Saturday, May 29, 2010

PennDOT Websites Offer Gas Drilling-related Road Info

The state Department of Transportation has launched a series of Web pages to share information about the posted and bonded roads program, schedule of road repairs that could affect travel, regional roadways affected by Marcellus Shale gas-drilling activity, and other useful information.

The public can access the information by selecting the blue links to the right of the "District Services" link for their area. Get started by selecting the link for your district below:

District 3-0 covers Bradford, Tioga, Sullivan, Lycoming, Columbia, Montour, Union, Snyder and Northumberland counties.

District 4-0 covers Lackawanna, Luzerne, Pike, Susquehanna, Wayne and Wyoming counties.


Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Beyond Burlington

In Bradford County, more and more residents appear to be dealing with "water mysteries".

On May 5th Splashdown! reported properties in the Plank Road vicinity of Towanda, PA. with new above ground water tanks sitting in their yards... replacing what must be wells whose water has become contaminated. Reports of this situation did not appear in local papers.

Here now are additional recently installed replacement water tanks, and evidence of a newly drilled well... this time in the area around Spring Lake, where drilling is also going on, with roads torn up and closed.



(Note on post reads: To Chesapeake, Do not take
any water from the well. J.T. Place)

The people of Bradford County NEED to know when and where wells and aquifers are being contaminated. If the water at this residence, across from Spring Lake is contaminated, what about Spring Lake??? This is a matter of public health and safety. And yet... the facts are not being reported to the public.


WHY are we not reading about these important newsworthy items in our local paper? And why, when asked, are residents unwilling to talk about the situation?

Finally... why is the Bradford County Council on the Arts (BCRAC) unwilling to show the award-winning documentary "GASLAND" to the people of Bradford County? Invited repeatedly, the film was termed "unbalanced" and filled with "scare tactics" by Brooks Eldredge-Martin, the art council's executive director, who ruled the film therefore unsuitable, depriving the people of Bradford County of the ability to make up their own minds about the film!
Aside from the fact that this raises a lot of issues, fortunately "GASLAND" will be shown in Montrose, Elmira and Ithaca (see the Announcements sidebar) and has recently been screened in Williamsport, where approximately 1000 people turned out to see it. In each case, filmmaker, Josh Fox is there to answer questions from the audience...


Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Environmental warrior takes on industry

By David S. Martin, Senior Medical Producer
CNN Health
Part of complete coverage on Toxic America
May 25, 2010 8:45 a.m. EDT

Is enough being done to protect us from chemicals that could harm us? Watch "Toxic America," a special two-night investigative report with Sanjay Gupta M.D., June 2 & 3 at 8 p.m. ET on CNN.

Chemist and environmental activist Wilma Subra collects a water sample in Gueydan, Louisiana

New Iberia, Louisiana (CNN) -- Chemist Wilma Subra was working at her desk by a picture window one cool June evening in 2006 when the passenger in a passing car fired a single shot in her direction. The bullet lodged in a brick a few feet from where she was sitting.

Not your typical day at the office for a chemist, but Subra is not a typical chemist.

"I think they were just trying to scare me and get me to back off," says Subra, a soft-spoken grandmother who has made it her life's mission to help communities fight against chemical threats from industry.

Subra didn't quit. She moved her desk away from the window and went back to work. The gunman was never caught.

"I can't close up and not be out there," she says matter-of-factly.

"Out there" means traveling to communities across the country worried about pollution.

Mossville, Louisiana: 'Like an experiment'

"Communities need so much help, and you educate and empower them, and then they take on the fight and the issue. They just need that little bit of information to make them aware."

Subra received a MacArthur genius grant for her work in 1999. Her almost genteel manner belies the persistence and quiet intensity she brings to her work.

Subra, 66, president of Subra Company, began as a consultant, testing in communities for government and industry. But she didn't like not being able to tell the locals what she'd found.

"So in 1981, I said, 'OK, it's time for me to start doing this on behalf of the communities," Subra says.

Working from small offices in rural New Iberia, Louisiana, Subra has about 30 active cases at any time. Some of them last for years.

Special Report: Toxic America

Surrounded by files and stacks of papers, Subra, also gets calls and e-mails with urgent questions from communities in the United States and around the world. Subra says she sometimes gets an emotional call from someone who works in industry.

"It's someone in their family who is now sick. And they'll start off by saying I'm so and so and I've never agreed with you and I've been on the other side, but my wife or my child is sick and I want to know what are the potential things they could have been exposed to that caused the illness," she says. "And suddenly we can have a dialogue about what they're exposed to ... They have a complete change of attitude because they thought they would never be touched by it, and now someone in their family is being touched by it. It's amazing."

In the weeks since the Deepwater Horizon exploded and sank off the coast of Louisiana, Subra has been working long hours investigating the potential environmental and human health impacts of the oil spill in the Gulf.

Her work in the past year has ranged from natural gas drilling in Dish, Texas, to groundwater contamination from oil and gas drilling in Pavilion, Wyoming. She has provided technical assistance to communities near the polluted Hunters Point Shipyard in San Francisco, California, and evaluated the potential environmental impacts of importing Italian nuclear waste through the port of New Orleans, Louisiana.

Her biggest victory, Subra says, came in a fight against an oil waste incinerator in Amelia, Louisiana, that began using hazardous waste and toxic wood treatment waste as fuel. "There were all kinds of illnesses in the community," says Subra, who is from nearby Morgan City, Louisiana. Among those who got sick: grandchildren of longtime friends who developed a type of brain tumor called a neuroblastoma. After 12 years, a federal judge ordered the facility closed. Subra testified at the trial.

Much of her time has been spent in Mossville, a 200-year-old African American community in southwest Louisiana surrounded by 14 chemical plants.

"All the people there are being exposed to a very large quantity of very toxic chemicals," Subra says.

Subra says there are thousands of communities in the United States facing environmental threats.

"Next to industrial facilities, next to paper mills, next to refineries, next to chemical plants, next to landfills, next to hazardous waste sites," she says.

Asked if she's a modern-day Erin Brockovich, the environmental crusader who became the subject of an Academy Award-winning movie, Wilma Subra laughs.

"I've been doing this since way before Erin was doing it."



Sunday, May 23, 2010

NEW WEBSITE RESOURCE: Fracking: Gas Drilling and the Marcellus Shale

This website is a crash course in fracking. At the top and bottom of its pages are links to annotated information about fracking by subject, with each page listing sorted alphabetically.


Friday, May 21, 2010

"The Big Deception"... Calvin Tillman Addresses Paid Liars

When I first decided that we needed to have some biological testing accomplished here in DISH, TX, I was cautioned against getting our state health department involved. Most figured that they would run up here and began covering the back side of the oil and gas industry like they have done so many times before. However, I also have some very smart and nationally recognized people who help me in these decisions and we decided that if they would take our input on the testing, we might be OK. So we asked the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) to test the air and a tentatively identified compound test in conjunction with the tests they were running. But they ignored the request from a nationally recognized scientist, who has more scientific recognition in her little toe, than anyone who works for the DSHS will ever have. Therefore, their report subsequently has turned out more political than scientific.

