Sunday, July 29, 2012

PA Marcellus News Digest 7/26/12

PA Marcellus News Digest
July 26, 2012

Primarily coverage and reaction to PA Commonwealth Court ruling overturning parts of Act 13, and the EPA announcement on Dimock water tests

Releases

Sierra Club Hails Court Action to Strike Down Oil and Gas Law
July 26
(full text below)
Harrisburg, PA  - The Pennsylvania Sierra Club hailed Commonwealth Court’s decision striking down the Corbett Administration’s attempt to override municipal zoning powers.  The General Assembly adopted the Oil and Gas Law (Act 13) in February.  The law included unprecedented provisions to allow oil and gas operations in all districts in a municipality, regardless of current zoning.  A separate provision in the law that allowed state Department of Environmental Protection officials to waive setback requirements for gas wells also was overturned.  Today the court declared these provisions in the law null and void.

The majority opinion states that requiring municipalities to change their zoning rules in a way that would conflict with their development plans violates substantive due process.  The court found the law does not protect the interests of neighboring property owners from harm, alters the character of neighborhoods and makes irrational classifications.  Further, the court held that the law is irrational because it requires municipalities to allow drilling operations and impoundments, gas compressor stations, storage and use of explosives in all zoning districts.

Sierra Club chapter director Jeff Schmidt commented on the court’s action.  “We applaud the court’s willingness to protect local land use decisions.  The Corbett Administration tried to give the gas industry special privileges for land use that others do not have.  The law would have wiped out local zoning review.  We were dismayed that legislators, in enacting this law, were unwilling to take a stand to protect municipal rights and were unwilling to protect their constituents.”                                                       
###

Cabot Issues Statement On EPA Data And Decision
Wallaby
PR Newswire
July 25
HOUSTON--Cabot Oil & Gas Corporation (NYSE: COG) today announced that the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has determined, "that there are not levels of contaminants present that would require additional action by the Agency."  This statement, from their release, is the result of data from a second, confirmatory set of water samples from its testing in Dimock, PA.  At the same time, the EPA also announced that it would cease deliveries to residents currently receiving water from the EPA, because the agency, "determined that it is no longer necessary to provide residents with alternative water." 
Link:
http://wallaby.telicon.com/PA/library/2012/2012072697.HTM

Briggs lauds Commonwealth Court ruling on Marcellus shale law
Wallaby
July 26
HARRISBURG, July 26 – State Rep. Tim Briggs, D-Montgomery, today applauded a ruling by Commonwealth Court to throw out major portions of Pennsylvania's new Marcellus shale law, most significant the portion that stripped away the rights of local municipalities to establish their own local zoning ordinances to address natural gas drilling in their communities.
Link:
http://wallaby.telicon.com/PA/library/2012/2012072680.HTM

MSC Statement on Pa. Commonwealth Court Ruling
Wallaby
July 26
Pittsburgh, Pa. – Marcellus Shale Coalition president Kathryn Z. Klaber issued the following statement on today’s Act 13 ruling by the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court:
Link:
http://wallaby.telicon.com/PA/library/2012/2012072681.HTM

PennEnvironment Statement on Commonwealth Court’s Act 13 Decision
Erika Staaf, PennEnvironment Clean Water Advocate
Wallaby
July 26
(Pittsburgh) – “PennEnvironment applauds today’s decision by a Commonwealth Court panel that overturned some of the most egregious sections of Act 13, Pennsylvania’s recent—and controversial—gas drilling law.
Link:
http://wallaby.telicon.com/PA/library/2012/2012072672.HTM

Hanna applauds court decision to overturn Marcellus Shale zoning preemption
Commonwealth Court scores a win for Pennsylvanians, strikes down core components of Act 13
Wallaby
July 26
HARRISBURG – State Rep. Mike Hanna today applauded the Commonwealth Court for its decision, issued today, which struck down key pieces of Act 13 – the Marcellus Shale natural gas drilling law signed by Gov. Tom Corbett in February.
Link:
http://wallaby.telicon.com/PA/library/2012/2012072670.HTM

