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Time for our county government to start working for us

timeRecently a local waste hauler, United Sanitation Network, inc. along with other partners including Waveco Energy Services, delivered plans for a DEP permit and made requests for a Luzerne County variance to build a industrial waste (frack) fluid disposal and recycling site in Lake Township. Never mind that the application was deficient and misleading in so many ways. Discrepancies from starting up with 30, 20,000 gallon tanks on site to 60 tanks, hours of operation going from 13 hours per day to round the clock 24/7 operations and amateurish methods of collecting toxic spills with buckets, left a lot to be desired.

Kudos to our Luzerne county council for pointing out and expressing strong opposition to the county zoning board, their concerns about the local environment, traffic safety, potential for serious accidents, and how this would negatively affect the quality-of-life for Luzerne county residents.

We elected a county council to make it harder to continue past corrupt county decision-making practices, and they took an oath to protect our health, safety and welfare. Councilman Bobeck was in disagreement with expressing the council reservations to the zoning board, and although he gave his reasons( with which I disagree), he at least presented his rationale for his decision. Mr. Brominski on the other hand, would not agree with counsel to send the letter voicing opposition to the hazardous waste site and gave no valid reason for his stance against this resolution that would help improve the quality of life for Luzerne County residents.

Let’s be honest, drilling, fracking, extraction, transportation and processing of the Marcellus Shale gas with its ancillary industrial facilities such as compressor and dehydration stations, pipelines and toxic waste discharge problems, is a dirty practice with negative environmental and health consequences.  Just ask the people living near the Chapin dehydration station, what negative effects they have experienced both in quality-of-life issues and property value decreases. The chemicals involved in fracking and the waste disposal products are known human carcinogens and have the potential for serious negative health consequences. These industrial facilities should not be allowed near any residential homes, near streams, rivers or wetlands feeding our water supplies nor should they be allowed to spout fumes that degrade our air-quality over the Wyoming Valley. The huge toxic water trucks hauling radioactive, hazardous waste should not be traveling our quaint narrow rural roads alongside our school buses and degrading our roads and bridges. We all pay the price for increased incidence of leukemias and other cancers, neurological problems, and increased asthma and breathing issues with a poorer quality-of-life and higher health costs.

Let’s give thanks to the overwhelming majority of county council members who spoke up to keep these industrial facilities out of Luzerne county and agreed to help safeguard our health and properties. The people of Luzerne county came out to speak at these meetings and the council listened. Let’s put the DEP and the county zoning board on notice that we live in a democracy and the people will decide what we want for our county.


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GAS WELL DRILLING HAS IMPACTED YOUR WATER SUPPLY

frackWe’ve all heard the refrain of “fracking doesn’t contaminate water”.  We’ve heard it from the Natural Gas Industry, from their front groups, from politicians, from the government environmental departments and their supporters.

This is true, because fracking is just one small part of the entire process of natural gas drilling.    The “frack” is the moment of explosion where the shale is shattered, and in that moment of explosion there is no contamination.

Contamination may occur at other points of the entire process of natural gas drilling.

It may be from failed well casings.  Mark Boling, Executive Vice President and General Counsel of Southwestern Energy Co, Stated he has examined several incidents in Colorado and Pennsylvania where gas drilling appears to have caused gas to get into drinking water.  “Every one we identified was caused by a failure of the integrity of the well, and almost always it was the cement job.”

March 2013 Journal of Canadian Petroleum Technology said “Environmental contamination can result from a multitude of activities that are part of the oil and gas exploration and production process.”

“While the study found no direct link between water contamination and fracking itself, it did cite surface spills of fracturing chemicals as a risk to groundwater. It also found blowouts underground during fracking operations have been under-reported.” Per Reading Beyond the Headlines: Fracking and Water Contamination | February 17, 2012 | By Mose Buchele | StateImpact.npr.org

Many reports of groundwater contamination occur in conventional oil and gas operations (e.g. failure of well-bore casing and cementing) and are not unique to hydraulic fracturing. Surface spills of fracturing fluids appear to pose greater risks to groundwater than hydraulic fracturing itself.   Blowouts – uncontrolled fluid releases during construction and operation – are a rare occurrence, but subsurface blowouts appear to be under-reported.

