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Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Fracking in California Raises New and Old Concerns

From Truth-out.com

5-30-12 By Christine Shearer

On May 15, 2012, Food & Water Watch joined with "Gasland'sJosh Fox, Environment California, Citizens Coalition for a Safe Community and residents of surrounding neighborhoods to call for a ban on hydraulic fracturing in California, presenting the signatures of 50,000 Californians who have signed petitions supporting a ban. The protest was held at the Inglewood oil field in Los Angeles County, the largest urban oilfield in the nation.
Hydraulic fracturing (fracking) is the high-pressure injection of fluids, silica and chemicals into an oil or gas reservoir to fracture the rock, keep open the cracks and allow oil or natural gas to flow back to the well. It is believed fracturing is mainly used in California on depleting oil wells; oil and gas companies operating in the state will soon be releasing more information related to their activities on the industry web site FracFocus.
The Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA), the members of which account for 80 percent of the oil and natural gas drilled in California, estimate that WSPA companies fracked 628 oil wells in 2011 - about a quarter of all oil and gas wells drilled across the state that year. Most are listed in Kern County.
Growing awareness of the use of hydraulic fracturing in California has raised concerns around its associated risks as observed in other states, including tremors and water and air pollution. The issue is stirring debate over whether and how fracking should be regulated in California - or outright prohibited.

Read the rest of the piece at the Truth-out link. See here. 


Friday, May 18, 2012

Couple Denied Mortgage Because Of Gas Drilling

 From  No Frack Ohio

Brian and Amy Smith seem to be the first example in western Pennsylvania of a homeowner being denied a mortgage because of gas drilling on a next-door neighbor's property.
The drilling goes on day and night at a new Marcellus Shale well in Daisytown, Washington County, and Brian Smith told Channel 4 Action News investigator Jim Parsons that he has no complaints -- except one.
"As far as drilling and the noise and the lights in the window? No," he said. "But when it affected the value of my home? Absolutely."
The Smiths live across the street from the new gas well. They applied for a new mortgage on their $230,000 home and hobby farm, and Quicken Loans congratulated them on their conditional approval.
"They said all the paperwork will be done by the end of the week and we'll be able to close," Brian Smith said. "Somewhere in there, they called us and said, 'Your loan got denied.' "
In an email, Quicken Loans told the Smiths, "Unfortunately, we are unable to move forward with this loan. It is located across the street from a gas drilling site." Two other national lenders also turned down Brian Smith's application.
Quicken Loans emailed the following statement to Channel 4 Action News: "While Quicken Loans makes every effort to help its clients reach their homeownership goals, like every lender, we are ultimately bound by very specific underwriting guidelines. In some cases conditions exist, such as gas wells and other structures in nearby lots, that can significantly degrade a property's value. In these cases, we are unable to extend financing due to the unknown future marketability of the property."
Clean Water Action said that in other parts of the country, when shale gas drilling has arrived, mortgages at nearby properties sometimes get denied. This is the first case they've heard in Pennsylvania.
"The banks aren't stupid," said Myron Arnowitt, director of Clean Water Action in Pennsylvania. "They're going to look at that and be more cautious in terms of what they are willing to mortgage."
"If I can't refinance, could somebody get a loan to purchase my house? And that would be my concern. That's definitely a worry," Brian Smith said.
Homeowners who are denied by national lenders because of gas drilling could try local banks. First Federal in Washington, Pa., said it does not deny mortgage applications based solely on nearby drilling.

