from foreign oil.
The coalition's conference will wrap up this afternoon, after a day of panels featuring top state lawmakers and a luncheon address from Mr. Corbett.

Laura Olson: lolson@post-gazette.com or 717-787-4254.

First published on September 8, 2011 at 12:00 am


W.Va. Marcellus committee clears permit fee hurdle



Natural gas operators would pay $10,000 to drill a well in West Virginia's share of the Marcellus shale field, and $5,000 for each additional well at the initial site, under a proposal adopted Wednesday by a special legislative committee.
The House-Senate panel also approved provisions increasing bonds posted for well projects, enhancing public notice of drilling and compensating the owners of surface land where operators drill their wells. With the committee resuming its work next month, Wednesday's changes move lawmakers closer to a regulatory bill that they hope to propose during a special session before year's end.
But the permit fee amendment has been considered a crucial hurdle in the process. Operators now pay just a few hundred dollars for a permit. The resulting revenues have helped to leave the Department of Environmental Protection's Oil and Gas office with a $1 million shortfall in its budget.
Tapping the rich Marcellus reserve can involve a horizontal drilling method that differs from the practices followed for vertical wells. Marcellus drillers also employ hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, and pump a high-volume, high-pressure mix of water, chemicals and sand into wells to release the shale's gas.
The mile-deep rock formation, stretching beneath several states in the region, is considered one of the world's largest natural gas fields. The resulting push to drill into the shale has spurred concerns about the large amounts of water needed, the potential effects of drilling and fracking on nearby drinking supplies, and what happens to the tainted frackwater afterward.
Lawmakers estimate the amended permit fees would provide DEP with $2.5 million annually, enough to cure that shortfall and allow the office to add as many as 15 additional staffers. The office would hire two field inspectors for every office worker it adds, DEP lawyer Kristen Boggs told the committee Wednesday.
"I think that this is a very good compromise," said Delegate Tim Manchin, D-Marion and the committee's House co-chair. "This is a very good step forward in terms of trying to meet the needs of the folks in the impact zone and get more feet on the ground and to restore some confidence in the people that the that the state is watching out for them."
Senate Co-Chair Doug Facemire said natural gas operators support the amendment.
"The industry made it clear to us that they wanted to try to protect the environment and the citizens," the Braxton County Democrat said, adding that "The industry did not try to fight or obstruct this. That's an important thing, also, to bring up."
The Legislature proved unable to pass a Marcellus measure during this year's regular session. Acting Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin has since ordered DEP to issue emergency regulations. Approved last month, these temporary provisions requires drillers to explain how they'll protect area land, manage the large volumes of water involved and respond to accidents, among other topics.
But environmental groups and the West Virginia Surface Owners Rights Organization argue that the emergency rule as falling short in such areas as air pollution and surface owner protections. The special committee expects to consider some of those subjects during October's interim study meetings.
Critics of the state's handling of this issue include West Virginia for a Moratorium on Marcellus. They plan to picket Thursday outside a well site at Morgantown Industrial Park. This Marcellus project spurred a Morgantown ordinance banning horizontal drilling-hydraulic fracturing operations within or near city limits. A circuit judge has since blocked that ordinance.

