Sunday, December 9, 2012

John Trallo Calls Out Corbett's Energy Czar Patrick Henderson in the Press

Here is, in it's entirety, and in chronological order, the rather heated exchange between myself and Gov. Corbett's Energy Executive (gas Czar) Patrick Henderson. Portions of this exchange has appeared in various newspapers in PA. PA/DEP Secretary Michael Krancer opted not to respond, or futher comment. 

*Prior to being appointed PA's gas Czar, Patrick Henderson was State Senator Mary Jo White's administrative attack dog.

Really? Marcellus Shale bringing energy revolution to state Commentary Mike Krancer and Patrick Henderson
The Times-Leader
Marcellus Shale bringing energy revolution to state Commentary Mike Krancer and Patrick Henderson

Tuesday, November 20, 2012,231234

RECENT REPORTS from Standard & Poor’s and ITG showing the amount of recoverable gas in the Marcellus Shale
play might be much greater than any previous government estimate are good news. Real American energy security and a real force in American job growth are available to us right now – if we continue to make the right decisions to obtain and use what we have right here.

Both studies confirm that Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale formation  is the global superstar of natural gas formations. Marcellus Shale will help make Pennsylvania the energy capital of the nation and spark the rebirth of our petrochemical and manufacturing base. Production from Marcellus wells is exceeding expectations and some of the wells are among the most productive in the world. We already have 240,000 jobs related to our oil and natural gas  extraction activities. When it comes to production numbers, Standard and Poor’s own words confirm that this is a “mere drop in the bucket” of the Marcellus’ full potential.

These reports also say that the potential natural gas liquids  recoverable from the Marcellus are proportionally higher than any other shale gas formation. This is terrific news for Pennsylvania, validating Royal Dutch Shell’s announcement that it is exploring the construction of an ethane cracker facility in Beaver County, a project that would account for 10,000 jobs in the construction phase alone.

Also reported is a dramatic and historic change in the direction of natural gas flows in America. Flows always have been from the West or Southwest United States to the East. Not anymore. Pennsylvania became a natural gas exporter in 2010 and is perfectly located to be the supplier to the tremendous growth markets of the northeastern United States.

This new energy revolution also is being seen in Philadelphia. Refineries that were just recently pronounced dead have new life – in no small part because of hydraulically fractured, domestic oil and natural gas. The result is thousands of jobs and cleaner air from the use of natural gas and lower sulfur domestic Bakken crude oil  at the refineries

Pennsylvania oversees this development responsibly under its effective oversight and comprehensive set of laws and regulations. Through Act 13, Gov. Tom Corbett and the Legislature not only have enhanced environmental protection standards, but also put in place a per-well impact fee, with an initial distribution of $204 million to Pennsylvania municipalities and commonwealth agencies. From encouraging wastewater recycling to one of the most progressive hydraulic fracturing fluid disclosure laws in the nation, the state’s oil and gas program assures responsible, protective development of natural gas. Pennsylvania has more than doubled the number of oil and gas  inspectors, who have conducted more than 20,000 inspections just this year.

Every Pennsylvanian is already benefiting from Marcellus Shale. We are only at the beginning of building Pennsylvania into the energy center of the world and the jobs center of the country.

Mike Krancer serves as secretary of the state Department of Environmental Protection, and Patrick Henderson is energy executive in the Office of Gov. Tom Corbett.

From: John Trallo

I'm wondering if it is even possible for Corbett, Krancer, and Henderson to tell the whole truth anymore. Or maybe that's not part of their job discription in the Corbett administration.

Lie #1: "Production from Marcellus wells is exceeding expectations and some of the wells are among the most productive in the world."

Fact: Marcellus wells are droping-off at a rate of 67% every 105 days according to the US/DOE, requiring more frequent re-fracturing, more water consumption, more chemicals, more truck traffic, more compressor stations, more cost, and more chance of contamination. Oh, and less royalty payments to landowners since the operating costs come out of their share. *Some have even gotten a bill, or a statement against future royalties from tha gas companies because the operating costs were greater than their royalty!

Lie #2: "We already have 240,000 jobs related to our oil and natural gas extraction activities."

Fact: 220,000 of those "jobs" are in ancillary industries that already existed long before the gas industry came to PA. In reality, less than 10,000 workers are PA residents, and those jobs are high-risk, temporary, or transient at best.

Lie #3: "Royal Dutch Shell’s announcement that it is exploring the construction of an ethane cracker facility in Beaver County, a project that would account for 10,000 jobs in the construction phase alone."

Fact: Royal Dutch Shell is doing this on the dime of PA taxpayers in the form of a $6.7B 'grant'. In case you didn't know, that 'grant' money is tax dollars taken from education, health care, and environmental services. Those "10,000 jobs in the construction phase alone." once again, are temporary. This cracker plant is expected to provide less than 200 permanent jobs in PA.

Lie #4: "Through Act 13, Gov. Tom Corbett and the Legislature not only have enhanced environmental protection standards, but also put in place a per-well impact fee, with an initial distribution of $204 million to Pennsylvania municipalities and commonwealth agencies."

Fact: Built in to Act 13 is the provision that the DEP must grant a waiver to set-backs established in Act 13, should an operator request it, rendering the set-backs meaningless. Also, they forgot to mention that the $204M to PA municipalities has a $500K cap on it, and does not amount to a drop in the bucket compared to the billions the state is losing annually by not having a, severance tax LIKE EVERY OTHER OIL AND GAS PRODUCING STATE DOES.

Lie #5: "Every Pennsylvanian is already benefiting from Marcellus Shale."

Fact: Except those who are living in the drilling areas and have to contend with contaminated water, reduction in air quality, noise and truck traffic 24/7, polarized communities, a drop in property values, disappearing farms, increase in violent crime, increase in fatal motor vehicle accidents, constant road construction, intrusion on private property by pipelines that wield the power of eminent domain, and then there are the spills, well-blow-outs, methane leaks, polluted creeks and streams, etc., etc., and everything else that goes along with the wholesale massive industrialization of rural PA. In Shale Country, PA, there is no longer a sense of community, trust in our state and local government, or sense of safety and security in our homes.

