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County Parks Committee Discusses Deer Lakes Park Fracking

Coming to a County Parkl near you? Photo from the PA DEP

On the evening of April 15 citizens and gas industry associates filled the Gold Room of the Allegheny County Courthouse to let the Parks Committee know what they thought of fracking beneath Deer Lakes County Park. Among the estimated 41 speakers in favor of the lease, many spoke of fracking in general without regard to this particular lease itself; the fracking industry will bring jobs to the region, and it will attract visitors and conventions, etc. In addition, industry representatives claimed that fracking was safe, despite ample evidence to the contrary. Finally, it was asserted that the park system is in a dilapidated state without documentation or estimates of needed funds.

As has been the case since last August, the estimated 39 speakers opposed to fracking beneath the park focused on the short and long-term impacts of fracking operations on air and water quality, and the fact that Council is being asked to vote on an ordinance devoid of the actual lease. Leasing opponents also critized Parks Committee Chairman Futules for failing to invite objective, independent experts to the three forthcoming committee meetings. Teh meeting ended after more than four hours.

Ethics Complaint Filed Against County Parks Committee Chair Futules

ACTION: Constituents should urge Mr. Futules to recuse himself from the Deer Lakes Park fracking lease matter. Contact info is HERE.

From John Detwiler, press officer for the Protect Our Parks coalition:

On April 18 Protect Our Parks (a coalition of over 30 individual citizens, non-profit environmental organizations and neighborhood grassroots groups) filed a complaint with the Pennsylvania State Ethics Commission over County Councilman Nicholas Futules’s role in the proposed lease for “fracking” at Deer Lakes Park. (more…)

Act to Save the Bees, and Our Food

Artwork: Mike LaMark

ACTION.  Urge your Congressman to co-sponsor the ‘Saving America’s Pollinators Act of 2013′.

You have probably heard that around the world bee colonies are collapsing at an alarming rate.  Last year the European Union banned the use of three pesticides containing neonicotinoids. These compounds are believed to be at the root cause of the colony collapse, and are present in pesticides made by Bayer and Syngenta. Last March a group of environmental groups sued the EPA for the agency’s approval of such pesticides, followed by a similar suit against the EPA by the beekeeping industry in December.

Frustrated by the lack of response from the EPA, Congressmen Conyers (D-MI) and Blumenauer (D-OR) introduced the “Save America’s Pollinators Act” (H.R.2692 ) which will suspend the use of toxic, bee-killing pesticides until a full review of scientific evidence indicates they are safe and a field study demonstrates they do no harm to bees and other pollinators.  Urge your Congressman to co-sponsor the ‘Saving America’s Pollinators Act of 2013’.

IPCC Report: Begin to Mitigate Climate Change Now or the Cost will be Unbearable

NASA image

The definitive body investigating climate change and its ramifications is the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). A recent IPCC collaborative report of Working Group III deals with mitigation – how to reduce the sources or enhance the sinks of greenhouse gases. Capsuled in a short video, and described as a blockbuster, the report demonstrates that if we act now there will be economic benefits.

Is Deer Lakes Park Driller As Safe as Claimed?

The practices of the company that County Executive Fitzgerald has asked to frack beneath Deer Lakes County Park, Range Resources, are perhaps not quite as ‘safe’ as claimed by Mr. Fitzgerald and his associates. On April 16 a DEP inspection of a fracking operation in Washington County revealed significant leakage from a wastewater impoundment. According to the Post-Gazette, in February 2013 Range’ was issued a notice of violation for “failure to take all necessary measures to prevent spill. Inadequate diking, potential pollution” for the same impoundment. In July, 2012 Range fined $75,000 by the DEP for a spill of 3,066 gallons of “manufactured brine” at a well pad in, Lycoming County.

Sierra Club Challenges DCNR on Impact of Fracking on State Forests

Photo: Friends of Rock Run

On April 16 the Dept. of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) released a 265-page report on the monitoring of the impact of shale gas development on State Forests.  Briefly, the DCNR’s conclusions are:

  • Water quality has not been affected by fracking.
  • Only approximately 1,500 acres of forest was required for gas development.
  • Intrusion of invasive species due to disturbance needs to be carefully managed and controlled.
  • The trend from the more remote experience to a semi-primitive experience for recreationists needs close scrutiny.

(more…)

County Council Begins to Tackle Fracking Lease – Sort Of

To partly justify the need to frack Deer Lakes Park, at an April 2, 2014 public meeting County Executive Fitzgerald suggested that the lakes in this park were polluted and un-fishable. This photo was taken on April 12, 2014 in Deer Lakes Park, the first day of Trout Season. Photo by Joy Strang.

Fifty-nine residents signed up to speak at the Allegheny County Council meeting on April 8 when an ordinance to grant County Executive Fitzgerald permission to negotiate the leasing of the mineral rights beneath Deer Lakes county park was on the agenda. Four speakers supported this leasing for fracking beneath the park – all four to some degree beneficiaries of the fracking industry. The remaining host of speakers each took their allotted three minutes to explain to Council in sometimes passionate, often humorous, but always in a well-reasoned manner, just exactly why fracking of any of our nine county parks is a bad idea. (more…)

Climate Change Blockbuster: ‘Years of Living Dangerously’

NASA image

Here is a powerful TV series that may provide a jolt to the general public’s perception of climate change. Instead of just summarizing scientific reports, SHOwtime has explored the human impact of climate change. The Guardian calls the nine episodes of ‘Years of Living Dangerously’ a blockbuster ‘non-fiction thriller that you will not want to miss”. The series started 10 pm on Sunday, April 13, but that first episode can be viewed for free on YouTube.