The Rainmakers

        This much can be stated categorically about the USA these days: the more distressed our economy gets, the more delusional thinking you will encounter. People want to assign the cause of their misery to this or that (socialism, abortion, Jews, the New World Order). People want to believe that their world is a safe place with bright prospects (climate change is a myth, we have a hundred years of shale oil). The realm of oil is especially ripe for misunderstanding, since we depend on the stuff so desperately, and the world's geology is complex indeed, and then you have to bring math and money into the picture. But it's another thing when professional propagandists take the stage and attempt to systematically mislead the public.
     Such is the case with two ersatz bombshells zinging across the web-waves this past week, fired off by two of the foremost professional liars on the scene. The first comes from the oil industry's leading prostitute, Daniel Yergin of Cambridge Energy Research Associates (CERA), owned by the mammoth HIS consulting company. CERA is the main public relations shop for the oil industry. Its mission is to blow smoke up America's ass in order to keep investment dollars flowing into oil companies because oil companies prefer to use other people's money to perform their risky operations. They make a lot of money themselves, and accumulate it diligently, but they are not so foolish as to squander it on dry holes and adventures in alchemy.
      So, last week Daniel Yergin came out with a blast in the Wall Street Journal affecting to debunk peak oil. His own theory is much like Irving Fisher's economic theory set out October 21, 1929 that "stock prices have reached what looks like a permanently high plateau."  Three days later, the markets crashed and the Great Depression commenced. Yergin says we've hit a permanent plateau for oil production. He is pimping for a bonanza in shale oil, tar sands, and other innovative ventures in picking "fruit" that is not hanging so low anymore. He says:

"Meeting future demand will require innovation, investment and the development of more challenging resources. A major reason for continuing growth in petroleum supplies is that oil previously regarded as inaccessible or uneconomical is now part of the mix, such as the "presalt" resources off the coast of Brazil, the vast oil sands of Canada, and the oil locked in shale and other rocks in the U.S."

    Spoken like a true PR whore. Translation: give us money. Calling all investors. Give your dollars to the folks working the Bakken play, or Eagle Ford down in Texas. These shale plays represent oil that is trapped in "tight," low-permeability rock that has to undergo fracturing operations ("fracking") before you can drain it out. It costs a lot more to get oil this way than by sticking a pipe in the ground and running a pump-jack to get it out the old-fashioned way. There are more than a few dirty secrets about the shale oil plays, but the biggest one is that you have to throw a huge amount of capital and steel at it to keep it running as an ongoing enterprise, and that money - other people's money - will be in shockingly short supply in the years head.
     Those troubles distant rumblings you hear in places like Greece, Portugal, Italy, Spain - that's the sound of the world's money whooshing into a black hole, which is what happens when debts are not repaid. Something very similar is happening in the USA, where all the unresolved mega-borrowing of the past thirty years is whirling down the drain, never to be seen again, and a craven corporate oligarchy (there, I said it) is working tirelessly to hoard the last remaining vestiges of money before it either deflates across that event horizon, or inflates away to nothing by digital multiplication. In either case the result is the same: you're broke.
     Here's the truth about the US shale plays: they will never amount to more than about one million barrels-a-day (m/b/d) in production under any circumstances (the nation uses 19 m/b/d); and even more probably the money will not be there to keep the shale oil coming very many years into the future. You can take that to the bank (if your money has any value when you get there, and if the bank has not cratered).
     In our fugue of techno-narcissism, America wants to believe that we can just keep on being what we used to be, pizza, DisneyWorld, WalMart, and all. So, the second big buzz of the week came courtesy of Goldman Sachs, in a sloppy press release saying America would be the world's top oil producer in 2017, at 10.9 m/b/d. The effrontery of these thieving pricks! They apparently pulled the information out of chief Goldman flak Lucas Van Praag's ass. One might infer that Goldman Sachs is campaigning to raise money for the oil industry by suggesting a bonanza is underway. It's a crude ruse. The actual "confidential" report - as opposed to the brief summary in the media - shows that Goldman Sachs arrives at this position by referring to non-oil substances as oil. Neat trick. Be sure to call Goldman Sachs to invest your remaining savings in algae secretions and ethanol.
     No doubt, though, that these two PR offensives will accomplish their secondary mission: to gird the hopes and wishes of the political right-wing, who are hell-bent on keeping this country from entering a plausible future. Watch these idea take flight and wonder that you live in such credulous nation.