John Trallo
Sullivan County, PA


From: Patrick Henderson
Mr. Trallo appears unconstrained by the same truth that he admonishes others, falsely, for skirting by offering false context, no context, or, when necessary, bald-faced lies to refute the below opinion piece.

For starters:

1) The Marcellus, by any measure, contains some of the largest unconventional shale wells in the world. The "drop off" of some wells simply indicates how significant the initial output is - it does not dispel the notion that the wells are world-class production wells. Frankly, if they are not significant producers, drilling interest will go elsewhere.

2) 240,000 Pennsylvanians are employed in core and ancillary oil and gas industries, at wages on average $16,000 to $30,000 more than the average industrial wage in Pennsylvania. This does not include thousands of "induced" jobs - the restaurants, hospitality, service and other sectors that are supported or sustained by oil and gas industrial activity. To state all these jobs were here pre-Marcellus - or to state that only 10,000 of these jobs are held by PA residents - is simply an out-and-out falsehood.

3) Royal Dutch Shell received no grant from the Commonwealth, much less a $6.7 billion grant from PA taxpayers at the expense of other state funding priorities. It is simply, 100% false. Period. Second, it is doubtful that the 10,000 construction workers, employed for 3-4 years constructing a petrochemical and ethylene cracker facility, would agree with Mr. Trallo's characterization. And finally, Mr. Trallo's estimates on full time jobs are entirely inaccurate - the on-site facility is expected to have several hundred jobs, and the ancillary and induced new jobs supported from the feedstock produced from such a facility are estimated to be nearly 15,000 or more full time jobs.

4) Mr. Trallo's characterization of setback waivers is inaccurate. A waiver is not granted if an operator simply requests it; it is only granted if it is demonstrated that doing so will not impact or harm the waters of the Commonwealth. Waiver provisions have been in place since 1984 and again are only granted provided there is no negative environmental impact. Moreover, by dwelling on one provision of Act 13 (and misrepresenting that to boot), Mr. Trallo fails to acknowledge other environmental enhancements: increased well bonding, increased setbacks, enhanced penalties, water management plan requirement, water reuse plan requirement, protections in floodways, secondary containment requirements for chemicals and other materials, etc. etc.

With respect to the impact fee, Mr. Trallo is again wrong. Municipal allocations are capped at the GREATER of $500,000 or 50% of their municipal budget, whichever is greater. If he wishes to criticize providing a municipality with up to 50% more revenue than they previously had, so be it. Most see those limitations as more than generous. Additionally, while Mr. Trallo notes PA does not have a "severance" tax - but it does have an impact fee - he fails to acknowledge that PA does have a corporate, personal, capitol stock and franchise, sales and use, liquid fuels and other taxes which added $420 million to the state's coffers last year.


From: John Trallo

Mr. Henderson,

First of all, I appreciate you responding.

Second, I'm not "offering false context, no context, or, when necessary, bald-faced lies to refute the below opinion piece."

To make that point, the figures I got for the drop-off rate are from the US Department of Energy, and the employment statistics are from the Pennsylvania Statewide Marcellus Shale Workforce Needs Assessment, conducted by: Marcellus Shale Education & Training Center (MSETC) a collaboration of Pennsylvania College of Technology [see page 21] and the Penn State Extension. (both documents are attached)

For the Royal Dutch Shell cracker plant, I quote from the Alpern Rosenthal Accounting Firm press release: "Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett bundled various tax breaks along with the expansion of the Keystone Opportunity Zone program." For those who are not educated on the KOZ program, this is a quote from the PA Dept. of Community and Economic Development: Keystone Opportunity Zones are such a breakthrough idea that Business Facilities magazine calls them the number one economic development strategy in the nation. By eliminating specific state and local taxes within specific underdeveloped and underutilized areas, communities within Pennsylvania are experiencing economic growth and investment.

Now, Mr. Henderson, you can call it 'tax breaks', or 'tax incentives', whatever you choose to call it, it means that the people of PA will be picking up the tab for the tax. Tax not paid, is negative revenue. And the $6.7B cap was removed in the last minutes before Act 13 was voted on. Also, if the waiver provisions have been in place, why did they have to reiterated in Act 13, and what percentage of the DEP permits and waivers have been denied?

As for the impact fee, aside from short changing municipalities... compared to an severance tax, it lets the industry off-the-hook for any negative impact to our infrastructure. Especially with a ridiculous $6K p/mile road bond. According to PennDOT, the cost to resurface one mile of road is approximately $1M. Last year, Williamsport was touted as the "third fastest growing city in America thanks to Marcellus". This year, after their receiving their impact fee distribution, the city is $2M in the red. Are you sure we can afford that kind of "growth"?

Now, I know Gov. Corbett took the Norquist "no tax" pledge, or as any reasonable person would see it, a pledge not to learn, or alter the course regardless of changing circumstances. You're correct, PA does have a corporate, personal, capitol stock and franchise, sales and use, liquid fuels and other taxes which added $420 million to the state's coffers last year. Now, my question to you is, how does that corporate tax work with most, if not all, of these companies registered in Delaware? It should also be noted, that the PA wage tax that is deducted from out-of-state workers is returned 100% when they file in their home state, and most of the ones I know aren't paying any sales tax on tools, work clothes, equipment, etc., since they are work related and exempt from sales tax.

So, putting your game of political semantics aside, I stand by my statements, and have provided documentation to support them. So, if you disagree with the US/DOE, the MSETC, and PennDOT, please provide the documentation to support your position. But then again, you don't have to, since you admitted the article I refuted was nothing more than an "opinion piece". Last time I checked, an "opinion" is not a fact.

Yes, I am sending my response, along with the supporting documentation to the press.

John Trallo
Sullivan County, PA

PS: Please explain how "Every Pennsylvanian is already benefiting from Marcellus Shale", since you did not address my comments on that issue. If you can't explain it, just offer your "opinion", or perhaps Mr. Krancer would like to offer his.