The Damascus Citizens for Sustainability (DCS), through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), has obtained determination letters from the PA Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).  Each and everyone of them states very clearly:

DEP Determination

CLICK HERE TO READ THE LETTERS

DCS has over 30 of these letters available for you to read, and from their website, it sounds like they will have even more available soon.  Dates on the letters range from as far back as 2009 to May of this year.   The determination letters are from Orwell, Tuscarora, Alba Boro, Monroe, Wilmont, Terry, Granville, Asylum, Leroy, Smithfield, Troy, West Burlington, and Windham.


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Gas Drilling Awareness Coalition to Present Triple Divide

fb event td3Triple Divide is unlike any other film about the gas drilling industry that has come before.    In their co-creation of Triple Divide, Melissa Troutman and Joshua Pribanic break new ground with a cradle to grave investigation of shale extraction.

The Gas Drilling Awareness Coalition of Luzerne County will be presenting Triple Divide on Thursday, May 9 at 7pm, Temple B’Nai B’rith, 408 Wyoming Ave  Kingston, PA.   A Q&A with the Joshua Pribanic will follow the film.   Free to the public.

The title of the film reflects one of Pennsylvania’s very special places; the triple continental divide in north-central Pennsylvania, close to the New York border. Rainwater from this area can flow to three sides of the North American continent; down the Susquehanna River to the Chesapeake Bay, down the Allegheny River to the Gulf of Mexico, and down the Genesee River to the Gulf of St. Lawrence in Canada.

Co-narrated by Mark Ruffalo, Triple Divide features never before seen interviews with industry giants and advocates, uncovered state documents, and expert testimonies.  Triple Divide shows the desperate situation in Pennsylvania through personal stories of people who are living the drill.

If you breathe air and drink water, this is a wake-up call to the reality that we are all downstream and downwind.


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We, the People, Demand

The following was presented by Diane Drier, Vice President of the Gas Drilling Awareness Coalition, at the Earth Day Celebration in Wilkes-Barre, PA, on Monday April 22, 2013.

landscape

EARTH DAY, April 22, 2013:

Before the shale gas industry invaded Pennsylvania, most of us who now have serious concerns about shale gas extraction, had never written to our elected representatives, we had never written letters to the editor, and we had never taken part in rallies or protests.  But now, people from all walks of life are galvanized to try to preserve our air and water from the negative environmental consequences of gas and oil extraction. PA constitution

More than 20 years ago, Pennsylvania voters ratified a Constitutional Amendment that reads:   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 trustees of these resources the Commonwealth shall conserve and maintain them for the benefit of all the people.

The problems with the DEP, even the casual observer would have to conclude, is that some of our elected and appointed officials, those who are responsible for protecting the rights delineated in this Constitutional Amendment, act as though they have never actually read this Constitutional  Amendment.

For instance, it has been reported that the DEP often takes a combative stance when presented with legitimate questions from concerned citizens and treats these concerned citizens as adversaries – and that when it comes to water near frack wells, the DEP is doing everything it can to put on blinders.  It has also been reported that the DEP has used incomplete and misleading water test results to dismiss homeowner’s complaints and to protect the gas industry.

  • We, the People, demand that the DEP adopt a consistent protocol for testing contaminants in residential water wells, based on scientific principles, –    a protocol which tests for dangerous toxins associated with shale gas drilling.   We, the People, demand that complete and transparent test results are provided to homeowners on a timely basis.
  • As the Governor considers his choices for the next Secretary of the DEP, We, the People, demand:    That the next Secretary of the DEP come from a background of science and not from a background of lawyering and lobbying.
  • We, the People, demand: That the next Secretary of the DEP be free of any ties to the oil and gas industry.
  •  And We, the People, demand:  That the next Secretary of the DEP agree not to work in the oil and gas industry for five years after he leaves office.
  • We demand a Secretary of the DEP who will take seriously the core mission of that important agency.
  • We, The People, demand that the Governor reopen the DEP Office of Energy and Technology  Deployment to develop solar, wind and other renewable energy technologies right here in Pennsylvania.