Lt. Governor Cawley says Marcellus Shale Creating Jobs in Blair County
Wallaby
July 26
Tipton – Marcellus Shale natural gas is helping to create family-sustaining jobs in Blair County and across Pennsylvania, Lt. Governor Jim Cawley said today during a tour of New Pig Corporation in Tipton.
Link:
http://wallaby.telicon.com/PA/library/2012/2012072673.HTM

Dermody welcomes ruling that restores local authority
Wallaby
July 26
HARRISBURG, July 26 – House Democratic Leader Frank Dermody said today’s court decision to overturn significant portions of the state’s Marcellus Shale impact fee law is a resounding victory for all Pennsylvania residents.
Link:
http://wallaby.telicon.com/PA/library/2012/2012072671.HTM

Articles

EPA to stop Dimock Twp. water deliveries
Citizens Voice
Laura Legere
July 26
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will end water deliveries to four homes in Dimock Township after a repeat round of sampling found that elevated manganese in one water well could be treated to safe levels.
Link:
http://citizensvoice.com/news/drilling/epa-to-stop-dimock-twp-water-deliveries-1.1348520

Commonwealth Court strikes some provisions of state’s new gas drilling law
Pitt Trib
Timothy Puko
July 26
A new state law violates the state constitution by limiting local governments’ right to decide where and when oil and gas drilling can take place in their communities, state judges ruled Thursday in striking down portions of that law.
Link:
http://triblive.com/home/2279124-74/state-municipalities-rules-court-lawmakers-drilling-gas-able-appeal-areas

Court throws out state zoning for Marcellus Shale drilling
Post-Gazette
Laura Olson
July 26
HARRISBURG -- A Commonwealth Court panel this morning threw out Pennsylvania's attempt to establish statewide zoning for Marcellus Shale drilling, setting up a likely appeal to the state's top court.
Link:
http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/local/marcellusshale/court-throws-out-state-zoning-for-marcellus-shale-drilling-646340/

BREAKING NEWS: PA Commonwealth Court rules zoning provisions of Act 13 UNCONSTITUTIONAL
Rep. Jesse White homepage
July 26
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”
Those words ring very true today. In a 4-3 opinion, the PA Commonwealth Court sided with the people and local communities of Pennsylvania by striking down large portions of Act 13, a law passed in February which severely restricted the ability of local communities to deal with natural gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale.
Link:
http://www.supportjesse.com/2012/07/breaking-news-pa-commonwealth-court-rules-zoning-provisions-of-act-13-unconstitutional/

Insurance companies are slow to cover risks of drilling
Post-Gazette
Erich Schwartzel
July 25
As gas drilling expands across Pennsylvania and into neighboring states, the insurance industry is trading memos expressing trepidation and uncertainty over how to assess the risk involved in covering the controversial development.
Link:
http://shale.sites.post-gazette.com/index.php/news/archives/24711-insurance-companies-are-slow-to-cover-risks-of-drilling

EPA Ending Water Deliveries In Dimock: Delivers Final Test Results To Homes
John Hanger's Facts of The Day
Blog
July 25
The EPA and its water deliveries are leaving Dimock.  The EPA announced today that it had delivered final test results to all homes, including to the 4 for which it had been supplying replacement water.
Link:
http://www.johnhanger.blogspot.com/2012/07/epa-ending-water-deliveries-in-dimock.html

EPA says Dimock water is safe to drink
Patriot-News
Donald Gilliland
July 25
The water in Dimock is safe to drink.
That’s the conclusion of the federal Environmental Protection Agency, which declared on Wednesday that well water in the Susquehanna County town is safe and requires no further testing.
Link:
http://www.pennlive.com/midstate/index.ssf/2012/07/epa_says_dimock_water_is_safe.html#incart_river_default