From Protecting Our Waters Wordpress site


SOS Butler County: Black Water + Purple Water = A Fracking Nightmare

FEBRUARY 11, 2012
Kim McEvoy manages to find a spot to put a tray of cupcakes in a kitchen where every level surface is covered with jugs of water. Some of the water is drinkable: that’s the water her husband re-fills at his job, using one-gallon jugs; or the water she drew from her then-clear, good-tasting well water back in 2008, stocking up for a hurricane. But some of that water is not drinking water. Many of the jugs have brownish-grayish water in them — the water that comes from her kitchen tap, which have an “X” marked clearly on them with a black marker. Kim’s kitchen tap has been connected again to her water well since the gas drilling company, Rex Energy, took away the water buffalo (large plastic container) full of replacement water they had been providing for her family up until January 16th.
Kim’s neighbor Janet McIntyre succeeded in persuading Rex Energy to provide both her family and Kim’s family with 20 gallons per week of bottled drinking water, but even that will be cut off by February 29th, and even that required Janet to threaten, in a phone conversation with Rex Energy representative, to call her attorney. “They were none too gracious about it,” Janet said.  Six neighboring families still have their water buffaloes; two other families, besides the McIntyres and McEvoys, had the clean water deliveries cut off by Rex Energy in January. One of those families is paying out of pocket for replacement water.
In Kim’s kitchen last Saturday, February 4th, I had a conversation I never expected to have with a three-year-old. Referring to the jug of brownish-gray water I’d just watched Kim fill from her tap, I asked Kim’s daughter Skylar, “What does the black X mean?” She said smartly, “Don’t drink the water!” Looking at a photo Kim McEvoy took of her own bathtub last year, showing gray and black water residue, I asked Skylar, “Do you take baths in your bathtub any more?” and she answered emphatically, “Nope!”
Kim McEvoy lives in Connoquenessing Township, Butler County, in western Pennsylvania. She and, according to a rough survey, 51 of her neighbors have had their water “go bad” — discolored; in one case foaming; in some cases smelly; and in some cases running out — since January 2011, when her water suddenly turned such a dark gray that it left black marks in the bathtub. By September, struggling to find out what was in her water and struggling to get a secure source of clean replacement water, Kim had had enough. She wrote Governor Corbett a letter to which the governor has never responded. It began,
My name is Kimberlie McEvoy, I own my home in Connoquenessing Township, Butler County, and I have black water.
Between the end of February and the beginning of March 2011 my water turned black and had a foul, smelly odor. My fiancĂ©e and I showered in the water and became sick with headaches, fatigue and painful sinuses. I’m so glad I did not
bathe my two-year-old daughter in the water.
The only thing in my environment that had changed was the drilling of two gas wells near my home, so I called the gas company, Rex Energy. They came out and retested my water well and gave me a water buffalo. The retest of my water showed arsenic, manganese, ammonia and other volatile organic compounds. Rex is now fracking the gas wells…
Right now the health and well being of my family depends on my water buffalo. When Rex Energy takes it away we will have no water. Since the fracking and flaring have begun, the air quality has deteriorated. We can’t play outside without getting a headache or a sore throat.
Now that the water buffalo is gone, the situation is much more serious. While Kim, her fiance and 3 year old daughter, Skylar, are neither drinking nor showering in their well water, their neighbors are experiencing multiple problems. Neighbors are reporting health symptoms including rashes; a severe nosebleed; vomiting; headaches; and more. Two leukemia cases have been reported.
One man died just over a week ago.  According to Janet McIntyre, Kim’s neighbor, the man, Mr. Dennis Peterson, 49, had reported last September that he had “rashes all over his body,” and he was diagnosed with leukemia by December. The cause of death has not been confirmed independently as of this writing. While leukemia is associated with volatile organic chemicals,  in particular benzene; and volatile organic chemicals abound in association with gas drilling — moving through air and water, while benzene also multiplies due to the sudden heavy industrialization and increase in truck traffic — it may be difficult to know whether the man’s rashes, failing health and death were directly caused by gas drilling in the area.  The EPA recently found benzene in drinking water at 50 times the safe limit in Pavillion, Wyoming after fracking has been going on there for over ten years. Rex Energy has been drilling and fracking in the Connoquenessing area for over two years, and the people there appear to be completely without authoritative help from those who should be most concerned: the EPA, CDC and ATSDR.
“We are surrounded”
Janet McIntyre sent her water test results, including tests showing toluene, acetone, high methane levels, and other contaminants, including one test (which PA DEP says was a “blank,” meaning they say it was just trouble with the test tube) showing 1,3,5 trimethyl benzene, to EPA last December. The last she heard from EPA, around Christmas time, they had “received the documents but have been too busy to review them.”
