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Volume 1 Issue 3
Shale Justice Coalition Newsletter October-November 2013
Natural Gas Moratorium Bill Introduced in Pennsylvania
Sen. Jim Ferlo (D-Allegheny) has introduced a bill to the Pennsylvania Legislature calling for a moratorium on natural gas drilling. The bill does not set a time limit, but rather calls for a 7-member commission to be created and study the range of impacts of the industry is having on Pennsylvanians. The bill would halt any new permits for natural gas drilling. Some 14,000 wells that have already received permits from the Department of Environmental Protection would be grandfathered in. The commission would study the environmental, social and economic impacts of drilling. Ferlo compared it to what neighboring New York State is doing as lawmakers there decide whether or not to lift a moratorium. “I think the growing concern about the manner in which this industry operates in a very unregulated way without very many environmental regulations,” Ferlo said. “I think we need to cover all fronts.” Republican lawmakers have already jumped on the proposed legislation. GOP Chairman Rob Gleason released a statement accusing Ferlo and Democratic Gubernatorial candidate Allyson Schwartz of “[catering] to the extreme left-wing of their party” and ignoring the economic beneﬁts the industry has brought to Pennsylvania. Schwartz does not support a moratorium on drilling and recently proposed a severance tax on Marcellus Shale gas. Kathleen McGinty, Democratic Gubernatorial candidate and a former DEP Secretary also does not support a moratorium. John Hanger, Democratic Gubernatorial candidate and a former DEP Secretary is in favor of a moratorium on natural gas activities in Pennsylvania State Parks, but not for the rest of the Pennsylvania. The bill would halt any new permits for natural gas drilling. Some 14,000 wells that have already received permits from the Department of Environmental Protection would be grandfathered in. Reactions from grassroots and environmentalist groups is mixed. Some groups feel their communities have been greatly damaged by the natural gas industry and a moratorium would do little to help them especially since the bill grandfathers in existing permits. Others are applauding Ferlo’s bill and see it as a step in the right direction.
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OBAMA IN SCRANTON PA
by Wendy Lee, Shale justice However long and hot the three hour wait in line to score free tickets it was well worth it for the chance to be able to spend quality time both outside the venue at Lackawanna College, Scranton, Pennsylvania, and inside the stadium for President Barack Obama’s speech on “affordable higher education” Along with anti-fracking allies from Berks Gas Truth, the Gas Drilling Awareness Coalition, Delaware River Keepers, Luzerne County Citizens for Clean Air, and a host of other organizations and individuals, Shale Justice wanted to make clear to the president that the natural gas industry is bad for Pennsylvania, and he must re-open the halted EPA investigation into water contamination in Dimock. While the focus of President Obama’s remarks inside the venue had to do with affordable higher education, the action outside was squarely aimed at sending the president a message. I called out during a brief quiet moment from the “reserved seats” inside the stadium: “Mr. President, rural Pennsylvania citizens are suffering. The cause is fracking. What are you going to do about it?” I don’t think he heard me. The massive security detail gentlemen were unimpressed. The president must be made to see that the future jobs he imagines for those intrepid Lackawanna College students will not be available when this boom goes bust, and the future of the planet is of even greater importance. Outside the venue, a far more interesting and worthwhile protest event was well underway, including speakers like John Trallo, Maya Van Rossum, Alex Lotorto, and Craig Stevens among others calling on the president to re-open the EPA Dimock investigation. A recently leaked EPA powerpoint slide show indicated signiﬁcant portions of the ofﬁcially released report on Dimock were deleted. The leaked document showed that natural gas drilling could cause signiﬁcant damage to drinking water. The leaked presentation emerged almost exactly one year after the EPA closed its investigation into Dimock water contamination saying “sampling and an evaluation of the particular circumstances at each home did not indicate levels of contaminants that would give EPA reason to take further action.” “The PowerPoint raises important questions about how EPA came to its determination that the water in Dimock was OK to drink when it points to the possibility of signiﬁcant long-term contamination,” said Kate Sindig of the Natural Resources Defense Council. Cabot Oil & Gas maintains the water is ﬁne. 2
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DIMOCK HOME DEMOLISHED
