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Press Release: “Corbett LOVEs Fracking”

February 14, 2013
For Immediate Release – February 14, 2013
Photos + New Story, “Activists Send Valentine”
Contact:Sam Bernhardt, Pennsylvania Organizer, Food & Water Watch, 516-680-0760
Iris Marie Bloom, Executive Director, Protecting Our Waters, 215-840-6489
Tracy Carluccio, Deputy Director, Delaware Riverkeeper Network, 215-692-2329

On one year anniversary of Act 13 signing, advocates call for a moratorium on fracking in the state of Pennsylvania:

Groups Use Philly’s LOVE Sculpture to Send PA Gov. Corbett a Valentine’s Day Card reading “Corbett LOVEs Fracking”

Multiple photos captioned here; photo album here

Philadelphia, PA– Over forty advocates, medical professionals, and concerned Philadelphians came together yesterday on Feb. 13th, the one-year anniversary of Governor Corbett’s signing Act 13 into law, to oppose Act 13, and to call for a moratorium on fracking in Pennsylvania. On the eve of Valentine’s Day, activists created a monument to Governor Corbett’s special relationship with the gas industry, bracketing the famous LOVE sculpture with the words “Corbett” on one side, and “Fracking” on the other, spelling out “Corbett LOVEs Fracking.”

The process of shale gas drilling using high-volume slickwater horizontal hydraulic fracturing, commonly called “fracking,” has turned parts of Pennsylvania into toxic industrial zones, rife with water contamination, air pollution, fights over compressor stations and pipelines, and divided communities.

The groups, including Protecting Our Waters, Delaware Riverkeeper Network, Food and Water Watch, and Physicians for Social Responsibility, say that Governor Corbett has facilitated the destruction by putting the interests of the fracking industry before the well-being of Pennsylvanians. Central to his pro-fracking agenda has been the draconian Act 13, which stripped municipalities of local zoning authority and placed a gag order on physicians, barring them from disclosing “proprietary” (secret) fracking chemicals to the public. Advocates called for an overturning of Act 13, for “no more toxic secrets,” and for a moratorium on fracking in Pennsylvania.

“Governor Corbett accepted $1.8 million from the gas industry during his last campaign, and he has paid his friends in fracking back handily, opening state lands to fracking, signing Act 13 and arranging for a $1.65 billion tax credit for Shell to build a polluting ethane cracker facility,” said Sam Bernhardt, Pennsylvania Organizer for Food & Water Watch. “Governor Corbett is supposed to work for Pennsylvanians, but he has clearly let his feelings for the fracking industry get the best of him. Our Valentine’s Day message to the Governor today shows where his priorities lie.”

“The fracking industry loves Pennsylvania governors. Industry lobbyists paid former Gov. Tom Ridge 900,000 to do PR. Gov. Corbett has been bankrolled by fracking industry executives, especially his good friend Aubrey McClendon of Chesapeake Energy, ever since 2004. And we just learned that Gov. Rendell also sold out to these corporate kings, betraying suffering people with badly impacted water in order to protect Range Resources,” commented Iris Marie Bloom, director of Protecting Our Waters. “Act 13 shows how much our governor and legislature love the industry back. The result has been black water and sick people. We need to overturn Act 13, abolish the gag order and non-disclosure clauses, and take back our state from these corrupt officials. We’ve had enough of these toxic secrets. For that matter, we’re done with being fracked.”

“When Governor Corbett signed Act 13 into law a year go today, those of us who were appalled at the takeover by industry of municipal rights took action and sued the State to overturn the unconstitutional law that forced drilling into every backyard and playground. As we all await the Supreme Court’s decision, more evidence is mounting every day that the state is blinded by drilling and cannot be trusted to look out for us – violations of permits by drillers continue, farmers are suffering new losses, water wells are not being protected as they should- all with Gov. Corbett watching, letting the drillers call the shots. Act 13 exposed the level of control drillers have in Pennsylvania, we must get it back,” said Tracy Carluccio, Deputy Director of Delaware Riverkeeper Network.

“Calling health-harming ingredients “proprietary” is a ploy perfected by the tobacco industry and carried on by the fracking industry,” said Reverend Jesse Brown, a health advocate who has worked for decades to protect communities from giant tobacco corporations which also use deadly “proprietary” ingredients. “Requiring physicians to keep so called “proprietary” chemicals secret where health threats are concerned violates their oath; this gag order must be abolished.”

“Act 13 includes a physician ‘gag clause’ written by the gas industry which restricts appropriate patient care and is impractical. It prevents publication in medical journals and sharing vital information that could advance medical knowledge,” said Dr. Walter Tsou, of Physicians for Social Responsibility.

“Nurses oppose fracking. We have adopted a resolution for a moratorium on fracking in Pennsylvania until modifications in technology ensure the toxic chemicals are not leaking into our water supply and our soil,” said Mary Adamson, a registered nurse and member of the Pennsylvania Association of Staff Nurses and Allied Health Professionals (PASNAP). “Join me in holding Governor Corbett and our legislators accountable to place the health of the people in Pennsylvania above the Profits of the big oil barons.“

Background:Breaking News and Toxic Secrets: Groups Oppose Act 13 on the 13th” reveals how Act 13 originated with ALEC, the “corporate bill mill,” and examines the way “impact fee” money from Act 13 is being “hijacked” away from families who have lost their clean safe drinking water as a result of drilling and fracking sending black gunk, methane, and other substances spewing into their water.

About High-Volume Hydraulic Fracking, also called “Shale Gas Drilling” and “Unconventional Drilling”:

High volume hydraulic fracturing, combined with horizontal drilling, involves pumping an average of 4.7 million gallons of water, chemicals and sand (per well, per frack) a mile and more underground to extract natural gas (mostly methane) from shale bedrock. Multiple studies show how inherently dangerous it is. Less than 10% of the total number of wells planned for PA have been fracked so far; most of the damage is yet to be done.

Fracking Accelerates Climate Change

Methane is 105 times more potent in warming power than CO2, according to NASA scientist Drew Shindell and climate scientist Bob Howarth, and engineer Anthony Ingraffea, of Cornell University. With methane leaking at the astonishing rate of 9% from tanks, pits, valves, pipelines and processing facilities, scientists argue that even with “best practices” and even with future stringent regulations (not existing yet), fracking still accelerates climate change.

Governor Corbett received at least $1.8 million from the gas industry during his last campaign. He then pushed successfully for a $1.65 billion tax credit for Shell to build a polluting ethane cracker facility. He also signed Act 13, which places a gag order on physicians and takes away municipal zoning authority over gas drilling, waste pits and waste handling, compressor stations, and other aspects of fracking.

