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Updates from Pennsylvania

Saturday March 16, 2013

Pennsylvania… Rest in Peace

On Monday, Jim Garrett, a Korean War veteran who lived directly below Range Resources’ Yeager Impoundment in Amwell Township, passed away at a local hospital. My reports indicate that his serious health issues developed and/or worsened after this impoundment was converted from a freshwater impoundment (that he agreed to having installed on part of his property) to a centralized impoundment for wastewater. Mr. Garrett developed an inoperable brain tumor and just recently re-entered the hospital with a bacterial blood infection. He was still using his well water to an unknown degree.

Contaminated water wells in the vicinity of this impoundment are at the core of an evolving high-profile lawsuit involving the Voyles, Haneys and Kiskaddens, as well as the Pa DEP suite code issue (that turned up during legal depositions), who knew what when, and if water buffaloes were provided as early as they should have been to affected residents. The Voyles live directly across the road from Mr. Garrett’s house and you can see their house in the upper right corner of the photo below. For more details, read Beth Voyles’ story by Eric Belcastro here:

Mr. Garrett’s house is circled:

James Richard Garrett

U.S. Air Force vet, union carpenter was contractor

James Richard Garrett, 83, of Amwell Township, died Monday, March 11, 2013, in Washington Hospital. He was born April 29, 1929, in Washington, a son of Joseph and Julia Langenbacher Garrett.

A veteran of the U.S. Air Force, Mr. Garrett served nine years on active duty and was awarded a Good Conduct Medal and National Defense Service Medal. He was honorably discharged February 6, 1957, with a rank of staff sergeant.

Mr. Garrett was a union carpenter since 1969 and also worked as a self-employed contractor. He enjoyed hunting, fishing, lawn work and home improvement projects. He also enjoyed horses, country music and watching old Westerns and WWF on television.

Mr. Garrett was Catholic and a member of American Legion Edwin Scott Linton Post 175. On August 8, 1949, he married Patricia J. Knoll, who died December 14, 2008.

“All gave some, some gave all” National Cemetery of the Alleghenies near Bridgeville, Pa



I’m not sure which is more disgusting, Pizzarilla’s comparison with road salt, or the Pa DEP providing additional defense of Range!  No wonder Pennsylvanians think the DEP is in bed with the drillers!

DEP investigating spill at Cross Creek County Park

Mar 15, 2013 – The state Department of Environmental Protection has issued a notice of violation to Range Resources Corp. in connection with a water spill last month at Cross Creek County Park, a DEP spokesman said Friday. John Poister, DEP spokesman in Pittsburgh, said workers on the Marcellus Shale natural gas drilling site noticed what is known as “re-use” water entering a secondary containment area. “This was just recycled water,” Poister said in an email. “No frack additives were in this water.” (So now they can remove frac chemicals, since when??)

“It appears open-top storage tanks were overflowing. Water flowing into these tanks was not being monitored. Range reported the spill to DEP, which sent inspectors. “We consider this a significant spill, and we will evaluate the entire incident, response and cleanup before we make any decisions on a civil penalty,” or fine. Pizzarilla: “In this instance, some recycled water left our secondary containment, but our engineering practices and approach allowed for the immediate cleanup and remediation of the water, which contains a small fraction of the salt than what is used on roads nearby Cross Creek for de-icing. This is not to suggest that we don’t take the spill seriously, regardless of the impact, but context is important.”

Recent video of a new Range well pad inside the park:

What drilling looks like in the park:

Photos or the area surrounding Range’s new drilling pad inside the park:

Looking down toward Cross Creek Lake in “our” county park:

Range was fined $23,500 for a May 2009 spill and fish kill inside the park, when

they were pumping flowback through a 3.5 mile long temporary pipeline to the

Lowry Impoundment. Pizzarilla blamed ‘vandals’ for loosening 2 pipe connectors.

This latest wave of drilling was brought about by a lease addendum approved by all 3 county commissioners one year ago. Meeting with my presentation at the

5:45 mark of this video:

Looking toward Hickory:

The wood mulch covering the area on the right side of the photo used to be

hardwood trees, part of the 2-acres mistakenly destroyed by Range Resources:

Aerial photo of early development of this drilling pad:

Timbering during early pad development:

More on the destruction of our county park:



Problems with blowdowns and blow-offs (..the ‘blow-offs’ mostly from the DEP!) continue at Steckman Ridge near Clearville, Pa. (Bedford County). This is also an area with large underground gas storage, and you may remember my earlier stories about Wayne & Angel Smith’s ‘reversing pond’ where the water level rises and lowers as gas is pumped into and out of the underground reservoir. The Smith farm is also home to the double-billed goose, and Angel sends an ongoing assortment of ‘foam photos’ (she suspects MBAS) from the small stream near their home. Several years ago the Smiths had to install a $5,000 to $10,000 water treatment system in the basement of their farmhouse.