Both families say that Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PA DEP) has told them their water troubles are “just aesthetic,” and has assured them that the water is safe to drink.  Requests for re-tests have gone unanswered, and Janet McIntyre said that one PA DEP regulator told her, “You should be grateful for the fracking because they’re injecting lots of water underground, raising the level of the aquifer.”  Both Kim and Janet say they have been told point blank, “You’re the only one having any problems.”
Unfortunately, the problems now include disappearing water. While the gas industry withdraws millions of gallons of water locally for fracking, local residents including the McEvoys and a neighbor named “Denny Fair,” are finding their water is running out. Denny Fair reported his water was “gone” around last November, according to Janet McIntyre; and Kim says her water runs out after seven minutes.
Some of the reported health impacts, such as the vomiting, severe nosebleed, and rashes described by Janet and Fred McIntyre, are disturbingly consistent with known gas drilling impacts. Janet also described flaming water on at least one occasion: “We collected Denny Fair’s well water in a bucket. At that point we set it on fire. We were so amazed it had caught fire, I thought, ‘oh, I was so stupid not to have a video camera!’ “
Janet described her own water as foaming out of the tap on two occasions, which she refers to as “attacks” because it felt their water was under attack by the gas drilling company. She said it was purple. Other residents have reported their water turning orange, red, and brown.
Janet McIntyre sent a statement to the press conference Protecting Our Waters organized in September 2011.  and our summary of interviews with her up until that time describing her troubled water, including her test results and the death of the family’s dog, is here.
Five months later, when I finally met the McIntyres in person, Fred McIntyre told me, “We are surrounded by thirty gas wells.” On a ten-minute tour I saw several of those well pads spaced close together, along with a huge frack pit open to the sky.
Janet McIntyre, like many others, including Theo Colborn, had tried to describe to me in words the overpowering stench at gas drilling operations which regulators call an “odor event.” This blog reported on an “odor event” in Texas not long ago here. But when we stopped by the Grosick well pad on Woodlands Road and rolled down the car window, I was coughing to the point of retching within 60 seconds. It was not a mere “odor” or “smell” in the ordinary sense of the word — it was rather more like being overpowered, choked and nauseated. I have reported the event to the EPA and have gotten no response. But that was based on a few minutes’ exposure. The McIntyres said, “We were breathing that bad air all last summer.”  So were the cows across the street from the Grosick well pad.
Kim McEvoy commented, “I can’t even stand to live here any more… my dream is dying.”
Kim’s gets the last word, from her letter to Governor Corbett — hand delivered to Governor Corbett’s Philadelphia office on September 7th:
I love Butler County but I fear I will have to foreclose on my home and leave. I just wonder how many more Pennsylvanians will have to make this same heart breaking decision. Please stop the drilling. It’s not right to allow the gas
companies to gamble with our lives.
UPDATE February 20, 2012: To take action to help the impacted families in Butler County, please send this letter to the EPA. It’s great if you can help  by adding a supportive sentence of your own to the beginning of the letter to individualize it.
And, even while more bad news accumulates (a gray liquid observed spilling off a Rex Energy drilling pad site this morning while workers did not appear to observers to have contained the ongoing spill; another woman reported that foul odors from the Sarsen plant in Butler County sickened her on December 8th, from 1/4 mile away– that’s some extreme emissions for you!) there’s good news too!
Farmer Stephen Cleghorn of Jefferson County drove 3 hours round trip today to lend his own water buffalo to the McIntyre family; and I got a pledge from an environmental group to buy drinking water, for the month of March, for two of the impacted families, on an emergency basis! Step by step is the only way to build our meaningful assistance and resistance.
Thanks for all your letters to EPA and for any offers of help. For the moment, please email me at protectingourwaters@gmail.com if you would like to donate to help provide water, because I am already in touch both with the impacted families and with a wonderful network of local activists who are meeting right now to provide organized assistance. We will be accountable, transparent and public if any funds are donated. If you do want to help, please put DONATE WATER FOR BUTLER in the subject heading of your email; and we will coordinate with the bookkeeper of our 501(c)3 fiscal sponsor to make sure donations can be tracked properly and channeled to the families appropriately. We will report back. Meantime, please write EPA because really, this is their job. Thanks!

