Fracktivists Rally, Interrupt Inauguration

Anti-fracking activists took to the streets of Harrisburg yesterday calling for Governor Tom Wolf to ban fracking on the day of his inauguration.  Led by Gasland director Josh Fox, Pennsylvanians Against Fracking, a coalition of 90 organizations held a press conference just down the street from the Capitol.  Speakers denounced the idea that shale gas drilling is safe and called for protections against water and air pollution.  Sam Bernhardt of Food and Water Watch accused Wolf of “being overcome by the fracking industry.  He promised that fracktivists will be “a constant presence as Gov. Wolf tours Pennsylvania in 2015.

Josh Fox:

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Indeed they didn’t wait as they marched to the east side of the Capitol where the new Governor was being sworn into office.  There they interrupted the festivities with catcalls, whistles and chants.  It was entirely inappropriate and likely cost them much potential support for their aims.  Many of those attending the event are in positions which could influence fracking legislation, policies and even potential bans such as the State of New York just instituted.

Gov. Wolf addressed the protesters in his remarks calling on them to help him develop renewable energy sources and keep energy development clean and safe.  In this he is a striking breath of fresh air after his predecessor who was bought and paid for by the fracking industry and allowed the Commonwealth’s landscape to be raped and pillaged.

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News & Notes March 23, 2012

It’s so nice out my fingers want to type in “April”…

The blog morphed over to a cloud server yesterday.  I apologize if anyone had issues getting access during the transition.  Let me know of any problems.  I also added links to various social media/web sharing sites.  Please use them liberally.

Rep. Tony Payton Jr. withdrew from the April ballot due to petition problems.  He’ll likely run as a write-in.  Tony’s a good guy who we need in Harrisburg.

John Perzel, who wasn’t, was sentenced to from 30 months to five years for using taxpayer money to buy a $10 million campaign database system for the HRCC.  It seems they’re still using the software.

Jane Orie’s case went t trial after she spent two+ days on the stand denying she ever gave orders for her staff to do campaign work on state time.  I suppose we think they simply decided to do it themselves?  How stupid does she think the jurors are?  It didn’t help when the DA ran a rebuttal witness onto the stand who testified he saw it being done massively and openly one day when he visited her office.

Prospective voters are already lining up to obtain state ID’s.  We’re spending $10 million to pay for these when abused kids and disabled Pennsylvanians aren’t getting services, when Gov. gasbag is shutting down the parks fund and our roads are crumbling.  All this to solve a problem which doesn’t exist.  Meanwhile people are having to pay bus fare, stand in long lines, if they’re able (many are not) or pay to get copies of their birth certificates.  Having to pay to vote is illegal.

Blue America has a facebook page up about Tim Holden and fracking.  Go “like” it.

Though the EPA issued a press release claiming water in Dimock is safe some who went and examined their documents found otherwise:

In response, Water Defense and “Gasland” director Fox went to Dimock to personally collect the EPA test summaries from six of the eleven families and had the samples reviewed by independent experts. They found that the summaries actually did report explosive levels of methane, heavy metals and hazardous chemicals. According to Water Defense, all six of the results contained at least one serious health concern, either from chemicals present or methane levels. In four of the six summaries, methane levels exceeded the 7 mg/l actionable threshold necessary for mitigation under Pennsylvania law, the standard they say was previously cited by former state DEP Commissioner John Hanger. One of the test results showed methane levels at seven times that limit. The results also showed dozens of other contaminants, according to the organization, including heavy metals and chemicals used in the hydraulic fracturing process, although safe levels have not been established for a majority of these chemicals. Water Defense has called for the complete test results to be released by the EPA for further analysis, citing inconsistencies in the available data.

Fox News says it has never called President Obama a Muslim.  This is called revisionistic history.

Manan Trivedi has a bio video up:

GasLand

I saw GasLand last evening at Lehigh University as part of the Southside Film Festival series.  The auditorium in Whitaker Lab was filled to capacity with hardly an empty seat.  Clean Water Action co-sponsored the screening and film maker Josh Fox was there for a Q&A session afterwards.

The film documents problems and issues surrounding the deregulation and expansion of natural gas drilling in shale formations found throughout the country.  Being from Pennsylvania Fox begins his quest here investigating issues surrounding Marcellus Shale drilling and powerfully polluted water supplies poisoned by the 80,000 pounds of harmful chemicals used to drill each well.

The water table in Dimock, as well reported here, has been poisoned by gas drilling.  Two hundred families there are now being supplied with water through DEP.  They have yet to be reimbursed though for the fact their properties are now worthless.  These folks have nowhere to go because they didn’t think things through or do their due diligence before signing lease agreements.  Many are now bankrupt because of their neighbors’ actions.

There are several important lessons to be learned by watching GasLand:

do not sign any lease agreement with gas drilling companies

take water samples of your well before any drilling commences so you have a “before” sample in case of future litigation

if possible have water tests done before any drills are begun in your vicinity

contact all of your state and federal legislators to protest the exemptions these companies have from environmental laws and to insure moratoriums are imposed before more people are poisoned

know your rights and don’t be shy about insisting that no forced pooling deprive you of your property, health and well being

The movie shows numerous people who set their tap water on fire.  This is happening right here in Pennsylvania.  Hydrofracturing is done to obtain the gas and this means hundreds of toxic chemicals are forced into the ground to fracture the shale deposits and release the gas.  Unfortunately most of this toxic mix remains in the ground and the fracking process can result in natural gas seeping up through the ground and through the ground into aquifers.  Each well can be fracked up to 18 times.  Each well location can have multiple well heads and the contaminated water which is recovered through the process is being dumped into creeks, rivers and streams right here in our Commonwealth.  Some canoeists and kayakers documented this just recently along the Kiski River.

State Representatives Steve Samuelson and Bob Freeman attended the screening and answered questions about the cuts to DEP’s budget and other legislative issues being addressed in Harrisburg.  The State Senate has been blocking all efforts to control and regulate the gas industry.  Also there were candidates Mike Horton (State House) and Bill Wallace (State Senate).

Gas drilling is the most serious issue facing Pennsylvania right now.  We are poisoning our population, kiling livestock and pets, rendering people bankrupt because their homes and farms are worthless without access to potable water, forcing our neighbors to buy water supplies elsewhere or be subjected to non disclosure agreements where they surrender their first amendment rights to free speech, expending resources of the state government while sharply reducing the DEP budget (as if we could rely on them to do anything to protect us!) and dumping tons of toxic pollutants into our air, ground and water.  We are surely destroying almost our entire Commonwealth and we aren’t even taxing these gas companies for the gas they’re extracting.

There are things you can do:

contact your state Representative and Senator and demand a moratorium until regulations are passed and enforced

contact your Member of Congress and U.S. Senators to insure fracturing is covered by all federal environmental regulations

attend rallies around these issues

go see GasLand or watch it “on demand” at HBO

speak up loudly before it is your neighbor signing a gas lease which end your life as you know it

As my regular readers know I was in New Mexico last month when this film first came on TV.  Interestingly almost everyone I met around Santa Fe mentioned this movie when I said I was a political writer from Pennsylvania.  People are watching the film and it is having an impact.  I had numerous questions about how Marcellus Shale drilling is going here and what we’re doing about it.  I didn’t have any good news in response to those queries.  Let’s make sure I do for my next trip.

Update:  A PA Young Dem caught this footage of “processed water,” being discharged directly into the Kiski River while canoeing.  Processed water is what remains after fracking.  It is toxic and comes back up the well after being laden with hundreds of toxic chemicals to shatter the shale formation and releasing the gas.  Not all this water remains in the ground and this is how they get rid of it: