Received a holiday e-greeting from the Marcellus Shale Coalition today. I decided to put it to good use:
We must try every possible (and impossible) avenue, strategy, tactic, and maneuver we can think of to stop the ruination of Pennsylvania by the gas drilling industry. Whether it is a protected species or place. Whether it is super inflated performance bonding. Or, perhaps, the discovery of forgotten laws. Moratoriums, and rights ordinances. Political and populist activism. Consciousness raising, demonstrating, civil disobedience … There is no one way. When you are in a fight, you don’t use just one hand. You use your whole body and spirit to defeat the invader.
Here is a letter to a state representative, asking that Harveys Lake be considered “exceptional”. While it can be argued that all bodies of water are exceptional, the state does have that designation to consider as a solution for this particular body of water. Why not try it?
It has come to our attention that DEP issued a drilling permit on Dec. 3rd for a gas well on Sterling Farms in Wyoming County. This is about a mile from our lake. It is inconceivable that an agency charged with protecting our environment could issue a permit for drilling within such close proximity to the lake.
I see in today’s Citizens’ Voice that the state is nearing a decision on making Silver Lake (also a glacial lake) a designated “exceptional value” watershed, which will prohibit gas drilling activities in that area. For the life of me, I can’t understand why the citizens need to be pointing out to the DEP where these exceptional water sheds exist! Do they do any research before handing out these drilling permits?
A single accident like the one in Clearfiled County in June can potentially destroy Harveys Lake. This would be a crime of significant proportions.
Throughout the years, DEP has had a great deal of influence on protecting our lake. Our public sewer system was state mandated, as is the current moratorium on any new connections to this system. Residents are experiencing difficulty in obtaining permits from DEP to build docks on their shoreline property because of the potential to harm plankton. We have our own ordinance banning the use of port-a-potties/job johnnies because of the potential leakage into the lake. It is ludicrous to allow gas drilling so close to this lake!
I am asking for your immediate attention as I consider this a matter of urgency! Please do whatever you can to stop this madness. Harveys Lake is the state’s largest natural freshwater lake and is pristine. If that doesn’t qualify it for “:exceptional value” status, I don’t know what does! – Michell’e Boice (letter to Representative Karen Boback)
Tom Jiunta and the Gas Drilling Awareness Coalition have been working tirelessly to advance a petition in support of an ordinance which would protect the water supply of Lehman Township. Tonight they presented the ordinance which is similar to one recently passed by the the Licking Township (Pennsylvania) Board of Supervisors. The Lehman ordinance was drafted by the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund Defense Fund.
The proposal presented to the Lehman Township Board of Supervisors, would make it unlawful:
“for any corporation to import water into Lehman for use in the extraction of subsurface natural gas or to deposit waste water, “produced” water, “frack” water, brine or other materials, chemicals or by-products of natural gas extraction into the land, air or waters within Lehman Township.”
Here is the early online edition from the Times Leader: Lehman supers hold off vote on anti-drill law
This initiative is about citizen’s rights and the heart of a democratic society. We share the air and the water. Collectively, we have a constitutional right to clean air and water. Any sane society would insure that. No individual, or corporation has the authority to usurp these basic human rights.
Although advised otherwise, the Supervisors insisted on keeping the venue at the Lehman Township Building instead of larger venues in the immediate area. Consequently some citizens left because they could hear nothing from the entrance hall. That is, they were not allowed to participate in the process due to venue constriction. It is an age old strategy of those who want to impede the democratic process rather than support it. The Supervisors’ obstructionist behavior is not a surprise given the reality that two of them were found to be ethically compromised by the state ethics commission.
(And thank you to the Community Environmental Legal Defense Defense Fund for your statewide efforts to bring power back to the people.)