Get Involved

Dear Editor:
Today, many people don’t realize that their most sacred and life-sustaining commodity, water, if compromised, could one day change their entire life.
Corporate National Gas Hydro-fracking can ruin everything you have and ever cared about - your land, your house, well, livestock, ponds, creeks, wildlife, health and peace of mind are at stake. Testimonies from people in Wetzel County, Bradford, Pa. and thousands of people all over the country, should not be in vain - gas drilling ruined their lives.
A recent November 2011 article in the New York Times Magazine, told the story about how life changed for people in Amwel Township, Pa. Before “gas fracking came in” there were beautiful grassy pasture lands with alfalfa, trefail and timothy. The 4,000 people lived in small villages in Amity, Loan Pine and Prosperity.
The farmland looked very much like it did when English and Scottish settlers came in the 18-century. Today, you might as well put up a sign, “Welcome to Gasland.”
Ten gas wells, compressor stations, gas pipelines running for hundreds of miles, five acre open water chemical impoundment ponds, truck traffic, noise and air pollution.
Soon after they started drilling, people discovered their dogs and horses mysteriously dead, litters of puppies were aborted or born with cleft lip, no hair or missing limbs and children became inexplicitly ill.
Contaminated wells with black water, corroded water using appliances and water values, and a smell of rotten eggs and diarrhea coming from shower faucets. Blood tests results from sick residents found high levels of heavy metals, such as arsenic and industrial solvents including benzene, toluene and ethylene glycol.
This can happen anywhere. Fracking can be stopped, but first you have to care enough to get involved. If you love where you live, don’t just look the other way.
Russell Ratcliff
Berkeley Springs 

Marcellus Shale drilling forum draws jeers from Bucks County residents

by Douglas B. Brill from the lehighValleyLive.com

In between shouts from a crowd that alleged payoffs, cover ups and lies, state legislators on Thursday in Bucks County tried to explain the benefits of a Marcellus Shale drilling law they approved.
Four Bucks County legislators held a forum at Palisades High School County to explain the law, which takes effect Monday. Joining them were other legislators, including the law’s author, who was booed, other state officials and science experts.
They were confronted by a standing-room-only crowd of more than 200 people who shouted over them and derided their remarks repeatedly throughout the forum.
“I feel like I’m wearing a Dallas jersey at an Eagles game,” said Andrew Heath, executive director of the Renew Growing Greener Coalition. The coalition is advocating for gas drilling fees established by the law to go into an environmental stewardship fund to support projects backed by state Growing Greener grants.
The law, known as Act 13, charges the drilling-impact fees to drilling companies based on the amount of gas they extract. Heath said the fees are projected to generate $480 million in new state revenue for conservation, recreation and environmental programs through 2015. 
The law also will force drillers to disclose most chemicals they use, and it will require drilling sites to be further from public and private water sources, the officials said.
The law governs hydraulic fracturing, sometimes called fracking, a process in which a mixture of water, sand and chemicals is blasted into underground shale deposits to break them and release natural gas. The Marcellus shale deposit that extends from West Virginia to New York through most of Pennsylvania is believed to be the largest natural gas reservoir in North America.
Many who live near the shale deposit worry of the effects the chemicals will have on drinking water and have other environmental concerns.
The state legislators who voted for the law and held the forum were state Sens. Bob Mensch and Chuck McIlhinney, and Reps. Marguerite Quinn and Paul Clymer, all Republicans. They were joined by Brian Ellis, a Butler County representative who was jeered when he identified himself as the author of the law.
Ellis said his goal was to establish the impact fees and to create jobs. When he said the drilling industry would benefit Pennsylvanians, someone shouted, “He’s covering up.” Mensch drew derisive laughs when he disputed claims that the panel assembled for the forum was biased.
Clymer was called a liar when he said the gas extracted by fracking is “clean energy that’s going to help us.” Even a Penn State University hydrogeologist was accused of taking a payoff.
“I don’t think we’ve pleased everybody and that’s all right but as long as we can do that in a way that’s respectful without interrupting one another …,” Clymer said in closing, the end of his remarks lost in one person’s chant and the others’ clamor to leave.
Before the forum, environmental groups whose members held signs calling for a ban on fracking, staged a press conference to condemn the new law.
They were mostly concerned with a provision that says state law for hydrofracturing supersedes local zoning, which the environmentalists said will leave municipalities with no say about where drilling sites are located.
That provision was put on hold for 120 days Wednesday by a state judge. Five western Pennsylvania municipalities and Bucks County municipalities Nocakamixon Township and Yardley sued to challenge the law.
Nockamixon Township Supervisor Nancy Alessi called the law “one of the most egregious acts in Pennsylvania history because it takes zoning away from everyone completely.”Nockamixon sued in part because a gas driller applied in February to operate a gas well in the township.

