Editor’s Note: “The Fracking News” comes to Raging Chicken Press by way of our new friends from Coalition for a Healthy County. The Coalition for a Healthy County (CHC) is a coalition of concerned citizens and local and state organizations actively engaging in a campaign to maintain the integrity of conservation zones surrounding several natural areas in Indiana County, Pennsylvania. We hope to bring “The Fracking News” to you as a regular feature of Raging Chicken Press. We also would like to urge Raging Chicken Press readers to get involved with the great work being done by CHC. Click here to see how you can get involved!
Repeating History? | 2.21.12
Just in time for Valentine’s Day Governor Corbett signed HB1950, a real sweetheart deal for the industry. This site has a good summary of the bill. How sweet was the deal? We can start with the drilling fee: It’s the lowest in the nation, and that’s even when you consider the impact of corporate tax on drillers. Public health officials have said it violates medical ethics. Despite language to keep new wells away from homes and other buildings, the legislation has loopholes you could drive a truck through. Here’s what Erika Staaf from Coalition for a Healthy County’s [CHC] partner PennEnvironment had to say:
If legislators were looking to pass a proposal that will allow more gas drilling near people’s homes, and the parks, playgrounds and schools where our children play and spend their days, then ‘Mission Accomplished.’
The optional impact fee also has created problems for local officials. Washington, Jefferson, Butler and a few other counties have already passed resolutions to adopt the fee. However, commissioners in heavily drilled Bradford County are balking. And Peters, Robinson, and South Fayette Townships are planning legal action against the bill completely
According to Commissioner Ruddock, Indiana County will probably go for it. Seems like that’s something the Natural Gas Task Force might discuss?
Natural Resources Defense Council blogger Amy Mall pointed to the PA legislation as part of a national trend towards the oil and gas industry crushing local governments. This legislation creates a new Wild West for gas drilling in PA.
How did we get here?
Blogger Dory Hippauf asks us to connect the dots. I’ll give you a hint, the answer rhymes with “Funny.” Just ask PA’s own Presidential Candidate Rick Santorum why he loves fracking so much. (Speaking of funny, have you googled Santorum?)
In other news…
Did we tell you about the ethane cracker that the PA legislature wants so badly? It makes plastic and pollution.
Speaking of the ends not justifying the means, a report from last October in the American Economic Review estimates that “the costs imposed on society by air pollution from coal-fired power plants are greater than the value added to the economy by the industry.” In other words, coal power sucks.
This last piece is relevant to the Sierra Club campaign in Homer City, which announced last week it’s intention to sue the Homer City Power Plant for it’s excess SO2 emissions.
And lastly, a belated so long to Indiana native and CHC uber-volunteer, Dan Budris, who has taken a job near Boston working for environmental justice. He joins CHC’s volunteer lobbiest and another IUP grad, Peter Roquemore, who also left western PA last year to begin a career advocating for justice. Here’s a couple of great pieces of writing from Dan, and from Peter. We miss you guys already!!
Unreasonable Development | 2.29.2012
Action against Act 13: Sign this petition from PennEnvironment requesting a moratorium on new drilling. We’re almost to 20,000! Looks like Sierra Club members are also pushing for a ban on drilling. Another option is to Occupy Well Street. Or, use your pick-up truck like this Jefferson County farmer did.
Bradford county commissioners are softening their stance against the impact fee; good thing, since that county’s drilling is expected to produce about a quarter of the total fees across the state. The Pennsylvania Utilities Commission will be collecting the fee, they’ve got a good FAQ on their website.
In a tragic play of politics, the Renew Growing Greener Coalition has realized that neither Corbett, nor the PA legislature had any real intention of funding the program. Despite increases in funding through Act 13, Corbett’s budget leaves them with less. Renew Growing Greener actually supported this legislation, so….how’d that work out for you?
Unfortunately, leaks and spills are becoming more and more of an issue in PA.. Chevron leaked over 4000 gallons of wet gas in Washington County over month starting in November. Butler county has also seen a lot of drilling clay spilled. In the North Hills, Rex Energy Corps wells are having casing problems, and in a typical turn of events they’re being cagey about where the contamination comes from.
The first round of sampling at five case-study sites has been completed in a landmark EPA study of the potential impacts of oil and extraction on water supplies. That’s good news, but unfortunately for PA, not only did the money for a health study get cut from Act 13, but someone actually had the nerve to say it’s a bad idea to study people’s health.
Speaking health, according to the Clean Air Council, the DEP has done a poor job of enforcing air quality standards, regulating a row of compressor stations as individual sources, instead of aggregating them to measure their true impact.
Elsewhere, it’s not too late for New Yorkers wanting to ban drilling. New York state court yesterday ruled for the first time that towns have the right to ban drilling - congrats!
Speaking of strong positions, the League of Women Voters of Indiana County took one against the Homer City Power Plant, and it’s plan to install scrubbers. According to new air modelling from the Sierra Club, the $700 million scrubber project is like putting lipstick on a pig.
Here’s a challenge for economists and planners: take $700 million and create a 10 year plan that would end up with the Homer City Power Plant closed, and Homer City economically stronger than it is today.
That’s the kind of thinking we need in western PA. And this guy in West Virginia has it, building solar panels from scratch and making them available to rural residents. Nice work!!
The Fracking News comes to Raging Chicken Press by way of our new friends from Coalition for a Healthy County. The Coalition for a Healthy County (CHC) is a coalition of concerned citizens and local and state organizations actively engaging in a campaign to maintain the integrity of conservation zones surrounding several natural areas in Indiana County, Pennsylvania. Our coalition is asking the Indiana County Commissioners to protect these areas from the dangers of hydraulic fracturing of the Marcellus Shale.
How can you help? We’re glad you asked! CHC has a great resource page with all sorts of ways you can get involved. Check it out!
Kevin Mahoney is the Founder and Editor Zero of Raging Chicken Press. When he’s not rabble-rousing on Raging Chicken, he’s teaching rhetoric and writing at Kutztown University.
Tags: CHC, Coalition for a Healthy County, Corbett, drilling, Early Edition, Early Edition March 2012, fracking, HB 1950, hydrofracturing, Indiana County, Marcellus Shale, natural gas, PennEnvironment, raging chicken press, The Fracking News