Steckman Ridge facility… one blowdown sprayed a fine mist of an oily substance

over the surrounding countryside.

One of Angel’s foam photos from their ‘babbling brook’:


‘Shoot out’ sounds more accurate than ‘leak’…

Neighbors Want Answers After Natural Gas Drill Malfunction

Mar 15, 2013 – WASHINGTON TOWNSHIP — Carizzo natural gas workers were back on the natural gas well pad on Keiserville Road in Wyoming County. They were cleaning up and removing any leftover fracking fluids that spilled when the well head outside Tunkhannock malfunctioned.

The Department of Environmental Protection says officials are investigating how a bolt on the well head failed on Wednesday night, causing thousands and thousands of gallons of fracking fluids to shoot out.

Video & story:


DEP Begins Probe of Wyoming County Gas Well Spill

Mar 15, 2013 – An investigation is getting underway into why a Wyoming County natural gas well began spewing highly pressurized fracking fluid from Wednesday evening into Thursday afternoon. More than 200,000 gallons flowed out of the well before it was successfully capped yesterday.

Clean-up crews are still on the site, which is located north of Tunkhannock. The state Department of Environmental Protection has sent staff to conduct air and water quality testing. A mile-long stretch of Keiserville Road, where the incident occurred, has been partially re-opened.


Important reminder from Matt at Clean Air Council:

PA DEP is proposing to finalize permit exemptions on fracking equipment for the shale gas industry!

PA DEP recently announced that they intend to finalize guidance that would exempt gas companies from permitting for flaring and emissions released from storage tanks and wells. This guidance will have a detrimental impact on local and regional air quality if it is finalized as is. PA DEP needs to hear what shale-field residents and other concerned PA residents think about these additional permit exemptions to the industry.

Without your comment, this guidance will be finalized as it currently stands. This is your chance to tell PA DEP what you think about the proposed exemptions. Comments are due on Tuesday, March 19th by 5PM. Thank you for helping to protect everyone’s right to breathe clean air!

Matt Walker

Clean Air Council

Automated form to submit your comment here:


Sharing ‘the Love’:

Interested in learning more about Geology?  This just in from R. Martin, Coordinator

The newest version of Pennsylvania Geology can be found at the following link:

Please forward this link to anyone who you might think would be interested in the geology of Pennsylvania and ask them to contact us at to subscribe.

For previous versions of Pennsylvania Geology, please visit

George Love

State Geologist


Got their attention…

Environmentalists Throw Cold Water on Efforts to Amend Good Samaritan Act

Mar 15, 2013 – Earlier this week, we told you about efforts to use polluted water from abandoned mines to frack natural gas wells. Some energy companies say they’d be happy to use mine drainage rather than fresh water but they want to be sure that they won’t also get stuck with liability for cleaning up the mine water forever. Lawmakers are debating Senate Bill 411, which would ease those liability concerns. But there’s growing resistance from environmentalists who say the bill is too broad.

Senate Bill 411 would amend the state’s Environmental Good Samaritan Act. That law, passed back in 1999, is meant to protect volunteer watershed groups working to clean up the more than 4,000 miles of lifeless streams resulting from the state’s legacy of coal mining. The fear is that another statute, Pennsylvania’s Clean Streams Law, could leave these volunteers open to third-party lawsuits should something go wrong during their clean-up efforts.


Louisiana… sent by William who has shared water concerns from there for years now:

Office of Conservation Applauds Capital Area Ground Water Conservation Commission Proposal

Mar 14, 2013 – Press Release – BATON ROUGE – Louisiana Commissioner of Conservation Jim Welsh said today that the management plan addressing water use in the vital 1,500-foot and 2,000-foot aquifer sands in Baton Rouge to be considered next week by the Capital Area Ground Water Conservation Commission (CAGWCC) is exactly the kind of discussion and action he hoped to encourage in his January letter to the CAGWCC. The CAGWCC’s Technical Committee on Wednesday voted to forward a management plan to the full Commission that includes provisions for a Baton Rouge Water Company “scavenger well” to intercept salt water encroaching on its Lula Street public supply wells from the south, capping current water withdrawal from the 1,500-foot sands at current rates of production, lowering the existing cap on East Baton Rouge Parish total withdrawal from the 2,000-foot aquifer sands by 1.5 million gallons a day and reducing industrial district withdrawal from the 2,000-foot aquifer sands from 17.5 million gallons a day to 15.5 million gallons a day – all by 2014.

