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Volume 1 Issue 2
Shale Justice Coalition Newsletter August-September 2013
FIRST STEP: PA DEMOCRATIC PARTY PASSES FRACKING MORATORIUM RESOLUTION
THE PENNSYLVANIA DEMOCRATIC PARTY STANDS UP FOR THE PEOPLE OF PENNSYLVANIA with the passage of a resolution for a Statewide Moratorium on Hydraulic Fracturing. The standing vote tally was 115 in favor and 81 opposed. The resolution, drafted by Susan Lyons, a member of the Monroe County delegation, calls for a moratorium until fracking can be proven safe. A version of the resolution offered at the committee’s last meeting was blocked from making it to the ﬂoor for a vote, so Berks Gas Truth, a grassroots community group, organized an action with co-sponsors Clean Water Action, Food & Water Watch, Gas Drilling Awareness Coalition, Lehigh Valley Gas Truth, Peach Bottom Concerned Citizens Group, Protecting Our Waters, Shale Justice and the United Sludge-Free Alliance to move the resolution forward. “We really wanted the full committee to have an opportunity to weigh in on the resolution, but I don’t think any of us expected to get it passed this time,” said Karen Feridun, Berks Gas Truth’s founder. Members of Berks Gas Truth started planning to take action in May when they learned that the resolution would be up for consideration again in June. “We were discussing what we’d like to do for Stop the Frack Attack’s National Month of Action when our Patti Rose realized that the Dems meeting was being held mid-month. The timing was perfect,” said Feridun. Reacting to the moratorium resolution, US Congresswoman Allyson Swartz and former DEP Secretary Kathleen McGinty called it misguided, Former DEP Secretary John Hanger is only in favor of a moratorium in state forest and parks. All three are running for Governor in 2014. Former Governor Ed Rendell stated the moratorium is “ill-advised”. Recent polls show over 63% of Pennsylvanians support a moratorium on natural gas industrialization of our communities.
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SHALE JUSTICE WEBSITE HAS GONE LIVE!
We are excited to announce the launcing of SHALEJUSTICE.ORG. Our website went live at the end of June and has been well received. SHALEJUSTICE.org features numerous resources, including a Daily News Roundup, a Library, our Newsletters and those of our member organizations, links to books, movies, and more. Our Event Calendar will let you know what is happening. Looking for an organization in your area? Check out our Members listing to ﬁnd one near you! We’ll keep you up to date on Projects each of our members are doing. More features will be added in the coming months - Come and visit us at shalejustice.org
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THANK-YOU TO ALL OUR DONORS! We Couldn’t Do It Without YOU!
Shale Justice Now by The Rev. Leah Schade
Tire Burners, Shale Gas, You and Me: We’re All Connected
This op-ed appeared in the Milton Standard Journal on July 2, 2013. It was written in response to the proposed tire incinerator planned for National Gypsum by En-Tire Logistics in White Deer Township, Union County, Pa. Something is fundamentally wrong with our democracy when businesses are de facto given more voice, clout, protection and ultimately more power under the law than citizens and communities seeking to protect themselves from harm. With the tire incinerator proposed by En-Tire Logistics for National Gypsum, regardless of the threat this business poses to the health of their local community, the White Deer Township Supervisors’ hands are tied by the law that requires them to approve a conditional use permit as long as it complies with the provisions of local ordinances. This raises an important question as our nation celebrates Independence Day this coming week. How did the law – which has evolved in this country over more than two centuries – devolve to this point where capitalistic interests supersede human interests of safety? Could the founders of this nation have intended this when they risked their lives to commit to the cause of freedom and democracy? Certainly not. And yet the steady, insidious (some would say demonic) hand of Mammon has chipped away at our humanity and quietly shaped the law for so long, and largely without signiﬁcant challenge, that we have locked ourselves into a system of our own making and allowance. As a nation we see how distorted and corrupt the system has become when the highest court in the land actually grants personhood status to economic entities and corporate interests (Citizens United, 2010). On the state level we see how Act 13, which grants favored status to the shale gas industry under the law, has paved the way for the violation of citizen and community rights across Pennsylvania. And right in our backyard with this proposed tire incinerator, we are faced with the confounding conundrum of how to prevent a clear threat to our area’s beauty and public health when every governmental and democratic avenue appears to be closed to us. Yet these challenges have caused neither dismay nor acquiescence among the citizens I have been privileged to work alongside in groups such as Organizations United for the Environment, Shale Justice and the Interfaith Sacred Earth Coalition. I have witnessed the coming together of some of the most incredible minds and committed citizens I have ever met. We are all bringing our varied talents and skills to the table for the cause of protecting our land, water and communities, while advocating for an economically just system fueled by clean energy and supported by a system of true democracy. Of this, I believe our country’s founders would swell with pride. Rev. Schade is the pastor of United in Christ Lutheran Church in Lewisburg, a PhD Candidate at the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia, and founder of the Interfaith Sacred Earth Coalition.