Shaleshock media video:
Cornell's Dr. Robert Howarth, et al debates

November 30, 7:00-8:30 p.m., Maxwell Auditorium, Syracuse University

Sunday, August 12, 2012

State Official to Corbett: Trainers telling workers how to circumvent the system

There is no limit to the dishonesty the Corbett administration will go to, and the complete, total, and intentional disconnect they try to maintain not to answer the legitimate questions of concerned citizens. This allows them to shamelessly hide behind the 'legal cloak of plausible deniability'.
And the politicians on all levels express outrage anytime anyone questions their honesty. Then, they have the audacity to think they can marginalize, dismiss, and question the honesty and motives of the people they suck-up to at election time to get their votes and whose tax dollars pay their salary. And, they wonder why the people no longer trust them. Seriously?

State official to Corbett: Trainers telling workers how to circumvent system

August 11, 2012
By BRAD BUMSTED - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review , Williamsport Sun-Gazette
HARRISBURG (AP) - Trainers are telling state workers learning a new phone system that they can use an instant-messaging feature to avoid citizens' public record requests, the state's open records director told Gov. Tom Corbett in a letter.
"During several different training sessions for the implementation of the new statewide telephone system, state employees were specifically instructed that certain telephone messages and instant messages on this system are not subject to the state's open records law," wrote Terry Mutchler, executive director of the Office of Open Records. It happened in at least four training sessions, she said.
In general, phone records are covered by the 2008 law, Mutchler wrote.
But "there's no way to retain" so-called instant messages, which are intended for "quick, routine communications," said Dan Egan, spokesman for the Office of Administration, an agency under Corbett.
Under the law, only "obtainable" records are subject to public release, said Melissa Melewsky, attorney for the Pennsylvania Newspaper Association.
Use of technology to circumvent the law would violate the spirit of Pennsylvania's Right to Know Law, several First Amendment advocates said.
"It's a completely inappropriate way to use technology to avoid accountability," Melewsky said. "It invites abuse."
Egan would not specifically say whether workers have been told in training that instant messaging is a way to avoid Right to Know law requests. Instructors stick to a slide presentation and answer questions only about "features and functionality of the phones and technology," he said.
"We are training nearly 57,000 employees on the new phone system," Egan said. "I cannot vouch for what transpires in every single class; I can only tell you what information is supposed to be presented to employees and what I have witnessed in training myself. I have not seen the letter you are referring to, but if there is incorrect information being conveyed to employees, we are of course very concerned and will take immediate steps to correct it."
Mutchler did not return phone calls on Thursday.
The training overseen by the Corbett administration is the latest example of government officials potentially using technology to circumvent state and federal disclosure laws. In New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo's aides send untraceable messages on BlackBerry phones, according to The New York Times. House Republicans complain that White House aides in the Obama administration conduct business on personal email.
"This is an important issue, and we are seeing it arise all around the country," said Kenneth F. Bunting, executive director of the National Freedom of Information Coalition based at the University of Missouri. "With email becoming the prevalent means of written communication, the lengths and machinations to which some government agencies will go to hide them from public view are mind-boggling and disturbing."
There is another side, however, said Tom Baldino, a political science professor at Wilkes University in Wilkes-Barre. In a democracy, a delicate balance exists between officials having flexibility in decision making and the public's right to know, he said.
Concerns that extreme options considered during decision making would later be second-guessed if records are revealed may "cast a pall over the decision-making process," Baldino said.
Governors and lawmakers want advisers to present options without fear they will be thrown back at them during re-election, he said.
Legislative fights over electronic records, including emails and text messages, have surfaced in New Mexico, Iowa, Kansas and Utah, Bunting said.
Pennsylvania law "requires access to electronic records," said Kim de Bourbon, executive director of the Pennsylvania First Amendment Coalition. "There's no mandate that records be kept."
Legislators need to update open records laws such as the one in Pennsylvania to keep up with technology, de Bourbon said.
Egan cited training materials saying that only authorized users may use the IM technology within the state system.
"Remember, it is the content and business value of a communication, not its format that determines its status as a record or non-record, as well as whether the record is transitory or has lasting value," employees are told.
Email should be used for producing "records of lasting value."
The new phones utilize voice-over-Internet technology, Egan said. Phones are being replaced under a seven-year, $65 million-a-year contract with Verizon, signed under former Democratic Gov. Ed Rendell.
It remains in effect through 2016. Savings will be realized through the new technology rather than existing phone lines, Egan said.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Triple Divide - Share Your Story

Share Your Story
Triple Divide is a documentary film, but it's much more than that; it's a project of sharing the untold difficult stories from shale field industrialization. Public Herald focussed on a select few for the film, but we want to hear from you to help tell your story. This is part of a +Truth project by scheduled for the fall of 2012.

If you or someone you know has been negatively impacted from shale gas development, then please share your story. In the link below you can choose to keep your story private or public, and opt-in to have your story forwarded to trusted attorneys that can help talk about your case. Expect a response from Public Herald in one week after you submit the form. (copy and paste any pre-written document or pdf in plain text)

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

It's time to investigate Gov Corbett on the Sandusky Scandel

It's time to investigate Gov Corbett on the Sandusky Scandel

The repercussions of the Jerry Sandusky crimes keep adding up.

  • Thankfully, Jerry Sandusky was found guilty and will never be free to rape children again.
  • The Freeh Report revealed the culpability of the leadership at Penn State where some have lost their jobs and others are facing criminal prosecution for their roles in the cover-up.
  • Earlier this week the Penn State football program received unprecedented penalties by the NCAA.
Help us get to 10,000!
We already have almost 9,000 signatures since Friday. That's amazing, but we need even more. The media will be looking at our numbers and it will be really impressive if we have at least 10,000 signatures. We can do it if you:

1) Forward the email below the line to everyone you know;
2) Post it on Facebook with the following simple message, "It's time to investigate Tom Corbett's role in the Sandusky scandal. Sign the petition at"
3) Post it on Twitter, "Investigate Corbett's role in the #Sandusky scandal. Sign petition"

We can argue the appropriateness of the level of punishment, but at least people are finally being held accountable for their roles in the Sandusky rapes and cover-up.

But one person has not held accountable—Tom Corbett. In both his role as Pennsylvania’s Attorney General and as Governor, Corbett apparently had numerous opportunities to stop Sandusky that he didn’t take. I say apparently, because he refuses to answer questions about what he did or didn’t do. When a reporter has the audacity to raise questions, Corbett indignantly blusters and threateningly chastises the questioner.

