DEP Sec Krancer Resigns

A magnet for harsh criticism from fracking opponents, DEP Secretary Michael Krancer finally resigned today to go back to practicing law.  He became a lightening rod when he screwed over activists seeking to force the Department of Environmental Protection to actually protect Pennsylvania’s environment.  DEP has always been a source of controversy because, historically, it has worked more for corporate interests exploiting the environment than for citizens in protecting it.

Krancer was a controversial appointment from the beginning.  A one time appellate court judge nominee, he was appointed by Gov. Gasbag to make DEP a rubber stamp agency for Marcellus gas exploration and drilling companies.  He successfully fought an extraction tax which would have compensated Pennsylvanians for the removal of our commonly owned gas deposits.  Permits for drilling were given cursory examination while wells continued blowing up and contaminating water supplies.  DEP even stopped providing clean drinking water to communities like Dimock shattered by frackers.  He returns to Blank, Rome where he will do far less harm.  Don’t expect Corbett to appoint a successor who will be any better however.  He didn’t get the nickname Gov. gasbag for nothing.

Hanger Declares For Governor

John Hanger formally declared his candidacy for Governor yesterday.  The former DEP Secretary under Ed Rendell, he is the first of many Democrats ready and willing to challenge Gov. Gasbag.  One issue the two men have in common is support for natural gas drilling.  Hanger, however, believes in regulation and the taxation on the extraction of the people’s assets.

In the final year of Gov. Rendell’s Administration the DEP budget was slashed by about 27%.  This was at the same time as an explosion in the state’s hydrofracturing operations.  DEP has always served corporate interests over the people and nothing Mr. Hanger did as Department of Environmental Protection changed that reality.

He has argued for a middle road in the fracking controversy.  The reality is that as much as we fear what fracking will do to Penn’s Woods it is here to stay simply because there’s too much money in it.  Our primary focus must be on strict regulation, harsh fines for pollution and a healthy extraction tax to repay Pennsylvanians for the loss of our natural resources.  Hanger seems to support those aims.

FRACKING Health, Environmental Impact Greater Than Claimed

(This is Part 2 of 3. Part 1 looked at a state gag order on physicians; Part 3 examines why Pennsylvania is giving special consideration to the natural gas companies. Parts 1 and 2 are currently available at http://www.walterbrasch.blogsp…

             The natural gas industry defends hydraulic fracturing, better known as fracking, as safe and efficient. Thomas J. Pyle, president of the Institute for Energy Research, a pro-industry non-profit organization, claims fracking has been “a widely deployed as safe extraction technique,” dating back to 1949. What he doesn’t say is that until recently energy companies had used low-pressure methods to extract natural gas from fields closer to the surface than the current high-pressure technology that extracts more gas, but uses significantly more water, chemicals, and elements.

           The industry claims well drilling in the Marcellus Shale will bring several hundred thousand jobs, and has minimal health and environmental risk. President Barack Obama in his January 2012 State of the Union, said he believes the development of natural gas as an energy source to replace fossil fuels could generate 600,000 jobs.

           However, research studies by economists Dr. Jannette M. Barth, Dr. Deborah Rogers, and others debunk the idea of significant job creation.

           Barry Russell, president of the Independent Petroleum Association of America, says “no evidence directly connects injection of fracking fluid into shale with aquifer contamination.” Fracking “has never been found to contaminate a water well,” says Christine Cronkright, communications director for the Pennsylvania Department of Health.

           Research studies and numerous incidents of water contamination prove otherwise.

           In late 2010, equipment failure may have led to toxic levels of chemicals in the well water of at least a dozen families in Conoquenessing Twp. in Bradford County. Township officials and Rex Energy, although acknowledging that two of the drilling wells had problems with the casings, claimed there were pollutants in the drinking water before Rex moved into the area. John Fair disagrees. “Everybody had good water a year ago,” Fair told environmental writer and activist Iris Marie Bloom in February 2012. Bloom says residents told her the color of water changed (to red, orange, and gray) after Rex began drilling. Among chemicals detected in the well water, in addition to methane gas, were ammonia, arsenic, chloromethane, iron, manganese, t-butyl alcohol, and toluene. While not acknowledging that its actions could have caused the pollution, Rex did provide fresh water to the residents, but then stopped doing so on Feb. 29, 2012, after the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) said the well water was safe. The residents vigorously disagreed and staged protests against Rex; environmental activists and other residents trucked in portable water jugs to help the affected families. The Marcellus Outreach Butler blog (MOB) declared that residents’ “lives have been severely disrupted and their health has been severely impacted. To unceremoniously ‘close the book’ on investigations into their troubles when so many indicators point to the culpability of the gas industry for the disruption of their lives is unconscionable.”

