So, is Dimock’s Water Really Safe to Drink?
by Abrahm Lustgarten, ProPublica, March 20, 2012, 2:42 p.m.
When the Environmental Protection Agency announced last week that tests showed the water is safe to drink in Dimock, Penn., a national hot spot for concerns about fracking, it seemed to vindicate the energy industry’s insistence that drilling had not caused pollution in the area.
But what the agency didn’t say 2013 at least, not publicly 2013 is that the water samples contained dangerous quantities of methane gas, a finding that confirmed some of the agency’s initial concerns and the complaints raised by Dimock residents since 2009.
The test results also showed the group of wells contained dozens of other contaminants, including low levels of chemicals known to cause cancer and heavy metals that exceed the agency’s “trigger level” and could lead to illness if consumed over an extended period of time. The EPA’s assurances suggest that the substances detected do not violate specific drinking water standards, but no such standards exist for some of the contaminants and some experts said the agency should have acknowledged that they were detected at all.
“Any suggestion that water from these wells is safe for domestic use would be preliminary or inappropriate,” said Ron Bishop, a chemist at the State University of New York’s College at Oneonta, who has spoken out about environmental concerns from drilling.
Dimock residents are struggling to reconcile the EPA’s public account with the results they have been given in private.
“I’m sitting here looking at the values I have on my sheet 2013 I’m over the thresholds 2013 and yet they are telling me my water is drinkable,” said Scott Ely, a Dimock resident whose water contains methane at three times the state limit, as well as lithium, a substance that can cause kidney and thyroid disorders. “I’m confused about the whole thing2026 I’m flabbergasted.”
The water in Dimock first became the focus of international attention after residents there alleged in 2009 that natural gas drilling, and fracking, had led to widespread contamination. That April, ProPublica reported that a woman’s drinking water well blew up. Pennsylvania officials eventually determined that underground methane gas leaks had been caused by Cabot Oil and Gas, which was drilling wells nearby. Pennsylvania sanctioned Cabot, and for a short time the company provided drinking water to households in the Dimock area.
This January, the EPA announced it would take over the state’s investigation, testing the water in more than 60 homes and agreeing to provide drinking water to several of families 2013 including the Elys 2013 in the meantime.
Then, last Thursday, the EPA released a brief statement saying that the first 11 samples to come back from the lab “did not show levels of contamination that could present a health concern.” The agency noted that some metals, methane, salt and bacteria had been detected, but at low levels that did not exceed federal thresholds. It said that arsenic exceeding federal water standards was detected in two samples.
But Dimock residents say the agency’s description didn’t jibe with the material in test packets distributed to them, and they voiced concerns about why the EPA had passed judgment before seeing results from nearly 50 homes. Several shared raw data and materials they were given by the EPA with Josh Fox, the director of the Academy Award-nominated documentary “GasLand,” who shared them with ProPublica.
EPA press secretary Betsaida Alcantara said the agency was trying to be forthcoming by giving the tests results to Dimock residents and is now considering whether to release more information to the public about the water samples. “We made a commitment to the residents that we would give them the information as soon as we had it,” she said. “For the sake of transparency we felt it was the right thing to do.”
However preliminary, the data is significant because it is the first EPA research into drilling-related concerned on the east coast, and the agency’s first new information since it concluded that there was likely a link between fracking and water contamination in central Wyoming last December. The EPA is currently in the midst of a national investigation into the effects of fracking on groundwater, but that research is separate.
As the agency has elsewhere, the EPA began the testing in Dimock in search of methane and found it.
Methane is not considered poisonous to drink, and therefore is not a health threat in the same way as other pollutants. But the gas can collect in confined spaces and cause deadly explosions, or smother people if they breathe too much of it. Four of the five residential water results obtained by ProPublica show methane levels exceeding Pennsylvania standards; one as high as seven times the threshold and nearly twice the EPA’s less stringent standard.
The methane detections were accompanied by ethane, another type of natural gas that experts say often signifies the methane came from deeply buried gas deposits similar to those being drilled for energy and not from natural sources near the surface.
Among the other substances detected at low levels in Dimock’s water are a suite of chemicals known to come from some sort of hydrocarbon substance, such as diesel fuel or roofing tar. They include anthracene, fluoranthene, pyrene and benzo(a)pyrene2013 all substances described by a branch of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as cancer-causing even in very small amounts. Chromium, aluminum, lead and other metals were also detected, as were chlorides, salts, bromium and strontium, minerals that can occur naturally but are often associated with natural gas drilling.