That is probably why no one has called for an investigation into Corbett’s role—until now.

Since Corbett has not been forthcoming, Keystone Progress is requesting that PA Attorney General Linda Kelly, Senate President Pro tem Joseph Scarnati and Speaker of the House Samuel Smith begin a formal investigation into Corbett’s role in the Sandusky scandal.

The major question that needs to be answered is why did Corbett wait years to get Sandusky off the street? I’ve talked to four prosecutors and asked them when they would have arrested Sandusky. Each of them said they would have arrested him immediately after hearing the testimony of an eye witness. Each of them said the first priority is to stop the rape of children by getting him off the street. The investigation can continue after he’s locked up. None of them could understand why Corbett waited years to have Sandusky arrested.

That still begs the question. Why did Corbett wait so long?

Chris Freind, one of the most conservative columnists in Pennsylvania, summarizes it this way:

“One of two things seems to be true, as there is no third option. Either A) you were an incompetent attorney general, which virtually no one believes, or B) the investigation was deliberately understaffed and drawn out because you did not wish to be the gubernatorial candidate who took down fabled Penn State - with its massive and intensely loyal alumni network - and the beloved Joe Paterno. Since doing so would have presented difficult campaign challenges, many are asking if politics was placed above children’s safety.”[i]

Friend is right. Those are the only two options. If Corbett is simply a bumbling Governor and Attorney General, the people will take care of that in 2014.

If, however, Corbett intentionally kept a child rapist on the street to further his political career, it is morally reprehensible and probably criminal.

That’s why we’re calling on Pennsylvania’s law enforcement and legislative leaders to conduct an independent investigation into Corbett’s role as Attorney General and Governor.

We are under no illusions about asking Republicans to investigate Corbett. There’s not much chance they will put politics aside and do the right thing. But we have to hope that they will do just that. In a state dominated by one party we have no other choice. If they don’t respond, we’ll try other avenues.

Please sign our petition by clicking here. Then spread the word to friends and family.

It’s time to get answers and only public pressure can get them.

Michael Morrill
Executive Director, Keystone Progress

Sunday, July 29, 2012

EXPOSED: PA Act 13 Overturned! Originally an ALEC Model Bill

EXPOSED: PA Act 13 Overturned!
Originally an ALEC Model Bill

Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled PA Act 13 unconstitutional. The bill would have stripped away local zoning laws, eliminated the legal concept of a Home Rule Charter, limited private property rights, and in the process, completely disempowered town, city, municipal and county governments, particularly when it comes to shale gas development.

The Court ruled that Act 13 "…violates substantive due process because it does not protect the interests of neighboring property owners from harm, alters the character of neighborhoods and makes irrational classifications – irrational because it requires municipalities to allow all zones, drilling operations and impoundments, gas compressor stations, storage and use of explosives in all zoning districts, and applies industrial criteria to restrictions on height of structures, screening and fencing, lighting and noise."

Act 13 — pejoratively referred to as "the Nation's Worst Corporate Giveaway" by AlterNet reporter Steven Rosenfeld — would have ended local democracy as we know it in Pennsylvania.

"It’s absolutely crushing of local self-government," Ben Price, project director for the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF), told Rosenfeld. "It’s a complete capitulation of the rights of the people and their right to self-government. They are handing it over to the industry to let them govern us. It is the corporate state. That is how we look at it."

Where could the idea for such a bill come from in the first place? Rosenfeld pointed to the oil and gas industry in his piece.

That's half of the answer. Pennsylvania is the epicenter of the ongoing fracking boom in the United States, and by and large, is a state seemingly bought off by the oil and gas industry.
The other half of the question left unanswered, though, is who do oil and gas industry lobbyists feed anti-democratic, state-level legislation to?
The answer, in a word: ALEC.

PA Act 13, Originally an ALEC Model Bill
The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is in the midst of hosting its 39th Annual Meeting this week in Salt Lake City, Utah. ALEC is appropriately described as an ideologically conservative, Republican Party-centric "corporate bill mill" by the Center for Media and Democracy, the overseer of the ALEC Exposed project. 98 percent of ALEC's funding comes from corporations, according to CMD**.

ALEC's meetings bring together corporate lobbyists and state legislators to schmooze, and then vote on what it calls "model bills." Lobbyists have a "voice and a vote in shaping policy," CMD explains. They have de facto veto power over whether their prospective bills become "models" that will be distributed to the offices of politicians in statehouses nationwide.

A close examination suggests that an ALEC model bill is quite similar to the recently overturned Act 13.

It is likely modeled after and inspired by an ALEC bill titled, "An Act Granting the Authority of Rural Counties to Transition to Decentralized Land Use Regulation." This Act was passed byALEC's Energy, Environment, and Agriculture Task Force at its Annual Meeting in August 2010 in San Diego, CA.

The model bill opens by saying that "…the planning and zoning authority granted to rural counties may encourage land use regulation which is overly centralized, intrusive and politicized." The model bill's central purpose is to "grant rural counties the legal authority to abandon their planning and zoning authority in order to transition to decentralized land use regulation…"

The key legal substance of the bill reads, "The local law shall require the county to repeal or modify any land use restriction stemming from the county’s exercise of its planning or zoning authority, which prohibits or conditionally restricts the peaceful or highest and best uses of private property…"
In short, like Act 13, this ALEC model bill turns local democratic protections on their head. Act 13, to be fair, is a far meatier bill, running 174 pages in length. What likely happened: Pennsylvania legislators and the oil and gas industry lobbyists they serve took the key concepts found in ALEC's bill, ran with them, and made an even more extreme and specific piece of legislation to strip away Pennsylvania citizens' rights.

There were many shale gas industry lobbyists and those affiliated with like-minded think-tanks in the house for the Dec. 2010 San Diego Energy, Environment, and Agriculture Task Force Meeting where this prospective ALEC model bill became an official ALEC model bill. They included Daren Bakst of the John Locke Foundation (heavily funded by the Kochs), Russel Harding of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy (also heavily funded by the Koch Family Fortune), Kathleen Hartnett White of the Texas Public Policy Foundation (again, heavily funded by the Kochs), Mike McGraw of Occidental Petroleum, and Todd Myers of the Washington Policy Center (a think tank that sits under the umbrella of the Koch Foundation-funded State Policy Network).