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Activists Send Valentine to Corbett; Denounce Act 13 and Fracking

February 14, 2013

Activists oppose “Dark Ages” Act 13, call for an end to Governor Corbett’s special relationship with the fracking industry:

February 13 2013

Activists send Governor Corbett a valentine opposing Act 13’s pre-emption clause and gag order on physicians, pressing for a moratorium, and calling for an end to the Governor’s special relationship with the fracking industry. From left: Gerry Kaufman, Protecting Our Waters. Dr. Walter Tsou, Physicians for Human Rights. Sylvia Metzler, Protecting Our Waters. Photo: Jesse Brown. Philadelphia, Feb 13 2013

Protecting Our Waters, Food and Water Watch, and Delaware Riverkeeper Network joined with over forty supporters at Philadelphia’s famous LOVE Park on February 13th, the one-year anniversary of Corbett signing Act 13 into law. The groups made fun of, and expressed outrage at, Governor Corbett’s continued attempt — sticking taxpayers with a bill of over half a million dollars in legal fees — to appeal the Commonwealth Court’s decision that Act 13’s municipal pre-emption clause is “unconstitutional and unenforceable.”  All legislators who voted for Act 13, particularly Philadelphia Senator Anthony Williams, who broke ranks with fellow Democrats and voted for the Act, received their fair share of heat.

Corbett’s attempt to re-establish Act 13’s clause which strips municipalities of their right to zone, regulate, pass moratoria or ban gas drilling in order to protect their residents from health and economic impacts caused by the heavily industrial, toxic life-cycle impacts of fracking earned him a message. In the following photo, “Corbett LOVEs Fracking,” is clearly spelled out:

Corbett LOVEs Fracking; activists REJECT Act 13. Photo: Jesse Brown.

Corbett LOVEs Fracking; activists REJECT Act 13. Photo: Jesse Brown. Philadelphia, Feb 13 2013

“The fracking industry loves Pennsylvania governors. Industry lobbyists paid former PA Governor Tom Ridge $900,000 to do public relations. Governor Corbett has been bankrolled by fracking industry executives, especially his good friend Aubrey McClendon formerly of Chesapeake Energy, ever since 2004.  And we just learned that Governor Rendell also intervened on behalf of the fracking industry, betraying suffering people with badly impacted water in order to protect Range Resources,” commented Iris Marie Bloom, director of Protecting Our Waters.

“Governor Corbett accepted $1.8 million from the gas industry during his last campaign, and he has paid his friends in fracking back handily, opening state lands to fracking, signing Act 13 and arranging for a $1.65 billion tax credit for Shell to build a polluting ethane cracker facility,” said Sam Bernhardt, Pennsylvania Organizer for Food & Water Watch.

“Act 13 includes a physician ‘gag clause’ written by the gas industry which restricts appropriate patient care and is impractical.  It prevents publication in medical journals and sharing vital information that could advance medical knowledge,” said Dr. Walter Tsou, of Physicians for Social Responsibility.

Dr. Walter Tsou denounces the physician gag order in Act 13. Photo: Jesse Brown

Dr. Walter Tsou, Physicians for Social Responsibility, denounces the physician gag order in Act 13. Photo: Jesse Brown. Philadelphia, Feb 13 2013

An intensive care nurse from Temple Hospital, Mary Adamson, also speaking on behalf of PASNAP — Pennsylvania Association of Staff Nurses and Allied Professionals — joined in denouncing the gag order on health professionals, who are prevented from sharing “proprietary” chemicals in fracking fluid and fracking flowback, in medical journals or with the general public for the purpose of protecting public health:

Mary Adamson, a registered nurse with PASNAP, speaks out against the silencing of health professionals by Act 13. On left, Iris Marie Bloom. On right, Sam Bernhardt. Photo: Jesse Brown. Philadelphia, Feb 13 2013

Mary Adamson, a registered nurse with PASNAP, speaks out against the silencing of health professionals by Act 13. On left, Iris Marie Bloom. On right, Sam Bernhardt. Photo: Jesse Brown. Philadelphia, Feb 13 2013

Tracy Carluccio, Deputy Director of Delaware Riverkeeper Network, has led the legal charge against Act 13’s municipal pre-emption clause. Philadelphia is one of 89 municipalities which passed Resolutions opposing the stripping of their rights and supporting the Commonwealth Court decision.  “Act 13 exposed the level of control drillers have in Pennsylvania, we must get it back,” said Carluccio.

Tracy Carluccio, Deputy Director of Delaware Riverkeeper Network, stands to the left of the crowd (black hat) firing up the continued fight against Governor Corbett’s appeal of the Commonwealth Court declaration that the pre-emption clause is “unconstitutional and unenforceable”. Photo: Jesse Brown. Philadelphia, Feb 13 2013

View complete photo album here.

View the press reslease here.

Great news in New York; Obama needs heat; LOVE today

February 13, 2013

Granted, that’s an odd headline. But with the shale country news coming faster, and more mixed, than ever before, we are mixing it up in this post.

No More Toxic Secrets: “Corbett LOVES Fracking” Action Today

“LOVE today” means: cold rain or snow, come what may, we are still on for the “Corbett LOVES Fracking” action, today at LOVE Park in Philadelphia from 4:30 to 5 pm. Protecting Our Waters, Food and Water Watch and Delaware Riverkeeper Network join together on the one-year anniversary of the signing of Act 13, urging that it be overturned. We oppose its stripping of municipal rights, its gag order on physicians, its lack of protection for Pennsylvanians living in shale country and downstream.  We call for a moratorium instead. We also demand that impact fees already gathered not be hijacked, but be used to provide clean replacement water for 30 families in Butler County; Max Chisolm and many more in Bradford County; Tammy Manning and many more in Susquehanna County, and everywhere impacted people live.

Speakers include Dr. Walter Tsou, Reverend Jesse Brown, and Delaware Riverkeeper’s Tracy Carluccio.

Water is life. Read all about the action — the what, where, why, and deep background — here: Breaking News and Toxic Secrets: Groups Oppose Act 13 on the 13th.

State of the Union

“Obama needs heat” means that President Obama’s actions must start living up to his rhetoric, and it’s going to take a mega-ton of heat to make that happen. That heat has to come from all of us — or we’re going to get hotter and hotter on a planet filling up with greenhouse gas emissions coupled with hot air.

Protecting Our Waters Campaign Coordinator Eric Peters, while not the least bit surprised by Obama’s tack, wrote this:

The State of the Union was a major disappointment. Lofty rhetoric on climate change interspersed with calls for more oil and gas drilling? Obama’s promise to cut through red tape (regulations) and speed up new oil and gas permits is an absolute slap in the face to the impacted residents of shale country, Appalachian coalfields, and beyond.
Moments after the State of the Union address ended the Marcellus Shale Coalition released this congratulatory statement.
If President Obama is serious about tackling climate change he can start by stopping the Keystone XL Pipeline. All out on Feb 17 in DC because ACTIONS SPEAK LOUDER THAN WORDS!

