Tuesday, December 7, 2010

What's Under Your Fracking Christmas Tree?

This is what the Natural Gas industry calls a "Christmas tree." 
Land owners are told that the drilling won't upset their lives a bit--
that they're "just going to put up a little Christmas tree." 

Posted by: Noël Jones

Next action:
TOMORROW: Wednesday, Dec. 8, 1:30 pm
West Trenton Volunteer Fire Company, 40 West Upper Ferry Rd., West Trenton, NJ
Public Comment starting about 2:30 pm, 2 minutes each person; sign up in advance by contacting paula.schmitt@drbc.state.nj.us or phoning Paula at 609-883-9500 ext. 224. 

By now you've probably heard of a thing called "fracking"--short for "hydrofracking" or "hydraulic fracturing"--an experimental and toxic process that natural gas companies are using to extract natural gas from the Marchellus Shale, which is contaminating drinking water and destroying property values in large parts of New York and Pennsylvania. If you haven't, either search this blog on "fracking" and read my previous posts, or simply rent the DVDs on Netflix that explain the crisis to our drinking water that is facing the families of 15 million of us:

GASLAND Directed by Josh Fox (Netflix) (trailer)
Split Estate Directed by Debra Anderson (Netflix) (trailer)

This is David and Goliath--Big Gas vs. the American Citizen. These companies do not care if they give us cancer while they get rich,
pumping 596 known chemicals including carcinogens, neurotoxins and endocrine disruptors underground, contaminating our water, and our land, food and air in the process by letting huge evaporation pits of waste-water and fracking fluid leech into the ground and evaporate into the air.  People are literally being forced to pay to haul water from miles away and ration it in their homes for bathing, cleaning, cooking and drinking. Is that the life you want to live? If not, will you fight to protect our way of life?

We are one of the few countries in this world that can still drink free, clean water from our taps. It is one of the things that separates us from third-world countries. Will we let corporate greed take that from us? Destroying all our best hunting and fishing land--and our property values with it--I mean, who will want to buy your house if you want to leave when your water gets contaminated? There are 50,000 well pads positioned along the Delaware that are waiting for a green light from the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) to beginning using this process, right next to our water source. Will we take it lying down, or will we fight?

Do not believe the lies that the natural gas companies would have you believe:

  1. Natural gas is not "clean energy"--it burns cleaner but the process of getting it is dirty and toxic. It also requires sucking 7 million gallons of water from the river for each well, to be blown with sand and chemicals at high pressure underground.
  2. Natural gas does not significantly alleviate our dependence on foreign oil, because a) it cannot be used in cars, and b) 52% is used to make MORE PLASTIC and another large chunk is for fertilizer. This is not about energy independence, it's about getting rich.
  3. It does not bring a significant number of jobs to Pennsylvanians--they hire mostly workers out of Texas and other states, claiming that they want to hire PA residents but that no one has the proper certifications.
  4. It does not create economic development--sure, the hotels may be full for a while, or a new restaurant may spring up, but all that "business" will disappear as soon as they pull up stakes and leave, which often happens within a year or two.
People across the nation where fracking has taken place since 2005 have been getting sick: dizziness, nonstop headaches, loss of sense of smell, loss of motor function, and cancer in Colorado, Texas, New Mexico. 34 families in Dimock, PA, just two hours north of us, are now getting water tanks delivered by the gas companies to their houses to ration each month. 

Will you let Big Gas tread on us this way, or will you fight? Many of our politicians, unfortunately, are caught up in a gold rush mentality--they want a severance tax on gas companies to plug wasteful budget holes all around the state. Is your family's health worth plugging a budget hole, instead of cutting wasteful spending?

If not, here's what you can do!

The DRBC, which has ultimate authority over fracking in our watershed, has said they will release their rules for hydrofracking by the end of this week--without waiting for the EPA study, without performing a cumulative impact study, and with the idea that public debate about these rules will be limited to just 45 - 60 days, constrained within just one public meeting!  DRBC representatives have stated that they expect to issue regulations this week.  The DRBC meets this Wednesday, where they may issue the draft regulations, or they may be issued in the days following.  They are rushing these rules under unrelenting pressure from the industry and from Pennsylvania and New Jersey, who are pushing for fast tracking the rules and the lifting of the current gas drilling moratorium in our Watershed.  We cannot let this happen!

