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 November 25, 2011

I hope everyone had a good Thanksgiving.  Please remember not to shop anywhere which forced its employees to work yesterday.  Let’s give thanks to those responsible retailers who allowed their workers to enjoy the holiday with their families.

In that regard also join the Occupy Black Friday boycott of corporate, publicly owned retailers who are beholden to Wall Street.  Chain stores bleed money from your community.  When you shop at locally owned stores all of your money remains in the community.  Chains, franchises and other non-locally owned businesses send 45% of your money to their headquarters locale.

Companies like Wal-Mart urge its suppliers to outsource their manufacturing in order to cut prices.  When you enjoy those “good buys” you’re actually kissing your job good-bye.  Then you get to wave good-bye to your home, savings and retirement.

The most powerful tool we each have is our money.  Every day, where you shop and where you bank can have an impact.  The sum total of all of us acting responsibly can bring down the corporate tyranny.    For an example of what individual actions can do go to this Amazon page where they sell the pepper spray used at UC-Davis and see the ridicule being heaped upon it by person after person in the product review section.  The things people have posted are hilarious and poignant.

You know, if this is for sale publicly perhaps we all need to start buying Defense Technology 56895 MK-9 Stream, 1.3% Red Band/1.3% Blue Band Pepper Spray ourselves.  Imagine the shock on the cops faces when they target the next Occupy group and discover they have their own pepper spray to use in their defense?  It might put an end to scenes like these:

Gary Johnson is mulling over leaving the Republican presidential field for an independent effort with the Libertarian Party.  What’s that, you didn’t know the former New Mexico Governor was even in the race?  No matter because he wasn’t even a blip on the radar screen.

In state news Rep. John Payne wants a license plate available for sale which says “In God We Trust.”  The way the idiots around here drive they’ll need it.  At least when I see one of these it’ll tell me there’s a moron behind the wheel.  Thanks for the hint.

The folks in Dimock who had their wells poisoned by Cabot Energy are now on their own.  The DEP has given the gas driller permission to stop providing them with water.  First they pollute their water source with methane then they tell the people to go f*ck themselves.  All the while Cabot has drilled without paying a red cent in extraction taxes for destroying an entire community for their profit.  Welcome to the new Pennsylvania people, get out while you still can.

If anyone was still under the illusion that the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection existed to protect us from polluters this is your wake up call.

Republicans in Harrisburg are slashing welfare payments and services for the poor claiming there isn’t any money to fund them.  Programs for the developmentally disabled were cut by 40%.  Curiously though there’s enough money for 3% pay increases for state legislators.

Obviously inspired by the University of California campus police a shopper in an LA Wal-Mart pepper sprayed other shoppers to keep them away from the bargains she wanted.  In a way if you are shopping at Wal-Mart maybe you deserve to be pepper sprayed.

Welcome to Pennsylvania, land of the “castle doctrine” which mandates a death penalty now for burglary.  A homeowner in Philly shot and killed two burglars and wounded two more.  Next summer it may be open season on Mormon and Jehovah Witness missionaries.  Bag limit is four.

Pennsylvania’s Gibson Guitars is under fire for importing wood from India in violation of Indian law.  No other guitar makers seem to need to break the law as Gibson has done.  What makes them exempt?

Former Senator and now Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback has thin skin.  He had a high school student sent to the principal’s office because he didn’t like a Tweet she sent about him at an event.  Grow up asshole.

News & Notes November 5, 2011

I’ll be in Philadelphia today interviewing people at Occupy Philadelphia.

I went to see “Sex In An Epidemic,” a film about HIV/AIDS at the Greater Reading Film Festival.  The production reminds us all, and for young people, educates them, about how scary and frightening it was in the 1980’s when we knew little about the disease and its prevention.  As the void developed on the national scene to deal with the crisis local groups and heroes stepped forward to deal with it.  Bill Bender was that person in Reading.  A panel discussion following the film featured Bill, Director Jean Carlomusto (who used much of her personal archived film footage), Carolyn Bazik and Vanessa Domico.  The film will be broadcast on Showtime for World AIDS Day December 1st.  Check your listings for times.