It is unclear whether these contaminants have any connection to drilling activities near Dimock. The agency says it plans further testing and research.
Many of the compounds detected have not been evaluated for exposure risk by federal scientists or do not have an exposure limit assigned to them, making it difficult to know whether they present a risk to human health.
Inconsistencies in the EPA’s sampling results also are raising concerns. EPA documents, for example, list two different thresholds for the detection of bromide, a naturally occurring substance sometimes used in drilling fluids, opening up the possibility that bromide may have been detected, but not reported, in some tests.
“The threshold that it is safe, that shouldn’t be changing,” said Susan Riha, director of the New York State Water Resources Group and a professor of earth sciences at Cornell University. “For some reason 2026 one was twice as sensitive as the other one.”
The EPA did not respond to questions about the detection limits, or any other technical inquiries about the test data.
A spokesman for Cabot declined to comment on the water test results or their significance, saying that he had not yet seen the data.
To Preserve Our Rights, We Must Stand Up For Them
by Josh Fox
To Preserve Our Rights, We Must Stand Up For Them.
by Josh Fox
This morning, the charge of “unlawful entry” brought against me was dismissed without condition. The US Attorney dropped the case, finding it baseless and without merit. Although this is a personal victory and I am very grateful and relieved at the US Attorney’s decision, it serves as a painful reminder that we do not have rights unless we exercise them .
On February 1st, I was arrested, briefly jailed, and charged with “unlawful entry” for attempting to film a public hearing in the Science, Space and Technology committee. I did not enter unlawfully, I lined up outside just as everyone else did and walked in when the room opened. I set up my tripod and camera where cameras normally are set up in that particular hearing room and I was calm and peaceful. I did not disrupt the hearing nor did I intend to do so. I believed I was within my first amendment rights, as a journalist and filmmaker. I was reporting on a case that is intensely personal to me, that I have been following for 3 years.
The House had convened a hearing in the House Energy and Environment subcommittee to challenge EPAs findings that hydraulic fracturing fluids had contaminated groundwater in the town of Pavillion, Wyoming. I have a long history with the town of Pavillion and its residents who have maintained since 2008 that fracking has contaminated their water supply. I featured the stories of residents John Fenton, Louis Meeks and Jeff Locker in GASLAND and I have continued to document the catastrophic water contamination in Pavillion for the upcoming sequel GASLAND 2. It was clear that Republican leadership, including Chairman Andy Harris of Maryland, who ordered my arrest, was using this hearing to attack the three year Region 8 EPA investigation involving hundreds of samples and extensive water testing which ruled that Pavillion’s groundwater was a health hazard, contaminated by benzene at 50x the safe level and numerous other contaminants associated with gas drilling. Most importantly, EPA stated in this case that fracking was the likely cause.
When I was being led out of Congress in handcuffs, Representative Paul Tonko, Democracy of New York shouted out “This is the People’s House!” in disgust. Representative Brad Miller of North Carolina, moved to suspend the rules so that we could continue to film the proceedings stating “All god’s children should be allowed to film this hearing!” It was a surreal moment. Later that day, Congressman Maurice Hinchey would write, “This is blatant censorship and a shameful stain on this Congress.”
But if it is not now the “People’s House”, it is now, more than ever the “people’s media”. I was able to watch my own arrest on youtube because members of the audience filmed it and posted their videos. It was the citizen journalism that first documented people lighting their water on fire in gas fracking areas. It was citizen journalism that posted videos of the recent mass arrest of peaceful protestors in New York and in California. The people’s media is our system of accountability and transparency and we must continue to practice it.
The First Amendment to the Constitution states explicitly “Congress shall make no law…that infringes on the Freedom of the Press”. Which means that no subcommittee rule or regulation should prohibit a respectful journalist or citizen from recording a public hearing.
I have huge respect for those who make the immense personal sacrifice to do public service and represent their constituents and the American people. I believe we elect our representatives with good will and trust and the hopes that they serve us honestly and respectfully and I believe that we, as citizens, send them to Congress with love, pride and well wishes for the future of the nation. However, I have no respect for or deference to those who would misuse the power granted them by the American people to upend the institutions of democratic government and the rights of the citizenship they have ben sworn to uphold for private gain, political leverage or because they are beholden to corporate influence or corrosive ideology.
