Archive for the ‘Federal Law’ Category

July 22nd the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) held one of four public hearings  for a study on Hydraulic Fracturing that will look for potential relationships between the process and drinking water resources. The EPA held the meeting in a Hotel in the the Southpointe Industrial Park near Canonsburg, Pennsylvania, which also happens to be the base for Chesapeake Energy, Columbia Gas Of Maryland Inc., CONSOL Energy Inc.,  EOG Resources Inc., Halliburton, Range Resources, and Reliant Energy. Over 1,000 attended the event according to the Pittsburgh Post Gazette. The majority of the citizen speakers spoke out against the drilling practice and many called for a moratorium. Industry supporters described the outcry against the drilling process as “…anti-capitalist demonization and misinformation…

Cecil Township Police were present at the event, including two K9 vehicles. Two officers were stationed at the public comment podiums so that they could, according to the night’s moderator from  The Cadmus Group, Inc., escort those giving public comment back to their seats if they did not stop speaking immediately after their allotted 2 minutes expired. One hundred and thirty speakers gave their input to the EPA.

Bill Belitskus, Walt Atwood, and I attended the event along with many others concerned about the  the oil and gas industry’s use of Hydraulic Fracturing in Pennsylvania. Myron Arnowitt of Clean Water Action, Peter Wray and Claudia Kirkpatrick of the Allegheny Group of the Sierra Club, Nadia Steinzor of the Earthworks Oil and Gas Accountability Project, and the Green Party’s Mel Packer to name a few. Although Police and the the Hilton Garden Inn manager had no problem with an oil and gas industry demonstration on the sidewalk at the front entrance to the hotel, Police and the Hotel management chased an environmental coalition’s press conference around their grounds attempting to interfere with the press event (See Video). Clean Water Action’s Myron Arnowitt, who organized the event, eventually persuaded the Police to allow the group to speak with reporters.

Inside, we lined up with the others who wished to speak to get yellow bracelets with numbers showing the order in which we would share our comments with the EPA. Our numbers were keyed to our names and affiliations so that the moderator and the Police escorts could keep track of us as we stood in line waiting for our chance to speak. AP’s Marc Levy reported on some of those giving comments,

Darrell Smitsky said five of his goats died mysteriously and, even though state regulators told him the water was safe, his own test showed sky-high levels of manganese and iron. When he blamed the drilling company, he said, it responded, “Can you prove it?”

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Photos By Bill Belitskus, Walt Atwood, Cathy Pedler

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On May 4, 2010, four days after a Howard Drilling oil spill was reported in the Warren Times Observer, “Oil Spill In ANF Contained By Dike,” an Allegheny Defense Project team hiked several miles up gated Forest Service Road FR 261 to investigate the spill.  Upon arriving at a Howard Drilling tank battery, ADP discovered a spill that had, in fact, breached the dike and flowed several hundred feet downhill toward Mud Lick Run (see photo on right, Mud lick run photo below).

At the site, the scent of oil permeated the air and some of the soil was still blackened with oily residue.  The ADP team investigating the Howard Drilling spill saw evidence that workers had cleared soil from a large area within the dike, and from a wide path that ran over the dike and downhill toward Mud Lick Run. The affected area had been covered with straw, gravel, and seed. According to the April 30 Warren Times Observer article, the spill on FR 261 had been contained within the tank battery’s dike. According to the article, the spill was discovered by ANF officials and reported to the DEP, who in turn alerted Howard Drilling, who subsequently told the PA State Police that someone else was responsible for the spilled oil. The spill that the Allegheny Defense Project discovered on FR 261 on May 4, 2010, was very obviously not contained by a tank battery dike (see more photos below). See Also alleghenydefense.org.

Above: Apparent spill path (covered with straw) running downhill from tank battery

Above: Top of dike with evidence of spill on both the inside and outside dike wall

Above: Note path of cleared soil with straw on wall and top of dike

Above: Evidence of spill inside dike, soil cleared and covered with straw

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ADP Investigates Snyder Brothers 2008 Oil Spill Sites; Finds Valves Still Unlocked and Evidence of More Spills

A team of Allegheny Defense Project (ADP) volunteers discovered that all is not well on FR 267 and FR 269, the sites of a major oil spill two years ago. At these sites, disgruntled former employees of Snyder Brothers, Inc. let loose more than 40,000 gallons of oil that fouled Indian Run, Chappel Fork Creek, and the Allegheny River Reservoir. On May 22, 2010 ADP staff, board, and volunteers visited the sites involved in the spill, observed that the there have been subsequent dike breeches, and that the valves on the same tank batteries that were tampered with in 2008 are still unlocked two years later. The valves pictured here are located at the back of the tanks in the Snyder Brother development on FR 269. Workers use these valves to drain brine water, but if left unattended, they will also drain oil from the tanks. The photo on the left shows the unlocked valve. The photo on the right shows the brine water tank, which given its horizontal placement, will only hold about half its total volume before water and oil spill out of the hole where the liquid is supposed to enter (which apparently has happened at the Snyder Brothers site pictured here). The tank battery dikes are filled with gravel. For oil to pool as it is in the photos here the gravel-filled tank battery dikes must be saturated with oil.