Major Victory in New York: Public Health Matters

“Great news in New York” means: We did it! The combined forces of scores of New York organizations and sectors, especially the stepped up efforts of health professionals and a growing youth movement, New York Youth Against Fracking — have led NY Health Commission er Shah to further delay any lifting of the New York moratorium, in order to study health impacts.  
Read all about it in the New York Times: Cuomo delays decision on gas drilling as health study continues.
Magic didn’t make this victory happen. Truth, courage, and extremely hard work made it happen. All the Pennsylvania shale country residents speaking out must be proud, although devastated that New York officials are studying health impacts while Pennsylvania’s Department of Health doesn’t even track gas drilling-related health complaints.  To change that now:
Call the number below and ask two questions. One: what is the ONE phone number that ALL Pennsylvania residents who are experiencing gas drilling-related health impacts now or on the past few years, should call to make sure DOH records those impacts and documents them thoroughly?  Two: when will the PA Department of Health do a Health Impacts Assessment on the life-cycle impacts from high-volume shale gas drilling?
Most health impacts won’t show up for years and decades. Fracking impacts will last for centuries. Urge DOH to call for a moratorium and to conduct a Health Impact Assesment.
Call the Secretary of the PA Department of Health (717) 787-6436
Because a victory in New York is awesome. But what are we in the rest of shale country, chopped liver?

Breaking News and Toxic Secrets: Groups Oppose Act 13 on the 13th

February 12, 2013

This is a national scandal in which corporations write Orwellian laws designed to crush democracy at the local level; a statewide betrayal in which impacted people are left without clean water or public health protections; and a local action all rolled into one.

On Wednesday February 13th 2013, from 4:30 pm to 5 pm, Protecting Our Waters, Food and Water Watch, Delaware Riverkeeper Network, and supporters will join together at the LOVE statue at LOVE Park in Philadelphia to spell out, “Corbett LOVEs Fracking.”

Please join us at LOVE Park, 1501 JFK Blvd, Philadelphia, PA 19102 right before 4:30.

Although ACT 13 was signed into law one year ago, the drama surrounding it keeps escalating daily. The backdrop is two major ongoing court battles. One is forging forward in the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, which has yet to decide on Governor Corbett’s appeal against the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court’s declaration last summer that  Act 13’s municipal pre-emption clause, which stripped municipalities of the right to zone, regulate, pass moratoria or bans on gas drilling operations, was “unconstitutional and unenforceable.” Another is Dr. Al Rodriguez’ lawsuit against the gag order requiring physicians to avoid disclosing any health-harming “proprietary” (secret) fracking chemicals for the purpose of protecting public health.

Another background factor specific to Philadelphia: state Sen. Anthony Williams broke ranks with Democrats and voted for the pro-fracking Act 13, claiming later that Republican Sen. Scarnati had twisted his arm. Shortly after that debacle, Senator Williams’ wife went to work in public relations for the fracking industry lobbying group, Marcellus Shale Coalition.

In a wave of dissent across Pennsylvania, 89 municipalities passed Resolutions supporting the legal challenge against Act 13, and/or supporting the Commonwealth Court decision declaring Act 13’s municipal pre-emption clause unconstitutional.

Three breaking stories this week show how Act 13 continues to add injury to insult to injury:

Act 13 Impact Fees Withheld from Impacted People

Both the intention and the letter of Act 13 regarding the Impact Fee mandate that any money received under §2314 be spent on those impacted by “natural gas production from unconventional gas wells.” Marcellus Outreach Butler, a grassroots organization in western Pennsylvania, is raising a hue and cry because the Impact Fee money from Act 13 is being “hijacked,” for the general fund instead of helping people who’ve completely lost access to clean safe water as a result of shale gas drilling in Butler County.

Protecting Our Waters supplied clean safe water monthly to three of the most vulnerable among dozens of impacted families in Butler County, for ten months throughout 2012, thanks to generous donors scraping the bottom of their pockets to help these families. We are absolutely outraged that $1.1 million in impact fee money in Butler County is not going to provide clean safe water for these impacted families. Why should Pennsylvanians impacted by shale gas drilling become environmental refugees while impact fee money goes into the general fund?

Please sign the Change.org petition to redress this situation, confronting Rep. Brian Ellis, one of the original authors of Act 13, about the dire situation faced by families in the Woodlands, Connoquenessing Township, Butler County — his own district!  The eloquent petition also goes to Butler County Commissioners and Connoquenessing Township Supervisors.

ALEC Involved in Writing Act 13

Who really wrote Act 13? Was it merely oil and gas lobbyists pushing PA legislators around? In “Exposed: Pennsylvania Act 13, Overturned by Commonwealth Court, Originally and ALEC Model Bill,” DeSmogBlog writer Steve Horn reveals,

The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is appropriately described as an ideologically conservative, Republican Party-centric “corporate bill mill” by the Center for Media and Democracy, the overseer of the ALEC Exposed project. 98 percent of ALEC’s funding comes from corporations, according to CMD…

A close examination suggests that an ALEC model bill is quite similar to the recently overturned Act 13. 

It is likely modeled after and inspired by an ALEC bill titled, “An Act Granting the Authority of Rural Counties to Transition to Decentralized Land Use Regulation.” This Act was passed by ALEC’s Energy, Environment, and Agriculture Task Force at its Annual Meeting in August 2010 in San Diego, CA.

The model bill opens by saying that “…the planning and zoning authority granted to rural counties may encourage land use regulation which is overly centralized, intrusive and politicized.” The model bill‘s central purpose is to “grant rural counties the legal authority to abandon their planning and zoning authority in order to transition to decentralized land use regulation…”

In Orwellian language, the bill “gives” local municipality the “authority” to “abandon their authority,” or in plainer language, the bill strips them of their rights altogether and crushes democracy as we know it. In the process, the bill uses the language of “decentralization” to actually take away decentralized democratic rights and put those rights in the hands of huge corporations, defended by the state. Desmog continues,

The key legal substance of the [ALEC model] bill reads, “The local law shall require the county to repeal or modify any land use restriction stemming from the county’s exercise of its planning or zoning authority, which prohibits or conditionally restricts the peaceful or highest and best uses of private property…”

In short, like Act 13, this ALEC model bill turns local democractic protections on their head. Act 13, to be fair, is a far meatier bill, running 174 pages in length. What likely happened: Pennsylvania legislators and the oil and gas industry lobbyists they serve took the key concepts found in ALEC’s bill, ran with them, and made an even more extreme and specific piece of legislation to strip away Pennsylvania citizens’ rights.

PA Taxpayers on Hook for Over $550,000 of Gov Corbett’s Legal Fees

Incredibly, Governor Corbett, in his desperate attempt to serve his industry friends — the same ones who bankrolled him in his 2004 Attorney General campaign, the same ones who gave him at least 1.8 million in his more recent gubernatorial campaign — has spent over half a million bucks appealing the Commonwealth Court decision which overturned Act 13.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court, when asked to allow industry lobbyists to represent the fracking industry in Governor Corbett’s appeal, said: no thanks, Governor Corbett himself is representing the industry, so no further representation is needed.