The people of Pavillion deserve better. The thousands across the US who have documented cases of water contamination in fracking areas deserve their own hearing on Capitol Hill. They deserve the chance to testify before Congress. The truth that fracking contaminates groundwater is out, and no amount of intimidation tactics –either outright challenges to science or the arrest of journalists –will put the genie back in the bottle. Such a brazen attempt to discredit and silence the EPA, the citizens of Pavillion and documentary filmmaking will ultimately fail and it is an affront to the health and integrity of Americans.
We cannot take our democracy and the rights of our citizenship for granted. Democracy is not handed to us from on high or guaranteed to us by battles fought by our ancestors. It is perpetually under siege by those with power, money and influence who would rather our nation of laws becomes a nation of affiliation. It is clear to me that I was arrested to serve the interests of oil and gas companies, whose interests often run counter to those of ordinary American citizens.
I was arrested because I refused to turn off my camera at a public hearing in the US congress. I have filmed hundreds of public hearings around the country and the first amendment guarantees my ability to report on what happens in public.
And I continue to refuse. I refuse to let Congressmen blatantly attack science in the the Science committee without the light of the media shining out their transgressions. I refuse to be silenced and not report on the misdeeds of those representatives who are clearly influenced by oil and gas companies beyond loyalty to their own citizen’s health. I refuse to stand down and let oil and gas companies lie about what they are injecting into the ground and emitting into the air. I refuse to let the bill of rights collapse under the weight of a 250 million dollar lobbying campaign. I refuse to let money, power and influence define the next American century over the will of the people. I refuse to turn of my camera and sit idly by as huge areas in 34 states become sacrificial drilling zones. I refuse to turn my back on the good and great people that have entrusted me with their stories of oil and gas contamination and walk away from the fight they have inspired me to wage on their behalf. I refuse to let the oil and gas industry bury their cancerous secrets for us to unwittingly drink. I refuse to bow and walk out of congress leaving it to the influence of those with money to peddle in its halls. I refuse to relinquish my understanding of the law and of justice. I refuse to surrender my citizenship and my dignity, head bowed in submission, to the influence of corporate power. I refuse to forsake the American dream of the many for the financial gain of the nationless few. I refuse to walk away, from my home and my country.
The fact that my case was dismissed so readily only attests to the ridiculousness and unfairness of my arrest, the US attorney has refused to pursue it.
I woke up one morning and declared myself a journalist. I had to. My home was under siege by the gas fracking industry. I felt that I had to not only seek out the true effects of the largest natural gas drilling campaign in history on public health and the environment but also to report what I found to my community.
The first amendment states that anyone can do the same. Anyone can wake up in the morning, declare themselves a journalist and enjoy the protections of the First Amendment. In the era of instant media, youtube and social networks, this becomes even more relevant and exciting; anyone with an iphone can rock the world. It was citizen journalists who first posted police pepper spraying peaceful protestors in New York and California and it was citizen distribution that virally spread those horrific videos of police brutality until the whole world was infected with the truth of what is happening in the USA today. It was citizen journalists who first documented water catching on fire at the kitchen sink as a result of gas fracking. It was citizen journalists who woke up one morning and decided to show the water contamination and air pollution due to gas drilling in Texas, Wyoming, Pennsylvania and in states across the nation.
This year we have seen severe repression of journalism in America. Hundreds of journalists have been arrested this year simply trying to do their jobs. Whether they were covering oil and gas issues or issues of economic inequality during the Occupy demonstrations.
“Recently, Reporters Without Borders released its 2011–2012 global Press Freedom Index. Due to journalist arrests and press suppression at Occupy Wall Street-inspired protests, the United States has dropped significantly in the rankings of press freedom, from 27 to 47.” Truthout reports.
Having personally witnessed the outrageous police brutality and repression which was an unwarranted response to occupy protests and to citizens who were acting in defense of their towns and neighborhoods against gas fracking and other egregious human rights violations as the result of fossil fuel development, I feel it is necessary to stand with all of those who have had enough of inequality and enough of big business having undue influence over the government.
So please accept my invitation, and the First Amendment’s authorization, to declare yourself a member of the Press. Declare yourself a witness to history and a fighter for transparency and equality under the law. And if you feel like it, go film a congressional hearing. Don’t bother to ask for permission, permission was just granted to you by the US Attorney. You don’t need credentials, you have your rights. Assert them.
p.s. I am very thankful to Reporters Without Borders, The Society of Environmental Journalists and the Independent Documentary Association and to the 30,000 people who signed the Working Families Party petition on my behalf and to all of my supporters for your help well wishes and statements of outrage and strength. I am also very grateful to all of the reporters, news outlets and journalists who reported on this travesty.