           In April 2011, near Towanda, Pa., seven families were evacuated after about 10,000 gallons of wastewater contaminated an agricultural field and a stream that flows into the Susquehanna River, the result of an equipment failure, according to the Bradford County Emergency Management Agency.

           The following month, DEP fined Chesapeake Energy $900,000, the largest amount in the state’s history, for allowing methane gas to pollute the drinking water of 16 families in Bradford County during the previous year. The DEP noted there may have been toxic methane emissions from as many as six wells in five towns. The DEP also fined Chesapeake $188,000 for a fire at a well in Washington County that injured three workers.

           In January 2012, an equipment failure at a drill site in Susquehanna County led to a spill of several thousand gallons of fluid for almost a half-hour, causing “potential pollution,” according to the DEP. In its citation to Carizzo Oil and Gas, the DEP “strongly” recommended that the company cease drilling at all 67 wells “until the cause of this problem and a solution are identified.”

           In December 2011, the federal Environmental Protection Agency concluded that fracking operations could be responsible for groundwater pollution.

           “Today’s methods make gas drilling a filthy business. You know it’s bad when nearby residents can light the water coming out of their tap on fire,” says Larry Schweiger, president of the National Wildlife Federation. What’s causing the fire is the methane from the drilling operations. A ProPublica investigation in 2009 revealed methane contamination was widespread in drinking water in areas around fracking operations in Colorado, Texas, Wyoming, and Pennsylvania. The presence of methane in drinking water in Dimock, Pa., had become the focal point for Josh Fox’s investigative documentary, Gasland, which received an Academy Award nomination in 2011 for Outstanding Documentary; Fox also received an Emmy for non-fiction directing. Fox’s interest in fracking intensified when a natural gas company offered $100,000 for mineral rights on property his family owned in Milanville, in the extreme northeast part of Pennsylvania, about 60 miles east of Dimock.

           Research by a team of scientists from Duke University revealed “methane contamination of shallow drinking water systems [that is] associated with shale-gas extraction.” The data and conclusions, published in the May 2011 issue of the prestigious Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, noted that not only did most drinking wells near drilling sites have methane, but those closest to the drilling wells, about a half-mile, had an average of 17 times the methane of  those of other wells.

           “Some of the chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing-or liberated by it-are carcinogens,” Dr. Sandra Steingraber told members of the Environmental Conservation and Health committee of the New York State Assembly. Dr. Steingraber, a biologist and distinguished scholar in residence at Ithaca College, pointed out that some of the chemicals “are neurological poisons with suspected links to learning deficits in children,” while others “are asthma triggers. Some, especially the radioactive ones, are known to bioaccumulate in milk. Others are reproductive toxicants that can contribute to pregnancy loss.”

           An investigation by New York Times reporter Ian Urbina, based upon thousands of unreported EPA documents and a confidential study by the natural gas industry, concluded, “Radioactivity in drilling waste cannot be fully diluted in rivers and other waterways.” Urbina learned that wastewater from fracking operations was about 100 times more toxic than federal drinking water standards; 15 wells had readings about 1,000 times higher than standards.

           Research by Dr. Ronald Bishop, a biochemist at SUNY/Oneonta, suggests that fracking to extract methane gas “is highly likely to degrade air, surface water and ground-water quality, to harm humans, and to negatively impact aquatic and forest ecosystems.” He notes that “potential exposure effects for humans will include poisoning of susceptible tissues, endocrine disruption syndromes, and elevated risk for certain cancers.” Every well, says Dr. Bishop, “will generate a sediment discharge of approximately eight tons per year into local waterways, further threatening federally endangered mollusks and other aquatic organisms.” In addition to the environmental pollution by the fracking process, Dr. Bishop believes “intensive use of diesel-fuel equipment will degrade air quality [that could affect] humans, livestock, and crops.”