The proposed management plan also calls for any new wells in both the 1,500-foot sands, particularly the Lula Street pumping center, and the 2,000-foot sands of the industrial district to be located further north than current pumping centers. The Office of Conservation, having jurisdiction over groundwater management for the entire state, has been asked by local interests in the Baton Rouge area to intervene and assist the CAGWCC, which was created by the state Legislature to manage groundwater use in East Baton Rouge and surrounding parishes, in dealing with concerns of the encroachment of salt water northward across the Baton Rouge fault into aquifer sands used for public supply.

Entire Press Release:



Jones-Singer bill would increase oil, gas well inspections

Mar 14, 2013 – Two Boulder County lawmakers have proposed requiring the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission to make more frequent inspections of oil and gas wells. Sen. Matt Jones, D-Louisville, and Rep. Jonathan Singer, D-Longmont, are sponsoring a bill that sets a goal of having the state agency inspect each of the approximately 50,000 active gas wells in Colorado at least once a year.

Senate Bill 202, which Jones introduced in the Senate this week, says that while “the substantial increase in oil and gas development” has been “very beneficial to Colorado’s economy,” it also “has led to increased risks to Colorado’s natural environment and public health.” The Jones-Singer bill states in its legislative declaration that “timely inspections of new oil and gas wells, including those that are hydraulically fractured, are critical to protecting public health, minimizing environmental contamination, detecting spills before they worsen and ensuring public trust.”


New York… thanks to Joseph for sending this news:

Seneca LPG foes renew efforts

Mar 14, 2013 – Watkins Glen, N.Y. — Local opponents stepped up their efforts to stop Inergy’s proposed LPG facility on Seneca Lake this week. On Tuesday, the Seneca County Board of Advisors passed a resolution opposing the project, citing concerns about the stability of the underground salt caverns in which Inergy plans to store LPG, and saying the facility would pose a threat to Seneca Lake.

The county asked the state Department of Environmental Conservation to help Inergy find a different location.

“Putting one of the region’s most valuable assets, Seneca Lake, at risk of suffering irreparable damage is not only unacceptable, it’s also unbelievable,” said Stephen Churchill, who chairs the county’s Environmental Affairs Committee. “The general consensus is that this is a no-brainer.   It’s just too plain risky to move forward.”

Gas Free Seneca


DEC meeting on gas drilling draws large crowd

Mar 14, 2013 – SPRINGWATER — One after another, environmental activists and conservationists trooped to a microphone at a public meeting here Thursday evening, all saying exactly the same thing. Don’t drill near Hemlock and Canadice lakes. Ever.

“The possibility — the possibility — of extracting mineral resources … is an abomination and frankly an insult to the residents of this area who have cared for these lakes and their watershed for generations,” said Tawn Feeney, of Conesus, Livingston County. The meeting was called by state environmental officials to solicit comment on the initial management plan for Hemlock-Canadice State Forest. About 300 people, half of them standing, packed the meeting at the fire hall in this Livingston County hamlet.


West Virginia

WVU study: Gas drilling pits are potential hazards

Mar 15, 2013 – CHARLESTON (AP) — West Virginia University researchers say improper construction, soil erosion and seepage are among the problems the state must address with waste pits used by the natural gas drilling industry.  The report they produced for legislators says that while engineers found no imminent threat of impoundment failures, “the problems identified do constitute a real hazard and present risk if allowed to progress.”

The Charleston Gazette says the report, summarized for lawmakers in Charleston on Friday, also found fault with how the state Department of Environmental Protection’s poorly trained inspectors have handled the impoundments. “Consequently, the inspectors only targeted the readily apparent problems such as slips and slides,” the report said, “while not recognizing, or fully understanding, the smaller problem indicators.”



Residents in Ga. town worried over gas drilling

Mar 15, 2013 – CAVE SPRING — Residents in the northwest Georgia town of Cave Spring are expressing concerns about plans for natural gas drilling operations in the area. A Texas oil, gas and development conglomerate plans a well near the town. A state permit indicates that Forestar expects to start drilling in the Cave Spring area in May, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.

The possibility of drilling attracted residents to the Cave Spring City Council meeting this week, The Rome News-Tribune reported. Steve Craw told city councilors that he was concerned about protecting the city’s water source. “I think our water source is under threat,” Craw told the city council. “I would hate for this to happen and five years from now our water supply be spoiled.”


Tennessee… not sure ‘WINS’ is the right word?

University of Tennessee Wins Approval for Hydraulic Fracturing Plan

Mar 15, 2013 – NASHVILLE — The University of Tennessee faced protests here on Friday over its proposal to let a private company drill for natural gas across a forest controlled by the university. Environmentalists say opening the Cumberland Forest in eastern Tennessee to hydraulic fracturing, a process known as “fracking,” could harm wildlife and scenery on the 8,000-acre tract of state-owned land.

