NoCana! “Dry Baby Dry!”

November 19, 2010

Wendy Wiedenbeck of EnCana

“Dry Baby dry!” has been Audrey Simpson’s battle cry (and prayer) since she first heard of EnCana’s plans to drill three experimental horizontal gas wells in the Back Mountain region of Northeast Penn’s Woods.

We first met Audrey on January 14, 2010. She was video taping a presentation by EnCana to the Back Mountain Community Partnership. I recall how simplistic and benign EnCana’s presentation was. They did not mention trainloads of chemicals, just some water and sand. When we publicly questioned them, they became defensive and contentious.

After the meeting, Audrey approached Karen, Leanne and I,  “We have to organize!”.  Then she introduced herself.   She had been following this Marcellus “play” for a while and she knew  it was bad mojo.

That was the beginning of NoDrillNEPA which eventually merged with Tom Jiunta’s group (Luzerne County Citizens for Clean Water) to become GDAC – Gas Drilling Awareness Coalition.

I called Simpson tonight to discuss the news that EnCana was pulling out of Luzerne and Columbia Counties. We recalled that back in January, we saw this outcome as a remote possibility. Here it was nine months later, and the dream was now reality.

This may be good news for the Back Mountain, but EnCana’s departure is totally fortuitous. Like being spared of small pox while others around you are wasting away.

The Susquehanna, Delaware, Allegheny, Monongahela and Ohio remain threatened and suffering. Thousands of fellow citizens continue to be treated as guinea pigs, The Pennsylvania State Constitution continues to be usurped. Citizens will have their properties seized by private entities. Our governor will pay back the gas industry for its contributions to his campaign.

Ours was a chance victory in a large war. This won’t be won without a constitutional battle. For the time being we must do everything we can to help slow, stall, challenge, and ban this supposed juggernaut. Place by place. Day by day.

Otherwise, they will be back.

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I would think this EnCana announcement will not effect the continuing attempts to traverse the area with pipeline.

Always remember, the landmen were there when we were not. We must find a way to help struggling family farms. They are the backbone of rural Pennsylvania.

We need to re-think and re-tool for a green humanscale future. It is the only sane path.


Guest Opinion on County Zoning Hearing

May 6, 2010

My thoughts and my sentiments are that the citizens are in a war here, a war to protect our water supply and the very air that we breathe, but are so out-powered and out-numbered by the huge money of the gas industry, who can buy our politicians and spread their propaganda faster than a wildfire. Incidentally, if and when one of these gas wells blows up, their is potential for a wildfire, not to mention the toxic chemicals it will spew into the air for a hundred miles or so.

The Zoning Hearing for the approval to give the go-ahead to EnCana to drill their well in Lake Township was a slam dunk before the hearing even began. The citizens had no chance at all, and I was convinced of this when I saw the extremely affectionate exchanges between the members of our Zoning Board and the representatives of EnCana at the table before the hearing began. EnCana sends in what appear to be ordinary citizens just like you and I. It would be far easier to enter into strong debate with the big shots in their fancy suits. These people all live in either Wyoming or Colorado so why would they care about our water & air quality. They are highly paid employees of the gas industry. While the citizens were strongly warned not to discuss water issues, EnCana proceeded to show their propaganda power point presentation and talk a whole lot about water! After all, isn’t water one of the most important issues in gas drilling operations? Millions of gallons of water are required for the fracking process of each individual well. Toxic chemicals are added to it before it gets put into the ground, and toxic chemicals remain in the portion of it that comes back up. The gas industry will put huge demands on our water supply and they have the potential to contaminate what water remains. Our small, rural communities are not ready for the gas industry. We are not trained or prepared to handle a gas well fire! In fact, we simply are not trained for any of this, and neither is DEP! Should we have the heavy rains we experienced in June of 2006 which destroyed roads and bridges, not to mention the near collapse of the Huntsville Dam, the plastic liner in the gas company “pit” will not keep it from over-flowing or the sides blowing out, and the toxic ingredients of the pits contaminating nearby creeks, streams, lakes, and yes, our aquifers!

As I take a look out over Harveys Lake and watch the trees slowly move to the breeze, and smell the clean air that is coming through my windows, I wonder what this scene will be in a few years, after the gas industry has bought out everyone, taken the gas and their money, and gone back to Colorado?