Equally important are questions about the impact of as many as 200 diesel-fueled trucks each day bringing water to the site and then removing the waste water. In addition to the normal diesel emissions of trucks, there are also problems of leaks of the contaminated water.

              “We need to know how diesel fuel got into our water supply,” says Diane Siegmund, a clinical psychologist from Towanda, Pa. “It wasn’t there before the companies drilled wells; it’s here now,” she says. Siegmund is also concerned about contaminated dust and mud. “There is no oversight on these,” she says, “but those trucks are muddy when they leave the well sites, and dust may have impact miles from the well sites.”

           Research “strongly implicates exposure to gas drilling operations in serious health effects on humans, companion animals, livestock, horses, and wildlife,” according to Dr. Michelle Bamberger, a veterinarian, and Dr. Robert E. Oswald,a biochemist and professor of molecular medicine at Cornell University. Their study, published in New Solutions, an academic journal in environmental health, documents evidence of milk contamination, breeding problems, and cow mortality in areas near fracking operations as higher than in areas where no fracking occurred. Drs. Bamberger and Oswald noted that some of the symptoms present in humans from what may be polluted water from fracking operations include rashes, headaches, dizziness, vomiting, and severe irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat. For animals, the symptoms often led to reproductive problems and death.

           Significant impact upon wildlife is also noted in a 900-page Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) conducted by New York’s Department of Environmental Conservation, and filed in September 2011. According to the EIS, “In addition to loss of habitat, other potential direct impacts on wildlife from drilling in the Marcellus Shale include increased mortality . . . altered microclimates, and increased traffic, noise, lighting, and well flares.” The impact, according to the report, “may include a loss of genetic diversity, species isolation, population declines . . . increased predation, and an increase of invasive species.” The report concludes that because of fracking, there is “little to no place in the study areas where wildlife would not be impacted, [leading to] serious cascading ecological consequences.” The impact, of course, affects the quality of milk and meat production as animals drink and graze near areas that have been taken over by the natural gas industry.

           Christopher Portier, director of the National Center for Environmental Health, calls for more research studies that “include all the ways people can be exposed [to health hazards], such as through air, water, soil, plants and animals.”

           The response by the industry and its political allies to the scientific studies of the health and environmental effects of fracking “has approached the issue in a manner similar to the tobacco industry that for many years rejected the link between smoking and cancer,” say Drs. Bamberger and Oswald. Not only do they call for “full disclosure and testing of air, water, soil, animals, and humans,” but point out that with lax oversight, “the gas drilling boom . . . will remain an uncontrolled health experiment on an enormous scale.”

           Dr. Helen Podgainy, a pediatrician in Coraopolis, Pa., says she doesn’t want her patients “to be guinea pigs who provide the next generation the statistical proof of health problems as in what happened with those exposed to asbestos or to cigarette smoke.”

             [Assisting on this series, in addition to those quoted within the articles, are Rosemary R. Brasch, Eileen Fay, Dr. Bernard Goldstein, and Dr. Wendy Lynne Lee. Walter Brasch’s current book is Before the First Snow, a critically-acclaimed novel that looks at what happens when government and energy companies form a symbiotic relationship, using ‘cheaper, cleaner’ fuel and the lure of jobs in a depressed economy but at the expense of significant health and environmental impact. The book is available at amazon.com and from the publisher, Greeley & Stone.]  

Fracktivists Bringing Water to Dimock

Activists opposed to fracking are providing water to residents in Dimock after the DEP reneged on its obligations and allowed Cabot Energy to stop providing life sustaining water.  Cabot poisoned the wells around Dimock by exploding toxic compounds in the ground to secure natural gas deposits.  The City of Birmingham, NY offered to provide water but was refused.

News & Notes September 6, 2011

More conservative myths and talking points are biting the dust under the weight of factual evidence.  First the often repeated accusation that government hiring stifles the marketplace and prevents businesses from hiring in falling.  As half a million public sector jobs have been killed by Republicans the private sector added only 17,000 jobs last month.  Add the 40,000 Verizon workers who had to strike to keep hard won health benefits and it seems that conservatives are intentionally lying to the nation.