As one well known citizen who lives in the barnett shale has stated, "everything you hear from the natural gas industry in either a lie, or half truth". Here in DISH, we are used to the paid liars from this industry coming in and feeding us the normal lines like what good neighbors they want to be. However, when you get this from your state agencies that are sworn to protect you, it does not set as well. Many people believe everything these people say, and they are never held accountable when they are wrong...or deceitful. The DSHS showed up just like many of the other paid liars, thinking that they would blow smoke up the rear ends of a bunch of country bumpkins that didn't know any better, and just like the other paid liars, they left with their tails between their legs. Country bumpkins typically recognize the smell of BS pretty quickly.

After thinking about this, and doing some research into the matter, it was clear that no matter what was detected, the DSHS would have found a way to say there is nothing wrong. They have a history of doing just that, please see the following link, where they failed to protect the public interest in Texas once again.

In this "investigation" the community was worried about water run-off from a former refinery (hmm same industry), and subsequent surface water contamination. However, the same characters who came to DISH, decided the surface water didn't need testing. The soil and sediment were tested and both exceeded the Health Based Assessment Comparison for aluminum, arsenic, BaP TEQ (benzene derivative), and vandium. Conclusion - "no apparent public health hazard". In my line of business we call people like this "hacks".

In our case, they were looking hard for criticisms from us before the meeting, so that they could prepare to answer them. I made some comment to the media about the number of folks who had toluene and xylene in their systems, and oddly enough they came up with statistics that show we are actually lower than the rest of the United States, this was not in the report, just the presentation. At this point I started getting that familiar smell that we have grown accustomed to here in DISH... and not the natural gas smell. I then asked for the source of the statistics they used to determine this and they sent me to NHANES, said "just google it". Maybe that was their joke, because me and others searched for hours with no success finding this data. I did find a statement that said VOCs are present in most everyone at some level, but it would not be in detectable levels in everyone, so that may have been one of those "half truths".

During my several hours of research, I did find that the 95th percentile used in the DISH study appears to be a hand picked by the "hacks", and likely hand picked for a purpose. Apparently, you do not need a percentile reference number, but when one is used the 90th percentile seems to be the number used by real scientists. If 50% of the households in DISH were above the 95th percentile for chemical exposure, I wonder how many are over the 90th percentile. However, if they would have figured that, it is likely that they would have that trend they were looking for, and we damn sure wouldn't want that, now would we? I think similar lying with statistics was accomplished in Flower Mound as well. If they start finding problems, the boys and girls in Austin would not get those critical campaign contributions they have grown accustom to. In my business we look for trends, and I am starting to see a trend with these "hacks".

If the above blatant failures were not enough to show what a joke this was, you must hear the rest of the story. Dr. Bradford admitted when questioned that the study was not a scientific study. However, they came to a very solid conclusion, with this non-scientific study. The conclusion goes something like...we see exposure but have no idea where the exposure is coming from, but it damn sure aint coming from that compressor station that we smelled those horrible odors from.

They then admitted that they did not know how close any of the citizens lived to the compressor sites, nor did they know the number of males vs females that were tested, and did not even know the age range of those who were tested. You would think they would have known the answers to the easy stuff if they wanted to appear believable. The data that they used for comparison in DISH was seven years old. Outdated data is something they also used in Flower Mound to help them reach their objective. I guess they figured they had this one in the bag like all the others before, too bad the country bumpkin's weren't buying.

Children were not tested as part of this "investigation". There apparently was no data to compare the results; however, in my wild goose chase that Dr. Bradford sent me on, I found several studies that referenced children. The one mentioned above showed how these chemicals affect children differently than adults...and yea it is much worse. She avoided the question during the meeting when asked about how children are affected differently than adults. Frankly, I believe that they were sent here to not find anything and they would likely find exposure in our children. If they find toluene and xylene in kids they would not be able to blame it on smoking. Even us country bumpkins don't let our five year olds smoke. They would not have been able to give us the "half truths" that they did, and people don't play when it come to their kids. If us nice country folk knew our kids have BTEX chemical exposure, we may not be so nice any more. I am hopeful that the light will shine on some of the roaches who are responsible for these illusions, and I think there is another facility I would rather see them at, and it is located in Huntsville, Texas.

The house of cards they built came down very quickly. I am extremely disappointed that these folks did not take their oaths seriously, and are allowing the public to continue being put at risk. I had originally felt sorry for those who were likely on the puppets for the higher ups, but it is all too apparent that this is not there first deception, so they should have moved on to something else if they weren't committed to covering things like this up. They have actually offered to come back for another round of testing. I think I would rather see if the Chesapeake or Devon environmental department is available, they are much better liars.

In closing I would like to say that this "investigation" brings more questions than answers, and it is time for us to demand a stop to the social injustices that these state agencies are allowed to impose. Many people have no other options than to take their word for it, and no recourse when they are wrong. We apparently have not only been sacrificed for the good of the shale by these companies, but also the State of Texas. It is time for us to hold these paid liars accountable for their actions. Please let me know if you have any skills to help me investigate similar injustices.

Fortunately, the last state agency that left the DISH town hall with their tails between their legs was shamed into installing a permanent air monitor. Frankly, I am delightfully surprised by the improvements in our air quality over the last month. I am certainly not calling all clear, but it may be that we don't even need more testing, but I know that another community will face the same situation if there is not something done. If this industry would just do it right, we would not have many of these problems. The Gulf would not be becoming the dead sea and our children would not be exposed to cancer causing toxins. Please post on your blogs and websites.

See report here:

Calvin Tillman
Mayor, DISH, TX
(940) 453-3640


Kerry-Lieberman climate bill calls for disclosure of fracking chemicals

Recognizes concerns Colo. Rep. Diana DeGette sought to address a year ago
By David O. Williams
The Colorado Independent

The Kerry-Lieberman American Power Act – climate change legislation at long last introduced in the U.S. Senate Wednesday – calls on oil and gas service companies like Halliburton to divulge chemicals used in the hydraulic fracturing of natural gas wells.

Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is the high-pressure process of injecting water, sand and undisclosed chemicals deep into natural gas wells to crack open tight geologic formations and free up more gas. Oil and gas companies argue the chemicals are proprietary formulas kept secret to give them an edge over their competition.

Critics say the process can and has led to groundwater contamination and that government officials and the public at large have a right to know the contents of frack fluids. Industry officials counter the process has been used for decades with no known instances of contamination.

Recognition of the fracking debate in the Senate climate change bill is significant because it has yet to take up Colorado Rep. Diana DeGette’s FRAC (Fracturing Responsibility and Awareness of Chemicals) Act, introduced nearly a year ago in the House.

Kerry-Lieberman calls on oil and gas service companies to “disclose all chemical constituents used in a hydraulic fracturing operation to the public on the Internet in order to provide adequate information for the public and state and local authorities.”

State officials who regulate natural gas drilling in Colorado have said the FRAC Act, which would remove a 2005 exemption for fracking under the Safe Drinking Water Act, would impose another layer of federal regulations that simply can’t be accommodated by the understaffed Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission.

Counties and towns in gas-rich areas around the state are split on whether to support the FRAC Act, as is Colorado’s congressional delegation. U.S. Rep. John Salazar, a blue-dog Democrat representing the mostly rural and energy-rich Western Slope, opposes the bill despite a survey indicating the majority of his constituents favor the legislation.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which issued a highly criticized report on fracking during the Bush administration, has undertaken a new study of the process, but calls for the FRAC Act have continued.

