Lawyers Gutting Act 13 Law Claim PA DEP Covers Up Water Problems

gutted deerThe Pennsylvania Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP), along with the Act 13 law, has come under heavy fire from anti-drillers and the seven selfish towns who want to overturn Act 13. Even though the DEP is dedicated to the health and safety of the people and environment in PA, they’re regularly (falsely) accused of colluding with “industry” and throwing both people and the environment under the metaphorical bus. The latest accusations against the DEP stem from the Act 13 lawsuit remanded by the PA Supreme Court back to a lower court. Anti-drillers are doing their best to gut the protections afforded in Act 13 because they want the chance to re-do it and “do it right” (meaning onerous new regulations). And so after the seven selfish towns pulled on one Act 13 thread (zoning) and won, their action now threatens to unravel the entire law (see Ongoing Fallout from PA Supreme Court’s Wrong Act 13 Decision).

Lawyers for the seven selfish towns who are making an attempt to gut the entire Act 13 law in the lower court are accusing the DEP of intentionally suppressing information about contamination of private water wells due to drilling-related activity. The lawyers, along with a sycophantic media willing to regurgitate their claims, say that DEP regulators don’t keep files or issue violation notices to drillers in cases where the driller reaches a private settlement with a landowner. That is, they say it’s a government cover-up of enormous proportions. Which is, of course, preposterous. But it sure sells a lot of newspapers…
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PA DEP Releases 2012 Air Emissions from Drilling/Pipelines Report

Yesterday the Pennsylvania Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) released their annual natural gas drilling emissions inventory data report. The data tabulates air pollution from drilling and pipelines for all of 2012 and came from 56 Marcellus Shale drillers covering 8,800 natural gas wells and from 70 operators of 400 compressor stations, which received gas from Marcellus Shale and traditional oil and gas well sites. Important to note: New to the 2012 report were 250 additional compressor stations that process gas from traditional (not shale) well sites. These compressor stations were not required to report in 2011.

What does the latest report show? As you might expect, when you drill more wells and move more gas through pipelines, there’s more air pollution. However, the DEP is quick to point out that cumulatively, for all Pennsylvanians, air pollution is down–rather dramatically. Why? Because with more natural gas use in electric generating plants (replacing coal) and as a substitute for diesel fuel, overall pollution drops. Still, as MDN has pointed out on previous occasions, we must keep a close eye on air pollution in heavily drilled areas to ensure residents in those areas are not exposed to unsafe levels of pollutants. Below we have the DEP’s announcement from yesterday, a copy of the 2012 numbers, links back to the 2011 numbers (so you can compare them), and a few more thoughts on drilling and air pollution…
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The Human Cost of Delay in New York — Absentee Husband

New York’s ongoing delay in allowing shale drilling has very real costs for very real people. Some losers say, “That gas has been in the ground for a million years, it ain’t going anywhere. Let’s take our time and figure this out.” Waiting has a cost too–especially since drilling has proven to be safe in over 60,000 shale wells drilled in other states. The 70,000-member Joint Landowners Coalition of New York has sued Gov. Cuomo because he has, in essence, stolen the football off the field of play and has run out of the stadium with it. Under the rules (i.e. New York law) you can’t do that. You must make a decision in a timely manner because lack of decision is recognized as causing harm. But the JLCNY is not the only party to the lawsuit that would force Cuomo to complete the review process. There are also several individuals suing Cuomo too.

An article in today’s New York Post looks at one of those individuals–Jon Kark. Jon is the owner, with his dad, of a 353-acre farm in Broome County, NY–just a few miles from where MDN editor Jim Willis is writing this very article. Jon is the sixth generation of Karks to own that land. In order to keep the land and the farm operating, Jon is never home–literally. In 2009 Jon had to leave town for a job that will pay the bills, including steep NY taxes assessed on his property. He gets home one or two weeks every year, and that’s it. He’d rather be at home working the farm, but he can’t afford it. His family can’t afford it. He could be at home working the farm, if Cuomo would get off his rear-end, suck it up and make a manly decision for a change, instead of dithering around, showing total lack of leadership…
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Sunoco Logistics’ New Roadblock in Building Mariner East Pipeline

It appears the PA Supreme Court’s ill-fated decision to toss out zoning provisions in the Act 13 drilling law is now affecting more than just drilling. Sunoco Logistics is trying to build a new natural gas liquids (NGL) pipeline that spans the state–running from western PA all the way to the Marcus Hook refinery near Philadelphia (see Sunoco Logistics Planning Second Mariner East Pipeline for NGLs). MDN reported in January that Sunoco Logistics has a lot riding on a court case in Washington County, PA because they are attempting to use eminent domain to force some landowners to allow the pipeline across their property (see PA Judge Hears Mariner East NGL Pipeline Eminent Domain Case).

We now throw in a new wrinkle for Sunoco Logistics and the Mariner East NGL pipeline: Sunoco Logistics has made a request to the state Public Utility Commission (PUC) to exempt the pipeline from local zoning regulations in building some 31 pump and valve control stations across the length of the pipeline. Based on the PA Supreme Court decision in December, two Philadelphia state senators say Sunoco Logistics does not have the right to be exempted from local zoning…
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Maryland Anti-Drillers Say Fracking Health Report Will Fall Short

If you’re an objective scientist, you formulate a hypothesis (a “best guess”) and test it. And test it again. And again. The results of science are testable, repeatable and demonstrable. If the results don’t match your original hypothesis, you throw that hypothesis out and get a new one to see if the data fits. That’s how real science works. If you’re a political huckster, you engage in scientific insanity–testing and re-testing and when the outcome doesn’t match your twisted and preconceived notions of what it should be–you tell those doing the testing they’re doing it wrong and to do it again. In other words, you’ve already determined what you want the outcome to be–and anything short of that is not acceptable. It’s not real science but smearing scientific lipstick on an ideological pig. That’s how anti-drillers in Maryland are treating a so-called health study on potential Marcellus Shale drilling in the state.

A group of ideological, anti-drilling hucksters, including the Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments (ANHE), Maryland Environment Health Network (MdEHN), Concerned Health Professionals of New York (CHPNY), the odious Food and Water Watch and Ann Bristow (a member of Gov. O’Malley’s fracking commission), have declared a study that’s not yet completed or released will fall short of their desired, predetermined outcome. That is, they’ve already prejudged the not-yet-finished report and found it lacking. Their erudite (and insane) solution? Delay it even more. Extend it. Test again. And again. And again. And keep testing and researching (and lying) until the report says what they want it to say–that which isn’t true: fracking has negative health impacts on “the public”…
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Litigious OH Sierra Club Sues ODNR (Again) Over Fracking

Once again, the ever-litigious, fundraising Ohio Sierra Club (an organization no one should ever support with their money) has sued the Ohio Dept. of Natural Resources because the ODNR is not jumping to every Sierra Club demand to provide emails in triplicate on the topic of crafting new fracking regulations. The Sierra Club is on a fishing expedition. They think they can use language in ODNR emails in future fundraising appeals (See! See! The ODNR sent an email to Chesapeake Energy!) The ODNR is not playing along with their scam, and so the Sierra Club has launched yet another lawsuit (third time in two years). Hey, the lawyers are on staff so who cares, right?

Here’s the latest fundraising press release from the OH Sierra Club:
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