Now yet another of their myths is being proven wrong:  that regulations and taxes stifle small businesses.  Of course if these people were honest we wouldn’t need to regulate them.  Regardless that talking point is also a lie.  McClatchy surveyed small businesses and found:

None of the business owners complained about regulation in their particular industries, and most seemed to welcome it. Some pointed to the lack of regulation in mortgage lending as a principal cause of the financial crisis that brought about the Great Recession of 2007-09 and its grim aftermath.

A conservative has finally come out of the closet and said why efforts are underway nationally to disenfranchise voters:

“It is profoundly antisocial and un-American to empower the nonproductive segments of the population to destroy the country — which is precisely why Barack Obama zealously supports registering welfare recipients to vote.  Encouraging those who burden society to participate in elections isn’t about helping the poor,” Vadum writes. “It’s about helping the poor to help themselves to others’ money. It’s about raw so-called social justice. It’s about moving America ever farther away from the small-government ideals of the Founding Fathers.

He says allowing poor people to vote is like giving burglary tools to criminals.  At least someone on the right is finally being honest about what they believe.

Obama has been playing both sides of the game on Social Security.  He keeps saying he wants to keep it but he’s the one who keeps putting it in play.  As always pay attention to what a politician does, not what he says:

At least Rick Perry is honest about his position on Social Security:  he says it is a Ponzi scheme and unconstitutional.  The Strengthen Social Security Campaign disproves his argument here.  (I write for this group.)

The Truth: Social Security is the opposite of a Ponzi scheme, which is a fraud, a deceptive and totally unrealistic promise made by a swindler that your investments will reap huge returns. No one is cheated out of Social Security. Social Security is a promise made by all of us together, using the United States government to make that promise work. Just as adult children have always cared for aging parents, Social Security is a promise across generations. It is protection earned by working persons through their contributions, which insures against lost earnings resulting from severe disability, retirement or death. Social Security has delivered on that promise for 76 years. That’s why it is America’s most successful and popular federal program. Unlike a Ponzi scheme, it will always deliver on that promise, if the American people continue to elect politicians who support it.

Gov. Corbett is reorganizing DEP.  I don’t know from this article if his efforts are for the good or the bad, only time will tell.  I do know DEP is useless when it comes to protecting Pennsylvania’s environment.  The fact Corbett is owned lock, stock and barrel by the gas industry doesn’t bode well however.

Records documenting illegal extraordinary rendition of detainees for torture in third world countries proves the program begun under George W. Bush and continued by Barack Obama exists.  Interestingly the State Department official whose signature is on the docs doesn’t exist.  This can of worms opened because of a billing dispute by companies who flew the torture subjects for the CIA.  Torture is an impeachable offense.

News & Notes May 18, 2011

Rick Santorum thinks John McCain doesn’t understand the value of torture.  It’s too bad McCain isn’t running this year because I’d love to watch the 2008 nominee turn to Santorum and say “I know torture, I’ve been tortured, you know nothing about torture or what it does.”  It would be a classic put down moment.  How stupid is Rick that he’d say something like that?  Did he forget McCain was tortured in North Vietnam?

Republicans succeeded in blocking passage yesterday of those oil industry welfare programs being halted.  President Obama targeted the $4 billion in taxpayer breaks given to giant energy corporations making billions while paying no taxes.  The GOP filibuster succeeded.  The tax breaks remain.

Today’s video is about protesters crashing the JP Morgan Chase shareholders meeting:

DEP actually fined Chesapeake Energy over $1 million for the Bradford County well explosion.  These “accidents” are the reason the Susquehanna River replaced the Delaware as the nation’s most endangered waterway.  In yet more Marcellus news DEP is citing Cabot for continuing problems in Dimock and Sen. Joe Scarnati is proposing that each well drilled be assessed a $10,000 impact fee.  Don’t confuse that with an extraction tax.

In litigation news an Appeals Court will not step in and void the settlement in the famous facebook case.  The Harvard twins who claim Mark Zuckerberg stole their idea settled for $20 million but aren’t happy.  I think I could be happy with $20 million.

In some election news yesterday Tom Caltagirone’s hand picked candidate for Mayor of Reading came in third in the Democratic primary.  This from the man going around telling people that he is the only Dem in the area who knows how to win elections?  His DJ candidate Judge Deb Lachina also lost.

Judge Michael Leonardziak never called me after I found two of his poll workers acting illegally at different polls yesterday.