Last month, Exxon Mobil, the nation’s largest energy producer which in December jumped into natural gas by acquiring XTO Energy for nearly $30 billion, told shareholders it wants fracking chemicals disclosed to ease the fears of landowners. Exxon joins several other smaller energy companies that called for full disclosure last fall.

Under its one-year-old oil and gas drilling regulations, Colorado requires oil and gas companies to keep an inventory of chemicals on site and to make it available to emergency services personnel in the event of a spill. The Senate bill takes that one step further.

But some environmental groups are concerned that merely requiring companies to disclose the chemicals on a website will not carry the same regulatory authority as removing the Safe Drinking Water Act exemption.



Thursday, May 20, 2010

Official: Seek upgraded water protection

Thurs., May 20, 2010

The head of a state environmental regulatory bureau said the public can help protect Pennsylvania waterways from pollution related to natural gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale by contacting legislators and a review board in support of tough new proposed regulations.

Scott R. Perry, director of the state Department of Environmental Protection’s Bureau of Oil and Gas Management, said last week that the oil and gas industry is “dead-set against these regulations on total dissolved solids in flowback fracking water. We’re going to have a huge fight with the Independent Regulatory Review Commission,” he said.

The hydraulic fracturing process (fracking) used to release natural gas from the shale, requires injecting about 5 million gallons of water into the ground per well. About 12 percent of that water, which contains trace chemicals and high concentrations of dissolved solids such as salt, flows back and must be disposed.

DEP Secretary John Hanger said in a press release that the new rules will ensure that the total dissolved solids, or TDS, in drilling wastewater do not pollute drinking water supplies, damage industrial equipment or endanger delicate aquatic life.

“Drilling wastewater contains TDS levels that are thousands of times more harmful to aquatic life than discharges from other industries. Without imposing limits on this pollution, treatment costs for this wastewater are passed along to downstream industries and municipal ratepayers,” Hanger said. “All other industries in Pennsylvania are responsible for the waste they generate, and the drilling industry should be no exception.”

Putting TDS in perspective:

In a phone interview, Hanger said the TDS concentration in discharges from landfills is about 2,000 miligrams-per-liter (mg/l). In coal mine discharges, it’s about 20,000 to 30,000 mg/l. In Marcellus Shale drilling discharges, it’s about 300,000 mg/l.

Under the new regulations, wastewater discharges from new and expanded facilities must meet a concentration threshold of 2,000 mg/l and discharges from drilling operations cannot exceed 500 mg/l.

The state Environmental Quality Board on Monday approved the regulations. Next, the rules will go to the Environmental Resources and Energy committees in the state House and Senate, as well as to the Independent Regulatory Review Commission for a 30-day review period.

The new rule was “thoroughly vetted and scrutinized” and amended in response to industry concerns, Hanger said.

Still, when speaking last week with members of the public at Lake-Lehman High School after a presentation on DEP’s role in regulating natural gas drilling, Perry said he could foresee “legislative action to intervene in trying to disapprove these regulations. Part of the regulatory process allows the House and Senate to pass resolutions disapproving the law.”

The industry likely would oppose the regulations because outfitting treatment facilities with equipment capable of lowering the concentrations of TDS would be expensive, as would be alternative disposal methods.

Perry said the public needs to step up in support of the regulations to protect the environment.

“Legislators and the Independent Regulatory Review Commission need to hear from more people than just industry representatives,” he said.



Wednesday, May 19, 2010

In New York State, Tompkins County Legislators Vote to Ban Hydraulic Fracturing


Calling on the Governor and Legislature of New York State to Ban Hydraulic Fracturing Pending Further Independent Scientific Assessments to Determine the Risks, Greenhouse Gas Emissions, and Social and Economic Costs Associated With Hydraulic Fracturing, and In Support of A.10490/S.7592

WHEREAS, on September 30, 2009,the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation issued a Draft Generic Environmental Impact Statement (DSGEIS) on high volume, slickwater hydraulic fracturing (HVSWHF) with horizontal drilling as proposed for the Marcellus Shale, and more than 14,000 comments on the dSGEIS were submitted, many pointing out significant defects and a reliance on incomplete or flawed studies, and

WHEREAS, New Yorkers' concerns include questions about the ability of the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation, with its current staffing levels and its proposed regulations, to protect our natural resources and prevent permanent damage to our environment, and

WHEREAS, recent disasters in West Virginia's coal mines and at the drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico highlight the dangers inherent in extractive mining, with particular concern about the possible role of methane (the main component in natural gas) in these events, and

WHEREAS, the Tompkins County Legislature has passed resolutions stating its concerns about gas drilling on December 2, 2008 (Resolution No. 252-08), May 19, 2009 (Resolution No. 84-09), and December 15, 2009 (Resolution No. 250-09), and

WHEREAS, based on experience in other states where this drilling has been underway for years, the concerns include but are not limited to: air pollution (ground level ozone and smog) at and near drilling sites; threats to groundwater and surface water supplies from accidents on the surface, as well as subsurface failures of casings and the hydrofracking process itself; depletion and degradation of New York's lakes, rivers, streams, and wetlands; long-term consequences from infusion of potentially toxic chemicals into the ground; dangers from drill cuttings and flowback water, which may be unsuitable and unsafe for disposal in New York's landfills and wastewater treatment plants; deleterious effects of noise and light from 24/7 drilling on the natural habitat of our region and our residents' health and quality of life; significant damage to roads and bridges, resulting in loss of mobility and economic activity even if drilling companies eventually rebuild the damaged infrastructure; fragmentation of our landscape, with loss of vital habitat for wildlife and significant increase in “edge” habitats which stimulate growth of invasive species; damage to existing economic sectors, including agriculture, hunting and fishing, tourism, and higher education;social disruption, including increase in crime rates and demand for emergency medical services, and greater disparity between high- and low-income households;economic costs to residents and local governments, including higher inflation, increased pressure on housing and consequent homelessness, and precipitous drop in property values; and

WHEREAS, in addition to these concerns, methane (“natural” gas) is 72 times more potent than carbon dioxide in heating the planet according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (2007). Therefore when all greenhouse gas emissions related to HVSWHF are calculated, including emissions from extraction, distribution, and use, natural gas is likely not “cleaner” than other fossil fuels and may be more damaging than coal; and

WHEREAS, rigorous scientific investigations of these issues are just beginning, including a study of the full life-cycle emissions of shale gas, the social and economic costs and benefits of the industry, and the federal Environmental Protection Agency's study of potential relationships between hydraulic fracturing and water resources; and

WHEREAS, New York State has acknowledged the dangerous potential for negative impacts with its determination that individual environmental assessments will be required for any wells in the New York City and Syracuse watersheds, and

WHEREAS, New York State has so far not committed itself to a course of action with respect to shale gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale or the Utica Shale, and

WHEREAS, in April 2010 companion bills (A.10490/S.7592) were introduced in the NYS Legislature to establish a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing for natural gas or oil until 120 days after the EPA issues its report on the effects of hydrofracturing on water quality and public health. The moratorium will sunset 120 days after the issuance of a new Environmental Protection Agency report, which is intended to allow the state agencies and state residents the opportunity to review and make use of the new Environmental Protection Agency report, now therefore be it