God help us all.

Michell’e T. Boice


Earth Day Press Release

April 20, 2010

LUZERNE COUNTY GREEN PARTY
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Contact: Carl Romanelli, 570-574-0829 cjromanellii@yahoo.com
Jay Sweeney, 570-587-3603 jnln@epix.net

Green Parties of Northeastern Pennsylvania to join citizen groups for Earth Day press conference/rally/protest regarding gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale region. Events are part of statewide events on drilling scheduled throughout Pennsylvania.

On Earth Day, Thursday, April 22, 2010; groups from all over Northeastern Pennsylvania will come together on Public Square, Wilkes-Barre; beginning at 11 AM; for a press conference on the environmental threats of gas drilling in Pennsylvania. The event is being coordinated by the Green Parties of the northeastern section of the state. Greens from Luzerne, Lackawanna, Wyoming, Wayne and Susquehanna counties participated in the planning of the event, along with members of various citizen groups concerned about this issue.

Among the activist groups supporting the Earth Day protests are: The Sierra Club, Gas Drilling Awareness Coalition (GDAC), Citizens for Clean Water, No Drill NEPA, Energy Justice; to name a few. Speakers will include Dr.Gere Reisinger of GDAC, Dr. Richard Aston of the Green Party, Atty. Frank J. Muraca from the PA Sierra Club and Jay Sweeney of the Wyoming County Green Party and candidate for State Representative in the 111th District.

Speakers will address the unified demands of environmentalists concerning drilling issues, which include:

* an immediate moratorium on all horizontal hydrofracturing in the Commonwealth, including in our state forests and on floodplains,
* an immediate freeze on all new Marcellus Shale drilling permits throughout Pennsylvania,
* the immediate suspension of the Delaware and Susquehanna River Basin Commissions’ authority to approve drilling-related water withdrawals anywhere in their respective watersheds, and, if necessary,
* the immediate resignation of DEP Secretary John Hanger.

Similar protests and rallies will be held throughout Pennsylvania on Thursday. They are planned for Norristown, Pittsburgh, Harrisburg, Meadville, and Williamsport. Speakers will be available to answer questions for the media from 11:00 to noon. Speakers and activities commence at 12:00 noon.


Also worth pondering

April 7, 2010

Article I of the Pennsylvania State Constitution:

Natural Resources and the Public Estate
Section 27.

The people have a right to clean air, pure water, and to the preservation of the natural, scenic, historic and esthetic 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.


Fracktured News

March 30, 2010

Another wrist slap for blatant disregard: Drilling Without a Permit

A Tragedy:

Fatal Accident: Woman Killed in Tioga County Crash – Gas Drilling Truck Driver at Fault

an ironic juxtaposition which I had read just the day before the accident: A Sobering Journey to an Inspiring Conference

Janine Dymond of the local Gas Drilling Awareness Coalition is featured in this article: Despite outcry, county eyes Moon Lake Park drilling as money-maker

Good news for starving and homeless lawyers! link here

A Nationwide Petition: SEE PETITION HERE:

More!More!More! 26 wells drilled in Bradford County in February

Letter from the Fields of Factories:

Dear Rep. Pickett, The roads in Dimock continue to deteriorate on a daily basis due to the heavy truck traffic generated by the operations of Cabot Oil & Gas Co. Repairs being made are not keeping up with the pace of damage. I observe drivers on a daily basis swerving into oncoming traffic to avoid entire sections of missing roadway. This issue needs to be addressed before someone gets injured. Cabot’s operations have been suspended by the State in the past due to environmental violations. The State should take immediate action to order Cabot’s vehicle’s off our roads until they repair them. Our citizens health and safety should not be put at risk due to the profit motivated operations of this company. Charles Winschuh, Dimock Township.


Science should trump finance in a sane world, but nooooooo…

March 29, 2010

By way of Susquehanna River Sentinel here is an enlightening article by a scientist, Robert Howarth, who is the David R. Atkinson Professor of Ecology and Environmental Biology at Cornell University He is an “internationally known expert on environmental issues and water quality”. (article source:)

But go ahead and listen to light weight politicos like Urban, Rendell, and Cheney.  All they ever see is their own political interest.  None of them ever had an original thought which went beyond manipulation.  Go ahead and ask one, “Hey Dick, give me an original solution.”  Guaranteed it will be ideological, self-serving, transparent, and tired.