Thousands of you have spoken up in person at DRBC meetings or by email advocating for the cumulative impact study that will begin in the coming weeks, after final approval in the federal budget, to be conducted to provide needed data and analysis on how gas drilling will impact the Wild and Scenic Delaware River and its Watershed, which supplies water for over 15 million people. The study can then inform natural gas drilling regulations that will be adopted by the DRBC to prevent pollution and avoid degradation.  We must get the science first in order to get this right. Your input has convinced them to hold off fast tracking the rules for months; the start of this critical study is within reach.  Let’s not let the DRBC fall down on the job now.

We cannot drink money. We cannot sacrifice our water for gas!

If you can, please attend the DRBC meeting to speak your mind:

Wednesday, Dec. 8, 1:30 pm
West Trenton Volunteer Fire Company, 40 West Upper Ferry Rd., West Trenton, NJ
Public Comment starting about 2:30 pm, 2 minutes each person; sign up in advance by contacting paula.schmitt@drbc.state.nj.us or phoning Paula at 609-883-9500 ext. 224.

If you are interested in getting a ride, please post a comment, or write to Cathy Frankenberg of Clean Water Action at (610) 691-7395 or email her at cfrankenberg@cleanwater.org

If you cannot make it in person, use "the power of the pen" to WRITE THE DRBC by clicking on this link: Delaware River Basin Commission


pcqpig said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
noel jones said...

previous post was spam (deleted)

I will be attending this hearing at 1:30 today with another friend from Easton. Anyone who needs a ride, call or email Cathy Frankenberg at the number at the end of this post!

David Caines said...

Good , I have asked the PHRC to look into the prejudicial hiring practices of the marcelus shale companies. This morning I sent an email to a senior member of the PHRC to investigate anti-american hiring practices by the corps involved. I belive these corps to be in violation of the EEOA as they prejudice against American workers of all colors and creeds. Those who wish to suport this affirmation may reply to the PHRC through their web page...
I do understand that some may find it racist to protect the AMerican born black, white, hispanic worker...but I do not believe it to be the case. I have posted this appeal elsewhere...I have put it before perhaps 100,000 Americans, perhaps we may yet be the change we wish to see in this world.

David Caines said...

Hi noel, it would be a huge favor..and in your best interest to remove all of my past comments from your blog.
the sooner the better, I'm afraid my old email was compromised...delte me...and soon.
The temporary email is davidcaines1414@gmail.com I'll try to hol dthat for 48 hours..hope your watching this..i do not have your email...at my new account..sorry.

noel jones said...

David--thanks for posting--I can't delete you comments because you commented heavily in many and the conversation would make no sense without the comments.

noel jones said...

So I just got back from the DRBC hearing in Trenton, and we are in big trouble. They voted to move forward with a draft of regulations for natural gas drilling without the EPA's cumulative impact study even being finished--we are going to have to fight this hard. The next hearing is March 2nd--mark your calendars!

The great thing about being at the hearing was that, much like this blog, when the public comments, independent citizens educate each other. For instance, one citizen from Philadelphia asked the commission, "who appoints commissioners? The Commissioner from Delaware responded, "our governors." The resident said, "so in other words, you can only vote on these issues the way your governor wants you to vote, because he appointed you." The commissioner responded that, "the governor can't be everywhere all the time." So the resident pointed out that really, we need to take this issue up with the governors of PA, NJ and DE (NY is already against establishing regulations before the environmental impact study is released) because that's who we're really dealing with--the governors. The commissioner turned a little red in the face and answered that the governors appoint them because they need their expertise in making these decisions.