Governor Tom Corrupt-bett, Pennsylvania's seriously corrupt official gets an achievement award--
Oh Really!!! As Seth Meyers would say!!
Corbett deserves an indictment award if any award is to be given. Let us NOT to forget that when Corrupt-bett was PA's  state attorney's general, he failed to prosecute Alan Shipman, the waste hauler who violated numerous toxic dumping laws. He was dumping toxic fracking chemicals into PA's streams and creeks, while Corrupt-bett racked up the violations in his office but failed to bring them to court.
Once governor, he passed the Shipman case on to his predecessor. Nothing like pass on the buck.
 Corrupt-bett, or Corbett as he is known among the drillers and frackers, was preparing to run for governor and was already accumulating the dollars from the gas drilling and fracking industry. No doubt, he did not want to bring attention to Shipman's crimes upon humanity and the environment in his run up to the governor's mansion in Harrisburg.

Corbett Lifetime Achievement Award Hits Sour Note with Some

It seems that no one is singing the Pittsburgh Opera’s praises in its decision to present Gov. Tom Corbett with a Lifetime Achievement Award.
An April press release from the opera stated that, “Gov. Corbett will be honored for his early work as a teacher as well as his long-standing protection of the public interest as Pa. Attorney General. Additionally, as governor, he has recognized the economic, educational and social value of the arts.”
The opera is also honoring Susan Corbett, “as First Lady, has championed greater participation in the arts in her role as Chair of the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts.”
The decision has led to online outrage, with hundreds of comments being posted on the opera’s Facebook page and 1,200-plus signatures on a change.org petition that calls on the Pittsburgh Opera to “Rescind the Tom and Susan Corbett Lifetime Achievement Award.”
The controversy also prompted a response from a local blog entitled Yinzercation (a portmanteau of “Yinzer nation” and “education”), a site run by Jessie Ramey, ACLS New Faculty Fellow at Pitt and parent to two students attending public schools there.
The blog began in December 2011 in response to those “outraged by the $1 billion state cuts that are now hitting our schools.”
What started as a group of Pittsburgh Colfax K-8 parents “has quickly grown into a region-wide movement as folks from across Southwest PA have joined the fight to stop this attack on public education,” according to the site.
Ramey said in a Post-Gazette interview that the only opera that comes to mind when she thinks of Corbett is “The Beggar’s Opera,” because of the lengths to which public schools must now go in order to save their arts curriculum.
While some members of the public may not agree with the opera’s decision, their marketing and communications director Debra L. Bell said in the same Post-Gazette interview that Gov. Corbett intervened this year to prevent a 70 percent cut to the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts budget
She also said the council gave $73,000 to the opera this year, bringing the total to $2 million since 1998.
Even so, arts and arts education supporters have been saying that it ain’t over until the fat lady sings, and they plan to hold a demonstration outside of the Saturday event, when the Corbetts are to receive their award following the opera’s annual benefit gala.
It is expected that some are planning to take the opera-tunity to show their love for the arts by donning Viking helmets and staging a protest outside opera headquarters.
Additionally, in a move Yinzercation calls “Singing it to the Legislators,” activists have called on their fellow incensed parents and arts supporters to contact their state representatives and senators, along with Pittsburgh Opera’s board members, to demand better support for education.
There’s also a practical benefit for the opera to share good will with the Governor.
Like many of the well-connected opera board members, Chair Michele Fabrizi has history with Gov. Corbett outside of the opera.
Fabrizi has a couple ties with state politics – having donated to the campaigns of the governor, House Appropriations Committee Chair Rep. Dwight Evans as well as Dan Onorato, who lost to Corbett in the gubernatorial race.
Her connections are typical. General Director Christopher Hahn, President John E. Traina  and Treasurer Robert C. Denove all donated to state political campaigns within the last cycle. Hahn donated to Corbett, while the latter two donated to state Minority Leader Jay Costa Jr. and Onorato, respectively.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Vermont becomes first state to ban fracking


Green Mountain State Is First In U.S. To Restrict Gas Drilling Technique (read huffpo link here.)

