Responsible Drilling Alliance

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29
Mar

Gasland, Severance Fee, Political Payoffs – Jan. 17th 2011

GASLAND

7:00 PM, THURSDAY JANUARY 20 UNITED METHODIST CHURCH 1319 Eighth Street Drive, Watsontown, PA

FREE ADMISSION

Sponsored by Warrior Run Residents for Responsible Development

This hard-hitting documentary film tells the story of hydraulic fracturing – the drilling process developed by Halliburton that is used to extract natural gas from deep shale deposits such as PA’s Marcellus. In the film, Fox travels the U.S. conducting interviews with families, EPA whistleblowers, congressmen, and scientists whose stories of government cover ups, human and animal illness, devastated property values, and poisoned drinking water all relate back to the technology known as “fracking”. The focus of the movie is on the exact form of industrialization rapidly expanding throughout our region.

Hangar’s Farewell

Pennsylvania’s outgoing Department of Environmental Protection Secretary, John Hanger, sent a message Thursday night thanking department employees and other supporters for their work and offering his good wishes to incoming DEP Secretary Michael Krancer, a judge with the state’s Environmental Hearing Board. Hangar had this to say about a severance tax on gas drilling; a fee that incoming Governor Tom Cobett has promised the industry he will NOT impose. “Taxing gas drilling offers an enormous opportunity to pay for a decades long environmental clean up of our watersheds, our lands, and our air. A drilling tax could easily raise $200 million per year to pay for restoring streams destroyed by coal mining and to finance open space purchases and much more environmental improvement. Governor Ridge enacted Growing Greener. Governor Rendell won passage of Growing Greener 2 but its funds have now been invested and are exhausted. Pennsylvania has much more clean-up to do and needs Growing Greener 3. A drilling tax that is supported by at least 63% of Pennsylvanians could finance for decades environmental clean up that could to do enormous good for our environment. This is a major opportunity presented by the Marcellus gas reserve. Failing to tax the Marcellus makes no sense and is a major piece of undone business. The Marcellus gas industry is now huge, with billions of foreign investment pouring into Pennsylvania and with tax-free profits going back to China, Norway, India, and Great Britain. Every state has a drilling tax and none of those states has killed their golden goose. And the Marcellus goose is the most golden of all because the gas here is comparatively low cost to produce, low-cost to deliver to markets in New York and Boston, and high profit. We must tax it and use at least one-third of the revenues to fund Growing Greener 3 and other environmental programs.” Read more of Hangar’s comments at: http://www.bizjournals.com/pittsburgh/blog/energy/2011/01/dep-hanger-offers-parting-words.html

Big Payoffs From Gas Industry

Given to Opponents of Frack Chemical Disclosure

The U.S. Congress isn’t going to regulate hydraulic fracturing any time soon. But the Department of Interior might. For starters, Interior is mulling whether it should require drilling companies to disclose the chemicals they use to frack wells drilled on public lands, and already the suggestion has earned Interior Secretary Ken Salazar an earful. On January 5, a bipartisan group of 32 members of Congress, who belong to the Natural Gas Caucus, sent Salazar a letter imploring him to resist a hasty decision because more regulations would “increase energy costs for consumers, suppress job creation in a promising energy sector, and hinder our nation’s ability to become more energy independent.” A week later, 46 House Democrats followed up by signing a letter to Salazar urging him to at least adopt the disclosure requirement because, as Rep. Maurice Hinchey, D-N.Y., said, “communities across America have seen their water contaminated by the chemicals used in the hydraulic fracturing process.” “The public has a right to know what toxins might be going into the ground near their communities, and what might be leaking into their drinking water,” said the letter, which was sent by the three initial sponsors of now-stalled legislation to regulate fracturing, Hinchey, Rep. Jared Polis, D-Colo., and Rep. Diana DeGette, D-Colo. In the context of today’s roiling political and energy debates, it’s not at all clear who will win. But if money is an indicator, the anti-regulatory group has the upper hand. An analysis of campaign finance dollars contributed to the members of Congress shows that the Natural Gas Caucus received 19 times more money from the oil and gas industry between 2009 and 2010 than the group who signed Rep. Hinchey’s letter. The top greased palm belongs to Co-Chair of the Gas Caucus, Tom Murphy, the PA Republican who accepted over $200,000 from the gas industry. According to data from Open Secrets, the 32 members against disclosure received $1,742,572.  By comparison, the group supporting full disclosure of fracking chemicals – which has 14 more people than the Natural Gas Caucus—received $91,212 from the industry. In 2009, 19,000 new gas wells were drilled, adding to the 493,000 gas wells already producing in the United States. According to Hinchey’s office, disclosure on federal lands would set an important precedent, because that information would become part of the public record and, when combined with state-based disclosure rules, “would provide a great deal of useful information for those concerned with the risks these chemicals may pose.” Traditionally, the exact recipes of chemicals used in the fracturing process have been kept secret by the companies to protect their competitive advantage, and the fracturing process itself is exempt from federal regulation under the Safe Drinking Water Act. The disclosure issue has become a rallying point against natural gas development in the United States because scientists have repeatedly said that they can’t thoroughly examine water contamination cases for links to drilling because they don’t know what to test for.  Condensed by RDA from the original by Abrahm Lustgarten ProPublica, Jan. 14, 2011, 2:46 p.m.

Quotes of the week:

From the forum held in Laporte on January 14th

“This is a corporate business plan, not a national energy strategy.” Dr. Tony Ingraffea, speaking of the current rush to drill that is utterly lacking in any comprehensive plan. “This is a complex industry that will not learn unless they practice. We need to give them space to figure it out. I come from the religion that the industry will do it right.” Dr. Terry Engelder, referring to the gas industry’s need to be given time and space here in PA so they can learn how to drill wells correctly. Engelder quoted John F. Kennedy and informed those present that PA citizens must be willing to make sacrifices to allow this “practice” to occur. NOTE: RDA agrees with Dr. Ingraffea, who noted that over 10,000 deep shale wells have already been drilled in Texas. Ingraffea questioned how much more practice the gas industry might need to get it right, and how much we will have to sacrifice in order for the industry to fully implement its business plan.

Share Your Photos

Dickinson College’s ALLARM [Alliance of Aquatic Resource Monitoring] is requesting photos taken at or near Marcellus drilling sites that provide visual images in any of the following categories: Gas Related Earth Disturbances
  • Sediment plumes in creeks near a site
  • Mud/sediment on access roads
  • Improper erosion and sedimentation control measures on the pad/storage pond/staging areas
Spills and discharges
  • Foamy and/or discolored water
  • Dead organisms (plant/animal/fish) near a site
Gas Migration or Leakage
  • Gas bubbling

ALLARM is looking for good photos to illustrate what to look for when monitoring around drill-sites.

If you have any pictures that you could share or references to websites and blogs that illustrate any of the above categories, please contact Julie Vastine at: Julie Vastine, Director The Alliance for Aquatic Resource Monitoring (ALLARM) Dickinson College – Environmental Studies Dept. phone: 717.245.1135  fax: 717.245.1971  email: vastine@dickinson.edu

17-Minute Summary

Not a trailer for the movie Gasland, but an excellent sneak preview of what you will learn in Josh Fox’s film. This short video offers a good overview of what you can expect from gas drilling in PA. Click here to watch the video.

S.O.S.

If you haven’t already signed the petition to save PA State Forestland from further leasing to gas drillers, please do so today at www.SOSinPA.org

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