Drug and alcohol is a huge problem.  Growing up with an alcoholic father I know how big an issue this is but Governor Corbett doesn’t.  He is refusing to create the Drug and Alcohol Department as mandated by the state legislature.  It is precisely the Governor’s job, and his duty, to carry out the laws of Pennsylvania but he is refusing to do so.  Corbett maintains the funds aren’t available but they are.  The Commonwealth has about a billion bucks in reserve which is not budgeted.

The State House passed a bill making local zoning null and void where it comes to gas drilling.  This is yet another example where money and powerful interests are dissolving our democracy.  If you and your local community do not have the power to pass and enforce your own zoning and ordinances we no longer have a democracy.  The state did this several years with the ACRE law which overrode local zoning on behalf of corporate factory farms.  Now the money the energy industry funneled into the pockets of our Governor and many legislators is paying off for them.

The result?  Contaminated water supplies in places like Dimock.  You might remember this small town in northeastern PA from the movie “Gasland.”  This is the place where residents can set their tap water on fire from methane contamination.  Cabot Energy polluted their aquifer and DEP (us) has been supplying their water.  Now Cabot wants to cease providing the life sustaining potion.  Their property values are nothing and the people are trapped there because they cannot sell.  Now their water supplies will be shut down too?  Hasn’t Cabot done enough damage?

Former Penn State football coach Jerry Sandusky is being indicted on 40 charges of sexual contact with minors.  His “Second Mile” charity was supposed to be helping children not hurting them.  This is a bad stain on a fine university and my alma mater.

Today is Bank Transfer Day.  Move your bank accounts (including credit cards) to a local bank or credit union.  If you want to follow everything with Occupy Wall Street you can do so at Occupy Wall Street News.  In Oakland some cops began covering their names and badges so people couldn’t identify them for misconduct.  If you see any police doing this photograph or film them and go to an officer and file a complaint.  Then we’ll publicize their misconduct, their identities and their cover up.

We ask a OPD officer why he had his name badge covered…. from BLK PXLS on Vimeo.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, that union buster, went to Chicago to speak to a group of 1%’ers and was greeted by a bunch of teachers:

I think he got an education.

In Texas a Republican legislator got caught urging the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association not to “Jew them down.”  Larry Taylor has since apologized for the anti-Semitic remark.

80,000 new jobs were created last month, not enough to cover the increase of population meaning we’re still losing ground.  Mark Price, economist at PBPC calculates at this rate it’ll take 33 years to get back where we were pre-GWB.

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.

Pennsylvanians Getting Fracked by Drillers Fight Back

As thousands of new holes are drilled into our geography each year in the endless search for natural gas the side effects are hurting people.  Some are beginning to fight back.  A laundromat in Troy is prohibiting gas workers from doing their laundry because of the extreme dirtiness of the clothing.  The greasy clothing is gumming up the machines and will no longer be allowed in the business.  Part of the problem is that most gas workers, so far, have come here from Louisiana, Texas and Oklahoma.  

A couple upstate are selling their home because of a gas site next door ruining their tranquil life.  They should sell before the drilling contaminates their water supply and the property is worthless.  The thousands of mostly unmarked old wells dotting the region, some dating back to the onset of oil exploration a century ago, are causing natural gas to seep into wells and above ground due to the shock caused by hydro fracking.  

Local townships, boroughs and counties are also taking it on the chin as trucks destroy the roads not designed and built for such heavy traffic.  Each gas well requires up to 8 million gallons of water and all of it must be trucked in to each site.  A single well pad can support multiple wells.  Police are now conducting inspections of the trucks and fining the operators for infractions.  They’re finding lots of infractions.

There are ways to fight back.  If you’re a homeowner in the Marcellus Shale region your best alternative is to leave before you lose everything.


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: