The Fracking News – Lets Talk Solutions

The Fracking News

Act 13, the new state legislation “regulating” gas and oil drilling in Pennsylvania is not getting better with age. In fact, it may be the worst corporate give away in the country.  The Sierra Club has put together a Mythbuster factsheet on what this legislation does, and does not do, with references to the actual legislation.

What it does not do is make municipal officials happy. Indiana County and other municipalities will be worse off with it. Even though most, if not all counties, will be adopting the impact fee, the legislation will likely lead to lawsuits of municipalities against the state. Already elected folks are taking a principled stand against the over-reaching bill.

Don’t tell DEP Secretary Mike Krancer any of this though, he’s still staunchly against the EPA trying to fit a one-size-fits all model on top of his one-size-fits-all model of regulation. The state is actively trying to strong-arm the entire region into welcoming fracking into their homes (well, 300 feet from our homes.)  Pennsylvania has stopped paying it’s dues to the Delaware River Basin Commission because they’ve yet to allow gas drilling.

Our coalition has maintained that local municipalities should be able to regulate gas and oil.  Guess who has a case study about how townships have no business regulating oil and gas? I guess not everyone got the memo about being a kinder, gentler industry?

But politics and money aside, Act 13 poses a real public health risk; this according to a recent op-ed by Dr. Bernard Goldstein and Jill Kriesky from Pitt.  Here’s what Dr. Goldstein said in February to Congress:

1) the public is concerned about the potential health impacts of unconventional shale gas development;
2) there is genuine cause for this concern, and
3) the current lack of almost any support for research directly related to the health effects of unconventional gas drilling is short-sighted and counter-productive.

Cornell researchers have already found that fracking is killing farm animals and pets.

What’s causing this harm? It’s at least partly the frack fluid. Pro-publica has a new piece on what’s in that stuff.  The industry likes to say that it’s no more harmful than what’s under my kitchen sink. Personally, that gives me little comfort since II keep hazardous stuff under the kitchen sink. That’s why there’s a child-lock on it and Mr. Yuck stickers all over the place along with the poison control hotline.  But don’t tell this guy from Smicksburg, he’s actually asking for a glass of frack fluid. He also completely misses the point 😦

State Impact has updated their tracker of wells drilled and violations. I’m happy to report that Consul energy’s massive complex hovering over the Beaver Run Reservoir has not been found to have contaminated. MDS’s well out at Yellow Creek also got a clean bill of health some months ago.  However, folks in White, Centre, and Cherry Hill townships, along with scores more across the state were not so lucky. Remember the game Press Your Luck? Big Bucks – No Whammy’s – No Whammy’s – Big Bucks – Big Bucks – Big Bucks……STOP on a Wammy!!!

Don’t worry, the industry is ponying up to train their own regulators. Remember how that cozy relationship worked out so well with BP?

Ohio has implemented strong regulations in light of the frack fluid induced earthquakes around Youngstown. They include a requirement for electronic tracking of the toxic frack waste – which isn’t available everywhere yet. Where is it all going to go?

But it’s all okay because of the jobs right? Well, not for these folks, sent home a month after being promised a career in oil and gas. Others are wondering about a gas exodus because of the low costs – or at least a levelling off. Still others are suggesting the whole thing is a ponzi scheme!  It really makes you wonder where all the money is going – Seamus Mcgraw has the same question.

And raise your hand if, just after our state passed a long awaited impact fee last month, you sat in a meeting where you heard about massive state cutbacks – like the elimination of the Keystone fund.

Enough news? Well then lets go see a movie – there’s two coming out soon: FrackNation, which the industry loves, and Frack: the movie, which Josh Fox supports.

Speaking of movies, and solutions – Carbon Nation was a great flick. It’s part of the answer to the challenge from the last edition of The Fracking News, which asked: what’s a better way to spend $700 million in Homer City besides scrubbers that won’t really work?  Here’s three more answers:

1.  According to this gas industry think tank (gasp!) report, for $700 million, we could shut down and re-purpose for healthy living 8 coal-fired power plants.
2.  Check out the agreement NRG made in Delaware to close 3 of 4 coal boilers, and focus on wind power development, including construction training for wind power, electric vehicle power, and solar infrastructure.
3.  Recently in Holyoke, residents committed to establish a community advisory group to pursue funding to examine reuse of an old dirty plant, and bring green jobs to the region instead.

This conversation is possible in Indiana County. We just need to make the choice.


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