Nations, like Germany, are leading the way in renewable energy research and development.  Twenty two percent of Germany’s power is generated with renewables with solar providing a fourth of that total. Through a combination of government policy and widespread public support, Germany, which is smaller than the state of Montana, has more installed solar capacity than the entire United States.  And this in a country that has limited sunshine – Germany gets about the same amount of sunshine as the state of Alaska.

Countries are not the only entities turning to renewable energy sources – many of our airlines report increasing progress in research using combinations of bio fuels and synthetic fuels to eventually replace petroleum products.

The past belong to fossil fuels but the future belongs to renewable energy.

  • We, the people, demand that the Governor and the DEP to look to the future towards clean, renewable energy sources instead of looking to the past in the extraction of dirty fossil fuels.

The Constitution of our Commonwealth states that We, the People, have a right to clean air and pure water.   We Demand that our elected and appointed officials protect the rights that are guaranteed to us in the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and return the DEP to its core mission of protecting the environment for all Pennsylvanians – including generations yet to come.

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CHOOSE TO PARTICIPATE

World action

The Citizens Advisory Council to the Department of Environmental Protection is requesting ideas on how to improve public participation in developing environmental regulations and policies.  The deadline for suggestions is April 26. This is an opportunity to contribute meaningfully to a DEP policy that will have a great impact on future public participation policies. It has been more than a decade since these policies have been updated.

With the surge of shale gas development around the state, many residents have first-hand experience with public participation processes and may have suggestions that they can share with the Advisory Council.

According to John Walliser, Council Chair, “The Department of Environmental Protection is now updating the agency’s public participation policies which have not seen significant changes in more than a decade. The Council believes this is a unique opportunity to ask the public for ideas on how they can be better informed about regulations and policies under development and how they can offer their comments and suggestions.”

Current DEP Guides on Public Participation:

  • Public Participation Policy
  • Overview of the Regulatory Process
  • Guideline for Developing Regulations
  • Guideline for Developing Policies and Guidance
  • Policy on Forming Regulatory Negotiation Groups | Comments/Response
  • Policy on Publishing Sunshine Notices
  • Rulemaking Petition Process
  • Advisory Committee Guidelines

In recent years several issues related to the regulatory and policy development process have been brought to the attention of Council which might help guide the public in making suggestions for improvement:

— Infrequent updating of advisory committee webpages to include advisory committee agendas and handouts in time for public review before meetings and basic information like committee membership and agency contacts;

— Lack of public notice for some advisory committee and subcommittee meetings and conference calls;

— The eNOTICE system could be used more effectively to provide information growing through the regulatory and policy development process; and

— The lack of a single calendar of upcoming advisory committee and subcommittee meetings and conference calls on the agency’s website.

The Council invites you to submit comments by April 26, 2013 by sending email to: RA-epcontactcac@pa.gov.  Please include your name, organization, if any, return mailing address, email and telephone number.

Send in your comments and suggestions.   This is YOUR opportunity to be heard.   Tell the DEP to let the PEOPLE be heard.

Nothing strengthens authority so much as silence. ~  Leonardo da Vinci

©2013 I Choose A Clean World


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2013 EarthDay | Earth Day at Regional PA DEP Offices

earthday 2013

Earth Day at Regional DEP Offices  to call on DEP to fulfill its mission and protect the environment.

Contact: Jay Sweeney, Green Party of Pennsylvania, 570-587-3603; Melissa Troutman, Mountain Watershed Association, 724-455-4200

A coalition of more than 40 environmental organizations and individuals are rallying for protection of communities and the environment with a statewide Earth Day Protest on Monday, April 22.  These rallies will call on our public officials to act with integrity and protect the people of Pennsylvania, who are being victimized every day by fracking and the cradle-to-grave dangers of shale gas extraction.