URGENT ACTION: Stop the Keystone XL SIGN THE PETITION!
by JoshFox & BillMcKibben
The Keystone XL Tarsands Pipeline has been resurrected, once again. I’m asking you to join me, Bill McKibben and 350.org, along with an impressive list of coalition partners, as we gather 1,000,000 signatures in 24 Hours. We had originally targeted 500,000 signatures, but since we already received 500,000 in the first 7 hours, we’re upping our target.
While the Keystone XL Tar Sands Pipeline isn’t a fracking issue, we do know that the mining and processing of the tar sands oil utilizes large quantities of fracked gas. Worse, credible scientists, such as James Hansen, have said that if this pipeline goes through, it’s game over for climate change.
Right now, take action: Sign the petition, then Share it on Facebook and Twitter:
More information about this action is in the message below from Bill McKibben. I’ll follow up and be in touch soon and update you on GASLAND PART 2.
Thanks so much!
And here’s a message from Bill with the background on what is going on:
When we started the Keystone fight there were just a few of us, and no one thought we had a chance.
But with hard work and lots of great organizing we scored an unlikely victory when the President eventually rejected the pipeline last month. However, the oil industry’s representatives in Congress are eager to undo that, and it looks like a deal could be coming together in the Senate this week to sabotage that win. It’s time for us to defend our victory.
Beginning at noon today, every environmental group in the nation, not to mention great allies like MoveOn.org and CREDO Action, will come together for the most concentrated burst of environmental advocacy this millennia. We’re aiming to send half a million messages to the Senate in the next 24 hours. And they’ll all have the same message: back the President and make sure this pipeline doesn’t get built.
This is what movements look like. And we need you to play a big part.
1—Send a message right now to the Senate: act.350.org/sign/kxl/
2—Make sure that everyone else you know does the same thing.
The arguments by now are clear: This pipeline won’t create jobs (that’s why the biggest labor unions in the country support the President). It puts the heartland of the country at risk from spills — the kind of leaks that devastated the Yellowstone and Kalamazoo Rivers in the year past. And after the year with the most weather disasters in the nation’s history, and amidst this weird and out-of-kilter winter, the fight against climate change must start here.
The only argument for the pipeline comes from folks like the Koch Brothers—“we can make a lot of money.” It’s not a good argument, but that money buys votes in Congress, unless we stand up.
So: stand up.
Look, this is one battle in the long fight against climate change. There will be others—we’ll doubtless have to call on you to go to jail again, to march and to sit in and to protest. And I have no doubt you’ll be there when it’s needed.
But today—today—the fight is at the keyboards. What you started has spread to become the greatest green fight in years. We’ve got to defend your victory, and we’ve got to do it now.
With deep thanks,
SHOCKING news about Fracking! Take Action! by Josh Fox
Unfortunately, it looks as if President Obama just jumped on the fracking bandwagon. The state of the Union address featured an explicit endorsement of shale gas and fracking.
There needs to be a massive outcry from us.
Perhaps we can talk him down off the ledge. He needs to know that we are here, and we are outraged and that this position will not bode well for the coming year.
Take action! Here are 3 things you can do:
1) Call the White House: Food and Water Watch and GASLAND collaborate for No Frack Friday: 888-925-7006
Simply tell the volunteer on the line that President Obama must protect his constituents and walk away from fracking for shale gas. Fracking is unsafe, it has been shown to contaminate groundwater by his own EPA and threatens public health and clean air.
2) Email President Obama through the WHITE HOUSE CONTACT PAGE HERE. For language, feel free to cut and paste the OPEN LETTER TO PRESIDENT OBAMA FROM THE UNITED FOR ACTION PAGE HERE.
3) TWITTER STORM: Today, at 2:00 EST, join a live session of White House Office Hours on Twitter with Heather Zichal, Deputy Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change and Dan Utech, Deputy Director for Energy Policy. Ask them about the Obama Administration’s pandering to industry by using the hashtag #WHchat and follow the Q&A through the @WHLive Twitter account.
And above all, for those of you in despair (the opposite of HOPE) worrying that you will have no place to go this election year, remember, we always have a place to go to forge democracy–into the streets. We won the crucial battles to stop the Keystone XL pipeline and halt drilling and fracking in the Delaware River Basin and it was action, not electioneering, that made policy history.