RESOLVED, on recommendation of the Planning, Development, and Environmental Quality Committee, That the Tompkins County Legislature hereby urges New York State to ban HVSWHF operations pending further independent scientific assessments, including the EPA study, research on the life-cycle greenhouse gas emissions of shale gas, and the social and economic impacts of the industry; and, be it further

RESOLVED, That the Tompkins County Legislature hereby supports passage of A.10490/S.7592 (Englebright/Addabbo, attached) titled “An act to establish a moratorium upon conducting hydraulic fracturing pending the issuance of a report thereon by the federal Environmental Protection Agency”; and be it further

RESOLVED, That at the very least, the same standards should be applied to all of New York State that the DEC has indicated it will apply to the New York City and Syracuse watersheds, and be it further

RESOLVED, That copies of this resolution will be sent to Governor David A. Paterson, Congressman Michael Arcuri, Congressman Maurice Hinchey, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, Senate Leader John Sampson, NYS Health Commissioner Richard Daines, DEC Commissioner Peter Grannis, NYS Dept. of Agriculture & Markets Commissioner Patrick Hooker, the NYS Association of Counties, State Senators James Seward, George Winner, Michael Nozzolio, Antoine Thompson, Joseph Addabbo, Darrel Aubertine, and George Maziarz; Assemblymembers Barbara Lifton, Kevin Cahill, Steve Englebright, Robert Sweeney, and James Brennan; and Attorney General Andrew Cuomo.


Thursday, May 13, 2010

Shale-Gas Producers Apply Tougher Pennsylvania Water Standards

By John Lippert
Bloomberg/Business Week
May 13, 2010

Shale-gas producers told Pennsylvania regulators most of them are already complying with new regulations for protecting aquifers that aren’t scheduled to be adopted until October.

Thirty-five shale-gas producers, members of the Marcellus Shale Coalition, also agreed today to work with the state to develop better tests, record-keeping and drilling procedures to prevent methane gas from contaminating water wells.

“We want a world-class regulatory environment and a world- class industry environment in Pennsylvania, since we have a huge opportunity in front of us,” Ray Walker, chairman of the coalition and a senior vice president at Fort Worth, Texas-based Range Resources Corp., said today in an interview.

The state Environmental Protect Department called energy companies to Harrisburg today to make sure they understand proposed rules for cementing metal casings around their wells. The meeting came after the state last month ordered Houston- based Cabot Oil & Gas Corp. to cap three wells with defective casings in the northeastern corner of Pennsylvania.

“Cabot is an example of what can go wrong,” John Hanger, the state’s environmental secretary, said in an interview before today’s meeting. “Their drilling led to gas migrating from the drill sites to people’s water.”

Pennsylvania is home to much of the Marcellus Shale, a formation that may hold 262 trillion cubic feet of recoverable natural gas, making it the largest known deposit of the heating and power-plant fuel, according to a U.S. Energy Department estimate. Today’s meeting was intended in part to instruct companies accustomed to drilling in southern states like Texas on how Pennsylvania’s geology differs, Hanger said.

‘Zero-Impact Drilling’

“There’s no such thing as zero-impact drilling,” Hanger said. “We’re in the business of maximizing the benefits, which are considerable, and minimizing the costs.”

Cabot drilled 50 Pennsylvania wells in the Marcellus Shale last year and planned 81 wells this year, according to a March 22 investor presentation by the Houston-based company. The wells without proper casings, located in Dimock Township, caused gas to migrate into groundwater, Hanger said.

Drill bits descending toward gas-bearing shale are surrounded with three concentric rings of metal casings that are cemented in place to protect surrounding aquifers.

Under the new Pennsylvania rules, companies will have to use thicker pipes and stronger cement as they drill wells thousands of feet below ground, said Tom Rathbun, a spokesman for the Environmental Protection Department. Gas producers also will be required to rapidly notify state and local authorities when gas migration occurs, he said.

Cabot Order

The state also ordered Cabot to stop drilling in Dimock Township for a year, provide equipment for removing methane from groundwater at 14 homes near its wells and pay a $240,000 fine.

Cabot has made “significant” progress in complying with the state order, Chief Executive Officer Dan Dinges said in an April 27 statement. The company said it accepted the order without agreeing that it caused the gas migration.

“Cabot is committed to working with Secretary Hanger to ensure we have the best regulations for Pennsylvania,” company spokesman George Stark said after today’s meeting.

Water contamination at Dimock has drawn the attention of environmental groups opposed to drilling and the use of hydraulic fracturing to extract gas from shale formations. Drillers inject a mixture of water, sand and chemicals at high pressure to bust open shale and unlock gas deposits.

The new Pennsylvania rules will require companies to disclose the chemicals they use during fracturing, said Kathryn Klaber, president of the Marcellus Shale Coalition.

Bubbling Water

Victoria Switzer, 63, a retired schoolteacher who lives within 1,300 feet of three Cabot wells in Dimock, said she had so much methane in her well that her water bubbled like Alka- Seltzer. Methane blew an eight-inch concrete slab off the top of neighbor Norma Fiorentino’s well on Dec. 31, 2008, she said.

Along with Fiorentino and other neighbors, Switzer is suing Cabot for negligence.

“We were unwilling participants in a grievously-gone-wrong experiment in rapid industrialization of a pristine natural area,” Switzer said.

“What we’ve done here is put up the drilling rigs before we had the regulations in place. It’s ridiculous.”



"It’s a world-class gas resource,” said Hanger, “and we need a world-class regulatory system to match it.”

Pennsylvania DEP, gas companies talk about drilling regulations in light of Marcellus Shale-related boom

The Patriot-News
May 13, 2010

More than 90 technical experts on Marcellus Shale from 40 companies involved with natural gas drilling in Pennsylvania sat down with technical staff from the state Department of Environmental Protection Thursday to review new, tougher drilling regulations.

The current oil and gas regulations were written for shallow wells, not the deep wells and millions of gallons of water employed in Marcellus drilling.

DEP Secretary John Hanger addressed the group. “They needed to hear from me that these rules are going to be enforced strongly,” said Hanger. “The companies have a key role here. They need to have a culture here in Pennsylvania that accepts the importance of rules and respects government oversight. Companies that have a culture of contempt or seeking shortcuts are going to have a lot of problems with me.

“It’s a world-class gas resource,” said Hanger, “and we need a world-class regulatory system to match it.”

Industry leaders echoed that after the meeting. Strengthening the regulations on drilling in Pennsylvania “absolutely has to be done right, and it absolutely has to be done now,” said Ray Walker, senior vice president of Range Resources Corp. in Cannonsburg and chairman of the Marcellus Shale Coalition. ...

Walker said tougher regulations are better for the industry in the long run. “It’s a case of pay now or pay a lot, lot more later,” he said. “Problems cost money. We want to do it right the first time.” ...

Multiple private wells in Dimock Twp. in Susquehanna County have been contaminated with natural gas after Cabot Oil & Gas Inc. began Marcellus drilling in the area.


Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Worker killed in Pa. gas drilling accident
Associated Press
May 11, 2010

DIMOCK, Pa. - A worker at a natural gas drilling site in northeastern Pennsylvania has died after being hit on the head by a pipe.

The Luzerne County coroner's office identified the victim as 41-year-old Gregory Walker.

Walker was working at a Cabot Oil & Gas Corp. drilling rig in Dimock Township, Susquehanna County when he was hurt Monday morning. He was taken to a hospital in Montrose and then flown by helicopter to Geisinger Wyoming Valley Hospital in Wilkes-Barre, where he died Monday afternoon.