State Rep. Bud George unveils HB 2556
WJACTV
Brittany Boyer
July 25
[...]The new bill would require pre-drilling water quality surveys under the request by landowners living 5,500 feet from a proposed Marcellus well.
Link:
http://www.wjactv.com/news/news/state-rep-bud-george-unveils-hb-2556/nP4B8/

Rep. White's open records appeal denied
Observer-Reporter
July 25
The state Office of Open Records has denied an appeal by state Rep. Jesse White, D-Cecil, for raw data gathered when the state Department of Environmental Protection tested the outside air quality at a Smith Township medical facility.
Link:
http://www.observer-reporter.com/or/break11/072512whitedenied

EPA says Dimock water safe, but Cabot still can't drill there
E&E News
Mike Soraghan
July 26
(full text below)
U.S. EPA yesterday ended the latest chapter in the turbulent drilling dispute in Dimock, Pa., finding that contaminant levels in its water show no health threat and no connection to hydraulic fracturing chemicals.

Because of that, the agency said, it will stop delivering water to four households in the small northeastern Pennsylvania community that was featured in the anti-drilling documentary "Gasland."

"The sampling and an evaluation of the particular circumstances at each home did not indicate levels of contaminants that would give EPA reason to take further action," said Philadelphia-based EPA Regional Administrator Shawn Garvin.

The action, however, does not change state officials' case against Cabot Oil and Gas for contaminating water wells in the community with methane. The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection still has not cleared Cabot to drill in areas of Dimock Township where it ordered wells shut down in 2009. That case focused on poor well construction, not problems with fracturing.

A Cabot spokesman said the company is "working closely with the state to restart our operations."

EPA had looked for hazardous substances such as arsenic, barium or manganese (E&ENews PM, May 11). At five homes, EPA sampling found those substances, which are naturally occurring, at levels that "could present a health concern." But all five of the homes have sufficient treatment systems, or will have them, to make the water quality acceptable coming out of the tap.

"The data released today once again confirms the EPA's and DEP's findings that levels of contaminants found do not possess a threat to human health and the environment," a statement issued by the company said.

The statement said the company will "continue to cooperate with federal, state and local officials" and stressed the economic growth that drilling has brought to the area.

Industry praised EPA's findings as "fact-based" and cast them as vindication of the safety of drilling.

"We are very pleased that EPA has arrived upon these fact-based findings and that we're now able to close this chapter once and for all," said Kathryn Klaber, president of the Marcellus Shale Coalition, an industry group.

What's not closed is the action by Pennsylvania DEP, which shut down Cabot's drilling in portions of Dimock Township in 2009. State officials said shoddy well construction on Cabot wells allowed methane gas to leak (or "migrate") into the water wells of Dimock residents.

EPA testing has left many with the impression that the federal agency has exonerated and debunked all the allegations against Cabot in Dimock, said John Hanger, who headed Pennsylvania DEP during its Dimock investigation.

He says a drive by some environmental groups to shut down the industry in Pennsylvania has backfired. He said they pushed too far by trying to prove that hydraulic fracturing chemicals, not just methane, had contaminated the Dimock water.

"This is the problem with hyperbole, exaggeration and wild claims," Hanger said. "There are real impacts from gas drilling, and we should focus on those, such as methane migration and methane leaks."

DEP testing found "thermogenic" -- as opposed to naturally occurring -- gas at 18 properties. DEP fined the company and eventually negotiated a $4.1 million settlement in which all the affected homeowners got at least two times the value of their home and kept any mineral rights.

EPA tested for methane in its first round of sampling. Five wells had methane above the federal Office of Surface Mining's screening level of 28 parts per million. Two of the homes were receiving alternate sources of drinking water from Cabot. EPA officials said all of the people affected were already aware that their water contained levels of methane.

"EPA's investigation does not include an evaluation of the risk posed by elevated levels of methane -- which continue to exist in some homes in Dimock -- and which, at extreme levels and if unaddressed, can lead to explosions," said Natural Resources Defense Council senior attorney Kate Sinding.

test

1 comment:

LeaMikhaela said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.