Responsible Drilling Alliance

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Pipeline Decision and More – Dec, 6th 2010 Newsletter

A precedent setting case: a good decision

Property owners along pipeline may be spared eminent domain fight

An administrative law judge has recommended that Laser Northeast Gathering Company–a gas pipeline company seeking to operate in northeast Pennsylvania–be denied a Certificate of Public Convenience. The Certificate would have granted the company eminent domain powers, allowing the company to force landowners to sell rights-of-way for pipelines through their property. This is the first time a company building gathering lines–which take gas from wells to larger transmission lines–has sought public utility status in the development of the region’s Marcellus Shale deposit.  The pipeline would be the first part of an extensive system linking potentially hundreds of gas wells in Susquehanna County, PA, to the interstate Millennium Pipeline in Broome County, New York. The company’s request comes as the region grapples with an explosive rate of gas drilling and an outbreak of industrial accidents and pollution related to rushed and irresponsible development. Earthjustice, (a non-profit/legal/environmental organization that has been very supportive of RDA’s efforts and to which we are deeply grateful) and attorney Scott J. Rubin represented a concerned resident who has protested the application, to ensure that the company did not get eminent domain power, unless it came with protections for public safety, health, and the environment. The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission will make a final decision on Laser Northeast’s application after the parties have had an opportunity to respond to the judge’s recommendations, most likely early next year. Earthjustice attorney Deborah Goldberg stated “Pennsylvanians have been grappling with a lot of changes to their state in recent years. The number of Marcellus wells drilled in the first 10 months of this year is six times what it was during all of 2008, and pipeline construction is now beginning to catch up. Pennsylvania’s landowners should not be forced to give up control over their land to pipeline companies, if state regulatory agencies will not guarantee protection of public safety, community health, and the natural environment. If the Public Utility Commission cannot provide those protections, landowners must have the power to protect themselves.”

Worth watching

Jim Wickens is an investigative reporter for “The Ecologist”, the world’s leading environmental magazine, published in Great Britain. In October, Wickens traveled to Pennsylvania to write a story on the Marcellus Shale. In addition to the article, he produced a video. The 14-minute film is worth watching, and has at least 2 familiar faces.  You may recognize Dr. Tony Ingraffea, Professor of Engineering at Cornell University who spoke at the RDA forum on Oct. 8, and Ralph Kisberg, RDA President.

How long has that diesel engine been idling?

Diesel vehicles are a significant source of emissions, contributing to elevated ozone and fine particulate concentrations. Nationwide, idling produces about 140,000 tons of nitrogen oxides and 7.6 million tons of carbon dioxide annually.  In our area, air pollution from greatly increased truck traffic related to gas drilling activities is a serious concern. On Feb. 6, 2009, the Diesel-Powered Motor Vehicle Idling Act (Act 124) became law in Pennsylvania. This regulation was passed in an attempt to reduce unnecessary idling of the main propulsion engine in diesel-powered motor vehicles. Act 124 prohibits the owners and drivers of any diesel-powered motor vehicle with a gross weight of 10,001 pounds or more engaged in commerce from causing the engine of the vehicle to idle for more than five minutes in any continuous 60-minute period, except as provided in the Act. If you believe someone is in violation of this law, you can reach a DEP Regional Office by calling the statewide Citizen’s Complaint Line toll free at 1-866-255-5158. You may also contact the State Police (570-368-5700) or your local law enforcement officials.

Upcoming events

Town Hall Meeting with Representative Garth Everett

7:00 – 9:00 pm: Tuesday, December 7th

Picture Rocks Volunteer Fire Company, 180 Main St., Picture Rocks

This is the last of four public meetings sponsored by State Representative Garth Everett of the 84th district for the purpose of gathering citizen feedback on Marcellus shale development. Please show up with comments and questions; or simply make a statement by your presence in the audience. RDA board members will be on hand to bring some of our many concerns to the floor for discussion.

Waterdog Training

7:00 – 9:00 pm: Monday, January 10th, 2011 Jersey Shore Middle School Library, Jersey Shore, PA

Waterdogs observe and document possible impacts on water quality due to gas drilling.  Be trained as a volunteer to monitor your favorite swimming hole, trout stream or boating area. Registration fee is $10. If you would like to purchase a TDS water-metering device (to measure total dissolved solids), please add $20. Please make check for $10 or $30 payable to: LCCD. Mail payment to: Lycoming County Conservation District. 542 County Farm Road, Suite 20, Montoursville Pa 17754 Workshop space is limited to the first 50 participants. Pre-registration is required, deadline is January 3, 2011. Please call Carey Entz @ (570) 433-3003 with further questions.

Inauguration Day Marcellus rally

10:30 am: Tuesday, January 18, 2011 State Capitol, Harrisburg PA

Please mark your calendar. Details to follow.

A dream dashed by the rush on gas

Chris and Stephanie Hallowich say they tried to choose carefully when they were seeking out their dream home in southwestern Pennsylvania. Thinking of their two young children, the high school history teacher and his wife, an accountant, rejected one property when they learned it had once been the site of a strip mine for coal. They settled instead on 10 acres of long-fallow farmland for $20,000, and began to build. Read this National Geographic story here.

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