Pennsylvania Fines Marcellus Shale Company More Than $1 Million

From Yahoo News. Jason Gallagher – Wed May 18, 12:54 pm ET

In response to well-water contamination and a fire at a drilling site, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection fined Chesapeake Energy more than $1 million. The fine is the largest ever levied against an oil or gas driller in Pennsylvania. While hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, continues to be a hot button for Pennsylvania residents, this fine is the state's way of sending a message to drilling companies. Here are some answers to questions about the fine.
Why was Chesapeake Energy fined?
Because of improper well casings in some Bradford County wells, natural gas seeped into the ground water contaminating the private water supply for 16 families. The fine amount for the water contamination was $900,000; a portion of that fine, $200,000 will go the DEP to help plug abandoned oil and gas wells. The company was also assessed a penalty of $188,000 for a fire that occurred Feb. 23, injuring three people.
What else does Chesapeake Energy have to do?
In addition to the fines, the company will take action to improve the wells in question, as well as report any and all water supply complaints to the DEP. Plus, Chesapeake will have to establish an account to pay for the water treatment equipment the affected families with contaminated wells now have to purchase. Since the investigation by the DEP determined that the fire was a result of mishandling condensate gas, the company must also submit a plan that identifies proper safe handling of the gas and for fixing the gas wells in question.
Is this the largest fine in the state for a Marcellus Shale company?
Yes, the fines of more than $1 million represent the largest fine issued by the state on any oil or gas driller. However, in December 2010, Cabot Oil & Gas Corp. agreed to pay $4.1 million to some residents of the Pennsylvania town of Dimock where water wells were contaminated with methane gas from the fracking process. The fine Cabot received was $500,000.
Will the fine hurt Chesapeake Energy?
Considering Chesapeake Energy reported a profit of $1.6 billion on revenues of $9.3 billion in 2010, paying a fine that totals a little over a million dollars should not greatly impact the company.
Why aren't the fines higher?
State lawmakers would need to amend the Pennsylvania Oil & Gas Act in order to impose harsher fines on companies. Many environmental organizations and state residents want the Act amended to reflect the use of the fracking process, which was not commonplace when the law was written.
Jason Gallagher is a former travel professional and long-time Pennsylvania resident. These experiences give him a first-hand look at developing situations in the state and everything included in the travel industry from technology to trends.
Oil industry losing the shale PR battle From the Financial TImes

As questions about hydraulic fracturing – fracking as it is known in the industry – continue to build, the oil and gas industry is finding investors asking for more transparency as to how companies are going to face the growing risks to production.

France has banned fracking, and US federal regulators are investigating the safety of the process.

But the real risk to the industry at this point is how some US states and cities have taken the issue into their own hands: Pittsburgh has banned such drilling, and the New York State Assembly approved a temporary moratorium. There are other efforts under way in pockets across the US to further control or bar the process.

At ExxonMobil’s annual shareholder meeting Wednesday, Rex Tillerson, the chief executive, said fracking has been around for years, but those working to undermine it were presenting it as “new and futuristic”.
While he acknowledged that there are risks to producing from shale, Tillerson said if it is done right there should be no environmental damage to the water supply as some fear:
There’s an awful lot of things between us and the fresh water zone.
Michael Passoff, senior strategist of the CSR programme of As You Sow, the shareholder activist, is among those leading the charge for more transparency at shareholder meetings of ExxonMobil, Chevron and other oil and gas companies. He insists:
There are a lot of red flags here for investors.
Mr Passoff says concerns about water pollution from the hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling used to produce gas from shale creates regulatory risk, legal liability and a threat to company reputations.

Robin West, chairman of PFC Energy, the consultancy, notes the real issue is what the public believes:
If we’re going to capture this enormous resource, we have to find ways to give the public confidence. In terms of energy policy, if shale is going to be a game changer, these issues have to be resolved. This is important to the energy security of the country.’
The bottom line is that it also is important to the industry, which is investing heavily in shale acreage with plans to extract gas, and now oil, from the hard source rock through the fracking process not only in the US but around the world. If the backlash cannot be contained, at least some of the billions of dollars the industry has invested in production could well be under threat.