Vermont became the first state to ban the controversial natural gas drilling practice known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.

Gov. Peter Shumlin signed the ban into law Wednesday afternoon, The Burlington Free Press reported.

However, the law will have no immediate effect -- Vermont does not have any drilling projects underway, and there is no information to suggest that the state has underground gas reserves that could be tapped by fracking.

But Shumlin noted that "we don't know that we don't have natural gas in Vermont" and said the measure "will ensure we do not inject chemicals into groundwater in a desperate pursuit for energy."

"One of the biggest challenges that future generations are going to face is clean, drinkable water," he added. "We have an abundance of it in Vermont. I think it's a great message that we're going to protect it at all costs."

The Vermont law also bans the importation and storage of wastewater associated with fracking.

The drilling tactic involves the high-pressure injection of a mixture of water and chemicals deep underground to blast apart shale rock to release natural gas.

Opponents say fracking has contaminated groundwater and triggered earthquakes, though the energy industry maintains that environmental concerns have not been scientifically proven and that tapping shale gas reserves is critical to national energy security.

The American Petroleum Institute also wrote to Shumlin last week, saying that the bill may be subject to constitutional challenge.

New York currently has a moratorium on fracking, which environmental groups have lobbied Gov. Andrew Cuomo to turn into a statewide ban.


Friday, May 11, 2012

Vermont Will Soon Become the First State to Ban Fracking

 Thom Hartmann: Vermont Will Soon Become the First State to Ban Fracking

By Thom Hartmann, The Thom Hartmann Program | News Report

Thom Hartmann here – on the news...
You need to know this. The state of Vermont will soon ban hydraulic fracking – becoming the first state in the nation to do so. Last week – the Vermont House and Senate passed legislation outlawing the controversial practice that poisons ground water and leads to earthquakes. Democratic Governor Peter Shumlin is expected to sign the bill into law when it reaches his desk. The George W. Bush administration – chock-full of energy barons like Dick Cheney – exempted fracking from federal environmental regulations – meaning it's up to the states to take action to protect their people from fracking chemicals. So far – New York and Maryland both have moratoriums on fracking in place. And overseas – fracking has been outlawed in France, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, and Germany. Let's hope Vermont's bold actions trigger other states to "get the frack out."


Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Silencing Communities: How the Fracking Industry Keeps Its Secrets

From Truth-out.com Tuesday, 08 May 2012 13:46
By Mike Ludwig, Truthout | Report
The "Rogers" family signed a surface-use agreement with a fracking company in 2009 to close their 300-acre dairy farm in rural Pennsylvania. That's not the end of the Rogers' story, but the public, including the Rogers' own neighbors, may never learn what happened to the family and their land as drilling operations sprouted up in their area. The Rogers did not realize they had signed a nondisclosure agreement with the gas company making the entire deal invalid if members of the family discussed the terms of the agreement, water or land disturbances resulting from fracking and other information with anyone other than the gas company and other signatories.
"Rogers" is not the family's real name, it's a pseudonym offered by Simona Perry, an applied anthropologist who cannot reveal the family's identity. Perry has been working with rural families living amid Pennsylvania's gas boom since 2009. Mrs. Rogers initially agreed to participate in a study Perry was conducting on rural families living near fracking operations. She later called Perry in tears, explaining that her family could no longer participate in the study because of the nondisclosure clause in the surface-use agreement. She told Perry she felt stupid for signing the agreement and has realized she had a good life without the money the fracking company paid them to use their land.