Residents of Dimock Pennsylvania watched as a demolish crew tore down the former home of Craig and Julie Sautner. Dimock became the center of the natural gas issue in early 2009 when a water well exploded at one residence due to methane migration. This is when residents and regulatory ofﬁcials ﬁrst realized there was a problem underground. The problem grew larger when up to 19 homes reported their water had gone bad and brought Dimock to the forefront of the news. The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) originally determined Cabot’s drilling activities were the cause of water contamination and followed a course to remidiate the problem including proposals to construct water pipelines from a neighboring town to Dimock residents. In December 2010, the water pipeline project was squashed by former DEP Secretary John Hanger in favor of a backdoor settlement deal with Cabot. Effected homeowners were not consulted or informed until after the deal was done. A few of the homeowners took the deal, but a number of others did not and the battle continued. In 2011 the newly elected Governor Tom Corbett and DEP Secretary Michale Krancer determined there was NO connection between drilling and water contamination. The brown, frothy and bubbling water coming out of Dimock resident’s faucets was deemed safe to drink. In 2012, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) conducted an investigation into Dimock’s water problem. Like the DEP, the EPA originally determined the water had been contaminated by Cabot’s gas drilling. However, when the ofﬁcial report was released the EPA changed it’s mind and determined the water was ﬁne. EPA representatives met with the Sautner family to explain their ﬁndings. They were offered a glass of water, but declined. The Sautner’s eventually settled with Cabot. Cabot purchased the Sautner’s home and property as part of the settlement agreement. The Sautners have been unable to comment on their experience due to a non-discloser (gag) clause. Demolition crews and equipment showed up on September 6, 2013 and tore down the home. Cabot stated it was being torn down to prepare the property for new owners. Fractivists wonder if the new owners fully understand the water is bad and the EPA report had omitted the part about how natural gas drilling did effect the water quality. At least 2 residents of the original 19 continue to call on Cabot, the DEP and the EPA to ﬁx the water. Pennsylvania Grassroots groups have organized a water drive to bring attention to the public that the problem of water contamination hasn’t gone away and will continue as long as there is drilling. 3
Shale Justice Now by Kevin Heatley, Shale Justice We love the marketing folks from the natural gas industry! Nothing is more fun than to watch them try to bury their talentless lack of creative energy under a pile of public relations cash. They are especially entertaining when they attempt to market to children. This year they were quite visible at the Little League World Series in Williamsport, PA. For those who have never had 11 year old male offspring, it is useless to try and describe the Little League World Series. The event is a riotous mix of international accents from foreign and exotic countries like Japan, Panama, and Texas. Something to be experienced in person as opposed to watched on ESPN.
ANADARKO STRIKES OUT AT LITTLE LEAGUE WORLD SERIES
Now, corporate marketing to kids is nothing new at the Little League World Series. Every year we are treated to Tony the Tiger encouraging proper childhood nutrition. Occasionally another furry corporate mascot, Jared from Subway, makes an appearance to demonstrate that even if you took Tony’s message too seriously, you still have a chance to undo the damage through proper patronage of the appropriate chain restaurant. This year our good neighbors from ANADARKO (a nightmare of a marketing name) PETROLEUM brought us another warm and fuzzy emblem of corporate indoctrination. Emerging from a cloud of fugitive methane, the Anadarko “Energenie” made an appearance as a Little League pin this year. While we applaud the Energenie for wearing his hardhat in accordance with OSHA regulations, apparently his exposure to concentrated volatile organic compounds from compressor station emissions has damaged the ability of his lungs to capture oxygen, hence his blue skin pigmentation. If so, we applaud Anadarko for reaching out to the sufferers of childhood asthma. Of course, if we were cynical, we might suspect that Anadarko modeled the “Energenie” on the lovable Smurfs. If genetic testing does indeed conﬁrm that the Energenie has Smurf heritage, a great irony emerges - Anadarko, the same company that is planning on destroying the ecological integrity of the Loyalsock State Forest in northern PA., apparently is using forest-dwelling Smurfs as employees. Poor Smurfs, driven by a lack of employment opportunities (fueled by obvious racial discrimination), they are forced to destroy their own homes in order to ﬁnd gainful employment. Let us all hope Papa Smurf demonstrates the same intense concentration (note the tongue) when he handles all the toluene and benzene on the frack pad. So, two years after Stephen Colbert sent Talisman Energy’s coloring book hero, Terry the Fracosaurus, into extinction by viciously skewering this corporate bit of childhood propaganda, (http://www. colbertnation.com/video/talisman), we still have the natural gas industry pandering to children in a pathetic attempt to gain the public trust. While we understand the public relations desperation of an industry as brutally ugly as fossil fuel extraction, we do recommend they at least put some creative energy into their efforts. If they don’t, we may just have to ask Colbert to help them along. 4