Thanks for taking action!
We’re here, we are strong and we won’t lose our homes, air, health and water to fracking.
In appreciation of you more than ever,
Josh and the GASLAND Team
On Tuesday night, during the State of the Union Address, President Obama shocked our community by hailing Natural Gas as an important new energy supply and by repeating several industry talking points which are grossly overstated.
Here are a few of the more worrisome low points of his speech, ranging from flat out wrong, to suspect and reckless:
Flat Out Wrong: “We have a supply of natural gas that can last America nearly 100 years.”
In fact, America’s proven gas reserves (272 trillion cubic feet) are only enough to last around eleven years at the current rate of consumption (24 tcf per year). Even the much more speculative estimate of “unproved technically recoverable reserves” (482 tcf according to the US Department of Energy) is only enough to last around twenty years.
Twenty years? That’s hardly the 100 that President Obama spoke of.
Suspect: ”Experts believe this [the natural gas industry] will support more than 600,000 jobs by the end of the decade.”
Apparently the “experts” the president is referring is the gas industry itself, not staff at the Bureau of Labor Statistics which predicts that the oil and gas industry will employ only 136,000 people by 2018. And the president, like the industry, fails to estimate how many jobs will be lost as other economic sectors such as agriculture and tourism are crowded out by high-impact industrial development. How can responsible government do this? Tourism, agriculture could be decimated by job losses from dirty drilling.
Reckless: “America will develop this resource without putting the health and safety of our citizens at risk. Development of natural gas will create jobs and power trucks and factories that are cleaner and cheaper, proving that we don’t have to choose between our environment and our economy.”
We just don’t buy it. From all of our extensive research and documentation, shale gas is an inherently contaminating toxic process with long lasting detrimental effects on our water, air and health.
There’s no way around it. We do have to choose – between a sustainable, healthy future and a destructive industrial practice that will fuel climate change, contaminate drinking water and leave American taxpayers on the hook for uncounted billions in environmental cleanup and health care costs.
It’s critical that we let President Obama know that he can’t get away with making such irresponsible and dangerous statements about a practice that his own EPA has found toxic, cancer causing chemicals in water supplies?
The science is in Mr. President, there is nothing “clean” about dirty shale gas and the toxicity it brings to our communities. More importantly, shale gas is not a bridge fuel, it’s a bridge to nowhere.
To donate to our work, CLICK HERE.
A parting word of resolve from Bill:
The more we’ve learned about fracking, though, the clearer it’s become that its damage is not confined to the local area. When you fracture the rock to make the gas flow faster, most of it is captured by the pump at the surface. But some escapes (the documentary Gaslandhad a remarkable shot of homeowners lighting a gas fire by holding a match under their water tap). And unburned natural gas or methane (CH4 to you chemists) is an even stronger greenhouse gas than CO2. In other words, if more than 1 or 2 percent of the natural gas escapes straight into the atmosphere, this process would cause more global warming than burning coal.
In other words, the bridge to the energy future is a rickety pier that just stretches out into the deep water and then stops. It’s one more dodge, of the kind junkies specialize in, a way to keep from coming to terms with our addiction to fossil fuel. Forget the bridge — we need to screw up our resolve and leap across the chasm to the real future of wind and sun. Not simple, not cheap, but not avoidable either.” – Bill McKibben.
Josh Fox: “DRBC Meeting Cancelled. You stopped fracking in the Delaware River Basin for now. You won this round.”
by Josh Fox, director of GASLAND
YOU DID IT. YOU WON.
All of your calls. All of your emails. Your pledges to swarm the DRBC in Trenton on November 21st.
All of your pressure and all of your strength.
You stopped fracking in the Delaware River Basin for now. You won this round. It is not a complete victory but it is a huge victory. You brought us back from the brink of total devastation.
What cancellation means: The DRBC doesn’t hold a meeting to vote down their regulations. I’ve only ever seen them vote to approve things. Which means they would cancel the meeting if they no longer had 3 out of 5 commissioners voting in favor of fracking. Which is exactly what they have done. They don’t cancel meetings often, let alone votes. Your voice made a tremendous difference. I am humbled proud and beyond thankful.