The coroner's office ruled the death as accidental.

Cabot spokesman George Stark says Walker worked for a subcontractor.



Monday, May 10, 2010

Companies seek eminent domain status to lay gas pipelines

By David Falchek
May 8, 2010

When Laurie and Brian Kaszuba of Dickson City received a $16,000 offer from a pipeline company to run a natural gas pipeline through their Great Bend property, they didn't see it as a windfall.

Having a natural gas line three feet below the surface with a right-of-way on the surface, would have made it more difficult to build their retirement home or subdivide the land. So they turned it down.

If pipeline companies eyeing the Marcellus Shale region have their way, property owners won't likely have that option.

Laser Marcellus Gathering LLC, of Houston, has applied to the Public Utility Commission to be declared a utility in Pennsylvania, a designation that would give the company the power to condemn any property it needs and to use eminent domain to obtain easements for pipelines.

The company is planning to build a 30-mile pipeline, costing about $37 million, to connect gas wells in western Susquehanna County and New York with the interstate Millennium pipeline that runs across New York state's southern tier.

The outcome of the request before the Public Utility Commission could change the way easements are negotiated. With the Marcellus gas rush well underway and millions of Pennsylvania acres leased by gas exploration companies, pipeline easements are the new wave of legalese to arrive in mailboxes throughout the Marcellus region. Susquehanna County, a hot-spot for shale gas, is destined host an underground web of pipes from every wellhead.

Unlike natural gas exploration companies, so-called "midstream" companies that gather gas have the option of becoming utilities. Several midstream companies have filed motions supporting Laser's bid.

While being treated as a utility exposes pipeline companies to a new layer of regulation, it also gives them a valuable tool that tilts negotiations with property owners in their direction, said Stephen W. Saunders, a Scranton environmental attorney.

"The company would be able to say 'negotiate with us or we'll just take your property through condemnation,'" Saunders said. "There's no requirement for a utility to negotiate at all. Eminent domain is a nice tool for a company to have in its back pocket."

Still many utilities negotiate in good faith with property owners to acquire the property outright or obtain easements. If negotiations fail, the utility may condemn the land and the matter goes to a Board of View, a quasi-judicial panel of real estate experts who determine the fair market value of the property. Chip Berthelot, president Laser Midstream, Laser Marcellus' parent company, said eminent domain is not the "overriding factor" in the company's pursuit of utility status. "We don't like to use condemnation and we do everything in our power to avoid that sort of confrontation with property owners," he said. The utility designation, he said, would require his company serve any customer, rather than being tied to one.

Meanwhile, property owners are groping their way through another type of agreement related to the acquisition of easement rights.

At most well development sites in other states, there also is right-of-way leasing, said David Messersmith, part of Penn State Cooperative Extension Marcellus Shale Team, which is providing information to the public about the industry.

Messersmith expressed a concern about that type of arrangement. "People aren't up to speed on the terms and the language of these things," Messersmith said.

A company may calculate their offer based on linear foot, by rod (16.5 feet), or by square footage, making it difficult for property owners to compare offers or determine a true market value. Rights-of-way could be anywhere from 8-to-30-feet off center. They limit land owners' activity on a significant swath of property for a lifetime or more, Messersmith said.

Some companies are blanketing the area with lease offers hoping to trade or sell rights-of-way in the future.

Laser is further along in its plans. While young, the company has an experienced management team and operates more than 80 gathering systems in Texas, Louisiana, and Arkansas. "We are exited about participating in the development of the Marcellus region," Berthelot said.

The Kaszubas challenged the Laser Marcellus' request before the PUC, but withdrew their objection when the pipeline path was rerouted around their property. They leased their mineral rights and they want to see the Marcellus region developed. But they don't trust the condemnation process.

"Under eminent domain, it doesn't matter what the property owner says or feels," he said. "People shouldn't be forced to have something on their property they don't want - at any price."



Hydraulic fracking spells disaster

Workers World
May 6, 2010

Despite industry claims that the rapidly expanding practice of hydraulic fracturing to extract natural gas from deep underground shale layers is “perfectly safe,” on April 15 the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection fined Houston-based Cabot Oil and Gas $240,000 for causing the contamination of 14 residential water wells in Dimock Township, Pa.

The company was also ordered to plug three gas wells it was operating in the town, which sits atop the Marcellus Shale formation, and was banned from drilling in the area. One water well in Dimock exploded last year, and DEP inspectors witnessed gas bubbling up at the base of eight other wells in March. Despite the ruling, Cabot has plans to drill 100 new wells in Dimock this year.

Independent newsroom ProPublica has reported on 50 similar cases across Pennsylvania, including reports of fish kills, water and air pollution, fires, out-of-control flaring, human illnesses and animal deaths.

The concern over the safety of hydraulic fracturing has prompted calls for a moratorium on drilling in Pennsylvania. In the process, often referred to as fracking, 2 to 9 millions of gallons of water, mixed with sand and up to 250 chemicals, are pushed into underground shale layers to release natural gas.

In January the Pennsylvania state Legislature opened up 32,000 additional acres of state forest land to be leased for drilling. As a result, 692,000 acres of the 2.1 million acres of state forest land are now open for gas wells. During a recent push to expand the practice into the Delaware River basin, the Philadelphia City Council was pressured to pass a resolution on March 25 calling for an environmental impact statement before any new permits are issued.

Fracking has been in use for a number of years throughout the U.S., particularly in the Southwest. Five natural gas sites border the town of Dish, Texas, in a quarter-mile complex. In nearby Fort Worth, Texas, 1,400 wells have been drilled in urban areas, many near schools and residential centers.

Speaking at a meeting at Temple University’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering on April 16, Dish Mayor Calvin Tillman described how carcinogenic air pollution from natural gas drilling has damaged the quality of life in his town of 180 residents. The town sits atop the Barnett Shale, a geological formation similar to the Marcellus Shale.

Using his own money, Tillman has been traveling to Pennsylvania and New York to warn about the dangers of the gas boom. In his small town, trees are dying on a 30-acre farm that adjoins a labyrinth of small underground pipelines used to transport fuel from the fracking wells to outside markets. Horses have also fallen ill. Residents report problems with frequent nausea, severe headaches, breathing difficulties, chronic eye irritation, allergies, throat irritations and even brain disorders.

When Texas state inspectors, who are usually linked to the drilling companies, reported they could not find any problem with the wells, Dish town officials hired an environmental firm to collect one-day air samples near the compressors. Their study found high levels of 15 chemicals, including benzene, a known carcinogen. As a result the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality conducted air studies at 94 sites in the region. They found two sites with very high levels of benzene and 19 others with levels that raised concern.

In April, blood and urine testing of 28 adult Dish residents revealed that half the residents had slightly elevated levels of benzene and other contaminants. Four residents tested positive for benzene, including Tillman. Tillman noted that no testing was done on children, pregnant women or the elderly — groups likely to be most susceptible to the contaminants. Tillman’s water also tested positive for traces of styrene, ethyl benzene and xylene.

Growing concern over the danger of fracking has led to a push for legislation in Pennsylvania that would require drillers to disclose chemical ingredients in hydraulic fracturing fluids. Other proposed legislation calls for a moratorium on drilling until environmental impact studies can be performed. Both bills have yet to be passed and face mounting opposition from the natural gas industry.