That leaves Pennsylvania taxpayers actually footing the legal bill for a governor hell-bent on taking away the rights of the only authorities which are making any attempt to protect Pennsylvania’s people from poisoned water, poisoned air, devastated land, fracking flowback waste pits, flaring, venting, frac sand clouds, and the accidents, spills, and explosions accompanying every stage of drilling from well pad construction through pipeline drilling. That is to say, our municipal officials. We the people are bound to pay the bill for this governor’s attempt to hand over our municipal officials’ rights to corporations.

See “PA Legal Bills Exceed 550,000 in Dispute Over Shale Drilling,” by Laura Olson in yesterday’s Post-Gazette.

Feb. 13th. Love Park. 4:30. Be there. Overturn Act 13. No toxic fracking secrets. And don’t forget the Change.org petition, “Don’t Steal $1.1 million from 30 families with contaminated water

For more information: Protecting Our Waters Executive Director Iris Marie Bloom (215) 840-6489

Stop the Chainsaws in the Delaware River Basin! Take Action Today

February 12, 2013

 One email, two phone calls to prevent pipeline destruction

Recent pipeline projects in the Delaware River Basin left “deforested moonscapes” that are adding to storm water runoff and other problems, as Maya van Rossum, the Delaware Riverkeeper, put it in the Philadelphia Inquirer. Please act now to stop chainsaws from biting into forests, felling trees in Pike County, in the Delaware River Basin, as part of the Tennessee Gas Pipeline (TGP) Northeast Upgrade (NEUP) project. They’ve already felled old growth trees in New Jersey for the TGP.

For background, please see the Delaware River Voice, “Pipeline on the move: one last chance to stop the chainsaws,” by Maya van Rossum.  Trust us, the devil is in the details — we just barely averted tree-felling starting yesterday. Excerpt:

Despite setbacks this week, there is still hope for the forests, trout streams and privately protected woodlands to keep standing and stay healthy while our legal challenges and other battles against the Tennessee Gas Pipeline Company’s Northeast Upgrade Pipeline Project (TGP NEUP) wage on.

But We Need Your Voice and Those of your Friends to Stop the Chainsaws
This has been a tough week for legal battles that were aimed at halting Tennessee Gas Pipeline Company’s (TGP) chainsaws from beginning cutting through beautiful pristine elder forests, heating up pristine trout-loving streams and scarring the private lands that so many have worked so hard to protect.  But it is still not too late.  So before I tell the legal story – please take a moment now to:
  1. Pick up the phone and make 2 important phone calls to DRBC (609-883-9500 ext 0 or ext 200) and the Army Corps (215-656-6502) to tell them “reopen the DRBC NEUP docket and stop the project while you do the necessary review”.
  2. Then write an email with a click here.
  3. Visit our Facebook page to share the news and urge others to act.
These 3 actions will take less than 10 minutes of your family’s precious time but could make the world of difference for some of the cleanest habitats of the Delaware River watershed that we want to protect for our young ones.
Note that this is a national issue. Anyone, from anywhere in the U.S., can chime in, especially to the Army Corps, which represents President Obama; and to President Obama himself.
Last December, over 50 organizations, including Protecting Our Waters, pressed DRBC to review and require permits for any and all pipeline projects in the Delaware River Basin. The DRBC flatly refused our requests and our in-person testimony at their public meeting. However, faced with deforested moonscapes from two pipeline projects, the DRBC then acknowledged their grave error, as reported in the Philadelphia Inquirer last week.
Now, an incredible legal drama continues to unfold. Delaware Riverkeeper Network and other organizations are fighting in court for the life of the watershed, requiring a stay of the illegitimate permit granted by FERC (Federal Energy Regulatory Commission) to fell trees for the Tennessee Gas Pipeline Northeast Upgrade Project (TGP NEUP). Unfortunately, multiple court decisions have been speeding the pipeline along, rushing the process, and overriding the stay. Maya sums it up here:
It is excruciatingly disappointing that the federal courts have rewarded the gamesmanship of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and the TGP by denying our efforts to keep the chainsaws from cutting and put the project on hold until the legal challenges which have been legitimately brought can be seen to completion.  It is clear to me that FERC, the Pennsylvania DEP, the DRBC and TGP have avoided, violated and undermined the state and federal laws that should be protecting us from the harms of the TGP NEUP and other pipeline projects.  The agencies are supposed to protect and serve the public and the environment; but it seems that at every turn they are protecting and serving the pipeline companies and gas drillers to only exacerbate the drilling frenzy devastating our neighbors to the west living in industrial zones and seeing their public lands cut down for the shale gas drillers.

That’s why we need you to stop the chainsaws

The action steps: (takes ten minutes)
Call; Email; and Fax the DRBC — tell them:
  • They got it wrong on TGP NEUP.
  • They KNOW they must review and regulate this pipeline’s cut through the forests and parks, so do it NOW, before the cutting begins.
  • Demand the DRBC reopen the TGP NEUP docket, do a cumulative review, and hold a public hearing, before allowing the docket and project to go final and cut its path through our communities, forests, creeks and wetlands.
Email: carol.collier@drbc.state.nj.us 
Be sure to copy your email to the Commissioners:
edward.c.voigt@usace.army.mil
Michele.Siekerka@dep.state.nj.us
akeaton@gw.dec.state.ny.us
Kathleen.Stiller@state.de.us
Phone the DRBC at: 609 883 9500 – you have to wait to the end of the voice message and then select 0 for the operator to leave a message. It’s a pain but worth the wait to send your message personally and directly.
NOTE: If DRBC says they are not accepting calls re the Tennessee Gas Pipeline, please direct the person to take your message to Carol Collier and assert that your message is as important, in fact as urgent, as any other message that could come in today.
Tell Obama’s Commissioner: 
Your second phone call goes to Lt. Col. Becking of the Army Corps, President Obama’s representative at the DRBC:
215 656 6502
Also: 
Fax: your DRBC letter to 609 883 9522 — Or send your email through the DRN website to be sure they all get your communication too.
Lastly, please chime in on Facebook and Twitter to let folks know you’ve done this action and encourage them to do it also. POW Facebook page
Thanks from the POW team for taking action, on behalf of the life of the river, all the living river communities, all who live downstream, and all the local communities impacted by fracking. Every pipeline project induces more fracking.

URGENT: Testify to the SRBC on Feb 14; Submit Comments by Feb 25

February 9, 2013

The next public hearing on water withdrawals for fracking in the Susquehanna River Basin is this coming Thursday, February 14th in Harrisburg, and the next deadline for public comments is February 25th. Please testify on the 14th if you can!

Protecting Our Waters continues to call for a halt on all water withdrawals for fracking in the Susquehanna River Basin.  The people in the SRB continue to experience their water turning black and other impacts (extreme and explosive levels of methane migration; chemicals associated with fracking turning up in drinking water; chemical spills; methane geysers; blowouts), while there is no acceptable plan for the disposal of toxic radioactive fracking waste within the Susquehanna River Basin or anywhere else.  And the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission is pushing EPA to declare the river impaired, as diseased and dying smallmouth bass indicate the level of harm already done to the magnificent Susquehanna River.