Groups Not Entirely Happy with Shenango Coke Plant Agreement

On Neville Island just down the river from the Point sits one of the dirtiest air-polluting facilities in the state – the Shenango coke making batteries. During a 432 day period ending Sept. 30, 2014 Shenango was in violation of Allegheny County emissions standards 330 days. On April 8 the owners of Shenango, DTE Energy Services, agreed with the county to pay a $600,000 civil penalty and to accelerate their plant improvement schedule. Speaking on behalf of a collaborative of non-profits that has been fighting for healthier air in this part of the Ohio Valley, Tom Hoffman stated in part: (more…)

Cleaner Air from PAT Buses

By purchasing cleaner and more efficient new buses, a new report reveals that harmful emissions from PAT’s diesel-powered buses have been reduced dramatically. Between 2005 and 2013, estimated total annual emissions of particulate matter (PM) from the bus fleet fell 66 percent, and emissions of oxides of nitrogen (NOx) from the fleet fell by 72 percent. An earlier report showed that although diesel vehicles form less than 10 pct of the regions traffic, they account for half of the PM and NOx mobile emissions, with a concentration in the Downtown area.

APRIL IS “PROTECT OUR PARKS” MONTH

Deer Lakes Park. Photo: Allegheny County Parks Dept.

In response to the formal proposal now before Allegheny County Council to ‘frack’ beneath Deer Lakes park, the Protect Our Parks coalition urges YOU to participate in the following events. Spread the word, show up, bring a sign, speak out! This PEOPLE POWERED campaign is where YOUR ACTION can have a DIRECT IMPACT on the outcome.

  • April 22. Earth Day at County Council Meeting. Pittsburgh. Details HERE.
  • April 23. Parks Committee Meeting – Lease Legal Questions. 5pm, Gold Room, County Courthouse. Details and Agenda.
  • April 30. Parks Committee Meeting – Economic Factors. 5pm, Gold Room, County Courthouse.

NOTE: Parks Committee Chairman Futules has chosen to only invite pro-industry experts and is excluding independent experts to the Committee Meetings. Nevertheless, at the April 16 meeting Council members did ask probing questions and raised a number of concerns. Citizens are urged to monitor the two remaining Committee Meetings and take notes.

Activists Challenge Fitzgerald’s Park Lease at Info Meeting

Park protectors at press conference

ACTION: Allegheny County residents are urged to speak out at the April 8 County Council meeting.

Before an audience of about 400 people, on April 2 at Deer Lakes High School County Executive Rich Fitzgerald assembled an array of his political allies and industry friends to justify his relentless push to lease the mineral rights for fracking beneath Deer Lakes County Park. (See the VIDEO.) (more…)

Little Blue Run Coal Ash Impoundment to Finally Close

Little Blue Run impoundment. Photo: LBRAG

At long last, the DEP has ordered the closing of the Little Blue Run impoundment where coal ash from the Bruce Mansfield power plant in nearby Shippingport has been stored since first permitted in 1974. For years Greene Township residents have called for this closing, claiming that the unlined 1,700-acre lagoon has been a serious source of groundwater contamination. In August 2012 closure was promised, and now a Closure Permit has been issued to owner First Energy. Unfortunately, the residents must wait until Jan.1, 2017 before First Energy stops dumping waste into the impoundment.

Vertical Wind Turbines Coming to Pittsburgh

Conceptual view of vertical wind turbines mounted on roof. Image: WindStax and Desmone & Associates

Mention ‘wind turbines’ and those three-bladed structures along Laurel Ridge come to mind. But a variety of ‘vertical’ wind turbines are being developed since a helix type turbine collapsed at the Burning Man festival in 2007. This spring a more reliable type of vertical turbine will be placed on the roof of the Public Market Place in the Strip District. These vertical turbines have been developed and built by WindStax Wind Power Systems here on Smallman Street. (more…)

Opportunities to Help Make our Region a Better Place

The Allegheny Group is an active grassroots organization that relies on volunteer support. Here are some opportunities to join like-minded folk in a number of activities. Please contact volunteer coordinators Ken Yonek at kennethyonek@yahoo dot com or Bob Lauth at bobby2socks1@gmail dot com for more information.

PHONE BANKING at the Sierra Club Office, 425 N. Craig st. Pgh 15213. :

April 24 – Phone banking for volunteers for the Sierra Club table at the Venture Outdoors Festival on May 17.

TABLING is an important outreach activity that does not require any past-experience.

April 22 Washington & Jefferson College Earth Day Festival
April 24 – Rights for Mother Earth Panel, East Liberty Presbyterian Church, Time TBA
April 26 – Mount Lebanon Earth Day Festival, 11am – 3pm Mt. Lebanon Main Park (more…)

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