The number of places where drilling has poisoned the water, air and land in communities keeps rising and we can expect that as drilling continues, these incidents will go up. This has not lessoned the pro-drilling forces from pushing for more drilling at every opportunity and with total disregard for the consequences. Below is a digest of some of the recent events that reinforces our need to be vigilant and active.
PENNSYLVANIA DEP LASHES OUT AT GAS DRILLING COMPANY FOR POLLUTING DRINKING WATER
In a public letter to citizens yesterday, Pennsylvania DEP Secretary John Hanger lashed out at Cabot Oil & Gas for denying their responsibility for water contamination in Dimock, PA. He said that there is overwhelming evidence that they are responsible for the gas migration that has caused families to be without a permanent water supply for nearly 2 years. He continued that the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania will seek court orders to make Cabot pay for all costs relative to constructing a new 5.5 mile water main to bring drinkable water to Dimock, PA. Cabot’s response has been to launch a public relations campaign and much misinformation concerning who will be party to that solution and who will end up paying for it. To read Secretary John Hanger’s full statement, click here.
EPA TELLS RESIDENTS OF PAVILLION, WYOMING NOT TO DRINK THEIR WATER
The EPA has told the residents of Pavillion, a rural community on the Wind River Indian Reservation in central Wyoming, not to drink their water and to use fans and ventilation while bathing or washing clothes to avoid the risk of explosion. This warning came after the EPA found benzene, metals, naphthalene, phenols, methane and other contaminants in groundwater and area wells. The EPA has identified at least three water wells containing chemicals used in the fracking process, but will not say whether there is a definite connection until they complete their current study of the effects of fracking on water. While we understand that the EPA cannot make definitive statements until all of their scientific testing is in, this is another clear case of how fracking has poisoned the water in a community. Click here to join the thousands who have signed our petition asking the DEC not to greenlight gas drilling using hydrofracking until they can review the results of the EPA’s scientific study. Read the petition and signatures here.
ORGANIC FARMER IN PA FILES LAWSUIT STATING THAT DRILLING POLLUTED HIS WATER AND LAND
A Pennsylvania organic tomato farmer, George Zimmerman has filed suit against Atlas Energy
Inc.for polluting his soil and water with toxic chemicals used in or released there by hydraulic fracturing. Water tests near his home found seven potentially carcinogenic chemicals above “screening levels” set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Baseline tests that were done on the property a year before drilling began were “perfect”. However, tests done in June 2010 found arsenic at 2600 times acceptable levels, benzene at 44 times above limits and naphthalene 5 times above federal standards. These are substances that can’t be made by nature, and yet that is what is now in the ground. If Zimmerman wins, it would be the first case to prove that hydraulic fracturing causes water contamination. He said he has invested about $11 million in the estate, which includes a winery and an heirloom-tomato business, but he now just wants to walk away because he believes it has been ruined by gas drilling. Zimmerman rates his chances of selling it, as “slim to none” because of the proven water contamination. For more on this story, click here:
Despite this clear and empirical evidence the rush to drill continues.
DEC PROPOSING TO ALLOW FRACKING IN OUR STATE FORESTS
The DEC has said that they are “inclined to consider natural gas developed on State Forests due in part to the fact that it is a cleaner burning energy alternative.” That is, of course, the rationale that the gas industry uses. While it may be true that the burning of natural gas may produce fewer particulates and other polluting emissions than other fossil fuels, it also causes more strain on the water supply, introduces pollutants into the water supply, chemically poisons land in the case of accidental chemicals spills and more. Right now commercial mines in State Forests are prohibited. State forests were created precisely in order to protect these lands from development, and that status should be maintained. The DEC is taking public comment on its draft forest management plan until October 29. You can comment by emailing the DEC or mailing them at:
Strategic Plan for State Forest Management
NYS DEC, 625 Broadway
Albany, NY 12233-4255.”
For a thorough analysis of the this issue read the story Julia Reischel in the Watershed Post
SMALL GAS PIPELINES CAN NOW BE BUILT IN NEW YORK STATE
Despite the fact that gas wells using hydrofracking are not yet approved in New York State, gas
companies can now apply for and get permission to build shale gas pipelines that connect their well pads to larger pipelines because approval of these smaller pipelines is not covered by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). The approval is done by the New York State Public Service Commission (PSC) who can approve pipelines that are up to 10 miles in length. Each pipeline is approved individually, and because PSC is not doing a cumulative impact analysis pipelines are likely to proliferate dangerously and with massive environmental degradation. On Wednesday October 20th, Mountainkeeper Program Director Wes Gillingham will testify at the PCS public hearing. The written comment period lasts until October 29th, 2010. We urge you to click here to submit written comments asking that all pipelines regardless of their length be under DEC approval jurisdiction.
THE DRBC HAS POSTPONED THE RELEASE OF THEIR DRAFT REGULATIONS
The DRBC did not release their draft regulations on drilling for natural gas using fracking last week as they had previously scheduled. They have now delayed that release until November or December 2010. While some groups have hailed this as a “victory”, it is unclear whether this delay is good news or bad news for safe gas drilling. Regardless of their intention, we have to keep up the pressure to require them to wait until the science has been reviewed and analyzed before releasing any regulations. We need to tell the DRBC Commissioners that it is essential that the cumulative impact study be completed before they issue draft regulations. Please write a letter to the Commissioners today calling on them to keep a moratorium on drilling in place until the results of the scientific studies can be reviewed and analyzed. Click here to send a letter to the Commissioners from the Delaware Riverkeeper’s site.