The supervisors refused to take action on the proposal, citing a fear of law suits and a lack of authority,the Gas Drilling Awareness Coalition and the CELDF will continue to put this issue forward. See the Citizen’s Voice coverage here: Lehman Twp. supervisors take no action on drilling ordinance
From the Safe Water Movement’s petition to support a total ban on gas drilling in low-permeable deposits in New York State:
1. With a failure rate of between 2 to 8 percent, horizontal drilling and hydrofracking pose an unacceptable risk to our drinking water and the quality of groundwater, aquifers, lakes and streams.
13.Recent preliminary assessments reveal that “natural” gas is not “clean energy” but rather just another polluting, non-renewable fossil fuel contributing to global warming”
Links about dirty gas:
The Dirty Truth Behind Clean Natural Gas (from the National Wildlife Federation)
Gas is dirty energy and may be dirtier than coal ( regarding Australia)
The Dirty Truth Behind Hydrofracking (from Environmental Graffiti )
The Dirty Truth Behind The New Natural Gas ( from Kentucky Rural Water Association) ( a comprehensive overview )
The Dirty Secret of Shale Gas (from Motley Fool)
Cornell’s Howarth Warns EPA… (good links )
David Naro’s Comment:
October 2, 2010 at 7:49 pm (Edit)
The number of jobs the drilling has created is extraordinary. I have a degree in conservation biology and I’m a 100% supporter of domestic energy and jobs. I feel it’s a shame you don’t want to lower the unemployment rate, especially in NEPA. Oh, the claim that drilling contaminates water is BS. Check out junkscience.com
October 3, 2010 at 10:48 pm
Thank you for commenting. I, too, am a supporter of domestic energy and jobs. I consume local milk, cheese, beer, produce, and whatever else I can support. I patronize local restaurants and businesses rather than the chain invaders. I have not been perfect, but I am becoming more mindful and resolute with each day
Rather than turning back to the mines, perhaps this region should move forward into the green, local, and organic future. People want to know their family’s food is safe. Our shores are awash in plastic and our soil is polluted with insecticides, herbicides and God knows what else. Our government refuses to require corporations to reveal when genetically modified organisms are used in a product. These concerns will not go away.
Energy bills continue to increase There are always promises to lower them. But dirty energy – the kind where you blast open a mountaintop, or shatter shale a mile below – is costly and leaves a sad legacy.
NEPA ought to be manufacturing (jobs), shipping (jobs), installing (jobs), and retrofitting (jobs) alternative systems such as solar, wind, geo, and small hydro. We have good universities, experienced manufacturers, and excellent trades people. We are at a hub of transportation routes.
I believe that horizontal fracturing is a nasty business. Even if we managed it perfectly (how often is that done?) we cannot escape the fact that each fracking leaves millions of gallons of fresh water polluted and left underground. Multiply that by hundreds of thousands of frackings and you have a significant body of toxic slurry sloshing its way around a shattered system of bedrock. This once fresh water will no longer be part of our water cycle. But it will forever be a threat.
It is time we practiced human scale, not corporate scale.
Following is a guest post from Molly M. All are invited to submit:
I travelled to Dimock, PA, several weeks ago to see for myself what was going on at my neighbors to the north. I was astounded to see gas drilling pads in many farm pastures. On several sites, cows were being pastured and fed adjacent to the pads. I had read about cows being quarantined in Tioga County after they were suspected of drinking polluted flowback water. In Washington County cows died after exposure to drilling fluids. At Dunkard Creek, where all aquatic life died from an algae bloom caused by drilling, beef cows were photographed standing in orange-tainted water. I have decided not to eat beef any more. Every time I look at a steak, I see those cows standing next to a drill site.
I began searching for alternative food sources and discovered the joys of shopping at the Lands at Hillside. The folks who bought this wonderful farm from the old coal barons opted not to lease these lands. Hooray! Now I buy hormone-free milk, free range eggs, Hillside Gold butter, fresh ice cream, and other goodies. Life is good, and my tummy agrees.
Gas Stock was an act of defiance. It signals that despite the odds, the politicos, the Westmoreland Club, the silence of the Sierra Club, the co-opting of Penn State, the compromising of Penn Future, the dearth of lawyer support, the PUC, the lobbyists, the campaign contributions, the advertisements, the unemployment, the bankrupt governments (desperate to close their budgets), the SRBC, the DEP, the Oil and Gas Act, the Energy Policy Act of 2005, and on and on … the movement will not give up.
Clean air and clean water are our constitutional right:
The people have a right to clean air, pure water, and to the preservation of the natural, scenic, historic and aesthetic values of the environment. Pennsylvania’s public natural resources are the common property of all the people, including generations yet to come. As trustee of these resources, the Commonwealth shall conserve and maintain them for the benefit of all the people. -Article I of the Pennsylvania State Constitution, Sec. 27
Beyond that, we owe it to our children and grandchildren.
And to those of you who follow the Bible: remember, you are called upon to be stewards of God’s creation. Don’t let covetousness cloud your decisions – do the right thing. (God created a garden, not an industrial zone)
It was a day well spent. A day in the sun among old and new friends. Gas Stock was a gathering which spanned generations, politics, communities, and states. It was a campfire around which we joined as one. Thank you to NEPA Citizens in Action!
I was part of a small group which hiked from the Susquehanna in Wilkes-Barre to the Fair Grounds in Lehman. Here is what the Times Leader reported about our trek:
Don Williams, of Montgomery County, set out from Wilkes-Barre’s Nesbitt Park at 6:30 a.m. and walked more than 10 miles to the fairgrounds together with his daughters, Lisa and Lauren Williams, and two local bloggers, Mark Cour and Herb Baldwin.“I’ve attended several of these meetings where the gas industry people basically said, if you drove here and you don’t support what we’re doing, you’re a hypocrite. I remembered that,” Williams said. “That’s why I did it, being able to say I had the lowest carbon footprint here today.”
Actually there was six of us. The person omitted in the Times Leader quote is blogger Hannah Abelbeck. Sending us off was yet another blogger, John, and his sister Sandy. They showed up at dawn to wish us well and record the riverside ceremony. Afterward, we started out, four bloggers and two sane people.
(“By the time we got to Gas Stock, we were half a dozen strong…”) (apologies to Joni Mitchell).
Our march paralleled in reverse the route of Toby’s Creek as it moves from the back mountains down to the valley, tumbling fresh water into the Susquehanna and eventually the Chesapeake.
We started our journey atop concrete and asphalt, alongside traffic and amid big plastic signs and display windows. We left the streets in Luzerne and strode along an old railroad bed turned recreational trail. It parallels the highway which was once but a creek side foot path. Now the sound of traffic permeates the air.
We eventually emerged from the woods onto route 309 in Dallas. It was pedestrian unfriendly from there to the fairground. We stopped by Lisa Baker’s office but no one was there. We took some pictures and left tri-folds of information in the doorjamb. Lisa continues to believe this corporate invasion can be “managed”.
How do you manage billions of gallons of toxic slurry left inside the shattered rock? How do you manage the diminishing water supply? How do you tell the regional water cycle it will have to do with billions of gallons less? How do you insure the infrastructure of wells are maintained and incident free for the next thousand years? How do you manage a hodgepodge of corporations, companies, and contractors from myriad states and countries whose only goal is the maximization of profit?
The picture above is one taken at Baker’s office. You will notice the Pennsylvania State Flag is upside down. This was not a mistake. Don did it, as a sign of distress. Penn’s Woods is in serious jeopardy.
( There is, however, one mistake in the photo: See if you can find it in less than five seconds.)
Meanwhile, to be continued…
we are not hostage
to foreign oil
we are hostage
Last night, just before midnight I bought the domain name rights to NoFrackMountain.com. I think this is what I am after and it seems to be the name that speaks to my mind. But what of FrackMountain.com? It speaks to an emotionally grounded irony should the corporate plan come to fruition. BUT! FU<K ENCANA! and their home boys. That is why I say, drop frackmountain, and dig NOFRACKMOUNTAIN! Sorry about the "fu<ks" But if any situatioin calls for it, this does… bend over .