The Action Alert below is posted as written by a coalition of organizations including Lower Susquehanna Riverkeeper, Earthworks, Sierra Club of PA, PennFuture and Clean Water Action.  There are suggested talking points included in the alert but please feel free to modify them or use your own in an effort to push back hard against the SRBC policy of rubber-stamping all water withdrawals for fracking.  SRBC has never assessed cumulative life-cycle impacts.  The governors of all three SRBC states — PA, NY, MD — are responsible for their votes and for the consequences of each ill-considered approval, along with President Obama, who directs his Army Corps of Engineers Representative to vote “yes” on these withdrawals.  The renewals, as well as new withdrawals, must be voted down.  A Cumulative Impacts Study of life-cycle impacts must be voted in.

From the Coalition alert:

For Valentine’s Day, Show the Susquehanna River You Care!

Testify to the SRBC on February 14 or submit written comments by February 25

In February, we have the chance to tell the Susquehanna River Basin Commission (SRBC) that they must address shale gas development!

SRBC will hold a public hearing on February 14 at 1 pm on water withdrawal applications that will be voted on at its meeting in March; this is also an opportunity to tell the SRBC it needs to conduct a thorough study of shale gas development’s impacts on water resources of the Susquehanna.  Then at 3pm, the Commission will hold another hearing on its new proposed rule to better protect small headwater streams.  These hearings will take place in the Pennsylvania State Capitol, Room 8E-­‐B, East Wing, off Commonwealth Avenue in Harrisburg, PA.

If you can’t make it to the hearings, written comments can be submitted until February 25.  Send them by mail to SRBC, 1721 N. Front Street, Harrisburg, PA 17102–2391, by email to  rcairo@srbc.net, or online at www.srbc.net/pubinfo/publicparticipation/PublicComments.aspx?type=2.

See www.srbc.net/pubinfo/publicparticipation.htm for more information on the hearing, commenting, and the issues being considered.

To learn more and take action to protect the Susquehanna, go to www.earthworksaction.org/issues/detail/susquehanna_river_basin_commission

Use the talking points below to help craft your comments!

Key points to include in comments

  • Shale gas development is booming in Pennsylvania, and being considered in New York and Maryland. The landscape is changing. Commissioners have a responsibility to immediately consider both current and foreseeable impacts.
  •  Gas exploration activities may seem to be confined to one place, but can become very intense and widespread over time across the Basin—making it unacceptable for SRBC to keep considering one water withdrawal permit at a time without regard to other withdrawals that are happening.
  • The SRBC is required by its Compact to not only regulate water use, but to also plan for the future and manage resources in a way that prevents significant negative impacts. The best way to accomplish these goals is for SRBC to follow through on its commitment to conduct a cumulative impacts study in 2013, and to make sure that study is broad and in-­depth, taking into account the many impacts on water from all stages of gas extraction, production, and transport. These impacts include: erosion and sedimentation; landscape changes; pollution in sensitive areas; transfers of water from the Susquehanna to other river basins; the permanent loss of freshwater through use in fracking.
  • The Commission must engage the public in designing its impacts study. Citizens and experts have a lot of knowledge to offer on water resources and how shale gas operations affect them.
  • SRBC should not facilitate further shale gas drilling by authorizing water withdrawal permits in the absence of a full, science-­‐based understanding of these problems and measures to prevent them. It should consider halting or restricting further water withdrawal permits for gas operators until the impacts study is finished and its conclusions integrated into agency planning.
  • SRBC should not approve any of the applications up for renewal without first carefully assessing the impacts of the withdrawals. In particular, SRBC should perform an “Aquatic Resource Survey” for every withdrawal application, including renewals, and consider other available data on the site in question. If a proposed withdrawal would have an adverse effect on water resources, it shouldn’t be authorized.
  • The Commission should accept the proposed rule that requires water withdrawals from small watersheds draining less than 10 sq. miles to remain within that watershed. This is a critical protection because the smaller the area, the less the amount of water that can be removed without causing harm.
  • SRBC should post on its website complete applications for water withdrawals, including all supporting documentation on such factors as anticipated impacts and alternatives to what’s being proposed. This change will improve the transparency of the Commission’s decisions, and is the only way for the public  to assess the impacts of proposed projects.

Ed Rendell Intervened to Stop EPA Action Against Range Resources in Fracking Contamination Case

February 7, 2013

Incendiary must-read: According to E&E news, in “Former Pennsylvania Gov. Rendell pressed EPA in Range pollution case, emails show“:

Former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell interceded with then-U.S. EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson on behalf of Range Resources Corp. to settle the oil and gas company’s high-profile Texas water contamination case, emails obtained by EnergyWire show.

An EPA attorney wrote that Rendell, acting as a “spokesman for Range,” met with Jackson in 2011 and “proposed certain terms to the administrator.”

If you live in Pennsylvania, you may remember that several Rendell staffers cut short their terms of service to leap into the arms of the gas industry. In fact, Rendell’s point man for the severance tax issue went to work for Range Resources the very Monday after the week when the severance tax was defeated (due to Rendell himself caving in, claiming that the “infant industry” should not be taxed).  There were very high-level rumors at the time that at least one Rendell staffer had already been on payroll for the industry even while working for Rendell, with no paper trail.

But this is the first clear evidence that Rendell himself has done paid work for the industry. In case you’re trying to dust off your memory banks, the Texas case was the one where a family impacted by fracking became so desperate to get help from authorities that they finally emailed the EPA a video of their water hose turning into a flame thrower, because of methane saturation of their water due to Range Resources gas drilling.

That family is still suffering. Lipsky’s family now pays $1,000 per month for water deliveries, Life for them changed forever.

The EPA official who responded appropriately, declaring that the family was at risk due to the methane explosion hazard (keeping in mind that two homes in PA exploded from methane migration very recently, burning one woman badly and putting all family members’ lives at risk when their homes blew up) was soon targeted in a nasty high-level campaign against him. Read on.

From DeSmogBlog’s story, “Ed Rendell Intervened for Oil Company to Stop EPA Contamination Case Against Range Resources,” please see the devil in these details:

A breaking investigation by EnergyWire appears to connect the dots between shadowy lobbying efforts by shale gas fracking company Range Resources, and the Obama EPA’s decision to shut down its high-profile lawsuit against Range for allegedly contaminating groundwater in Weatherford, TX.

At the center of the scandal sits former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, the former Chairman of the Democratic National Committee and the National Governors’ Association.

Just weeks ago, the Associated Press (AP) broke news that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) shut down the high-profile Texas lawsuit and buried an accompanying scientific report obtained during the lawsuit’s discovery phase in March 2012.

That confidential report, contracted out to hydrogeologist Geoffrey Thyne by the Obama EPA, concluded that methane found in the drinking water of a nearby resident could have originated from Range Resources’ nearby shale gas fracking operation.

Range Resources – which admitted at an industry conference that it utilizes psychological warfare (PSYOPs) tacticson U.S. citizens – launched an aggressive defense against the EPA’s allegations that the company might be responsible for contaminating resident Steve Lipsky’s groundwater.

AP explained in its investigation that resident Steve Lipsky, who has a wife and three young children, had “reported his family’s drinking water had begun ‘bubbling’ like champagne” and that his “well…contains so much methane that the…water [is] pouring out of a garden hose [that] can be ignited.”

In response, the Obama EPA ordered Range to halt fracking. Range was non-cooperative every step of the way, refusing to comply with the legal dictates of the discovery phase and not complying with the censored water sample study implicating the company with groundwater contamination.

The new twist exposed by EnergyWire‘s Mike Soraghan is that Ed Rendell, acting “as a spokesman for Range” Resources, “proposed certain terms” to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson. Exactly what was said remains unclear, but the EPA ultimately dropped its case against Range.

Over a thousand pages of emails obtained by EnergyWire “offer behind-the-scenes insights in a case that has come to be seen as a major retreat by the agency amid aggressive industry push-back and support for natural gas drilling by President Obama.”

Rendell: Range’s Chosen One or Rogue Lobbyist?

The emails obtained by EnergyWire reveal that Rendell intervened directly with Administrator Jackson at some point in 2011, presumably after his term as Pennsylvania’s governor came to a close on Jan 18, 2011. An EPA attorney’s email indicated that Rendell said he was there “as a spokesman for Range.” 

According to the National Institute on Money in State PoliticsRendell took almost $200,000 from the oil and gas industry in the run-up to his 2006 electoral victory and while governor, he described himself as the industry’s “best ally.”

Upon completion of his gubernatorial stint, Rendell immediately fled to the private sector. He currently works both as an Operating Partner at Element Partners and as a Senior Advisor at Greenhill & Co., Inc.

Element Partners describes itself as a firm that, among other things, provides “services to the energy, industrial, and environmental markets” and “capital for growth, acquisitions, shareholder liquidity, recapitalizations, and buyouts.” It provides investment capital for numerous oil and gas industry clients.

Greenhill is a similar firm, describing itself as a “leading independent investment bank focused on providing financial advice on significant mergers, acquisitions, restructurings, financings and capital raisings to corporations, partnerships, institutions and governments.” Like Element, Greenhall also provides investment capital for numerous oil and gas corporations.

Prior to the completion of Rendell’s final term as governor, three of his former aides abruptly left their jobs to work as shale gas industry lobbyists. Their names: Kenneth Scott Roy, Barbara Sexton, and Sarah Battisti.

Sexton, Rendell’s former Executive Deputy Secretary of the PA Department Environmental Protection (DEP), transitioned into a gig working as a lobbyist for industry giant Chesapeake Energy. Battisti, another of Rendell’s cadre of Deputy Chiefs-of-Staff, became a lobbyist for BG (British Gas) Group.

The third, K. Scott Roy, wound up as a lobbyist for Range Resources as Vice President for Government Relations and Regulatory Affairs.

Is Scott Roy the Bridge Between Ridge, Rendell, Range and MSC?

In his Range Resources bio, K. Scott Roy describes his former position as Ed Rendell’s “top advisor.” His official title was Executive Deputy Chief of Staff in the Office of the Governor. Roy also serves on the Executive Board of the Marcellus Shale Coalition, the gas industry’s aggressive lobbying arm in statehouses located within the Marcellus Shale basin. Prior to serving in the Rendell administration, Roy worked in the office of former PA Governor Tom Ridge, who went on to serve as “strategic advisor” to the Marcellus Shale Coalition in 2012.

It is as yet unclear what role Scott Roy played as one of Range’s hired guns to fend off the EPA lawsuit. Might he have contacted his old boss Ed Rendell for help pressuring the Obama administration to lay off Range? It seems a reasonable question to ask.

Range Denies Rendell Worked on its Behalf

Range Resources spokesman Matt Pitzarella (of PSYOPs revelation notoriety) denied any connection between the company and Rendell.

“I don’t know the extent of the governor’s involvement in energy-related matters, but he never functioned as a spokesperson of Range,” Pitzarella told EnergyWire.

Given the ties that bind Rendell to Range, though, the words “plausible deniability” come to mind.

Coming full circle, it’s important to remember the human side of this story. Lipsky’s family now pays $1,000 per month for water deliveries, with life for them changed forever.

“This has been total hell,” Lipsky told the AP. “It’s been taking a huge toll on my family and on our life.”

Determining the truth of what happened with the EPA’s failed investigation and lawsuit against Range Resources won’t change the Lipskys’ predicament, but it would go a long way towards identifying the grasp of the oil industry’s tentacles on Washington.

Black Water and Broken Promises: Elderly PA Resident Speaks Out

February 6, 2013

Black Water: Marcellus Shale Reality Tour

In this important video by Gas Drilling Awareness Coalition, Max Chilson of Asylum, Pennsylvania (near Towanda, in Bradford County) describes a few aspects of the nightmare his life has become since his water turned black after Chief Oil and Gas fracked nearby.  Max describes a trail of broken promises that’s led him to conclude, “I wouldn’t trade water for gas nohow.”

Max leased his 1.5 acres to Chesapeake Energy, and Chesapeake won’t help him either, laying the blame on Chief. Chesapeake is not drilling on Max’s land; Chief has two well pads with active drilling and fracking, one 1800 feet away and one 1200 feet away. In the video, Max says he couldn’t accept an offer Chief made to put in a water filtration system and a onetime payment of $300, because the agreement would have required him to pay for all filter replacements and repairs, which he can’t afford.

But why did his water turn black after Marcellus Shale gas drilling began nearby, anyway? No one knows precisely, but many others have had their water impacted, including turning black, in association with natural gas extraction (see The List of the Harmed and “Incidents where hydraulic fracturing is a suspected cause of drinking water contamination“). And why does it have that diesel-y smell? Max says he’s been unsuccessful in getting PA DEP to come re-test his water since it’s been impacted again.

Bottom line: Pennsylvania regulators are not making sure that Max, who had red rashes all over his body from showering in his water after it turned bad, has truly clean water. The gas companies certainly are not making sure he has clean water. “Every time they came here, they didn’t keep [their] promises,” says Max.

An elderly man with a bad back is being forced to carry and heat water from heavy 5-gallon jugs. He’s had to endure rashes from washing his hands and body in water turned bad by fracking. Meanwhile, Pennsylvania officials continue to deny they’ve “found any conclusive links” between fracking and health. it’s clear they’re not listening to Max Chilson or hundreds like him.

Thanks to Gas Drilling Awareness Coalition for their work documenting the impacts on Max’s water, and on his life.

UPDATE: 9 AM February 6 2013: I just spoke with Max Chilson. He said he has been forced to buy his own drinking water since Chief cut him off in November 2012. He believes he was cut off from clean drinking water as a punishment because he refused to sign an agreement saying that he would not contest PA DEP’s determination that gas drilling did not cause his water contamination.

Max can no longer carry the heavy jugs to heat for his stove, because, he said, “When you’re 80, it gets tough; I have a bad knee and bad back… My other neighbors had their water go bad too, some in their 80s and 90s.” So he is again showering in his water, and he reported the red rash recurring all over his body, followed by a type of rash that can linger up to two weeks.

Max said, “1200 feet below me they’re fracking” (Chief, which he says also drilled and fracked a well pad 1800 feet above him), and that the black stuff is again in his water.  He said he called the Pennsylvania Department of Health (DOH), but that DOH said he should call DEP to get them to test again. He says he did that, but that DEP was unresponsive. “I even gave DEP the DOH phone number,” he said, “but I never heard back from either of them again.”

WHERE IS THE PA DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH?

TAKE  ACTION: NO MORE TOXIC SECRETS

Try something new and different. Send the video link to the Pennsylvania Department of Health (DOH). Follow up with two phone calls.

1. Call the Secretary of the PA Department of Health (717)787-6436

Ask whether Max Chilson’s case has been thoroughly documented by DOH as a gas drilling-related health complaint?

Demand that he be provided with a water buffalo to provide clean water for bathing, laundry, and dishes; and that he be supplied with clean drinking water, which he should not have to haul himself.

If you like, report your actions, and the responses you get, in the Comments section of this blog.

2. Call the Bureau of Public Health Preparedness (717) 346-0640

Ask them if the Bureau of Public Health Preparedness is truly prepared to deal with this level of fracking disaster? Send them a link to this video. Max’s water quality tested “A!” when the water well went in in 2004, he says, before drilling and fracking. He also says a number of his neighbors are also impacted. Send the Bureau the List of the Harmed, as well.

Please ask, during both phone calls, exactly who at DOH is now keeping track of gas drilling-related illnesses? What phone number should people with gas drilling-related health impacts call so that a complete directory of documented complaints is established?

Note: This is a DOH job, not a DEP issue alone. Yes, of course DEP should be more responsive. But where health is concerned, we need DOH to step up, to document, to respond, to provide emergency clean water — which they have the power to do — and to protect public health. DEP seems to lose a lot of records, and has argued in a court case that it is a burden to keep records about water impacted by gas drilling in an organized way. More importantly, DEP is embroiled in a major scandal at the moment regarding their water testing procedures; 25 environmental groups are asking questions about DEP’s lack of transparency related to disclosing water contaminants to Pennsylvania residents who suspect their water is impacted by gas drilling.

Skin rashes are not to be dismissed — they are more than an inconvenience; they can be precursors to much more serious illness related to water contaminated by drilling, fracturing, and other process associated with high-volume slickwater horizontal hydrofracking in shale.

Keep asking: Who at DOH will help Max Chilson get clean water to drink, to bathe in, to wash his dishes in? And if DOH has not found a way to help Max Chilson and others with bad water, will they issue a Public Health Alert to help people whose water turns bad figure out what to do and how to take care of their health?

Contact: Bureau of Public Health Preparedness
Phone: (717) 346-0640
Fax: (717) 346-0643
Email: BPHP_DOHWebsite@pa.gov

Groups Push for Transparency in Testing for Water Contamination from Fracking

February 4, 2013

Health-harming contaminants often show up in water during and after shale gas drilling operations, including chemical transportation and mixing; drilling; fracturing; toxic waste handling; gas processing; pipeline operations and more. Photo: ecowatch.org/2013/testing-water-fracking/

PA DEP cancelled meeting with 12 groups

Questions and concerns continue to surround Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection’s (DEP) water testing and reporting policies related to impacts from Marcellus Shale natural gas operations. These issues were originally revealed in the Kiskadden vs. PA DEPdeposition of Taru Upadhyay, technical director of DEP’s Bureau of Laboratories—and described widely in subsequent news stories regarding the use of suite codes, which result in only partial test results being sent to homeowners.

“Where gas development goes, problems follow. Yet the DEP seems more interested in protecting its own information than protecting the environment,” says Nadia Steinzor, eastern program coordinator, Earthworks’ Oil & Gas Accountability Project. “DEP should stop playing hide and seek and start giving the public better water and air tests, complete results and honest answers.”

“We’ve worked with and supplied clean water to desperate and impacted people begging DEP for more and better information about their water. By not giving these people full information, PA DEP is violating communities’ right to know, behaving with shocking arrogance, and endangering public health,” said Iris Marie Bloom, director of Protecting Our Waters.

On November 14th, 2012, 25 organizations sent a letter to Governor Tom Corbett and Secretary Michael Krancer criticizing the PA DEP’s water testing and notification policies as outdated, lacking transparency and inadequate to protect residents and drinking water from pollution caused by gas drilling. The groups called for immediate action to be taken to reform PA DEP’s procedures and to disclose all data collected through DEP water tests but only partially reported to households where the testing occurred.

Following Secretary Krancer’s reply to the letter, PA DEP confirmed on December 12th that a meeting to discuss these issues would take place Jan. 24 between representatives of a dozen of the signatory organizations and the PA DEP’s Oil and Gas Division and Bureau of Laboratories. However, DEP abruptly cancelled the meeting on January 22nd.

“Our organizations were optimistic about the opportunity to finally get answers that we and the public are seeking regarding this important public health issue,” said Steve Hvozdovich, Marcellus shale policy associate of Clean Water Action. “We are extremely disappointed with the cancellation, particularly because the meeting was arranged at their suggestion.”

“Residents who are in the dark about their well water quality need answers and as advocates, we are determined to find out what’s really going on. DEP’s offer to meet seemed to represent a willingness to begin to address these issues, now that is called into question,” said Tracy Carluccio, deputy director, Delaware Riverkeeper Network.

“It has been two and a half months since we sent our letter to the governor and it appears that we are no closer to getting answers to our questions,” said Karen Feridun, founder of Berks Gas Truth. “Pennsylvania has over 1,000,000 private water wells, more than any state except Michigan. How long do the millions of Pennsylvanians in the drilling region who rely on those wells have to wait for transparency from Secretary Krancer’s DEP?”

In light of PA DEP’s actions, the signatories scheduled to participate in the meeting sent a letter to Secretary Krancer, expressing dissatisfaction with PA DEP’s decision and outlining a list of pressing questions to which the public needs answers. Some the questions we hoped to have addressed during our meeting with PA DEP include:

  • Why are landowners not routinely provided with the quality control/quality assurance measures used by DEP laboratories to process samples and a full report of the raw data and findings from DEP samples?
  • When are the various Suite Codes applied (i.e., 942, 944, and 946, as well as any others related to oil and gas development)? Does DEP have an established protocol for which code to apply? How many were there where only partial results were shared with the homeowner?
  • What is the DEP protocol for re-sampling and/or using third-party test data (such as gas operator sampling results) in investigations prompted by a request for determination of contamination of a private water supply by oil and gas activities?
  • To what degree does DEP use emerging knowledge about contaminants associated with oil and gas operations to determine its testing parameters? For example, DEP’s list of “Chemicals Used in Hydraulic Fracturing Process in Pennsylvania Prepared by the Department of Environmental Protection Bureau of Oil and Gas Management” includes dozens of contaminants.
  • What criteria in the test results would lead DEP to determine that water contamination was caused by natural gas drilling? Why would DEP state in letters to homeowners that “The sample results of samples taken by the Department did not show any evidence that your water was affected by oil and gas drilling activities,” even if results indicate elevated levels of such substances such as chloride, barium, strontium, methane, ethane, and propane?

“There is a rig 1,000 ft from my house that is readying to drill four horizontal wells. I used a TDS meter this morning to get a baseline normal reading because I am anxious about my drinking water,” said Rebecca Roter, coordinator of Cross County Citizens Clean Air Coalition. “I ask that Secretary Krancer exercise humanity by providing transparency in water testing protocol and reporting of data in cases of suspected drinking water contamination from shale extraction activities. I ask that he continue dialogue with us in good faith about PA DEP’s water testing and reporting procedures for drinking water in PA’s gasfields.”

“Drinking water to support life is vital, not optional, and the sanctity thereof is being violated liberally,” said Julie Ann Edgar, organizer of Lehigh Valley Gas Truth. “All concerned organizations fully expect to see a significant increase in transparency and responsive cooperation on the part of PA DEP. PA DEP and Secretary Krancer’s job includes stewardship of the commons in perpetuity, not “getting gas done” by withholding vital information from the public.”
“We believe access to clean drinking water should be a right, not a privilege, and we need answers from the DEP about why their water testing and reporting appears to be missing critical data for homeowners,” said Erika Staaf, clean water advocate with PennEnvironment. “We hope the DEP will change its mind meet with our organizations so we can find answers to these important questions for our members and residents across Pennsylvania.”

“Our organizations have a long history of interacting with PA DEP and PA DEP Secretaries from both Republican and Democratic administrations and we remain ready to meet immediately on this pressing issue,” said Melissa Troutman, Outreach Coordinator, Mountain Watershed Association.  DEP representatives originally expressed their intention to the group to reschedule the meeting but after 10 days no new dates have been offered.  The representatives of the signatories of the letter are open and eager to meet. The organizations also intend to follow up with members of the General Assembly and the Auditor General who have been investigating the problems with DEP water testing policies.

EcoWatch posted this news and photo here. 

Feeling the Heat in Punxsutawney

February 2, 2013

We are honored to post this essay by Jenny Lisak, an organic blueberry farmer from western Pennsylvania who has experienced the impacts of fracking, and of climate change, directly. Jenny Lisak has compiled the List of the Harmed, now up to over 800 families, individuals and groups of families harmed by the life-cycle impacts of gas drilling.

Punxsutawney, PA: Punxsutawney Phil may be wiping the sweat off his brow when he comes out of his den. It’s 53 degrees at 10:30 pm, Jan 29th, 2013, in Punxsutawney, PA. The weather has been chaotic, and this year has seen many records, including the still-standing streak of 334 consecutive months of above average temperatures. July 2012 was the hottest of any month on record in the US. Over 9 million acres fell to wildfires. We experienced a record arctic melt, severe droughts, and the largest hurricane to form in the Atlantic Basin in recorded history, though we were lucky enough not to experience a direct hit by Joelle, one of the strongest winter storms ever recorded, which thankfully spun out over the Atlantic.

Wintertime Heat

Yes, we’re definitely feeling the heat in Punxsutawney, and in the past 30 years we’ve all noticed some serious changes. It seems to be more and more common to have spells of 60 degree weather throughout the winter. The   early springs are not without an unpredictable killing freeze like last year’s, which wiped-out all the early fruit bearing trees’ blossoms (and the fruit that would have followed). Every year our blueberries get ripe earlier and this past year they ripened a full 3 weeks early, before the farmers’ markets were even open.

Uptick in Ticks

There was a time when ticks were virtually nonexistent in this part of PA. I’d never seen a tick until the late 80’s, despite practically living in the woods and fields. The tick and the Borrelia burgdorferi bacterium it carries are now the bane of those that enjoy the outdoors. We have observed a steady increase in the incidence of tick-borne diseases due to their northward movement and winter activity. With the weather and climate they prefer ever increasing, the lone star tick will soon be making an appearance.

Biggest Threat to Wildlife

Phil might someday be dueling with his prairie dog cousins for prime location – experts tell us that climate change is expected to alter the distribution and abundance of many species. A National Wildlife Foundation study says many animals are struggling to adapt to the new climate conditions caused by the burning of fossil fuels. Animal and plant species are shifting their ranges to colder locales and these shifts are taking place two to three times faster than anticipated. “Climate change is the biggest threat wildlife will face this century,” the study reports. Other studies predict dire extinctions if the temperatures continue to climb.

Adumbration

If we were really taking note, we might see that the grand prognosticator Punxsutawney Phil is doling out a severe admonition to us in his low -key manner. According to a marmot expert, groundhogs in Maine were emerging about 17 days sooner in 2010 than they were in 1998. If Phil could really talk, he might be pleading with us to get it together now – before there is no more future to predict.

Our carbon dioxide-generating, methane emitting, climate-changing, fossil fuel-based economy is the problem, but it IS something we can change. Over-consumption and the greed of fossil fuel corporations are what dictate our weather, not our local forecaster Phil.

Phil can hibernate from the world, but we cannot. It’s time to see the adumbration, the foretelling shadow that warns us: WAKE UP before it’s too late.

Punxsy Phil Says Stop Climate Change

Punxsy Phil Says Fight the Frack: Stop Climate Change.  Art by Emma Lisak.

 

REFERENCES:
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Clark, Patterson. “Groundhogs and Global Warming.” The Washington Post. N.p., 29 Jan. 2013. Web.
Dolce, Chris. “NOAA: July 2012 Was the Hottest Month on Record.” The Weather Channel. N.p., 8 Aug. 2012. Web.
Hooda, Samreen. “Sandy Is The Largest Hurricane To Ever Form In The The Atlantic Basin (INFOGRAPHIC).” The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 30 Oct. 2012. Web.
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Masters, Jeff. “Mighty North Atlantic Low Bombs to 930 Mb.” The Weather Underground. Dr. Jeff Masters, 26 Jan. 2013. Web.
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Weather and Climate Effects on Lyme Disease Exposure.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web.
Wildlife in a Warming World: Confronting the Climate Crisis.” National Wildlife Federation. N.p., 29 Jan. 2013. Web.