Well, they voted with the drillers and are pushing ahead with trying to establish regulations so that Big Gas can start drilling before the EPA can determine the health risks (that are already happening in Dimock, PA--everything from dizziness, to blinding head-aches, to loss of sense of smell to loss of motor function, to cancer).

Steve, another resident from Easton, also brought up a good point to me--that the DRBC was first formed because the government realized there was a need to PROTECT the river and the people that live on it from corporate interests. It appears that over time, it has evolved into a body (with the exception of the NY commissioner) that is merely there to grease the wheels of corporations who want to plunder our land, according to the wishes of their corresponding governors.

The commission professed at the beginning of the meeting to welcome public comment, but then informed us at 4pm that they had to be out of the building at 6pm, and therefore had to end the meeting at 5:30pm, but that they were going to first take a recess and deliberate on the decision they were about to make, and that that would take 15 minutes, which meant 15 minutes less of public comment. They emerged 30 minutes later (to vote to go ahead with the draft regulations), cutting out a full half-four of public comment, so that in the end, with 31 people signed up to speak, everyone was limited to 2 minutes each, and less than 20 people got the chance. I asked Tracy from the Delaware Riverkeeper if this wasn't in violation of Sunshine Laws, and she said that it would fall under federal law, because it is a joint commission between states. I am going to have to look into the federal sunshine laws now.

PLEASE EVERYONE, WRITE AN EMAIL TO THE DRBC (click the link in this original post) to express your desire for them to wait until the cumulative impact study is done before making regulations so that gas companies can drill.

PLEASE ALSO WRITE TO GOVERNOR RENDELL TO TELL HIM THE SAME THING--the link to state government contacts is on the right side-bar of this blog's home page.


David Caines said...

on your head be it then, the popular opinion is that we're screwed, and Our workers be damned.
I took a pro-american worker stance and hope not to love to regret it.
It was stupid of me.
I thought I could garner som esupport, I was wrong. Whatevr the GOP wishes to do to make the nation a bit of change is fine with me. I offer no resistance and have deleted my appeals elsewhere on the web.

noel jones said...

David--what are you talking about--"took a pro-American worker stance" with whom? It sounds like you've had interactions with some other group and had a bad experience--what happened? "Popular opinion" with whom?

El Warner said...

Noel - I want to send you an email on this issue, but can't find your email address, and it doesn't come up on your blogger profile. Can you email me, so I can respond? You can reach me at my city address, or elucidator@rcn.com. Thanks!

noel jones said...

El--will do.

noel jones said...

This report on the hearing from the Delaware Riverkeeper:

For Immediate Release (by email report from DRBC Public Meeting, West Trenton, NJ):

December 8, 2010: Today the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) announced that it is issuing draft gas rules for the Delaware River Basin. The rules will be posted on the DRBC website by 9:00 am tomorrow morning, Dec. 9. The public comment period will close March 16 2011 and there will be 3 public hearings in February, locations and dates to be announced.

The DRBC action was opposed by New York State, stating that New York is currently reviewing the environmental issues involved regarding hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling for natural gas in shale formations in New York and want those analyses completed before the DRBC drafts rules.

The DRBC action is being taken prior to the issuance of a cumulative impact assessment of gas drilling on the Delaware River Watershed, which is expected to be funded by the federal government in the coming weeks.

The issuance is also done over registered objections from NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the NYC Council, Philadelphia City Council, NY Congressman Maurice Hinchey, numerous environmental and conservation organizations and at least 8000 comments submitted by the public.

"It's a grave mistake for the DRBC to rush forward with half-baked regulations before the needed scientific analysis is done through a cumulative impact analysis", said Tracy Carluccio, Deputy Director, Delaware Riverkeeper Network.

"There are data gaps and critical analysis that needs to be done and what will be learned then will inform the gas rules. Without this informed and science-based approach, comprehensive and effective regulations that consider cumulative impacts cannot be developed. Yet in order to prevent pollution and avoid degradation, the science from a cumulative impact analysis is necessary. 15 million people rely on the Delaware River for water and the Wild and Scenic River's outstanding features are at risk. There is no excuse to join Pennsylvania's gas drilling frenzy with premature rules based on an uninformed body of knowledge. Further, we understand that there have been efforts to water down the rules by some of the States, starting the rulemaking process on a low set bar, prejudicing the opportunity to strengthen the regulations", continued Carluccio.