A Model That's Been Passed and Proposed Elsewhere
The Act Granting the Authority of Rural Counties to Transition to Decentralized Land Use Regulation model bill has made a tour to statehouses nationwide, popping up in Ohio, Idaho, Colorado, and Texas. The model passed in some states, while failing to pass in others.Here is a rundown of similar bills that DeSmogBlog has identified so far:
Ohio HB 278

Long before the ALEC model bill was enacted in 2010, Ohio passed a similar bill in 2004, HB 278, which gives exclusive well-permitting, zoning, and regulatory authority to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR). Ohio is home to the Utica Shale basin.
Mirroring ALEC's model, HB 278 gives the "…Division of Mineral Resources Management in the Department of Natural Resources…exclusive authority to regulate the permitting, location, and spacing of oil and gas wells in the state.."
Could it be that the ALEC model bill was actually inspired by HB 278? It's very possible, based on recent history.
As was the case with ALEC's hydraulic fracturing chemical fluid "disclosure" model bill (actually rife with loopholes ensuring chemicals will never be disclosed), ALEC adopted legislation passed in the Texas state legislature as its own at its December 2011 conference.
Idaho HB 464
Idaho's House of Representatives passed HB 464 in February 2012 in a 54-13-3 roll call vote. A month later, the bill passed in the Senate in a 24-10-1 roll call vote. Days later, Republican Gov. Butch Otter signed the bill into law.
Key language from HB 464 reads,
It is declared to be in the public interest…to provide for uniformity and consistency in the regulation of the production of oil and gas throughout the state of Idaho…[,] to authorize and to provide for the operations and development of oil and gas properties in such a manner that a greater ultimate recovery of oil and gas may be obtained. (Snip)
It is the intent of the legislature to occupy the field of the regulation of oil and gas exploration and production with the limited exception of the exercise of planning and zoning authority granted cities and counties…
The Democratic Party State Senate Minority Office was outraged about the bill's passage.
"[HB] 464 establishes Idaho law governing oil and gas exploration and development including limits to local control over the location of wells, drilling processes, water rights and the injection of waste materials into the ground," reads a press release by the Idaho State Senate Minority Office. "[HB 464] preempts local land-use planning statute dating back to 1975. Counties will have little input in the permitting process whereby well sites are selected (or restricted) and no role in planning and zoning."
Sound familiar? Like PA Act 13 and the ALEC model? It should.
Full-scale fracking has yet to take place in Idaho, though the race is on, with Idahoans signing more and more leases with each passing day. Thanks to gas industry lobbyists' use of ALEC's model bill process, the industry will have far fewer hurdles to clear in the state when the race begins.
Colorado SB 88
The Democratic Party-controlled Colorado State Senate struck down an ALEC copycat bill, SB 88, in February 2012.
The Bill Summary portion of SB 88 explains the bill concisely, mirroring, once again, PA Act 13 and the ALEC Model Bill: "…the Colorado oil and gas conservation commission has exclusive jurisdiction to regulate oil and gas operations, and local regulation of oil and gas operations is preempted by state law."
Colorado sits atop the Niobrara Shale basin. Like Pennsylvania, it has seen many cities successfully move to ban fracking, making the goal of a bill of this nature all the more obvious.
“From Colorado Springs to Boulder County, cities and counties across Colorado have passed measures against fracking,” Sam Schabacker of Food and Water Watch told the Colorado Independent at the time SB 88 was struck down. “This bill is an attempt by the oil and gas industry to strip local governments of what little power they have to protect their citizens and water resources from the harms posed by fracking.”
Far from a completed debate, as covered in a June 2012 follow-up story by the Colorado Independent, things are just getting underway on this one in The Centennial State.
“I don’t know where it goes from here. I suspect there is a happy medium and there is a compromise that can be reached,” Democratic Party State Senate President Brandon Shaffer told the Independent. “I also suspect next year additional legislation will come forward on both sides of the spectrum. Ultimately I think the determination will be made based on the composition of each of the chambers. If the Democrats are in control of the House and Senate, there will be more emphasis on local control.”
Former Sen. Mike Kopp (R) was one of the public sector attendees at the Dec. 2010 Energy, Environment, and Agriculture Task Force Meeting where the ALEC model bill passed.
Texas HB 3105 and SB 875
In May 2011, TX SB 875 passed almost unanimously. The bill essentially calls for the elimination, in one fell swoop, of the common law of private nuisance in Texas.
SB 875's key operative paragraph explains,
[Entities] subject to an administrative, civil, or criminal action brought under this chapter for nuisance or trespass arising from greenhouse gas emissions [have] an affirmative defense to that action if the person's actions that resulted in the alleged nuisance or trespass were authorized by a rule, permit, order, license, certificate, registration, approval, or other form of authorization issued by the commission or the federal government or an agency of the federal government…
Texas — home to the Barnett Shale basin and the Eagle Ford Shale basin — played a dirty trick here, but what else would one expect from the government of a Petro State?
The ALEC model bill calls for a transition from centralized power by local governments to individual property rights under the common law of private nuisance, a civil suit that allows those whose private property has been damaged to file a legal complaint with proper authorities. Now, under the dictates of SB 875, even these rights have been eviscerated.
Perhaps Texas exemplifies a realization of the oil and gas industries' ideal world: legal rights for no one except themselves.
"This [bill allows] the willful trespass onto private property of chemicals and or nuisances, thus destroying the peaceful enjoyment of private property, which someone may have put their life savings into," Calvin Tillman, former Mayor of Dish, Texas and one of the stars of Josh Fox's Academy Award-nominated documentary film, "Gasland," wrote in a letter. "Therefore, private citizens would have no protection for their private property if this amendment was added."
HB 3105's key language, meanwhile, makes the following illicit (emphases mine):
the adoption or issuance of an ordinance, rule, regulatory requirement, resolution, policy, guideline, or similar measure…by a municipality that..has effect in the extraterritorial jurisdiction of the municipality, excluding annexation, and that enacts or enforces an ordinance, rule, regulation, or plan that does not impose identical requirements or restrictions in the entire extraterritorial jurisdiction of the municipality…or damages, destroys, impairs, or prohibits development of a mineral interest
This bill, unlike SB 875, never passed, though if it did, it would do basically the same thing as PA Act 13 and the ALEC model. If it ever does pass, however, it would mean that Texans would have literally no legal standing to sue the oil and gas industry for wrongdoing in their state.
ALEC's Bifurcated Attack: Erode Local Democracy, Strip Federal Regs,
Coming full circle, though PA Act 13 was struck down, for now, as constitutional, that doesn't necessarily mean ALEC copycat versions like it won't start popping up in other statehouses nationwide.
Sleep on this for awhile. There's more to come.
Part two of DeSmog's investigation on ALEC's dirty energy agenda will show that, along with pushing for the erosion of local democracy as we know it today, ALEC has also succeeded in promulgating legislation that would eliminate Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) power to regulate greenhouse gas emissions - another Big Business giveaway of epic proportions.
If anything is clear, it's this: statehouses have become a favorite clearinghouse for polluters to install the "Corporate Playbook" in place of democracy.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