Nationally, the oil and gas industry won exemption from major provisions of the Safe Drinking Water Act, the Clean Water Act and other federal environmental laws with the passage of the 2005 Energy Bill. The bill’s “Halliburton loophole” protected the company from having to reveal the composition of their fracturing fluid, despite the fact that the list of hazardous substances compiled by the Environmental Protection Agency’s Superfund — the program established to address abandoned hazardous waste sites — includes toxic profiles on benzene, styrene, toluene and other agents known to be in the mix. Efforts are also underway to challenge this legislation.

The EPA announced it will spend $4.4 million to start a study on the impact of fracturing in October, but Dr. Michel Boufadel, director of the Environmental Hydrology and Hydraulics Laboratory at Temple University College of Engineering, expressed concerns that the EPA’s study does not go far enough.

Speaking at the April 16 meeting, Boufadel noted that very few scientific studies on fracking have been conducted by researchers not connected to the drilling industry. He also pointed out that most studies assume that any leak of water contaminated by fracturing fluids would spread horizontally from a holding tank and be detected by ground level monitors.

Boufadel explained that the 250 chemicals contained in the fracturing fluid create “gooey, high density water” — a gel that suspends the sand particles needed to work into cracks in the shale layers. The result is “radioactive water six times more saline than sea water and containing known carcinogens.”

“If you don’t account for this heavy density you would expect water to move outward, but the reality is that it moves down,” Boufadel stressed. “If you only use existing traditional models of monitoring wells at ground level, you won’t detect contamination until it’s too late.”


Articles copyright 1995-2010 Workers World. Verbatim copying and distribution of this entire article is permitted in any medium without royalty provided this notice is preserved.


Sunday, May 9, 2010

Keep on Truckin'

The Sunday (Not So) Funnies, Bradford Co. PA
Marshview Road, Sept. '09

North Street, aka Marshview Rd. Today

Trucks Travelling Once Paved Marshview Road

Marshview Road, Weight Limit

10 Tons? Um... I don't think so...

According to the following picture, from this week's Wyalusing Rocket, coming or going on Marshview Road, this truck likely contains 20 tons of fracking sand... 10 tons over the limit.

"It takes only about 10 minutes to transfer 20 tons of sand from a railcar to an awaiting tractor trailer at the new transload terminal in Wyalusing..."

What about these?



Trucks at well pad...

These pictures were taken in the space of approximately one half hour... How often are our laws disregarded by the gas industry as it maximizes profit?


Reporter's Notebook - Hydraulic Fracturing


Some Marcellus Shale drilling put on hold

By Sandy Bauers, Staff Writer
The Philadelphia Inquirer
May 6, 2010

Drilling for natural gas in the Marcellus Shale in Pennsylvania's easternmost counties has been put on hold for months, if not longer.

On Wednesday, the Delaware River Basin Commission voted unanimously to draft new regulations to govern natural gas projects and not to issue any permits until the new rules are in effect.

The decision means that even as activity escalates throughout the state - nearly 900 Marcellus permits have been issued this year - no production drilling can be done in the Delaware watershed.

Adopting new rules could take six months to a year, commission executive director Carol R. Collier said Thursday. ...

"I know there are many that want the gas-well drilling to move along quickly because of the economics and the issue of national security and providing clean fuel," Collier said. "But I really think we have to do it correctly and smartly. There's just too much at stake in the Delaware River basin."

Environmental groups cheered the decision, saying it was the "pause button" they have long sought statewide as the tally of explosions, spills, and pollution incidents mounts. So far this year, the state Department of Environmental Protection has initiated 116 enforcement actions against drillers. ...

John Hanger, secretary of the state Department of Environmental Protection, which also has regulatory authority over natural gas drilling, said the two agencies should work together so no conflicts arise and "to provide strong oversight of this industry."

The commission is an interstate agency, formed by a federal compact, that has legal authority over water quality and quantity in the basin. The governors of the four basin states - Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, and Delaware - plus a federal appointee are commissioners, but they often send representatives.

The New Jersey representative at Wednesday's meeting, Fred Sickels of the state DEP water-supply division, said that with all the activity, "the cumulative impacts could be significant if there aren't appropriate safeguards."

Pennsylvania's northeastern counties - where the shale region and the Delaware watershed overlap - have been deemed a high-stakes area.

The pressure to drill there could be even more intense than elsewhere. Geological maps indicate that corner of Pennsylvania is a sweet spot with huge quantities of natural gas.

More than 6,000 leases have been signed in Wayne County alone, said Brian W. Smith, chairman of the Wayne County supervisors.

No drilling other than test wells, which are still allowed, has been done in the watershed.

But environmental concerns are high. The Delaware River from Hancock, N.Y., south to Trenton is so clean that it is under stricter, "special protection waters" regulations. Also, the federal government has designated portions of the river wild and scenic areas worthy of enhanced protection.

And downstream - where the river's quality is the sum of everything that has occurred upstream - are Philadelphia's water intakes.

Proponents say natural gas drilling is adding millions of dollars to local economies and has environmental benefits because the fuel burns cleaner than coal.

Critics say the drilling process is fraught with hazards and the regulatory baseline is inadequate.

In March, Philadelphia City Council unanimously passed a resolution asking the commission not to approve any applications in the Marcellus Shale until a full environmental impact assessment is done. ...

During a public-input period, the commission received more than 2,000 comments.

"We're looking at things that have happened to the west of us and what needs to be put in place to prevent that," Collier said. "We're learning a lot, and we want to do it right."


HOORAY FOR SENSIBLE PRIORITIES! Hopefully the DRBC's actions will serve as a bellwether for the rest of the state! Clearly the same perspectives were lacking when the DCNR chose to allow drilling under the Susquehanna River... for a "whopping" (just joking) $6.15 million! -Splashdown


Friday, May 7, 2010

Pennsylvania’s Natural Gas Regulators Starting to Smell the Coffee?

“Quite frankly, the citizens of this state are being played for chumps."
Kate Sinding

Senior Attorney, New York City
May 4, 2010

So said John Quigley, Secretary of Conservation and Natural Resources for Pennsylvania at a Marcellus Shale Policy Conference sponsored over the past two days by Duquesne University and the Pennsylvania Environmental Council.

Said John Hanger, Commissioner of the Department of Environmental Protection: “Let me be clear: Self regulation doesn't work. That's not contestable. We've made mistakes before. We have to get this right or the costs will overwhelm the benefits.”

The Philadelphia Inquirer described the officials’ comments as “part of a coordinated effort by Gov. Rendell's administration to build public support for the legislature to impose greater oversight on the [gas] industry.”

Sounds like the “what didn’t go wrong?” experience in Dimock and other horror stories from Pennsylvania – where drilling in the Marcellus Shale has been proceeding apace – are starting to sink in with the state’s regulators.

Regulators in other gas drilling states should sit up sharply and take notice – particularly in New York, where there is still an opportunity to figure out whether it is possible, and if so how, to rigorously regulate gas production to properly protect human health and the environment.

As the horrifying experience in the Gulf of Mexico demonstrates, we cannot be too careful when it comes to domestic fossil fuel development. The costs when things go awry can be both devastating and lasting.