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SPOT LIGHT ON OUR MEMBERS Organizations United for the Environment
Organizations United for the Environment (OUE), a grassroots organization now in its third decade, had its earliest roots in the spring of 1942 when, through a particularly crude form of eminent domain, the United States government seized 8,500 acres of land in the Central Susquehanna Valley. This area, located in adjoining Lycoming and Union Counties, included the entire community of Alvira, and the government seized it to build a massive plant for producing and storing TNT. After the disaster of Alvira took place OUE kept a very watchful eye of anything that would ruin our environment and then in 1972 there were rumors about a landﬁll near the White Deer Valley. This lead to the formation of The White Deer Valley Citizens Committee (WDCC) which was the seed that would become OUE as we know it today. Aside from monitoring landﬁll operations, OUE kept a low proﬁle after the landﬁll was fully developed. And, perhaps it would have maintained that stance had not another threat to the valley environment lifted its ugly head above the horizon. From the moment this threat became known to valley citizens, OUE was up and running, full tilt in opposition. This issue or battle, if you will, appeared in 1990, as OUE began to lead a “Ban the Burner” battle to stop a Union Paciﬁc subsidiary from building a huge hazardous waste incinerator on Rt. 15. This struggle ended in 1994 when the company’s CEO, Drew Lewis, canceled the project, and, likely, returned to the dark cave where corporate polluters gather to plot against the rest of us. Since 1994, OUE’s activity has mostly been to join citizen groups to contest such looming threats as a nuclear waste dump, tire burning incinerators, animal factories for most of the 2000s, a sludge factory, and a tank farm. Last year we joined citizens in Watsontown to resist would-be mogul, John Moran, who has called the gas industry “a blessing from God,” and who wants to convert their town into a gas drilling service center. Also, for the past two years we have become more involved with groups contesting the spread of natural gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale. Many Pennsylvanians have already suffered its assaults on their health and welfare, and, as bad, no one yet knows its long term dangers to the air, water, forests, and to living creatures of the hydrofracking that the drillers use. Scientiﬁc data and simple reason cry out that this gas drilling should be stopped or strictly regulated, until its potential effects are clearly determined. Most recently we have been battling another “incinerator” in our area. Again in the White Deer Valley a very toxic Tire Burner has been proposed to be built next to the National Gypsum plant to provide them with electricity. No one else will beneﬁt from this burner, however, EVERYONE will feel the detrimental effects of its toxic outpouring of chemicals from its stacks if it is built. This is a long and ongoing battle. OUE has entered a new chapter in its illustrious life and is very excited about entering into a new venture with the exceptionally talented environmental groups from the area and from across the country and the world. From here forward our organization will appropriately be recognized as: “Shale Justice: A Coalition of Organizations United for the Environment”. (continued page 6) 5
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SPOTLIGHT on OUE continued: For many years OUE has acted as the citizen’s environmental watch dog against the destroyers of our environment and civil liberties. But now, it is a common opinion within this coalition that there is an urgent need for increased resistance against the corporate intruders who lobbied, lied and paid to have all the rules relaxed and/or removed in their favor. As a consequence of these actions the local politicians and government entities have been handicapped at being effective and fair for all of us. As Shale Justice moves forward please feel conﬁdent that we will work passionately to take back the decision making and ownership of our land as well as of the environmental standards for future generations. While OUE segues into “Shale Justice: A Coalition of Organizations United for the Environment”, we hope you can support our move because we are all involved in improving and protecting the environment which is being destroyed by corporate polluters and compromised by politicians.