Of course, in my wildest dreams, I would have hoped that the DRBC would outlaw fracking in the River Basin permanently and forever and we could all have an icy Thanksgiving canoeing party down the Delaware next week. This is not a complete victory by any means. We still do not know when the DRBC will reschedule their meeting. Could be ten days, could be a month, could be a year. So stay tuned and stay ready. We will let you know. We will have many more battles before we stop fracking completely in the Delaware River Basin and throughout the nation and the world.
But this will still be the best thanksgiving I’ve had in my house for years, and I am incredibly thankful for all of you. You did this. It was you and the threat of you showing up in massive numbers that did this.
You saved the Delaware, for now.
The Governor of Delaware has said he will vote no on fracking the Delaware. Read the story here. But that couldn’t have done it all. Something MUST have happened in New Jersey or with the Obama Administration. It could have been all of your calls and emails to Joe Biden. We’ll find out more in the coming days.
This was a concerted effort by so many groups, in so many places. From the local organizations Damascus Citizens for Sustainability, Delaware Riverkeeper, Catskill Mountainkeeper, NYH2O, Catskill Citizens for Safe Energy, Protecting our Waters and others to the Big Greens, EWG, Earth Justice, NRDC, FOod and Water Watch, Sierra Club, to the brilliant and passionate groups working for Climate Justice 350.org, Peaceful Uprising and of course, Tar Sands Action.
We will continue to fight for the Delaware River. We will continue to make our voices heard to the Governors of New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware and to President Obama and Vice President Biden.
We will have another email in a few hours or tomorrow morning with details and next steps. We will still hold trainings Nov 20th. We may refocus the rally on the 21st to keep up the momentum of our campaign.
We must turn our attention now to the rest of Pennsylvania, and the rest of the nation where fracking is still running rampant and we must make sure we keep up our vigilance and focus.
Please pledge along with me that you will continue to fight, that you will continue to show up to events and that you will continue to follow the next steps of this amazing coalition that has assembled to fight fracking.
We will still be holding our 1st Amendment peaceful action trainings on November 20th. I am encouraging you to attend. I will be attending the New York training myself. We need this training and we will re-focus on a new place, perhaps even on November 21. Please stay tuned.
But for now, enjoy this. And this Thanksgiving, be just a bit more thankful for yourself and all the others who have worked so hard in this phase of our campaign to save the Delaware.
All my love and respect.
and the whole GASLAND team
Say it Ain’t So, Joe! by Josh Fox/Bill McKibben Save 15.6m American’s drinking water
An Appeal from Josh Fox and Bill McKibben to Vice President Joe Biden to intervene on behalf of the Delaware River and make his voice heard against fracking the Delaware.
TO: Vice President Joe Biden
President Barack Obama
Jo Ellen Darcy, Army Corps of Engineers for President Obama
Governor Jack Markell
Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden
Nancy Sutlley, Council on Environmental Quality
Dear Vice President Biden-
DON’T FRACK THE DELAWARE
We respect your integrity, your strength, your leadership and most of all your environmental record.
I am writing to urge you to unequivocally reject the Delaware River Basin Commission’s (DRBC) proposal to allow gas drilling within the Delaware River Basin. The DRBC received 69,800 public comments on their proposed draft regulations which were overwhelmingly against fracking. They have ignored them and in the process ignored the democratic process. Commissioners who vote to allow fracking are on the wrong side of history and will be held accountable.
Hydraulic Fracturing – or Fracking – is a highly dangerous method of drilling for natural gas that risks the safety of our air, water, and food, and threatens the health of our families, communities, and environment and will undoubtedly put into jeopardy these critical considerations in the Delaware River Basin. In fact, the U.S. Department of Energy Science Advisory Board’s own Subcommittee on Shale Gas Production recently recommended “[p]reservation of unique and/or sensitive areas as off limits to drilling. . .”
I urge you to say no to fracking in the Delaware River Basin. The charter of the DRBC calls for it to protect water quality in the basin, and clearly calls for nothing else to be considered above this mandate. There has been more than sufficient evidence, through widely documented incidents of contamination, to overwhelmingly convince any individual willing to look at the facts that a practice as potentially catastrophic as hydraulic fracturing should not be considered in a such sensitive area, the drinking water supply for 15.6 million people.
Do not think that a yes vote on these regulations will go unnoticed or unchallenged in the media or in the public sphere. The New York Times, Pro-Publica, and HBO’s GASLAND 2, to name a few media sources will report on fracking in the watershed and organizations with a very wide reach such as 350.org, Democracy for America, NRDC, Environmental Working Group, Catskill MountainKeeper, Delaware RiverKeeper and literally hundreds of others will be extremely vocal about any drilling allowed in the Delaware River Basin. If the regulations pass and the river basin is industrialized beyond recognition and contaminated, it will be forever the legacy of those who voted yes.