Thursday, May 6, 2010

Pa. leases land under Susquehanna River to gas driller

By Andrew Maykuth
The Philadelphia Inquirer
May 6, 2010

Pennsylvania has devised a new way to make money from the Marcellus Shale natural gas boom: leasing the mineral rights beneath the Susquehanna River.

The state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources signed a $6.15 million agreement Monday with Chesapeake Energy Corp., giving the company the right to drill the shale under a seven-mile stretch of the Susquehanna in Bradford County.

Under the lease, which applies to 1,500 acres of river between Towanda and the Wyoming County line, Chesapeake Energy is permitted to access the shale with wells drilled on either side of the river. No well bores will penetrate the river itself.

Horizontal-drilling technology makes drilling for gas beneath the waterway feasible. With wells that reach laterally for thousands of feet, operators can capture gas under a large area from a remote surface location.

The state Department of Environmental Protection says that under-river gas exploration poses no more risk than any of the 1,400 other wells drilled into the Marcellus formation, which is a mile below the surface. Shale wells are hydraulically fractured, a controversial technique in which the rock is shattered with injections of high-pressure fluid to release the fossil fuel.

... The $6.15 million raised by the Susquehanna River lease will help keep open 24 state parks that had been threatened with closure because of the budget crisis, said Christina Novak, DCNR spokeswoman.

The state will receive an initial bonus payment of $4,000 an acre, comparable to the amount it received from its recent auctions of state forest. The lease provides for royalty payments of 20 percent of the gas produced - better than previous state forest leases.

Chesapeake Energy approached DCNR last year about drilling under the Susquehanna after it locked up leases on both sides of the river. By law, the state owns the mineral rights beneath navigable waterways.

The agreement may open the door for more leasing of river lands. DCNR estimates the state owns the mineral rights beneath at least 25,000 riverine acres in the Marcellus, which lies under two-thirds of the state.

Natural gas leasing is rapidly becoming a major moneymaker for the state.

About 692,000 acres of state forests are leased, most of them undeveloped. Those leases generated so much opposition that House Democrats this week passed legislation calling for a halt to additional forest leases.

The state Game Commission has 890,000 acres in the Marcellus Shale, though how much of the land is leased is unclear, according to a study published in January by the Legislative Budget and Finance Committee.

The state Department of Transportation also manages thousands of acres, though PennDot does not own the mineral rights on most of its land, spokesman Rich Kirkpatrick said.

PennDot's inability to control mineral extraction under its roads was underscored when miners excavated coal beneath two interstate highways in Southwestern Pennsylvania. The road surface crumbled when the mines subsided.

DCNR's Susquehanna River lease may conjure memories of the 1959 Knox Mine disaster, when the Susquehanna broke through a coal mine that was dug just below the river bottom. A dozen miners died in the flood.

Geologists say subsidence is not an issue with gas exploration. The well bores are only a few inches in diameter.

Matt Sheppard, a Chesapeake spokesman, said that his company had extensive experience drilling in densely populated Fort Worth, Texas, and that wells beneath the Susquehanna posed no unusual challenges.

"We have a demonstrated track record of successfully producing natural gas from beneath lakes, rivers, streams, homes, skyscrapers, and even below the runway and terminal of an international airport," he said.



Oil and gas drilling threatens fish and aquatic habitat onshore

A recent article reported that the Pennsylvania Secretary of Environmental Protection has stated that "water discharges from Marcellus shale drilling operations have already harmed aquatic life in the state...." Because of this, the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission is seeking the help of anglers to identify and survey 45,000 unmanaged Pennsylvania streams in search of native trout. These streams have to be identified in order to be protected from industrial development.

Pennsylvania is not the only place where fish are being harmed or are at risk from oil and gas production. ...

According to Trout Unlimited, the ecological effects of gas and oil development are extensive: "If not done responsibly, this development can contaminate ground and surface water supplies, reduce water quantity and degrade fish habitat."

Back in Pennsylvania, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has found that natural gas production activities can impair important trout fisheries. The Corps has stated that these activities pose a "genuine and extreme threat to regional water quality."

Many win-win solutions exist that can protect our wildest lands and streams--our most vital wildlife habitat. Our federal and state agencies should preserve the most vulnerable areas while requiring the highest possible protection where drilling does occur.

LINK to complete post on Amy Mall's blog.