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SPOT LIGHT ON OUR MEMBERS
Introducing the Rivertown Coalition
The Rivertown Coalition for Clean Air and Clean Water was formed in 2011 after Shirley Rowe and Pat Rock saw the ﬁlm “Gasland.” The movie shocked both these people and as a result of their concerns, they called a meeting of other interested citizens. From that group the Rivertown Coalition for Clean Air and Clean Water was formed. It has since developed an organizational structure and been approved by the IRS as a tax exempt public charity. We have deﬁned our mission “To educate the public about environmental issues.” We have hosted community meetings to hear speakers and to view movies. We have provided a half day workshop on Creation Care for the pastors of the SUN area and a full day workshop open to everyone on sustainability efforts in our community both present and potential. We have a newsletter that addresses all areas of environmental concerns and explores renewable energy projects in the area. We maintain a Facebook page and post Tuesday Thoughts and Friday Facts about the constant concerns for the environment. Because Water is such a precious resource we stress the basic fact that 97% of the water on earth is salt water. Of the 3% fresh water, 2% is in the polar ice caps. So all of life on earth is supported by 1% of the water we see and that looks so available. Much of that 1% is concentrated in the northeast quadrant of the United States. We who live in this quadrant have a distorted view of water being an unending and abundant resource. For this and other reasons, we oppose fracking and work for a moratorium or ban on this process. Gas drilling is taking millions of gallons of fresh water out of the water cycle for the entire world, while poisoning the land, air and water near the drilling sites. These types of issues keep us motivated. We at the Rivertown Coalition are already beneﬁting from the different viewpoints, information, and experiences of the Shale Justice coalition members and anticipate our evolution as we join this talented group of people working together for our earth.
BERKS GAS TRUTH
Berks Gas Truth is a Berks County-based grassroots community organization with over 700 members calling for a ban on fracking. Karen Feridun founded the group in 2010 as a sister organization to Lehigh Valley Gas Truth, the ﬁrst of the Gas Truth groups, founded by Cathy Frankenberg, the Bethlehem ﬁeld organizer for Clean Water Action. After attending LVGT meetings, Feridun thought forming a Berks chapter would allow her to share the information she was getting at the meetings with a Berks audience. Before long, the group had grown into an active anti-fracking group in a part of the state that had been spared the direct impacts of fracking. ‘”We wanted to have the backs of those in the drilling region at the time, but realized that we may be in the industry’s path ourselves one day,” says Feridun. (continued on Page 6) 5
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Berks Gas Truth continued One of the group’s early successes was a protest of Corbett’s invitation to be Albright College’s commencement speaker in 2011 that was picked up be the Washington Post. Protestors opposing fracking and education cuts lined the streets and were joined by faculty members who left the processional to join us. As predicted, Berks County is now targeted for several infrastructure projects, so the group is ﬁghting on several fronts right here and continues to work on a wide range of issues with other organizations at the state, regional, and national levels. Feridun serves on the steering committees of both Americans Against Fracking and Stop the Frack Attack. BGT continues to work on outreach and education by doing lots of tabling events, talks, panels, concerts, special events, articles, media interviews,and screenings. Feridun represents BGT on teams working on issues including infrastructure, water testing procedures, the SRBC, the moratorium effort, and others and has been one of the organizers of the Shale Gas Outrage rallies and the Marcellus Shale Exposed conference. Recently, Berks Gas Truth led the action the led to the victory at the PA State Democratic Committee Meeting and is now working on the localSTAND and electoral strategies that were outgrowths of the PA Dems action. For more information, visit gastruth.org and check out the About Us page to read the group’s 2012 Year in Review.