Voters in Philadelphia actually cast ballots for a convicted criminal for Mayor.  In that crooked city it seems like poetic justice.  Michael Nutter still beat Milton Street however with 76% of the vote.   Not everyone there is insane.

In Northampton County a referendum on privatization of Gracedale, the county nursing home, was 3-1 in favor of keeping the facility public.

In Allegheny County Rich Fitzgrald beat Mark Flaherty for County Executive in the Dem primary and State Rep. Chelsa Wagner, the Auditor General’s niece, won the race for the County Controller slot on November’s ballot.

The Democratic race for Judge of Commonwealth Court is very close.  With most precincts now reporting Kathy Bookvar is slightly ahead 306,819 to 304,766 for Barbara Behrend Ernsberger.  This will likely go to a recount.

A gay activist threw glitter all over Newt yesterday.  Is he trying to make the man look good or something?  Sorry but that’s impossible.  I had Gingrich had his pants zipped this time.

Corbett to DEP: Stop Gas Regulation

DEP has now been completely defanged by Tom Corbett.  The Governor’s DEP issued orders saying only the top people at the environmental agency can issue permits and allow regulation of gas drillers within Pennsylvania.  Michael Krancer, a former statewide candidate for the appellate judiciary, will oversee all lack of enforcement and regulation of the industry.  Even prior violations will be rescinded under the new policy.

This means there is no longer even a semblance of oversight as gas drillers pepper the state with new gas wells.  Each well requires millions of gallons of water for fracking and much of the toxic fluids are being illegally dumped and more is being shipped to waste water treatment systems unprepared to remove radioactivity and heavy metals.  The poisons are then being dumped directly into our rivers.  Gas well explosions are happening and residents are discovering they can light their tap water on fire.  The contamination of water supplies is making properties worthless.  Welcome to Tom Corbett’s Pennsylvania.  1,500,000 acres of state forest has now been leased for drilling, so much for “clean natural gas.”

News & Notes January 25, 2011

Berks County Democrats finally got around to selecting a candidate for the special election.  Four days later, in a painfully short campaign window, there remain no materials, office for phone banking, staff on the ground or website.  With three weeks to prepare this is a bad stumble out of the gate.  

I was just on a White House call concerning tonight’s State of the Union Address.  I cannot comment on the content until the speech (embargo rules are in effect) but I will later.  Barack Obama, however, is going to embrace more items from the Republican agenda.  He may as well just go change his voter registration to the GOP and be done with it.  I didn’t get to ask my question about Social Security but I did email the White House for a response.  If he calls for cutting our safety net be sure to take a good, long drink.  You’ll need it.

We commented last year how Ed Rendell was losing staff to the gas drilling industry and now DEP is seeing a migration.  Since DEP was, essentially, in bed with Marcellus Shale drillers this is no surprise.  Expect a bombshell report to be published soon exploding this issue.  It will be very bad for the DEP under Gov. Rendell.

The Inquirer keeps exposing the lack of regulation and oversight which led to the back alley butcher in West Philadelphia killing babies and patients.  This is what happens when you restrict women’s access to reproductive services.  We saw it before Roe v. Wade and we’re seeing it now with all the restrictions to access.  Republicans in Harrisburg are planning to introduce legislation banning abortion in the new health care exchanges.  This will only create more Dr. Gosnells and kill more women.  I thought these folks were “pro life?”  We must expand coverage for abortion and insure safe, legal procedures in sanitary clinics staffed by licensed, competent medical professionals.

There is little new information about the demise of Keith Olbermann at MSNBC.  It does seem the pending takeover by Comcast was significant however.  This is what happens with total corporate control of the media.  So much for that mythical “liberal control of the media” lie.  I hope Keith lands on Sirius/XM or other national radio outlet.  He should have his own channel there though its reach would never match that on cable TV.  Vote with your clicker: stop watching MSNBC.  This is one thing they’ll comprehend:  ratings.

Meanwhile NBC has hired Ed Rendell.  Please tell me we aren’t going to see the former Guv on MSNBC instead of Keith???

The “Texas Miracle” touted as a model by Republicans only to be revealed as a $27 billion budget deficit, is slowly crashing to the ground.  The black hole created by Gov. Rick Perry means a California sized crisis.  Now, after denouncing government bailouts during his re-election campaign Perry wants President Obama to bail him out.