Rallies will take place at each of the Department of Environmental Protection’s (DEP) regional offices in Harrisburg, Meadville, Norristown, Pittsburgh, Wilkes-Barre and Williamsport on Earth Day. The coalition is calling for support from people who want to stand together to preserve and protect our communities from the assault and abuse of environmental devastation.

The rallies will demand that DEP fulfill its mission to “protect Pennsylvania’s air, land and water from pollution and to provide for the health and safety of its citizens through a cleaner environment.” In order to do so, DEP must put the ‘public’ back in public policy.

Join the Earth Day coalition at your regional DEP office to demand our public officials:

• Appoint an environmental expert without industry ties as DEP Secretary to ensure DEP’s mission is fulfilled;

• Place a moratorium on permits for gas wells, compressor stations, pipelines, water withdrawals, coal mines, and other infrastructure related to fossil fuel extraction;

• Allow no more toxic secrets and full disclosure of water tests and other studies by DEP;

• Provide justice for those harmed by the oil and gas industry; and

• Reopen the DEP Office of Energy and Technology Deployment to develop solar, wind and other renewable energy technologies.

For more information or to get involved, contact these regional representatives:

Northeast:  Jay Sweeney, 570-587-3603, jnln@epix.net

Southwest:  Mel Packer, 412-243-4545 or 412-307-6827, melpacker@aol.com

Northcentral:  Russell Zerbo, 215-567-4004 x130, rzerbo@cleanair.org

Southcentral:  Maria Payan, 717-456-5800,payans@zoominternet.net

Northwest:  Diane Sipe, 724-272-4539,  sipediane5@gmail.com

Southeast: Chris Robinson, 215-843-4256, chrisrecon@netzero.net

Participating Organizations:

  • Allegheny College Students for Environmental Action
  • Michael Bagdes-Canning, Vice President, Cherry Valley Borough Council, Butler County
  • Timothy Bagdes-Canning, Councilmember, Cherry Valley Borough Council, Butler County
  • Beaver County Marcellus Awareness Committee
  • Benedictine Sisters Erie PA
  • Berks Gas Truth
  • Brandywine Peace Community
  • Bucks County Green Party
  • Citizens for Clean Water
  • Citizens Against Marcellus Pollution (CAMP)
  • Clean Water Action
  • Communities United for Rights & Environment
  • Cross County Citizens Clean Air Coalition
  • Damascus Citizens for Sustainability
  • Delaware Riverkeeper Network
  • Environmental Justice Committee – Thomas Merton Center,
  • Food & Water Watch, Sam Bernhardt
  • Fracking Truth Alliance
  • Frack Mountain, http://www.frackmountain.com
  • Gas Drilling Awareness Coalition
  • Granny Peace Brigade Philadelphia
  • Green Party of Delaware County
  • Green Party of Pennsylvania
  • Green Party of Philadelphia (GPOP)
  • Growing Community Project
  • Celia Janosik, Beaver County Volunteer Water Quality Monitor
  • Joshua Pribanic and Melissa Troutman
  • Kill Mammon
  • Lehigh Valley Greens
  • Lenape Nation, Chief Shelley DePaul
  • Luzerne County Green Party
  • Marcellus Outreach Butler
  • Marcellus Protest
  • Mark Schmerling Photography
  • Montgomery County Green Party
  • Mountain Watershed Association
  • Northeastern Group of the Pa Sierra Club
  • Northwest Greens
  • PennEnvironment, http://www.PennEnvironment.org
  • PA Alliance for Clean Water and Air, http://www.pacwa.org/
  • Physicians for Social Responsibility Philadelphia, http://www.psrphila.org
  • Protecting Our Waters
  • Jasmine Rivera, Action United
  • Shadbush Environmental Justice Collective,
  • Shale Justice Coalition