Perry has been working with andcollecting data on rural families living amid Pennsylvania's gas boom since 2009 and she told Truthout that the Rogers were not the only family who could not share their experiences due to nondisclosure agreements. Perry said the nondisclosure agreements prevent doctors and researchers from gathering valuable data on the health and environmental impacts of fracking and have a chilling effect on people and communities living near the rigs.
"As communities struggle to contend with these impacts and risks in their daily lives, citizens are forced or sometimes unknowingly sign a nondisclosure agreements, [and] they have lost their freedom to speak and share their knowledge and experience with their neighbors," Perry said. "As a result, whole communities have been silenced and repressed."
Doctors Demand Access to Fracking Data
Controversial hydraulic fracturing oil and gas drilling methods known as "fracking" involve pumping water and chemicals deep underground to break up rock and release oil and gas. Advanced techniques have facilitated an oil and natural gas boom across Pennsylvania and beyond in recent years and brought the drilling close to homes and farms.
Besides air emissions standards recently introduced by the Environmental Protection Agency,  fracking remains largely unregulated by the federal government and has been linked to earthquakes and air and water contamination across the country. Fracking companies disclose some of the chemicals used in fracking fluid, but others - and their concentrations - are often exempt from disclosure because they are considered trade secrets. Other exemptions buried in state and federal law allow drillers to avoid disclosing contents of fracking fluids after they return from deep underground.
Dr. Jerome Paulson, a physician and director of Mid-Atlantic Center for Children's Health and the Environment, said that the fracking industry has told the public that the drilling procedure is safe, so there is no reason to hide information on health impacts from public view. Nondisclosure agreements with private landowners and disclosure exemptions, Paulson said, are preventing doctors from doing their jobs and protecting the public.
"How do we provide appropriate treatment recommendations to who are ill?" Paulson asked during a press conference last week. "For the population of individuals who are healthy, how do we provide prevention recommendations when we don't have the information?"
A spokesperson for the Marcellus Shale Coalition, an industry group that represents fracking companies in Pennsylvania, was not available for comment.
Headaches, Nosebleeds and Sealed Records
Chris and Stephanie Hallowich and their children thought they had found their dream home when they moved onto a farm in Mount Pleasant, Pennsylvania, but they did not know the prior owner had leased the gas rights to a fracking company, according to Matthew Gerhart, an attorney for the group Earthjustice. The family soon found themselves surrounded by gas development as fracking companies exploited the gas-ri ch Marcellus Shale that runs under much of the state.
The Hallowich family became outspoken opponents of fracking and said that they and their children began suffering from headaches, nosebleeds, burning eyes and sore throats as drilling operations expanded on their land and in their neighborhood. The family tried to get the attention of the media, state regulators and the gas companies, but ended up filing a lawsuit in 2010 and abandoning their home.
The lawsuit was settled in last year. The settlement hearing wa s closed to the press and the gas companies persuaded a common please judge who approved the settlement to permanently seal it from public view, according to Gerhart, who assumes the settlement includes a nondisclosure agreement. Two area newspapers, The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and the Observer Reporter, have since sought access to the court records, but were initially denied. Last week, the newspapers appealed the judge's decision denying them acces s to the records to the state's Superior Court.
Dr. Paulson joined Earthjustice, Philadelphia Physicians for Social Responsibility, and other groups in filing a brief in support of the newspapers' appeal, arguing that the public deserves access to crucial information about the potential health impacts of fracking.
"We're involved in this case because the gas companies insistence on confidentiality is the tip of the iceberg, for one example of a pattern of secrecy and in other contexts," said Gerhart, who hopes tha t the effort to unseal the records will be a step toward greater industry transparency. "... We need real data and access to the real people that are affected by fracking."
The brief filed by Earthjustice and the doctors' groups lists 27 cases in heavily fracked states such as Colorado, Arkansas, Texas and Pennsylvania where details of the case or the settlement are being held out of public light due to sealed court records and nondisclosure agreements.

Gas Rush: Fracking in Depth

Wednesday, 25 April 2012 15:52By Truthout, Truthout | Gas Rush Landing Page
"Gas Rush" is the place to find original insight and analysis on one of the most heated environmental debates in America. As fracking spreads across the country, Truthout chronicles earthquakes, blowouts, political battles and a swelling grassroots opposition. Gas drilling is quickly changing the landscape in Washington and our own backyards, and it's time to hold the government and industry accountable.
By Abrahm Lustgarten, ProPublica | News Analysis
"Public Media" Joins "Gang Greens" in Colluding With Frackers
By Maura Stephens, Truthout | News Analysis
Fracking and Psychological Operations: Empire Comes Home
By Steve Horn, Truthout | News Analysis
Letter to Friends and Neighbors
By Patrick R McElligott, Truthout | Letter
Letter to New York State Senator Thomas Libous
By Patrick R McElligott, Truthout | Letter
The Heinz Award and What I Plan to Do With ItBy Sandra Steingraber, Truthout | Op-Ed
New Jersey Lawmakers Vote to Ban Fracking
By Mike Ludwig, Truthout | Report
America's Energy Ethos: Do, Regardless of Harm
By David Sirota, Truthout | Op-Ed
Gassy Geezer Pushes Fossil Fuel
By Maura Stephens, Truthout | Op-Ed