This watershed provides drinking water for more than 15 million people, delivering 1,803 million gallons of water every day to public water supplies. That’s about 5% of the nation’s population – including New York City and Philadelphia – who are depending on this relatively small watershed for safe drinking water every day. From massive water withdrawals to leaks and spills of toxics-laden frack fluid to the generation of millions of gallons of wastewater – sometimes laced with radioactive substances – the for gas drilling to pollute our water is grave. Specifically, and documented in the New York City Department of Environmental Protection’s Hazen and Sawyer Report, slick water horizontal hydraulic fracturing uses around 350,000-400,000 pounds of chemicals per well, many of these extremely toxic and cancer causing. To allow such obviously carcinogenic and dangerous activity near the sole or primary drinking water source for millions of Americans is nothing short of an invitation to disaster.
Moreover, the Delaware River Basin is vital to our ecology and quality of life. Its national park recreation areas are so treasured that 5.4 million visitors come each year to hike, camp, boat, or swim. Drinking water for millions, habitat for wildlife, and recreation for millions: one is hard-pressed to find meaning in the DOE subcommittee’s phrase “unique and or sensitive areas” if you do not apply it to the Delaware River Basin. With this clear and defining policy statement, how could one actually move forward to drill and inject so much chemically laden water into such a sensitive and vital American Treasure?
Moreover, oil and gas industry claims that drilling will aid economic recovery are patently false. In fact, drilling will damage the Basin’s existing economic value. The value of its water supply alone has recently been calculated by a University of Delaware study at $3,767,000 in annual economic value. Looking at the many aspects of economic value that the River provides, this study concludes that “[t]he Delaware Basin contributes close to $22 billion in annual market/non-market value to the regional economy…” Much of that value derives from forests, water supply and high water quality. These are the very assets at risk if natural gas development moves ahead in the Marcellus and Utica Shales, located in the Upper and Middle Delaware River Watershed. More so, many families in Pennsylvania, are already finding that after contamination, the value of their homes has dropped precipitously to what it once was. This is not the economic benefit that, during such a time of economic hardship, should be even be considered.
Surely you have noticed that the only contingents interested in pushing forward with fracking are ones that stand to benefit financially, who consistently dismiss the economic hardships and environmental degradation caused by the collateral damage incurred from this risky practice. This sort of omission and faulty economic analysis leaves the greater public liable for the true costs of contamination in numerous, and painful ways. Giving a yes vote to something that could potentially harm the general public in such a way would be nothing short of granting license to harm millions of Americans for the economic prosperity of a few.
There is an out, just as New York has urged no drilling in its watersheds which serve huge populations (the watersheds for New York City and Syracuse) the Obama Administration and the state of Delaware can vote to disallow fracking in the Delaware river basin which also serves a huge number of people with drinking water.
Currently New York Attorney General has filed suit against the commission for failing in its obligation to complete a cumulative impact study of hydrofracking on the river basin, which is required of the commission by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). This means that the DRBC would be violating the law in allowing gas drilling regulations. We urge you to reject all drilling in the river basin flat out, but, at very least, the DRBC is required to do a multi-year cumulative impact study, which would truly assess the impact on the river basin, by federal law.
I strongly urge you to reject the proposed regulations to drill and call on you to protect the Delaware River Basin from fracked gas drilling. Please stand with this National Wild and Scenic River, its communities and habitats, and the more than 15 million people who rely on the Delaware for their water. To do otherwise could be catastrophic, and would surely cement your historic decision to reflect alignment with the polluting fossil fuel industry for generations to come. We voted you into office to serve and protect all of the people, not just the few who wish to profit at all costs.
Please make sure the DRBC votes no on the proposed regulations and insist on a ban in this fragile, scenic, historic, and critical watershed that serves millions of Americans.
Gasland director Josh Fox:
Save the Delaware River from Fracking
We are all gearing up for November 21st. On Monday, we had a great screening in Delaware and folks are calling the Army Corps of Engineers, 703-697-4672 and the Governor of Delaware like crazy to oppose fracking the Delaware, Jack Markell 703-697-4672. Please join in and make these calls.