Keep Poking the Bear... A Message from Calvin Tillman, Mayor of Dish, Texas

There have been a lot of my friends in the industry who have found it necessary to begin aggressive personal attacks on me. Several industry publications, such as the Powell Barnett Shale Newsletter have had articles and editorials stating that I am pretty much everything but a nice person. This activity is not new; however, the intensity has been elevated and it has gotten much more personal. This tells me that I must be making an impact, or they would not attack me personally. This also tells me that they have given up on attacking the message, now they are only attacking the man.
Obviously, anyone who would bother to read the Powell Newsletter knows that it is industry funded. As everyone also knows by now, I do not accept compensation or travel expenses for my presentations, and unfortunately those at the Powell Newsletter can’t say the same. They are in all reality a paid cheerleader for the natural gas industry, join me Gene…rah rah rah…gooooo… Chesapeake.
Frankly, if the industry wants to truly be successful they would embrace the ideas that I bring forward, which is doing business in a respectful and responsible manner. I find that in every presentation I give, there are always a few who show up that have read the propaganda and are looking for a fight. However, after listening to my message it is apparent that I am not some anti-drilling wacko and the picture that has been painted of me is inaccurate, and it is always nice to hear that they agree with my points before they leave.
Everyone knows that the industry has an ugly baby, except for the industry themselves. I know it must be difficult to admit your baby is ugly, but like they say about alcoholics, you must first admit you have a problem before can move one. Instead this industry continues to deny their baby is ugly.
There is really no doubt for anyone who has accomplished even a small amount of research that there is certainly a downside to this industry. If this downside is not mitigated in some manner we will be looking at a mess that will need to be cleaned up down the road when all of these companies are long gone. As history has shown us, these companies are typically nowhere to be found when it comes time to clean up the mess. That cleanup project is left for the citizens and taxpayers, not the companies who made billions making the mess. The industry will outsource this cost to the hard working American people, just as they try to do for all of their costs.
The industry wants us to believe that they are a fledgling industry who cannot afford to take simple measures needed to make the shale plays a win-win situation. I think that most of us know that this industry spends billions lobbying to prevent them from being mandated to do it right. Therefore, they could and should do this process more responsibly and respectfully.
They are picking the pockets of the citizens of Pennsylvania, who will be paying for the mistakes made by their elected officials for many years to come. This state is one of two that have oil and gas activities, and do not have a severance tax for the minerals. They pay this tax in every other state, and will gladly pay it in Pennsylvania, but continue to lobby for the outsourcing of their costs to the taxpayers. This could be billions when it is all said and done, but as it stands, the billions will come from hard working Pennsylvania taxpayers.
Every location that has natural gas exploration in Pennsylvania has something in common, and that is destroyed roads. Instead of being the good neighbor we keep hearing about, they outsource the cost of the road repair to the taxpayers. However, these small communities simply can’t afford to pay the hundreds of thousands of dollars in road repairs; therefore, the citizens in these areas drive on destroyed roads, worse than I have ever seen. If the natural gas industry wanted to improve their image, they should embrace a severance tax in Pennsylvania, instead of chasing me around the country.
As the oil slick in the Gulf of Mexico shows, we are one wrong move from a catastrophic event. As any good Texan does, I really enjoy my gulf shrimp. Unfortunately, thanks to the reckless actions of this industry, it will likely be several years before I can enjoy it again. That is not the bad part though; the bad part is that something similar will happen here before this is over. It is only a matter of time before we have that catastrophic event somewhere in one the shale plays. However, in the shale plays they have put this hazardous activity in school yards and neighborhoods. So guess what is going to happen when the catastrophe happens here? There will be a lot of dead people.
The last editorial written by Gene the “propaganda machine” Powell himself, was entitled “All Hat and No Cattle” ( I must admit that I do not have any cattle. However, I would like to have cattle, but I am afraid they would die or abort their calves, like they do in the small town of Clearville, PA, home of Clearville Gas Storage. In this area the hard working Americans have to purchase their own filtration system to take the high levels of arsenic out of their well water. Most of the surface and ground water has been contaminated by this reckless industry in Clearville, PA.
As one of my new friends in Pennsylvania said, I am the new villain for the industry extremists. They rally around the Powell Newsletter, which gives me an entire section of every issue. Whatever happens, they blame me for their problems. If a large landowner refuses to sign a one sided lease, it will be my fault. If a community demands that the industry be responsible, it is that Calvin Dewayne Tillman’s fault. When people rally around the idea of a fair and equitable severance tax…yep, you guessed it…Calvin’s fault. It has nothing to do with the industry that has contaminated dozens of private water wells in Pennsylvania, and destroyed air quality and property values wherever they have been, leaving a path of destruction in their wake. It has nothing to do with the industry that outsources its cost to the taxpayers, while its executives make hundreds of millions dollars in bonuses. Nope, those things have no influence on public perception. It is only that mayor of DISH; Calvin Dewayne Tillman, that causes all of this grief for the natural gas industry.
If the industry would be responsible and respectful, instead of searching out a new way to attack me, they would be much better off. However, it appears the more they attack me, the more people come to see what the big deal is. As bad as they hate it, every presentation that I give is to a packed house. Furthermore, I find dozens more who want me to speak in their town. People want to know the truth through eyes of someone that has lived it, not a paid cheerleader. I truly wish the industry would do the smart thing and let me help them become responsible and respectful. However, they are going to continue to be the irresponsible bully, blaming me for all of their problems.
Mr. Powell is right on another matter; I have no shortage of arrogance against this industry. Maybe it was my Oklahoma raising, or the fact that my parents would not allow me to stand by while a bully ran over those too passive to defend themselves, but I am not afraid of this industry and certainly will not be deterred by their personal attacks. Frankly, seeing this fear that has been struck in these industry extremists keeps me going, when my energy has run out. You should see the looks on their faces, when I walk over and shake their hand. So I hope Mr. Powell and the extremists keep “Poking the Bear”, regurgitating the same propaganda, because in the end, that may be what forces them to be respectful and responsible, and hopefully those companies that chose not to will perish. God bless.

Calvin Tillman
Mayor, DISH, TX
(940) 453-3640

"Those who say it can not be done, should get out of the way of those that are doing it"



Pennsylvania, reeling from a budget crisis, exploits—at any and all costs—what might be the largest U.S. natural gas deposit. The results could be disastrous.
By Ted Williams

Earth hadn’t seen its first dinosaur when an enormous river system finished dumping its sediments over what is now Pennsylvania, West Virginia, southern New York State, western Maryland, and eastern Ohio. In the 350 million years or so that followed, other sediments piled up on the delta, sometimes to depths of 8,000 feet. As the river’s organic leavings were compressed and heated, hydrocarbons proliferated. Today the 48,000-square-mile Marcellus shale formation contains one of the largest known gas deposits in the United States.

Measured in immediate dollars and without subtracting the real costs of extraction, the windfall is dazzling. A Penn State study that does exactly this predicts that Marcellus gas will inflate Pennsylvania’s economy by at least $8 billion in just 2010. Farmers are now signing away mineral rights—for as much as $5,500 per acre, then getting royalties as high as 20 percent on the gas recovered.

That news would be better if Marcellus gas was recovered in a regulated, responsible fashion and with coordinated resource-agency oversight. After all, natural gas is the least polluting of all fossil fuels. It can even be rendered into cleaner-burning forms of gasoline and diesel fuel. And as a replacement for coal it has the potential to slow global warming because it releases only half as much carbon. But because the technology to extract the gas is younger than the 21st century, no one yet knows how to do it without simultaneously sacrificing the forests, waters, fish, and wildlife that, over time, are worth far more than any finite energy fix. That’s why New York State has placed a moratorium on Marcellus drilling while it struggles to devise effective regulations.

And that’s why some officials in Ohio, Maryland, and West Virginia are scrambling to get protections in place before the onslaught. So far they haven’t had much success. In an effort invoking the image of Oliver Twist requesting seconds on gruel, West Virginia lawmakers twice tried to pass legislation requiring companies merely to alert property owners before they get permits to hack and gouge their land. Both times the gas lobby shouted it down. Such is its stranglehold on the political process.

Almost all the development has been in Pennsylvania, which squats on the main chunk of the deposit. One might suppose that Pennsylvania would proceed cautiously, with 4,600 miles of its streams already contaminated by abandoned mines to the point of becoming lifeless acid seeps and having allowed the timber industry to denude the entire state a century ago. But no. The scene here resembles a wagon race of whooping, whip-flailing homesteaders. In 2008 Pennsylvania issued 476 Marcellus shale deposit drilling permits. In 2009 the figure was 1,984, and the industry expects to acquire 5,200 additional permits in 2010.

It’s not just native ecosystems that are being violated, it’s Pennsylvania’s constitution, which states: “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.” What most alarms and outrages fish and wildlife advocates is that the state’s equally alarmed and outraged professional resource managers have been sidelined by big-money politics.

Pennsylvania’s wildest woods and most pristine streams are managed by the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR). This 2.3-million-acre state forest system is among the largest publicly owned pieces of real estate east of the Mississippi River, and it is almost unique among state holdings in that it has been certified as “sustainable” by the Forest Stewardship Council. But in many places the agency can’t protect that sustainability because it doesn’t control mineral rights. In an attempt to marginally protect these areas, the DCNR had been requiring gas companies to sign surface-use agreements. But last May the companies got a state court to end even this.

If the current orgy is allowed to continue and if it becomes a model for the other Marcellus states, vast swaths of the East’s best forests will be fragmented, groundwater and surface water polluted, and fish and wildlife wiped out on a scale that would dwarf the recent tragedy seen in the gas fields of Wyoming, Colorado, and New Mexico.

For remainder of this excellent article, CLICK HERE.



Natural gas development in Colorado, the impacts on communities, environment and public health. A primer for public servants and residents of counties that care for their lifestyles.

Drilling for Gas in Bradford County, PA ... Listen!

Cattle Drinking Drilling Waste!

EPA... FDA... Hello? How many different ways are we going to have to eat this? ... Thank you TXSharon for all you do! ... Stay tuned in at


A film by Txsharon. Thank you Sharon for all you do. Click HERE to read the complete article on Bluedaze: Landfarms: Spreading Toxic Drilling Waste on Farmland

SkyTruth: Upper Green River Valley - A View From Above