But the university says it would create a rare, controlled environment in which experts could study the environmental impact of the controversial drilling technique, while also generating revenue to finance research. The State Building Commission voted unanimously on Friday to approve the proposal to open the site up for bidding. Once a company is selected, the commission would need to approve the terms of the contract.


United States

Does Fracking Make You Queasy? So Will the Trans-Pacific Trade Pact

March 15, 2013 – Today, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe announced Japan’s intention to enter the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact (TPP). With Japan’s entry, the trade pact will now include 12 nations along the Pacific Rim, including the United States. It’s similar to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) — only way, way bigger. And the threats it poses to the health of our families and the future of our planet may be much more severe.

One of the reasons that Japan in interested in joining the trade pact is that countries in the bloc will likely get automatic access to U.S. natural gas. Normally, the Department of Energy is required to examine whether exporting U.S. natural gas is in the public’s interest before it makes a decision on whether to export. That is a critical step in building a responsible energy policy that protects the public and the environment. But this crucial requirement is waived for countries that have signed a free trade agreement like the TPP with the U.S.


Financials… especially for those of you who love Zuber Klaber so much, even a photo! More talk of ‘money & jobs’ instead of ‘well blowouts & spills”…

Shale coalition chief touts potential, prosperity

Mar 14, 2013 – The MSC serves as a clearinghouse for information to legislators, the media and industry regulators and of course employment. Klaber, a native Pennsylvanian, is its first CEO and she said the industry represents a significant investment not just in the development of a natural resource, but an investment in the community.

“We have a strong partnership with the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce,” said Shari Williams, Community Outreach Manager for the Marcellus Shale Coalition. “One of the events we’re planning with the African American Chamber of Commerce is a webinar series that will talk about some of the requirements for small businesses and women-owned business so people can start to get on the same page and get the certification to get on the list for the Department of General Services and tap into these opportunities. Another event of interest is that Councilman Kenyatta Johnson is sponsoring an infrastructure forum that will be held at the Navy Yard on March 22. Infrastructure as it relates to Marcellus Shale and how it relates to Philadelphia.”

Doesn’t look like anyone has commented yet…


Here comes the big spin for California, it always precedes the fracking!  ‘transformative’  ‘hundreds of thousands of jobs’  ‘reaping’ …

‘Fracking’ could boost California economy by 14%, study says

Mar 15, 2013 – SACRAMENTO — Tapping California’s oil-rich Monterey shale using hydraulic fracturing could boost the state’s economic activity by as much as 14.3% and create hundreds of thousands of jobs, according to a new USC study. As detailed in Money & Co. blog, the development of the 1,750-square-mile formation in Central California could have a transformative effect on the Golden State’s economy, with the state potentially reaping oil-related tax revenue of $4.5 billion in 2015 and $24.6 billion by 2020.

“Based on the experience of other states, not only would state unemployment fall, but significant migration of properly skilled workers into California would occur,” said the report, which was conducted by USC and the Communications Institute, a Los Angeles think tank, and funded in part by a grant from the Western States Petroleum Assn.

PDF of “study” by the USC Global Energy Network:




Reports duel over exports of natural gas

Mar 15, 2013 – A report highlighting the economic benefits of using American natural gas to make things rather than liquefying the fuel for transport to other countries has drawn heated criticism from export backers. Dow Chemical Co. commissioned the report “to examine the importance of natural gas-intensive manufacturing to the U.S. economy” and how liquefied natural gas exports “could impact growth of other major demand sectors,” according consulting firm Charles River Associates, which released the report this week.

An earlier report commissioned by the U.S. Department of Energy and written by NERA Economic Consulting concluded that exporting natural gas would have “net economic benefits.” But the Dow-commissioned study focused on a direct comparison between the estimated economic benefit of using natural gas for manufacturing and for exports.


Going up…

Oil and natural gas end the week higher

Mar 15, 2013 – The price of natural gas rose 6 cents, or 1.6 percent, to finish at $3.87 per 1,000 cubic feet. It gained nearly 7 percent for the week, boosted mainly by forecasts for cold temperatures in many gas-consuming regions through the end of the month. Jim Ritterbusch, president of energy consultancy Ritterbusch and Associates, said in a note to clients that he expects natural gas to make “a run at the $4 mark early next week” assuming no change in weather forecasts.

The price of oil rose 42 cents to end at $93.45 per barrel. It was up $1.50, or 1.6 percent, for the week on signs of improvement in the U.S. job market and manufacturing sector. On Friday the government said a strong increase in auto output boosted U.S. factory production by a seasonally-adjusted 0.8 percent last month.


  “Spilling is just the beginning”


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