"The quality of the draft regulations will be under intense scrutiny in the coming months; the public is deeply involved in this issue and how gas drilling will affect the future of this Watershed. These rules require a robust and lengthy public process, at least a year to fairly provide for a truly participatory process", said Carluccio.

LVCI said...

As if all this wasn't bad enough.. It appears these sites are beginning to look like gypsy camps.

SEE: DEP Warns Landowners About Illegal Recreational Vehicle Sewage Connections
".. landowners are opening up their property to RVs and allowing those vehicles to tap into their septic or sewage systems.

.. DEP has found instances of this activity in four counties throughout the north-central region. In one case, recreational vehicles were discharging sewage over a bank into the Tioga River. In another case, the landowner had RVs connected to the on-lot septic system serving his home

... Sewage enforcement officers are requiring those who have violated Act 537 to remove recreational vehicles used as dwellings from their property or face enforcement action."

PS also read 11/22- "DEP Investigating Lycoming County Fracking Fluid Spill at XTO Energy Marcellus Well"

noel jones said...

thanks, LVCI--here also, is an article from the Business Insider reporting on a study that shows that natural gas drilling is not even a great revenue generator--the gas gets depleted so fast that the drillers then pull up stakes and leave the land ravaged and the water contaminated--they DO NOT CARE--they are just getting rich quick and splitting town:


Ken S said...

At best, the cost-benefit ratios of fracking have seemed dubious - that is, the direct costs to recover the natural gas have appeared to far too close to the sale price of natural gas to make most of this work viable from an economic standpoint. Factor in the HUGE amount of water necessary, plus the toxic nature of many of the chemicals used in the process, and the over costs seem to outweigh the benefits by a very large margin. One indication of the likely environmental costs is that the companies are so adament about getting their wells drilled and extraction finished *before* any inspections or impact studies are completed. Given what we now know about Iraq and WMDs, it's sorta like asking us to believe Dick Cheney when his lips are moving.

noel jones said...

I am getting tired of how the gas companies have succeeded in framing this as an energy debate and a job creation debate.

1. Over 1/2 of natural gas production is used for the creation of plastic, and another big chunk (does anyone have a link with info on the %?) goes to create fertilizer. So a very small amount of the total is being used as gas at all.

2. Natural gas does not work in cars--it will do nothing to reduce our reliance on foreign oil

3. Drilling has not brought jobs to PA workers--most of the workers are from out of state, and apparently--we know thanks to LVCI's comment--they are camping on land owners' property.

4. Drilling does not stimulate local economies in true measure--sure the hotels might be full of drillers for a year, and a new pizza joint or two might pop up to feed them, but ask yourself this--if it's bringing jobs to local workers, why are they staying hotels and camping on landowners property? And if they pull up stakes in a year or two and disappear, have they really supported business development in the area? They leave behind destroyed land and water, sick people, and no economic development, while they laugh all the way to the bank.

Anonymous said...

FYI - Please take this in a kindly way - America is several continents. As a US citizen I have been commended by citizens from other American countries when abroad for anwering the question: What country are you from? by saying "The United States." Its part of the ugly american legacy that our citizens don't understand that even Mexico is in America. There are alot of countries in America. American workers? I know who you mean but think about it and may be you could say "USA" workers. Thanks.

noel jones said...

Anon 3:59--i.e. "Avenue of the Americas" in New York City...

Alan Raisman said...

I have come across what Anon 3:59 PM mentioned while speaking with some friends from other countries. America comprises North and South America. You and I live in the United States of America. I am an American citizen, but I am also a citizen of the United States of America, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and the Township of Lower Moreland in Montgomery County.

Artesia Springs said...

if you are looking water filtration system in San Antonio then Artesia Spring is the one last destination. just Call Us (210) 637-5554 & get Free Quote