Read and think:

Natural gas is marketed as a clean fuel with less impact on global warming than oil or coal, a transitional fuel to replace other fossil fuels until some distant future with renewable energy. Some argue that we have an obligation to develop Marcellus Shale gas, despite environmental concerns. I strongly disagree.

Natural gas as a clean fuel is a myth. While less carbon dioxide is emitted from burning natural gas than oil or coal, emissions during combustion are only part of the concern. Natural gas is mostly methane, a greenhouse gas with 72 times more potential than carbon dioxide to warm our planet (per molecule, averaged over the 20 years following emission). I estimate that extraction, transport and combustion of Marcellus gas ? together with leakage of methane ? makes this gas at least 60 percent more damaging for greenhouse warming than crude oil and similar in impact to coal.

The most recent method of hydro-fracking is relatively new technology, massive in scope and far from clean in ways beyond greenhouse gas emissions. The landscape could be dotted with thousands of drilling pads, spaced as closely as one every 40 acres. Compacted gravel would cover three to five acres for each. New pipelines and access roads crisscrossing the landscape would connect the pads. Ten or more wells per pad are expected. Every time a well is “fracked,” 1,200 truck trips will carry the needed water.

Drillers will inject several million gallons of water and tens of thousands of pounds of chemicals into each well. Some of this mixture will stay deep in the shale, but cumulatively, billions of gallons of waste fluids will surface. Under current law, drillers can use absolutely any chemical additive or waste, with no restrictions and no disclosure. Recent experience in Pennsylvania indicates regular use of toxic, mutagenic and carcinogenic substances. Out of 24 wells sampled there, flow-back wastes from every one contained high levels of 4-Nitroquinoline-1-oxide, (according to the New York Department of Environmental Conservation). It is one of the most mutagenic compounds known. Flow-back wastes also contain toxic metals and high levels of radioactivity extracted from the shale, in addition to the materials used by drillers.

Industry tells us that surface and groundwater contamination is unlikely, since gas is deep in the ground and drilling operations are designed to minimize leakage. Nonsense. The technology is new and understudied, but early evidence shows high levels of contamination in some drinking water wells and rivers in other states.

Accidents happen, and well casings and cementing can fail. The geology of our region is complex, and water and materials under high pressure can move quickly to aquifers, rivers and lakes along fissures and fractures. Flow-back waters and associated chemical and radioactive wastes must be handled and stored at the surface, some in open pits and ponds unless government regulation prevents this. What will keep birds and wildlife away from it? What happens downstream if a heavy rain causes the toxic soup to overflow the dam? What happens to these wastes? Adequate treatment technologies and facilities do not exist.

What about government regulation and oversight? The DEC is understaffed,underfunded and has no history with the scale and scope of exploitation now envisioned. Federal oversight is almost completely gone, due to Congress exempting gas development from most environmental laws, including the Safe Drinking Water Act, in 2005.

We can be independent of fossil fuels within 20 years and rely on renewable green technologies, such as wind and solar. The constraints on this are mostly political, not technical. We do not need to sacrifice a healthy environment to industrial gas development. Rather, we need to mobilize and have our region provide some badly needed national leadership toward a sustainable energy future.

Lead into the sustainable, organic, regional-centric economic future? Nah… let’s go back to the mines, the usury, the elitism… it makes perfect non-sense… and so the fools continue to rule us…


Public Meeting on Gas Drilling

March 25, 2010

On Wednesday,  March 31 st, the Dallas United Methodist Church is sponsoring a public information meeting from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm on the process of gas drilling which is coming to this area.  Speakers from the Gas Drilling Awareness Coalition (formerly the Luzerne County Citizens for Clean Water) and NoDrill NEPA will address issues such as the community impact of the drilling industry here and elsewhere.  Also presented will be local legislative and township initiatives presently in progress and how you can help.  An open discussion will follow.

The church is at 4 Parsonage Street, Dallas, PA 18612