DRBC is trying to rob us of our right to have a voice in their hearing – but if we all show up together, we will make ourselves be heard, change the outcome, and protect the Delaware River. We can win – if we have enough people. If you are out of the area, make the calls above. However, if you are nearby, please consider joining in. Bus information from around the region HERE.
So here’s the plan:
There are 2,000 seats in the auditorium. We need to fill as many of those seats as possible with people against fracking. Together we will engage in an ORGANIZED, DIGNIFIED, PEACEFUL protest. In order to plug in, we need you to come to a training the night before or attend the briefing the morning of the 21st. There will be two simultaneous evening trainings on Nov 20th, in NYC and in Trenton NJ, and you can get the details and RSVP for them HERE. If you cannot attend a training, there will be a briefing the morning of the 21st (location and time TBA) for people to plug-in to the plan. There will be multiple roles for this creative action, and if you can, bring $100 emergency money and your ID. For more details and to sign up for pay-what-you-can buses and to see Mark’s video please go to www.savethedelawareriver.com
Gasland 2 is in production. Help us continue our work as the film comes to fruition! Donate HERE.
URGENT: Save the Delaware River & drinking water of 15m Americans from contamination before Oct 21st
by Josh Fox:
Dear IMAGINE PEACE readers
I have made a new video highlighting the current danger to the Delaware River Basin. Now is a crucial time for people to act to stop fracking in the River Basin. The video explains that in less than three weeks, the Delaware River Basin commission will vote on regulations that would allow for 20,000 gas wells in the river basin.
The commission is made up of the governors of New York, New Jersey, Delaware and Pennsylvania and a representative of the Obama administration.
If the regulations pass, drilling and fracking will most certainly commence in the Delaware River watershed within a matter of weeks or months, the drinking water source for 15 million people. The Delaware River Basin is a crucial fight in the battle against fracking worldwide.
We really need to get this emergency situation out to the public. Would you please consider sending it out, tweeting about it and posting it on your blogs?
Thanks so much,
SAVE THE DELAWARE – TAKE ACTION NOW!
October 21, 2011 is Don’t Drill the Delaware Day!
The fight has come to the final front. The lines are drawn.
Protect the Delaware River Watershed from pollution from toxic gas drilling. The Delaware River Basin, an intergovernmental body, is about to move forward with regulations to permit fracking. This is a public health hazard and we cannot let this occur!
1) Call the Governors and President Obama TODAY and tell them Don’t Drill the Delaware, and Don’t approve ANY regulations to permit fracking!
Governor Christie’s office – 609-292-6000
Governor Cuomo’s office – 518-474-8390
Gov Corbett’s office – 717-787-2500
Gov Markell’s Wilmington Office – 302-577-3210
And the white house comment line is 202-456-1111
2) Come to the DRBC meeting!
When: October 21, 8 am
Where: Patriots Theater at the War Memorial, 1 Memorial Drive Trenton, N.J.
Links to buses will be posted at http://savethedelaware.wordpress.com.
Sign up by email @ firstname.lastname@example.org and/or continue to check back here.
The members of the DRBC – the Governors of New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware and the Army Corps of Engineers as the federal representative – will decide the future of this Watershed, the Wild and Scenic Delaware River, and the water supply for over 15 million people with their action on October 21. How can they allow drilling and fracking to start with weak regulations that don’t protect our drinking water and our watersheds? We need to tell them “Don’t Drill the Delaware!”
Keep checking back for updates and go to:
Participating organizations include:
GASLAND: Josh Fox wins the Emmy for Outstanding Directing For Nonfiction Programming – 2011
“THANK YOU! Last week I was getting arrested in front of the white house with Bill McKibben to stop Climate Change and this week I get to meet Gene Simmons. I have to thank Sheila Nevins and Nancy Abraham of HBO, my amazing collaborators Trish Adlesic, Matthew Sanchez and Molly Gandour. But most of all this award goes to the families who are fighting every day against the natural gas industry all across this country. The gas industry has contaminated their water, polluted their air, caused a public health crisis and a civil rights crisis. We have to put an end to fracking in this country. Governor Cuomo, President Obama, I hope you are paying attention, we cannot allow America to turn into a gas field.”
Emmy Acceptance Speech, 19 Sept 2011.
Also, here is another video I just made, against the Death Penalty. It was something that the singer Nellie McKay, who gave music to GASLAND was very moved by so I offered to make her a video, quickly, in support. Take a look. Thanks.
Here’s an article about the video.