The Woodlands by Rich Waters from Jackson Township, Butler County, Pennsylvania

The Woodlands by Rich Waters from Jackson Township, Butler County, Pennsylvania

Residents in Jackson Township, Butler County, Pennsylvania share their fracking experience. Film shared courtesy of Nature Abounds' friend Rich Waters, a local photographer and videographer who is documenting how fracking is changing the lives of his neighbors in Southwest Pennsylvania.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Gas, Lies & Videotape

Gas, Lies & Videotape

Wanna see a gas industry executive lying like a dirty rug to an understandably concerned citizen at public Zoning Board meeting in Pennsylvania? Watch.
Shouldn’t have any in it,” drones Chief Gathering’s expert witness, an employee whose name is not readily apparent, in response to questions about specific toxins from a resident concerned about the air impacts of a newly permitted Glycol Dehydration Unit near her home in Monroe Township. She wanted to know if Chief’s new unit would emit benzene, toluene or formaldehyde. He said the station will emit only methane. She also asked if the emissions would affect her children’s asthma. She was told, simply, “I don’t believe it does.
Something smelled off to Gas Drilling Awareness Coalition Luzerne County, who picked up on Chief’s misinformation right away. They submitted data, along with the gas guy’s testimony, to two highly regarded experts seeking their take on this brand of bullshit from industry boots on the ground. GDACLucerne then posted the responses with the video on YouTube. It’s footage like this that makes the gas industry wince, and want to ban citizens from videotaping public township meetings.
From GDACLuzerne: This sounded wrong considering the research I’ve done on these facilities, so I did a file review (which the DEP wants to do away with) and sent the information to two experts. Here’s what they told me in regards to the expert testimony of the Chief employee under oath:
Matt Walker, Clean Air Council
“These are some photos that Scott took at DEP’s office — the tables show that not only methane would be emitted from the facility. This was a lie. This facility would emit quite a bit less than a compressor station would (which also usually include dehydrators), but keep in mind that recent research shows that low-level exposure to VOCs can be more damaging than higher levels, and that all emissions from this type of equipment add up fast. This is one facility among many that already exist or are projected for the area.”
Wilma Subra
I reviewed the information you provided. The permit limit allows VOC in the amount to 2 grams per bhp per hour. The overall permit limit for VOC (Volatile Organic Chemicals) in the permit is 10 tons per year. This is from the glycol dehydrators. The VOCs consist of benzene, toluene, xylene, ethylbenzene, as well as a large number of other volatile compounds. The VOC emissions are described as total uncontrolled potential emissions rate of VOC must not exceed 10 tons/year.
The statement that no benzene or toluene will be present in the emissions is not correct.
No NIMBYs Allowed!
Haven’t we become so stupid that we watch the commercial and think, huh, they wouldn’t lie to us. Haven’t we dumbed ourselves down to that point? asks Mike Papantonio of, concluding his dense interview with Mike Ludwig of on a lighter note.

Uploaded by golefttv: The fracking industry is one of the most secretive and deceptive industries in the country. They’ve managed to operate with little to no oversight from the federal government, and they’ve kept their secret fracking formulas from being revealed to the public, even though the chemicals they’re using are leaching into groundwater supplies and poisoning men, women, and children. Mike Papantonio talks about how the fracking industry is accomplishing all of this with Mike Ludwig, a reporter for Papantonio is a guest host on MSNBC’s The Ed Schultz Show.
Want to learn more? Gasland Director Josh Fox on His New Film, Gas Industry Lies and Government Collusion by Christine Shearer, also on, tells the story of one PR Firm’s ability to dupe the general public about shale gas extraction, much as they did for the cigarette industry decades ago.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Pennsylvania Counties With Active Wells

*Click on the county, click on the well, and see all the current data... including violations and fines.

Pennsylvania Counties With Active Wells


Top Counties by Wells

1,749 wells

Top Counties by Violations

613 violations

Monday, July 2, 2012

Corbett signs ethane cracker tax bill

Before you read this, it's important to understand that the state has no money, save for tax dollars. Therefore, Corbett is giving away our money in the form of a 'state grant/tax break' to the tune of $1.7 billion. It also needs to be pointed out, that there was originally a 'cap' on that tax credit which somehow was removed from the bill just prior to the house vote. The house democrats received this 39 page bill at the very last minute and most didn't have time to even read it, let alone understand it. When State Rep Vitalli asked what happened to the 'cap' on the tax credit, he could not even get a yes/no answer on it. -Citizen Sane 

Corbett signs ethane cracker tax bill
Shell Chemicals announced this spring that the Horsehead Plant shown here in Potter and Center Township, Beaver County was chosen as a potential location for a cracker plant. File photo

About Brad Bumsted
Tribune-Review State Capitol reporter Brad Bumsted can be reached via e-mail or at 717-787-1405.