The proposal for more transparency on the issue received only 28.2 per cent of the vote at Exxon’s shareholder meeting. But Ken Culotta, partner at law firm King & Spalding, said public concern had grown to such an extent that even industry-friendly places such as Texas could pass legislation for more transparency and better controls, which may slow shale development in some jurisdictions.

Instead of recommending shareholders vote against calls for more transparency (the position that won the day at Exxon’s annual shareholder meeting Wednesday), perhaps it makes sense for the industry to do whatever it can to ease concerns about the process.  For, as Andrew Logan, oil and gas director for Ceres, the investor network for environmental and social issues, put it:
It’s now becoming clear the industry is losing the public relations battle.


Dr. Ingraffea Facts on Fracking



There is new and fast growing movement coming out of the ongoing protest against the Wall Street thieves and crooks that stole our economy away from the 99% of Americans!! Remember, WE are the 99%.

This is an economic war brought to us by the Wall Street thieves who has sold out America and shipped our jobs to all-points-East and Cheap!!! in order to sell all their stuff back to US who have lost good paying jobs. Walmart has become their company store.

The youth and others have decided to create a new American Autumn Protest called Occupy Wall Street.
They have been protesting for two weeks on Wall Street.

Check out http://eye-on-washington.blogspot.com for current pieces found on the Internet detailing this growing movement.

There is a budding movement here in Pittsburgh called OccupyPittsburgh. Check them out on Facebook.

Here is the "Info" page on their Facebook site.

Check out http://OccupyTogether.org


Saturday, September 24, 2011

A Fracking Webinar being offered on 9-27-11


High-volume hydraulic fracturing (HVHF), also known as fracking, and the impact to farmers and landowners will be the subject of a webinar on Tuesday, September 27 at 6 p.m.

This educational session, organized by the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA) and featuring analysis by the Ohio Environmental Council (OEC), will provide information to Ohio farmers and landowners about the fracking process and potential environmental impacts.

“It’s important that farmers understand the risks to their farming livelihood when approached to sign a lease with an energy company,” said OEFFA Program Director Renee Hunt. “It is our goal to give farmers the information they need to make informed decisions.”

“Shale Gas formations underlying farmland are being rapidly explored, as we attempt to satisfy our appetite for energy. Extracting this resource is an energy and resource- intensive process. We will discuss the process and potential risks to the air, land, and water, upon which we all rely,” said OEC Agricultural Programs Director Joe Logan.

For organic farmers, contaminated soil or water can jeopardize a farm’s organic certification status. “OEFFA certifies farms across Ohio and the Midwest,” said Hunt. “Before farmers sign on the dotted line, they need to understand the potential risks to their land and their livelihood.”

This free, web-based seminar will deliver the session through the internet directly to participants’ computers. They will be able to view the presentation through their internet browser and listen to the audio portion through a call in phone number or through their computer’s speakers. The session will be interactive and allow participants to ask questions and communicate with the presenter. The webinar will be recorded and available online in October. 

To register for the webinar, go to https://www3.gotomeeting.com/register/608082446

For more information, contact Renee Hunt at (614) 421-2022 Ext. 205 or renee@oeffa.org.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Will Japan Abandon Nuclear Power and Go All Renewable?