On FR 267 at the tank battery, and gravel pit near Hemlock Run, ADP noted a recent spill or seepage from what appeared to be a newly expanded or repaired dike…Read More

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An oil field worker in Kinzua Heights, Allegheny National Forest expressed anger (HEAR AUDIO) about  Allegheny Defense Project (ADP)’s Forest Watch work. Last week ADP and a photojournalist revisited the Kinzua Heights site in the Allegheny National Forest that was one of the focus areas of ADP’s May 22nd Forest Watch Training. During Forest Watch monitoring ADP documented the oil and gas drilling site of Freedom Oil Ventures, LLC and submitted a report and photos to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the U.S. Forest Service (USFS), and PA Fish and Boat Commission (PAFBC). See Kinzua Heights: Freedom Isn’t Free. Citizens Bear Costs of Violations by Freedom Oil Ventures, LLC).

Join our Forest Watch efforts. Document and report industry violations in the Allegheny National Forest. Send reports and photos to:

John Hanger, Director
Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), Headquarters
Rachel Carson State Office Building
400 Market Street
Harrisburg, PA 17101

Shawn Garvin
Environmental Protection Agency Region 3
1650 Arch Street (3CEOO)
Philadelphia, PA 19103-2029

Robert Nestor
PA Fish And Boat Commission
Northwest Region Office
11528 State Highway 98
Meadville, PA 16335

Leanne M. Marten
USDA, Allegheny National Forest
4 Farm Colony Drive
Warren, PA  16365

Anthony V. Scardina, Bradford Ranger District
USDA, Allegheny National Forest
29 Forest Service Drive
Bradford, PA 16701

Robert T. Fallon, Marienville Ranger District
USDA, Allegheny National Forest
131 Smokey Lane
Marienville, PA 16239

Kent Connaughton, Regional Forester
USDA – Forest Service
Eastern Region – R9
626 East Wisconsin Ave.
Milwaukee, WI 53202

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An Allegheny Defense Project (ADP) Forest Watch Team finds multiple, flagrant violations in a new oil and gas drilling site in Brothwell Run on the Allegheny National Forest. On May 22, 2010 the Forest Watch Team participating in our first training session investigated Kinzua Heights area of Brothwell Run, which has been hit hard by oil and gas drilling in the last few years. Residents living in the area had been hearing loud machinery noises during the day and long into the night. We traveled down FR 147, and FR 625 to discover the “Liberty” Farms of Freedom Oil Ventures, LLC of 4801 Lang NE STE 110, Albuquerque, NM 87109.

We parked at the gate and hiked from the point where citizen vehicles are not allowed—”Foot Traffic Only”—unless you work for the oil and gas industry.

The “Liberty” Farm areas of Freedom Oil Ventures, LLC have it all. There were no Erosion and Sedimentation Plans posted, and not surprisingly, no erosion and sedimentation controls. At one place in the deeply rutted road, Freedom Oil Ventures, LLC bulldozed the road fill over the edge of the roadway into the rock canyon system on Brothwell Run. These rock formations contain openings and pathways into groundwater. The acidic runoff and oil residue from the poorly constructed roadways drains into the rock formations (see photos). Drilling fines were either blown into the woods, or into an unlined brine pit (see photos). A newly drilled well was simply covered with a bucket (see photos). One of the most alarming violations was the venting of gas into the forest from valves at well jacks (see photo above and see video below)….more

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FR 219 No NEPA. Area 15

It’s spring! In the Allegheny National Forest this means oil and gas drillers will continue drilling thousands more oil and gas wells, and cutting hundreds of miles of new roads into an already heavily fragmented forest. We need your help! Because of a very bad decision last December in the Federal District Court of Western Pennsylvania (Minard Run Oil Company et al. v. USFS et al.), which enjoined a settlement reached in our lawsuit (FSEEE, Sierra Club, and ADP v. USFS), this destruction is moving forward without environmental analysis or public input while we appeal the disappointing decision to the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals.

Here’s how you can help:

1. Choose a threatened area in the Allegheny National Forest to monitor:

We recommend that you choose one of the TEIS Areas listed HERE (see background below for explanation of TEIS). We also highly recommend that you first contact us with your choice (see step 2), attend a training workshop, and conduct monitoring in teams of at least two.

Map of TEIS Drilling Areas

You may choose your area based on your favorite watershed or by your least-favorite drilling company. The image on the right is a community walk map, which shows the TEIS areas. This interactive map can help you locate your area on the ground (make sure you zoom-out to see the whole map, areas listed on the left of map link to locations). We also highly recommend purchasing an Allegheny National Forest Map from one of the ANF U.S. Forest Service Offices (word of caution: these maps are out of date and do not reflect all of the roads in the forest).

2. Contact our outreach coordinator Megan Rulli with your site choice at mrulli@alleghenydefense.org and sign up for the Forest Watch Team (read more).

If you are not specifically drawn to one of the imminently threatened areas (TEIS Areas), no worries, the whole forest needs guardians and watchers.

Yellow area of ANF predicted to be in "full-mine-out" condition

The U.S. Forest Service predicts that over two-thirds of the forest is threatened by “full-mine-out” conditions by the oil and gas industry (see image on the left, yellow area is “full mine-out area”). Full-mine-out is oil and gas wells spaced every 500 feet across the landscape with associated roads, tank batteries, generators, wastewater pits etc. On top of oil and gas drilling the U.S. Forest Service continues its even-aged logging practices (clearcutting, herbiciding, and fencing for high-value species). So if you have a favorite area almost anywhere in the ANF, it needs your watchful eyes, and attention.

3. Finally, if you are able, please support our Forest Watch program and ongoing litigation efforts (including an appeal of the decision mentioned above) by donating to ADP.

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