Allegheny Defense Project

See Link Here.

Tell Your Representative to Protect the Allegheny National Forest by Voting NO on Pennsylvania HB 1904!

The Allegheny National Forest is the most industrialized forest in the U.S. Forest Service System due to even-aged management (serial clear-cut logging) for high-value timber species, and because of intensive, full-field mine-out, stripper well oil and gas drilling, and marcellus shale gas drilling. These activities together are destroying every use and enjoyment of the forest, including recreation, wildlife habitat, water quality, and air quality. Now Pennsylvania Representative Kathy Rapp and her colleagues want to make this the permanent condition of the Allegheny National Forest by passing House Bill 1904. Help us stop them bysending this letter (click here) and by calling your representative to tell them to protect the Allegheny National Forest.

There are 12,000 to 15,000 active conventional oil and gas wells on the Allegheny National Forest with unconventional Marcellus and Utica Shale gas well drilling now beginning. 

There are over 2,236 miles of oil and gas roads and 1,512 miles of USFS system roads on the Allegheny.

The Allegheny National Forest was created for Watershed Protection.

But Pennsylvania's only National Forest has been plagued by mismanagement, corruption, and a local political environment heavily influenced by the oil and gas industry and other extractive industries.
The industry is occupying the surface of the Allegheny with full-field-mine-out stripper well developments (see also PSU stripper well consortium). After environmental groups filed a compliant in Federal Court because of the failure of the Forest Service to conduct site-specific environmental analysis on proposed oil and gas drilling sites on the Allegheny, a limited amount of information was made public about the oil and gas industry's plans for the Allegheny National Forest.  The image below illustrates a proposed project in the northeastern part of the Allegheny National Forest. Each green dot represents a well. Not illustrated in the image is all of the infrastructure that goes along with these developments including tank batteries, oil lines, water lines, electric lines, generators, wastewater impoundments, drilling fine dumps, drilling equipment and waste, truck traffic, construction equipment, and every other element of an industrialized landscape.

The image below shows the industry's plans for the Allegheny National Forest. All of the yellow areas are predicted by the Forest Service to see full-field-mine-out within the next 20 years.

This is the stage for unconventional Marcellus and Utica Shale Gas Drilling (see aerial monitoring of shale gas sites in 2010). Kathy Rapp and her colleagues want to industrialize the Allegheny National Forest. They do not want the public's surface protected, in fact they do not want to acknowledge that the public has any rights to protect the surface at all. 

House Bill 1904 builds on preemptions contained in Act 13, the completely inadequate, and unlawful, Marcellus shale legislation recently signed by Governor Corbett.
Act 13/HB 1950 contains the following provision:
“With respect to oil and gas deposits on national forest lands identified under section 17(o) of the Mineral Leasing Act (106 Stat. 3108, 30 U.S.C. § 226(o)), the application of regulations and statutes adopted by the Commonwealth shall be the exclusive method and means by which any requirements may be imposed on any feature, aspect or process of oil and gas operations pertaining to the development of the deposits.”
The provision attempts to make Pennsylvania statutes and regulations the only requirements imposed on national forest lands: it attempts to preempt federal law on oil and gas drilling in national forests.
The oil and gas industry is attempting to spin the situation into a state's rights argument. However, it is simply a case of corporate rights over community and individual rights. The root causes of this situation are greed, corruption**, and a complete lack of leadership and honorable behavior on all levels of government. 
It is up to those of us who care about the landscape and the communities of the Allegheny National Forest to make this right. Please start by telling your representative how you feel.
**Public corruption is a breach of trust by federal, state, or local officials—often with the help of private sector accomplices.