Kenzaburo Oe, Nobel Winner Urges Japan To Abandon Nuclear Power 

from HuffPo

TOKYO — Nobel laureate Kenzaburo Oe urged Japan's new prime minister on Tuesday to halt plans to restart nuclear power plants and instead abandon nuclear energy.
Oe cautioned Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda against prioritizing the economy over safety. Noda has said he will allow idled nuclear plants to resume operation when their safety is confirmed.
"The new prime minister seems to think that nuclear power plants are necessary for Japan's economy, and how to resume their operation is one of his key political agendas," Oe said. "We must make a big decision to abolish all nuclear plants."
Oe, who won the Nobel Prize in literature in 1994, said the accident at the Fukushima Dai-ichi power plant six months ago caused the Japanese public to want to reduce their dependence on nuclear power, but that feeling seems to be fading.
He spoke at news conference Tuesday about an anti-nuclear petition drive, accompanied by other members of the campaign.
The group, which is demanding that the government decommission aging reactors and promote renewable energy, aims to collect 10 million signatures and submit them to the government next March.
Oe has actively supported pacifist and anti-nuclear campaigns and written books about the U.S. atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the end of World War II.
Noda, who took office last Friday, becoming Japan's six prime minister in five years, has said he does not plan to build new nuclear plants and will decommission those that are aged. But he said he plans to restart plants whose safety is confirmed to relieve power shortages and help Japan's economic recovery. More than 30 of the country's 54 reactors are idled, forcing a nationwide conservation effort this summer.
The nuclear accident at the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant was like "a third atomic bombing" that Japan inflicted on itself, Oe said. "We already faced the major threat of radiation from Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Now, many children will have to live with radiation threats for 10, 20 or 30 years from now."


By James Howard Kunstler   on September 5, 2011 9:05 AM

     There's a difference, of course, between what this country thinks it needs and what it's going to get.  The world has a way of dragging you, kicking and screaming, to where it wants to take you.
We think we need more American oil so we can "end our dependence on foreign oil." Despite the PR bullshit you see on CNBC, the oil is not really there in a form that will flow sufficiently to support our completely insane mode of living in cars.  I get letters from crazy people every week who tell me that shale oil from the Bakken Formation in Dakota will keep this racket going. Forget about it. Marcellus shale gas? Similar story. These are phantom energy reserves. And we don't have enough capital to throw at it.
The world wants to take us to the place where you don't have to use a car eleven times a day, a different arrangement of things on the landscape than what we're currently stuck with in most of the United States. The American people are not disposed to taking this idea seriously, but we'll get to that place eventually. The first kickings and screamings are exactly what's coming out of the Tea Party.  These are people who don't want to change the sacrosanct American Way of Life, but they don't want to have to pay for it either, so the contradiction produces a sound and fury.
This week, President Obama is on the spot to deliver a Santa Claus sack of "job initiatives." What a sad assignment. We're leaving behind that kind of economy, with secure salaried plug-in positions provided by giant corporations and governments. We're headed into a world not of "jobs" but of vocations, trades, crafts, situations, and a lot of casual labor, largely self-guided by those with who possess a functioning internal compass. Obama can pretend to keep the old way going, but that pretense will be along the same lines as keeping insolvent banks going. The Federal Government can pay people to work repairing highways and bridges but the road system is too big now for even an additional "jobs" crew to stay ahead on maintenance, plus why are we putting these capital and labor resources into gold-plating a car-and-truck system that is going to be functionally obsolete in a few years?
Gorbachev called it right. His aim was true. Perestroika... restructuring. The Soviet Union was thoroughly corrupt, incompetent, and insolvent. I suppose Gorby thought he could guide his country through a transition, but the system he headed was so astonishingly flimsy that it just fell apart in a few months, and even left him behind. Still, I regard it as one of the major miracles of history that Russia did not trip into a bloody civil war. Maybe Russia had enough blood-spilling with Stalin and World War Two. Otherwise, it was a kind of magic moment in 1990 when the whole rotten edifice crumbled neatly into its own grave.
What followed there was an impromptu and extremely half-assed melding of organized crime, unorganized crime, gestures to the rule of law, and a lot of leftover habits, paranoia, lethargy, and sheer will to live - with an overlay of  mystical oriental intrigue. Russia staggers on with its oil and mineral reserves propping up what remains of modernity there. Their future will arrive on sleds.
 We should be so lucky here. Given the situation, it's not unthinkable that self-styled Texas secessionist Rick Perry could be the next president. On top of that, the guy is a Christian Dominionist nut. This outfit wants to capture all politics, culture, and media in what is now the USA and turn them into a sci-fi nightmare of correct thinking. You have no idea how dangerous and determined this group is. The Left ignores them at the peril of everyone. They are the corn-pone Nazis I've been warning you about.
 That is not the kind of restructuring that is going to help this country. At the moment we're trapped in our own gigantism and the "jobs" pitch is surely going to be just another page out of that. I'd like to hear Mr. Obama tell this country that Job Number One for us is getting more Americans into agriculture at the small, local scale. Translation: dismantle agri-business. Otherwise, we're going to have a lot of starving people across this land. That might seem like a strange destination for America, but I suppose that's why there's all the kicking and screaming.

