Sunday, February 10, 2013

A Dairy Farmer Shares Her Story About Fracking:

“What Have We Done?”

Op-ed by Carol French for 

Carol French stands on her dairy farm in Bradford County, Pa., with heirloom tomatoes harvested from her garden. Once a lease-holder and supporter for fracking, she turned against it after her neighbors began to experience problems and her water became undrinkable. © J.B.Pribanic
Carol French, a conventional dairy farmer in Bradford County, Pa., the county most heavily impacted by shale gas extraction in the state, shares her personal story with you. Her story is part of Public Herald’s +Truth campaign for Triple Divide, a documentary film about shale gas. Find out how you can shareYour Story .
In the early spring of 2006, a nice man was in the area, promoting a chance to dream of better times for Bradford County and its farmers. There was promise of jobs for everyone and the farmer would generate money from signing a lease, and if a gas well was drilled on the farmer’s property he would become rich.
Two years passed with little activity. By now, the older leases were about to expire, gas companies were beginning to drill, and excitement was in the air. Here, the majority of farmers signed early, receiving $5- $85/per acre. There was this belief that the person with the gas well would become the next “shaleionaires.” We later found out small acre properties started signing leases at $2,500/ per acre.

A natural gas well pad in Bradford County, Pa., near the home of Carol French. © J.B.Pribanic
By the spring of 2009, there was uneasiness among some of the farmers who had a gas well drilled on their property. The local newspaper was reporting contamination found in water wells, death occurring on a gas pad and the farmer was facing the fact that he could lose his farm due to a lawsuit based on the gas companies operation. For myself, I was thinking that our lucky neighbor was going to become the next Millionaire, because they had the gas well drilled on them. Soon my mind changed. Those farmers were facing penalties lodged against them, due to their land becoming industrial use instead of agricultural use.
In December, 2010 to January 2011, three gas wells were drilled near our farm. Farmers were seeking out lawyers for advice, because of the gas company’s exploitation of the lease agreement. Many were beginning to question, what have we done? Farm land was getting ripped up like old material for a patch work quilt. In the middle of 2011, five more gas wells were drilled around our farm. Two of the gas wells were less than 4,000 feet away.
Please read the entire Op-ed:

Friday, February 8, 2013

Out in left field

Feb 06, 2013

Peter Mantius

A disturbing picture is emerging of the narrow subagency of state government that Gov. Andrew Cuomo is relying on to write the regulations for fracking in New York.
     The Division of Mineral Resources, or DMN, was formed in 1983 as a unit of the state Department of Environmental Conservation to regulate oil and gas exploration and production.
    Throughout its 30-year history, DMN has operated as a powerful industry-friendly fiefdom run by only two directors, Gregory Sovas (1983-2001) and Bradley Field (2001-present), who have watched five governors come and go.
    The division defines its role as “the fostering, encouragement and promotion” of oil and gas development. Its mission statement conspicuously omits any acknowledgement of responsibility to protect human health and the environment.
    And DMN has for decades displayed an aversion to establishing formal regulations for oil and gas development.

Read More:

Peter Mantius is a freelance journalist from Schuyler County who follows shale gas drilling issues. He is a former reporter at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and former editor of two business weeklies in the Northeast

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

 Tue, 2013-02-05  19:19       Steve Horn


Ed Rendell Intervened For Oil Company to Stop EPA Contamination Case Against Range Resources

A breaking investigation by EnergyWire appears to connect the dots between shadowy lobbying efforts by shale gas fracking company Range Resources, and the Obama EPA's decision to shut down its high-profile lawsuit against Range for allegedly contaminating groundwater in Weatherford, TX.
At the center of the scandal sits former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, the former Chairman of the Democratic National Committee and the National Governors' Association.
Just weeks ago, the Associated Press (AP) broke news that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) shut down the high-profile Texas lawsuit and buried an accompanying scientific report obtained during the lawsuit's discovery phase in March 2012.
Read More: 

Saturday, February 2, 2013

An Oil Boom Takes a Toll on Health Care

Matthew Staver for The New York Times
Dr. Gary Ramage treating a patient at McKenzie County Hospital in Watford City, N.D. The hospital now averages 400 emergency room visits per month. 
WATFORD CITY, N.D. — The patients come with burns from hot water, with hands and fingers crushed by steel tongs, with injuries from chains that have whipsawed them off their feet. Ambulances carry mangled, bloodied bodies from accidents on roads packed with trucks and heavy-footed drivers.

The furious pace of oil exploration that has made North Dakota one of the healthiest economies in the country has had the opposite effect on the region’s health care providers. Swamped by uninsured laborers flocking to dangerous jobs, medical facilities in the area are sinking under skyrocketing debt, a flood of gruesome injuries and bloated business costs from the inflated economy.
The problems have been acute at McKenzie County Hospital here. Largely because of unpaid bills, the hospital’s debt has climbed more than 2,000 percent over the past four years to $1.2 million, according to Daniel Kelly, the hospital’s chief executive. Just three years ago, Mr. Kelly added, the hospital averaged 100 emergency room visits per month; last year, that average shot up to 400.
Over all, ambulance calls in the region increased by about 59 percent from 2006 to 2011, according to Thomas R. Nehring, the director of emergency medical services for the North Dakota Health Department. The number of traumatic injuries reported in the oil patch increased 200 percent from 2007 through the first half of last year, he said.