Saturday, December 31, 2011

N30, Beating Back the Frack Attack: Dimock, Scranton, Youngstown, NYC

On November 30, people throughout the Marcellus Shale region, in Dimock, Scranton, Youngstown, New York City stood up and even put their bodies on the line to beat back the frack attack. I'm so honored to be a part of a movement of powerful souls and I'm confident we can win the war against the oil and gas industry here.
DECEMBER 6TH, DAY OF ACTION IN DIMOCK, Come out and support Dimock!
Please sign the petition here, and take a minute to call the Secretary of the Pennsylvania DEP, Michael Krancer, at 717-787-2814 and tell him to reverse the DEP decision and force Cabot to continue delivering water to the families in Dimock. You can also call Scott Perry of the DEP here: 717-576-7613 and call PA Governor Corbett here: 717-787-2500.
In Dimock, PA, November 30 was a dreaded day for residents who have contaminated well water. A piece in the Scranton Times-Tribune describes the situation:
The state has found that Cabot's faulty Marcellus Shale gas wells caused methane to contaminate water supplies that feed 19 Dimock homes, a contention Cabot denies. State environmental regulators decided in October that the driller no longer needed to provide the families with replacement water after Wednesday because Cabot met the terms of a December 2010 settlement over the contamination.
Eleven of the affected families appealed the Department of Environmental Protection's decision, arguing that the agency wrongfully ignored state law that requires drillers to permanently restore or replace water supplies they damage. The settlement required the company to offer to install methane-removal systems and fund escrow accounts with twice the tax-assessed value of each of the affected homes, but did not require the company to restore the water to its pre-drilling quality.
Dimock resident Victoria Switzer was crestfallen Wednesday morning, saying she worried most for her young and elderly neighbors and those whose water supplies continue to measure high levels of dissolved methane.
"Cabot is successful in reducing us to desperation," she said. "There is no justice in this Marcellus madness. This is a deadly precedent."
The appeal of PA DEP's decision was unsuccessful and Cabot is no longer delivering water to them. Craig and Julie Sautner, of Carter Rd in Dimock, have parked a car in front of the water buffalo in their driveway to prevent Cabot Oil and Gas from removing it, although it may not always remain full.
An Associated Press report describes the effort to keep water deliveries going, despite the judge's ruling.
Craig Stevens, who lives near Dimock and is an outspoken critic of the gas industry, put out a call for volunteers with tanker trucks to deliver bulk water to the residents. He said his goal is to get at least 20 volunteers to commit to one day a month each. Working with Stevens, Pennsylvania-American Water Co. said it will set up an access point at Lake Montrose, a municipal water supply several miles from Dimock.
The state, Stevens said, has "turned its back on the people of Dimock."
Craig's call was heeded by the Mayor of Binghamton, NY, who will send a water delivery one day a month as soon as Dimock Township Supervisors permit the assistance. Affected residents offered to pay for the delivery from their own account.
Two letters, from the Sierra Club (PDF) and Natural Resources Defense Council (PDF) were also submitted for the DEP appeal to support Dimock Residents.

President Obama came to Scranton on Wednesday and was met with an anti-drilling protest. Tom Frost, a farmer from Dimock, PA joined rural residents from all over Pennsylvania and New York and Occupy Scranton for the protest. Residents chanted "Ban Fracking Now" and held  The Scranton Times-Tribune covered the story:
The anti-drilling protesters were the most numerous, as well as the most visible and the most vocal.
Dingmans Ferry resident Alex Lotorto, an organizer with the Energy Justice Network, said he expects the president to protect rural Pennsylvanians from the harms caused by drilling and hydraulic fracturing, or fracking - a point that will be driven home at every campaign stop he makes in the state next year.
"He needs to keep his promises about clean air and clean water," Mr. Lotorto said.
(Video)The Youngstown Vindicator covered Wednesday's protests of the first fracking industry conference in Ohio and a frack sludge injection well that is being investigated for causing earth quakes with epicentres in the city close by. Jackson Kusiak, 19, who was blockading, said “We want to make it clear to the Natural Gas Industry and to our representatives that fracking is unsafe and irresponsible, and not the solution for our country’s energy problems.”
While thousands learned about the Utica Shale industry inside the Covelli Centre, Youngstown police arrested seven environmental protesters on the city’s West Side.
Shortly after noon Wednesday, protesters blocked trucks from entering or leaving the D&L Energy Inc. injection well on Ohio Works Drive. Seven of them stood in front of a tractor-trailer truck carrying brine water, a byproduct of fracking, that was trying to leave the site.
Protesters held a banner reading “Stop Toxic Earthquakes.”
When police arrived, Police Chief Rod Foley told the seven protesters to move to the grass or be arrested.
Ben Shapiro, 26, of Cleveland, one of the seven arrested, told Foley they would not move, and that he planned to be arrested and would do so peacefully.
Police officers moved in with handcuffs and zip ties, arrested the protesters without force and placed them in the back of a police truck.
Foley said all seven were charged with disorderly conduct and would be arraigned Thursday. They are Anne Lukins, 21, of Washington state; Lindsey Schwartz, 20, of Allentown, Pa.; Benjamin Marks, 19, of California; Sean O’Toole, 61, of Warren; and Jackson Kusiak, 19, and Jeremy Bingham, 20, both of Massachusetts.
Fracking is a process in which water, chemicals and sand are blasted into rocks thousands of feet below the ground to unlock oil and natural gas.
That water is then injected deep below the ground.
There have been seven earthquakes with epicenters near the D&L well this year — the first earthquakes recorded with epicenters in the Valley, prompting protesters to visit the site.

In New York City on Wednesday, the final New York Department of Environmental Conservation hearing on a proposed draft of the state wide environmental impact statement yielded a victory in extending the comment period, pushing fracking in New York State back for another month. Videos of testimony given in NYC can be found here:
In a victory for those against gas drilling, the state has just extended the comment period on the proposed regulations for the controversial natural-gas extraction method of hydraulic fracturing, known as “fracking.”
The period will end Jan. 11 instead of Dec. 12.
The reason for the extension was simply that “many individuals and organizations requested additional time to prepare comments,” said Emily DeSantis, assistant director of public information for the Department of Environmental Conservation. For information on submitting comments, visit

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