Post-script: While everybody's eating burgers today, or cleaning the mud out of their kitchen, or playingResident Evil 5, Europe is on the brink of its own decisive moment. Nobody there can decide what to do about the debt-bomb and the fuse is sparking away. There are no solutions to the problem of the Euro Club, but the idea of no Euro Club is making a lot of Euro people kick and scream. Whatever happens there will affect us hugely, you may be sure.


Thursday, September 1, 2011

South Fayette Pennsylvania Fights Back Marcellus Shale Free-For-All

Residents condemn effects of drilling
Thursday, September 01, 2011
More than 100 residents turned out Wednesday night to express their concerns about Marcellus Shale drilling in Southwestern Pennsylvania and to urge community leaders to continue the fight in Harrisburg.
Their voices were heard by members of the Citizens Marcellus Shale Commission, a blue-ribbon panel gauging the opinions of residents in preparation of a report to be submitted next month to legislators.
Commission co-chairman Dan Surra, a former Democratic representative from Elk County, said the group -- including numerous environmental and homeowner representatives -- was assembled in response to the governor's Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission, which was "loaded with industry representatives."

"This commission will give citizens an opportunity to add their voice and bring some necessary balance to this critical debate," he said.

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The meeting at the South Fayette Middle School auditorium was the first of five scheduled across the state. It opened with presentations from experts on water and air pollution, followed by remarks from more than two dozen residents from Allegheny, Washington, Westmoreland, Beaver and Greene counties.

If there was anyone in the audience who supported gas drilling, he or she didn't speak up.

Pam Judy of Carmichaels told the commissioners how members of her family have been affected by a drilling operation on property adjacent to their home.

"They sound as if it's a jet engine. It rattles the windows in our house," she said. "We've experienced sore throats, headaches, runny noses, muscle aches and fatigue. Our children have experienced nosebleeds. I've had dizziness, vomiting and vertigo."

"It's shocking. It's a failure of the agencies responsible for protecting public health," said Ned Mulchay, executive director of Three Rivers Waterkeeper. "It's not radiation, it's not nuclear waste, we're not going to end up with three heads, but it's something that the state has the power to regulate, and they're simply not doing it."

Mike Atherton of Greensburg decried the decreased value of homes and property near drilling sites.
"Risk alone lowers property values. An accident destroys what is left," he said. "Who would buy a home with unreliable water? Most homeowners get no profit from shale gas, yet we all bear the risks."

Deron Gabriel, a South Fayette commissioner, told how officials learned of drilling companies leasing property near the school and, after researching the matter and conducting public hearings, enacted a zoning ordinance banning drilling in residential areas or conservation districts.

Two weeks ago, they learned that the restrictions are the subject of a lawsuit filed by Range Resources, a Texas-based drilling company.

"We're in a position, as a township, of defending our ordinance," Mr. Gabriel said. "Our residents made it very clear to us. We're hoping for some help from the state because we believe local people should be able to decide."

The other four commission meetings this month will be held in Philadelphia; Williamsport, Lycoming County; Wysox, Bradford County; and Harrisburg.

Dan Majors: 412-263-1456 or dmajors@post-gazette.com. Andrea Iglar contributed.