By Brad Bumsted

Published: Saturday, June 30, 2012, 10:56 p.m.Updated 12 hours ago

HARRISBURG - Gov. Tom Corbett signed legislation late Saturday establishing an unlimited tax credit to encourage petrochemical companies to move to Pennsylvania in hopes that it will create a "new industrial revolution" in the state.
Corbett, who asked the Legislature for the measure, is negotiating with Royal Dutch Shell plc to build a plant in Beaver County on the Center-Potter line near the Beaver Valley Expressway.
The House approved the bill, part of a broader tax code legislation, by a 140-56 margin Saturday night. It won Senate approval Friday night.
"My goal, our goal, is to transform Pennsylvania, so we're not only a supplier of natural gas, but also a processor and manufacturer," Corbett said.
"This credit will work to keep the industry and our resources here in Pennsylvania, grow jobs, and grow our economy.
"Simply put: We will usher in a new industrial revolution in Pennsylvania," the governor said.
"While creating jobs, this new industry will help us recover and clean up former brownfields as new facilities are built."

Rep. Jim Christiana, who sponsored a tax credit bill, called it a "historic opportunity" to bring a thriving industry to Pennsylvania.
It's an industry that would utilize natural gas reserves in the Marcellus shale formation. The so-called ethane cracker would produce ethylene, used in the manufacture of various plastics.
Christiana, R-Beaver County, said the proposed Shell facility would be the first cracker plant built nationwide in 10 years, and would be the first in the Appalachian region.
"There's an opportunity here to have several crackers," Christiana said. "There's enough ethane here to power two or three crackers."
There's been debate over the job predictions, but the Corbett administration stands by the estimate of 10,000 construction jobs: several hundred at the plant, and up to 10,000 more in spinoff industries.
Corbett had proposed a $66 million a year tax credit. That number was removed in the Senate.
"There is no minimum or maximum," Christiana said.
"There's no cap," he said in response to an interrogation by Rep. Greg Vitali, D-Delaware County.
Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa, D-Forest Hills, who supported it, called it a "game changer" for Western Pennsylvania's economy.
The tax credit was inserted into the 2012-13 state tax code bill that accompanied the budget even though the tax credit won't be available until 2017.
The legislation requires a minimum $1 million plant investment and creation of 2,500 jobs to qualify for the tax credit.
There's no guarantee that the jobs will go to Pennsylvanians, said Rep. Mike Sturla, D-Lancaster. "One could live in Ohio or West Virginia and drive to Pennsylvania every day," Sturla said.
Rep. Eddie Day Pashinski, D-Luzerne County, said an estimated $1.6 billion is going to a multi-national corporation that bought property already in a tax-free zone. Shell can "sell the tax credits without the guarantee of hiring Pennsylvanians," Pashinski said.
"There's going to be Pennsylvania jobs," said House Majority Leader Mike Turzai, R-Bradford Woods.
Rep. Madeleine Dean, D-Montgomery County, said there was little time to review the complex tax bill, which also included an expansion of tax credits for student scholarships to private schools.
The tax credit language wasn't publicly available until Friday afternoon, hours before the Senate voted on it Friday night.

Krancer-Cawley Exemption Bill

Krancer-Cawley Exemption Bill

In a late afternoon session on Saturday June 30, 2012, the Pennsylvania legislature passed Fiscal Code bill (SB 1263) with a 124-74 vote.

I call your attention to the following special provision:



Add caption
The Newark Basin is a sediment-filled rift basin located mainly in northern New Jersey but also stretching into south-eastern Pennsylvania and southern New York. It is part of the system of Eastern North America Rift Basins.
In Pennsylvania it includes Bucks County, Montgomery County and parts of Lehigh, Berks and Chester counties.

A USGS geological map of New Jersey and the surrounding region. The Newark Basin is outlined in white.

Kooky Coincidence?
The moratorium would last until 2018, which coincides with the end of Corbett’s term should he be re-elected in 2014.

DEP Secretary Michael Krancer has political and professional ties to Montgomery County, and makes his home in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania.

Lt. GovernorJames “Jim” Cawley also has political and professional ties to Bucks County as well as calling it home.

CorporateHeadquarters for Aqua America is in Bryn Mawr, Aqua America formed, Aqua-PVR, a joint subsidiary with Penn-Virginia Resources and has been at the center of a controversy surrounding the eviction of the residents of Riverdale Mobile Home Park. Nicholas DeBenedictis served on the 2010 Energy-Environment committee for the then Governor-Elect Corbett.

PVR’s headquarters is in Radnor PA. Radnor is an unincorporated community in Radnor Township of Delaware County and Tredyffrin Township of Chester County.

Senator Chuck McIlhinney (R-Bucks, Montgomery) got the exemption added to the bill even though he voted for Act 13 earlier this year. His lack of understanding of the law he had helped pass was evident in an op-ed he wrote the day after the law was enacted. “As we worked to craft a compromise, protecting the environment and preserving local zoning control were two of my primary concerns. The final legislation accomplished these goals, earning the support of Pennsylvania Association of Township Supervisors, other local government organizations and the state’s Growing Greener Coalition. While not perfect, it is a balanced and thoughtful approach to protecting our environment and regulating an industry that is here to stay in Pennsylvania. It does not affect Bucks County’s townships, like Nockamixon Township. It would only pertain to non-conventional wells.” When he learned that the law removes local control over all gas drilling operations, including those related to pipelines, compressor stations, waste disposal and others, he vowed to amend the law, but appeared to take no action. The announcement from the U.S. Geological Survey last week that the South Newark Basin that covers much of both counties is rich in shale gas prompted him to get the language into the Fiscal Code bill at the eleventh hour.

Implications and Questions
The Corbett administration has been one of the major cheerleaders for natural gas drilling in Pennsylvania, and maintains that natural gas drilling is SAFE. The Corbett administration has ignored concerns of the risks and hazards associated with natural gas drilling.

Michael Krancer,DEP Secretary, has gone as far as berating the EPA for their involvement in Dimock, PA. On Act 13 he said: "Act 13 reaffirms our strong commitment to safe, responsible, environmentally sensitive and transparent natural gas development here in Pennsylvania".

In the original version of Act 13, State lawmakers had allotted $2 million from the proposed Marcellus Shale impact fee last year for a health registry. But that money was cut from the bill before it came to a vote. The impact fee passed, without money for a health registry.