Speaking of Texas Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison announced she won’t seek re-election next year.  Targeted by Tea baggers in the gubernatorial primary she would be primaried by the Republican fringe.  She bailed out instead.

For all you animal lovers and rights people you have an opportunity this week.  Berks County DA who supports the shooting and torture of pigeons, will be making his re-election announcement Thursday evening at 6 Pm at the FOP Social Club 776 Mt Laurel Ave, Temple, PA, 19560.  Come and protest.

Sen. Anthony Williams spoke to the PA School Boards Association and left rather unhappy.  The champion of privatizing public schools took $4 million from charter schools impresarios for his Governor campaign last year.  No wonder the PSBA didn’t like the guy!  Is he clueless or what?

Planned Parenthood has asked the FBI to investigate a man who is attempting to trap employees into giving him information for treating sex workers.  It sounds like Andrew Breitbart is at it again.

Planned Parenthood, a perennial protest target because of its role in providing abortions, has notified the FBI that at least 12 of its health centers were visited recently by a man purporting to be a sex trafficker but who may instead be part of an attempted ruse to entrap clinic employees.

Disclosure:  I am a Board member of Planned Parenthood Association of Pennsylvania, Planned Parenthood Pennsylvania Advocates, and Planned Parenthood Pennsylvania PAC.

News & Notes January 20, 2011

Gov. Corbett is starting his attack on public education this week.  He will push for privatization of public schools by advancing legislation defunding them and allowing parents to collect vouchers.  Pennsylvania will fall further behind as the new Executive guts public education, Ed Rendell’s signature achievement as Governor.

Former DEP Secretary John Hanger sent a farewell email last Thursday thanking supporters.  The clueless man didn’t know enough to “bcc” everyone and now all who received the correspondence have everyone else’s email addresses.  Internet etiquette was demolished this time by someone who should know better.  On the positive side I now have Sen. John Eichelberger’s email handy.

Congressional Republicans passed the repeal of Obama’s health insurance reform bill last night.  The vote represents there failure to put jobs as Job #1 for the new Congress.  What other follies will they fall victim to while jobs burn?  If we’re going repeal bad bills why not the USA PATRIOT Act, FISA and the Military Commissions Act?  Let’s go to the stuff which hurt this nation and destroyed our freedoms!

Judge Paula Patrick got some really bad press today.  She ran for an appellate court position two years ago but seems to have trouble following judicial precedent.  The Inquirer article is rather bad accusing the Judge of letting gun criminals off the hook 27 times.  I had bad vibes about her after attending one of her events and recommended against Democrats supporting her campaign.  I’m glad I did so.

In other news an abortion doctor in Philadelphia was arrested for killing live babies in his West Philly clinic.  This story is horrific as he is accused of using scissors to sever their spinal cords after inducing labor and giving birth to viable, live infants.  The issue here is access to abortion services.  As a Planned Parenthood Board member I understand the difficulty women, especially poor women, have getting access to safe, legal abortions.  Dr. Kermit Gosnell operated an unsafe, unsanitary operation which catered to poor minority women in West Philadelphia.  Unable to afford our services desperate women went there and had their babies murdered.  This is a wake up call as to what happens when safe, legal and rare abortion services are denied.  

DEP Shuts Down Well: Another Explodes in WV

EOG Resources, the company which has permits for 265 gas wells, was shut down by the state yesterday after one of its wells in Clearfield County leaked for half a day.  The company failed to notify DEP that gas and water were shooting 75 feet into the air for several hours.  People allegedly representing the company threatened to kill a blogger investigating the incident.  This company must not be allowed to resume operations until a full investigation into their conduct against Michael Morrill is completed and arrests are made.  The public must be made aware of the dangers gas companies are presenting to our drinking water, watersheds and environment.  People must be free to cover, record and publish the inevitable results of what happens so the people can make intelligent decisions about this gas drilling.  Let us not make Pennsylvania the next Gulf.

Meanwhile another well exploded in West Virginia injuring seven workers.  This is another Marcellus Shale well and the fire near Moundsville, WV is thought to have hit a coal vein where methane gas exploded.  Apparently this is a danger because old coal mines lie underground both here in Pennsylvania and in WV.  Do we know where all of the old mines are, where their tunnels are and where methane may be lurking?  That is likely impossible.  One wrong drill baby and its kill, baby kill.