Wednesday, January 30, 2013

PA Marcellus News Digest 1/30/13

PA Marcellus News Digest
January 30, 2013

Special: Audio Clip: Senators Pilleggi and Yaw propose expansion of natural gas use:


New on Youtube: “Facts About Fracking”
NPR State Impact
Susan Phillips
We were sent a link to this new youtube video about fracking by Hank Green, of SciShow. In just four minutes, Green explains the big and small picture of fracking, its relationship to global energy supplies, climate change, and potential environmental impacts.

Group urges pause at compressor station
Laura Legere
Jan 26
An environmental advocacy group is urging state regulators to pause operations at a Susquehanna County natural gas compressor station because the Department of Environmental Protection did not formally respond to public comments before issuing an air quality permit.

Fracking’s Other Danger: Radiation
NPR State Impact
Susan Phillips
Jan 25

Fracking's Real-Life Victims
Meet the Pennsylvania residents who say their lives have been changed by gas drilling
Lauren Petracca
Jan 23
Tammy and Matt Manning were excited to own a house for the first time when they moved to Franklin Forks, Pennsylvania in November 2010. Their two daughters, three grandchildren and Tammy's father also moved in with them. Shortly after the Mannings moved into their home, WPX Energy began drilling for natural gas in their area. One day, their water came out of their faucet grey, not even a year after they became homeowners. Their water was tested positive for high, unsafe levels of arsenic, barium, methane and other dangerous chemicals. Tammy and Matt are convinced this is a result of hydrofracking, a controversial process used to extract natural gas from deep in the ground.

Congressmen Supporting LNG Exports Received $11.5 Million From Big Oil, Electric Utilities
Jan 29
On Jan. 25, 110 members of the U.S. House of Representatives - 94 Republicans and 16 Democrats - signed a letter urging Energy Secretary Steven Chu to approve expanded exports of liquified natural gas (LNG).

Prior drilling activity creates worries about Marcellus shale activity
Ellwood City Ledger
Eric Poole
Jan 29
NORTH BEAVER TWP. – From Gov. Thomas Corbett to local elected officials, the consensus is that the Marcellus shale natural gas boom will be the economic salvation of places like Lawrence County.

Pennsylvania Legislative Services
Matt Hess
Jan 30
(full text below)

A coalition of environmental groups that included Clean Water Action, Conservation Voters of Pennsylvania, PennEnvironment, PennFuture, and the Sierra Club of Pennsylvania, held a press conference in the Capitol Rotunda today to unveil the 2013 Environmental Guidelines for Pennsylvania Legislators. The guidelines address five key issues: funding for environmental agencies, public transportation, renewable energy, Marcellus Shale drilling, and green building.

Josh McNeil, speaking on behalf of Conservation Voters of Pennsylvania, explained that the guidelines outline the environmental issues likely to be discussed in 2013 and offers legislators recommendations.

Regarding environmental agency funding, McNeil stated “the Department of Environmental Protection, the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, and the Delaware River Basin Commission lack the capacity to actively protect our air, water and land; budgets have been cut for these agencies for more than decade and they are woefully underfunded.” He added “if a legislator believes he or she is pro-environment that legislator needs to work tirelessly to restore funding to these agencies and to do so not through monetary tricks by raiding already established funds like the Oil and Gas Lease Fund but do so with a dedicated source of revenue.”

Jeff Schmidt, Director of the Sierra Club Pennsylvania Chapter, discussed the issue of renewable energy. “Solar and wind energy provides thousands of jobs in the Commonwealth but the law that it is place that supports these clean energy sources is under attack by the dirty natural gas and the garbage incineration industries,” he stated. “Our legislature should be working to protect the public health by increasing clean wind and solar energy and avoid weakening our Alternative Energy Portfolio Standards law.”

McNeil addressed the issue of Marcellus Shale drilling. “Currently the local zoning provisions of Act 13 have been overturned by Pennsylvania courts and that is still being appealed,” he stated. “We expect that if it is not appealed, the governor and allies in the natural gas industry may attempt to reopen case with legislation that would re-preempt local zoning rights. We believe that citizens have an absolute right to make decisions about where and when drilling happens at the local level and the legislature should stay away from those rights.”

Steve Stroman, Policy Director for PennFuture, emphasized the importance of citizen engagement. “Last year when the governor proposed permanently eliminating funding for the Keystone Fund we saw a tremendous response from citizens all across Penn’s Woods,” he stated. “This public outcry was felt across the political and ideological spectrum in Harrisburg and the money for Pennsylvania’s flagship conservation program was unanimously restored. This type of citizen activism is vital to our work today and the issues we are discussing.”

On the issue of green buildings, Stroman explained that Sen. John Rafferty (R-Montgomery) and Rep. Kate Harper (D-Montgomery) introduced legislature requiring construction projects for state-owned buildings to meet high-performance green building standards. “Building smart, energy-efficient public buildings will reduce energy use and pollution, create jobs, and reduce costs for Pennsylvania taxpayers,” he stated.

David Masur, Executive Director of PennEnvironment, discussed the issue of public transportation and maintaining roads. “Pennsylvania desperately needs funding for increased public transportation that will reduce our carbon footprint and our reliance on foreign oil,” he stated. “Our platform when it comes to public transportation is very simple. Number one we have to make sure we have a vibrant funded public transportation system. Number two we have to have a fix it first mentality when it comes to repairing roads and bridges and that means not using taxpayer money to build the next bridge or road to nowhere.”

The coalition then responded to questions from the media.

The legislature and the governor have not had an appetite to address many of these issues, has your strategy changed to accomplish any of your goals?

Masur stated “we’re optimists here in the environmental community. I think the reality is that the public cares deeply about these issues; the public is watching debate around environmental policies. We know that our opponents in elections spend millions of dollars to defeat pro-environmental candidates and in many cases candidates who supported the environment won. We hope that as the legislature looks toward the next election cycle they know that these are issues voters care about and I think we have to come back and make the case more strongly than ever before. There are champions on both sides of the aisle on many of these issues. We’ll try to work with the governor’s staff to do some of these things that really are low-hanging fruit.”


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