SHALE JUSTICE GOES INTERNATIONAL
We would like to take a moment and welcome our two newest members from across the pond. FRACK-OFF UK is located in the United Kingdom and acts as its own advocacy group against gas drilling and as center of information for other UK groups. (http://frack-off.org.uk/) Their website is a wealth of news, information and group contacts. Check them out and if you are on FaceBook, give their page a LIKE. (https://www.facebook.com/frackoffuk) Joining us from the Emerald Isle is FRACKING FREE IRELAND. (http://frackingfreeireland.org/) Fracking Free Ireland is a comprehensive non-blog information and service site. It provides information on local, national and international hydraulic fracturing related issues ranging from political issues, academic reports and research, media and press articles to local news and newsletters. The newsletters provide an extensive round-up of the latest news. Fracking Free Ireland also provide a service for those who are opposed to hydraulic fracturing by supplying downloadable posters, ﬂyers and presentations, template letters and links to petitions for signing.
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MUST READ REPORTS
The Public Accountability Initiative issued a
memo on conﬂicts of interest surrounding the new study of fracking and methane emissions to be published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The failure to disclose the signiﬁcant conﬂict of interest of one of the authors, Jennifer Miskimins, appears to constitute a violation of PNAS’s conﬂict of interest policy. Miskimins is listed as a professor at Colorado School of Mines in the article, but has been an employee of Barree Consulting, an oil and gas consultancy offering fracking services, since 2012 -- prior to the submission of the study to PNAS. The disclosure failure may warrant an erratum or possible sanctions on the authors of the study, according to PNAS rules. PNAS’s conﬂict of interest policy is here: http://www.pnas.org/site/authors/coi. xhtml The disclosure failure also raises red ﬂags about how conﬂicts of interest were policed throughout the process, especially given the industry sponsorship of the study. Read the memo here: http://public-accountability.org/2013/09/conﬂicts-of-interest-in-new-frackingemissions-study/
EARTHWORKS report slams Eagle Ford Shale Regulators for Health Hazard Lax Oversight.
A newly released critical report by national environmental non-proﬁt group, Earthworks, describes drilling in the Eagle Ford Shale as marked by a “toxic mix of irresponsible industry operators and negligent regulators,” as well as suffering families. Beneath the Eagle Ford formation in South Texas lies a 400-mile stretch of oil and gas, ripe for major corporations to drill. The process employed—a method called hydraulic fracturing or “fracking”—pumps a mixture of water, sand and chemicals at high pressures thousands of feet below the ground to break up the shale in order to emit the fuel source. The study, conducted by Earthwork’s Oil and Gas Accountability Project, slams state agencies like the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality for failing to provide oversight and take action to both reduce pollution and penalize facilities. Researchers, who undertook their own air pollution testing, conclude fracking the shale threatens the health and safety of residents in the area. Titled “Reckless Endangerment While Fracking the Eagle Ford” the study examined the case of one family pitted in the center of the South Texas shale boom. The Cernys, who reside in Karnes County–a rural area Southwest of San Antonio– are surrounded by 18 oil wells within a mile of their home and 37 existing wells and oil/gas processing facilities can be found no further than two miles away. After a litany of health problems from headaches, nosebleeds and rashes to asthma—they say caused by pungent odors and fumes from the shale industry—and an unresponsive requests from state regulators, the family contacted Earthworks. Read Reckless Endangerment While Fracking the Eagle Ford Shale http://www.earthworksaction.org/ library/detail/reckless_endangerment_in_the_eagle_ford_shale 7
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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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