WHITE DEER ENERGY PROJECT (WDEP)
The Shale Justice Website is now the place to go for information and updates on the TIRE BURNING INCINERATOR headed for WHITE DEER TOWNSHIP, UNION COUNTY. We have dedicated an entire section to this issue. Simply go to our home page at shalejustice.org, and click on EN-TIRE INCINERATOR, from there select the topic item for more information. About WHITE DEER ENERGY PROJECT (WDEP): THE PLAN To burn thousands of shredded used tires each day in a combustion boiler to produce steam to produce electric power for National Gypsum’s production of wall board and related products. The process would increase National Gypsum’s energy efﬁciency and reduce its use of other fuels. Tire burning produces tons of toxic ashes which have to be recycled or disposed of, usually in a landﬁll. There are clearly potential dangers from the hundreds of thousands of pounds of emissions from the burner stacks each year into our ambient air. Early on we asked ”Are you able to guarantee that people living downwind from the incinerator would not suffer harm, either from its operations or emissions?” No clear answers were forthcoming. LEARN MORE ABOUT THE WDEP at SHALEJUSTICE.ORG 6
Shale Justice Now DEP: Natural gas driller will plug well involved in methane investigation | by Laura Legere | Republican Hearald DIMOCK - A natural gas well in Dimock Township that is a focus of a state investigation into leaking methane has been deemed “unviable” and will be plugged after the investigation is ﬁnished, a Department of Environmental Protection spokeswoman said Friday.
Regulators have been studying the source of methane in two water wells in the Susquehanna County community since February, when the water for one home became turbid and saturated with gas. A spokesman for Cabot Oil and Gas Corp., the primary Marcellus Shale operator in the surrounding area, said in February that the problem appeared to be “a small and localized event” associated with a methane vent line that had frozen on the gas well during cold weather. Regulators said the frozen vent helped them to identify the suspect gas well – Cabot’s Costello 1 – but they concluded that opening the vent is “not the answer to the problem.” Instead, during months of remediation on the well – one of the ﬁrst vertical Marcellus wells drilled in the township – regulators determined that the well is “unviable” and will have to be plugged, DEP spokeswoman Colleen Connolly said. Josh Fox on Gasland Part 2, the Fracking-Earthquake Link & the Natural Gas Industry’s Use of PSYOPs | Democracy NOW Scientists are warning that the controversial practice of natural gas hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, may lead to far more powerful earthquakes than previously thought. Fracking injects millions of gallons of water, sand and chemicals deep into the earth in order to break up shale rock and release natural gas. A new study published Thursday in the journal Science by a leading seismology lab warns that pumping water underground can induce dangerous earthquakes, even in regions not otherwise prone to tremors. The new report comes as Academy Award-nominated director Josh Fox has released the sequel to his highly acclaimed documentary “Gasland,” which sparked a national discussion on fracking. The new ﬁlm, “Gasland Part II,” exposes how the gas industry and the government’s portrayal of natural gas as a clean and safe alternative to oil is highly suspect. He also discusses how drilling companies have admitted to having several former military psychological operations, or PSYOPs, specialists on staff, applying their skills in Pennsylvania to counter opponents of drilling. “What’s really disappointing about this is that this is a moment when an American president has come forward and spoken about climate change and exhibited his obvious and earnest desire to take on the problem; however, the emphasis on fracked gas makes this plan entirely the wrong plan,” says Fox, noting that methane released from fracking sites is more potent than other greenhouse gases. “Moving from coal to fracked gas doesn’t give you any climate beneﬁt at all. So the plan should be about how we’re moving off of fossil fuels and onto alternate energy.” 7
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CALENDAR: VISIT SHALEJUSTIC.ORG FOR UPCOMING EVENTS FIND OUT WHAT IS GOING ON IN YOUR AREA TODAY
Shale Justice is a coalition of organizations whose aim is to coordinate our efforts, our regionally speciﬁc issues, our visions, our talents, and our hard work to end extreme forms of industrialized which poses serious threats to our air, our land and our water. If you or your organization is interested in becoming part of a growing and active coalition, contact us TODAY! Visit our website and click the BECOME A MEMBER button
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