Republican State Senator Joe Scarnati, who steered the bill to passage in February, said he was “not a fan” of the registry. Instead, he favored giving money for water testing by the Department of Environmental Protection.

Drew Crompton, Scarnati’s chief of staff, called a shale health registry potentially “inflammatory and unnecessary.”

Whenever the issue of safety arises around Natural Gas activities, Corbett's administration is quick to divert attention to JOB JOBS JOBS.

Lt. Governor Cawley’s position on Natural Gas activities in Pennsylvania is that it will create Jobs, Jobs Jobs. “Natural gas is already providing thousands of jobs for Pennsylvania. You can see it right here at Cleveland Brothers. They may not be drilling here, but jobs are being created here in Wilkes-Barre and across the state," said Cawley.

Mmmmmm, wonder why they don't want to create Jobs in the exempted areas?

If Natural Gas Drilling is safe, why are just these areas exempt and have a 6-year moratorium?

If Natural Gas Drilling is safe, why, all of a sudden, does a study need to be done on just these areas?

Did PA Legislature shoot itself in the foot with regards to the ACT 13 challenges?

The exemptions, moratorium and call for a study to be done implies Natural Gas Drilling may not be all that safe – especially in counties where many elected, appointed state official live, and where interests to the Natural Gas industry live and/or have their headquarters.

If the PA Legislature can exempt these special areas from ACT 13 and impose a moratorium why not the same for the rest of Pennsylvania where we see the harmful and dangerous results of Natural Gas Drilling?

The two of the recent harmful result is the creation of “Old FRACKful” in Union Town­ship, Tioga County. Royal Shell issued a vol­un­tary evac­u­a­tion request to peo­ple liv­ing within a mile of the well. The Depart­ment of Envi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion is inves­ti­gat­ing the incident.

The second is at a Chesapeake Energy site in Leroy, Bradford County which is experiencing “methaneplumes.” Both counties are located far away from the exempted locations.

And by the way if anyone is expecting anything to be done to correct the Krancer-Cawley Exemption bill – don’t look for it to be done any time soon:

The Senate will reconvene at 1:00PM on September 24, 2012 unless sooner recalled by President Pro Tempore.

Without the entire PA legislature in session - nothing will be done.

Pa. state Rep. Jesse White speaks out against legislation
that would allow two -- and only two -- counties in the
Philadelphia suburbs to ban Marcellus Shale drilling.
White says this unconstitutional bill is terrible policy
that will lead to long-term problems.


  1. Thanks for compiling this info.

    "DEP Secretary Michael Krancer has ties to Montgomery County, and makes his home in Bryn Mawr... Lt. GovernorJames “Jim” Cawley has political and professional ties to Bucks County"

    Add Dave Sanko, director of the PA State Assn of Township Supervisors, (PSATS), he also has close ties to both of these counties. At PSATS' recent annual meeting members approved 2 resolutions supporting towns' rights to restrict fracking. Sanko was mum on this during the recent exemption debate.

    Add Butler county as an area suffering "harmful and dangerous results" from fracking. Butler's even further from the exempted counties than Tioga & Bradford...
    Gloria, thanks for the additional info... all this kind of smells like a leaking mercaptan tank....
  3. Dory,

    I don't know what a leaking mercaptan tank smells like, but I do know what crap smells like & this weekend's slithering in H-burg smells like crap. Nice, right on cusp of our nation's most important holiday, the 4th of July, Independence Day, with liberty and JUSTICE for all. Stay classy H-burg.
  4. This vote was complete BS !
  5. This administration has clear a policy of dealing with the urban elites and political moderates who populate SEPA, it's called: What you can't see won't hurt you. It's not only Krancer who calls MontCo home, it's "decision-makers" across all industries. It's investment guys, media moguls and water barons... As long as they keep drilling out of THEIR backyard, anything goes. makes me sick
    1. As I was watching the house vote on SB 1263 yesterday, I noticed the mural of our founding fathers on the wall behind the speakers chair. No wonder they have their backs turned away from the house. I'm surprised they weren't holding their noses.

      Then I noticed the marble statues with bare breasts supporting the pillars of the house. A room full of corrupt, small minded legislative ‘boobs’ being supported by the ‘boobs’ who pay their salary with tax dollars. It sort of put the electorate-legislature relationship into perspective.

      There was a time in this country, when we didn't stop to think is we could 'win' a battle. We stood up and fought for what was right knowing that we could lose, but took on the fight because it was simply the right thing to do.

      As Ben Franklin once said when deciding to stand up to England: “Gentlemen, one thing is certain. We will hang together, or we will surely hang separately.” In other words, win or lose, we must fight.

      There was a time when we made laws based on what is right, what is moral, and what is just. Now, we establish laws based on what is profitable, and politically acceptable, then the people who are negatively affected suffer needlessly while others approach our elected officials with ‘hat in hand and bend in knee’ and beg for justice. How pathetic is that? Haven’t we figured out that there will be no justice until we demand it?

      SB 1263 is not just ‘bad legislation’. It’s immoral, and an insult to every Pennsylvanian living in a county that is having Act 13 shoved down our throats.

      Some of us attempt to ‘speak truth to power’. The problem is ‘power’ doesn’t care so they’re not even listening. So, maybe it’s time we turn and face the people and try to ‘speak truth to apathy and stupid‘.

      Maybe I'm too idealistic about these things. If I am, so be it. But I still believe that anything worth having is worth fighting for, and if we're not willing to fight to defend what we claim to value, then perhaps we don't deserve it.

      I've no doubt that some will be angered by this rambling. Some may even be offended. My hope is that many more will be inspired to step out of their twitter/facebook comfort zones, and their home, and start becoming seriously and actively involved in defending our civil and constitutional rights. After all, it is our duty and obligation as American citizens to stand up and resist tyranny and oppression, even when it stems from our own government.

      So, how many people needed be harmed... how many lives need to be ruined... how many unjust laws will be forced upon us... how many violations against our health, safety, property, and the environment will be enough to get people to wake up? Someone give us a number.

      There has to come a point when we decide we're not going to be led about like sheeple anymore.

      For what it's worth, that's my two cents.