Ft Cherry School District parents accuse Range Resources of permit violations

From Gillian Graber, Executive Director, ProtectPT:

On September 26, 2016, the Mt. Pleasant Township Supervisors granted Range Resources a Conditional Use Permit to develop the Yonkers well pad 0.7 miles from Ft. Cherry schools.

On October 12, 2016, Mt Carmel Stabilizer Group, a subcontractor for Range, showed up on day one of working on Baker Road, the access road for the well pad. Mt Pleasant Township required Range Resources to totally restrict any heavy truck traffic within the Township during Fort Cherry School District morning and afternoon school bus drop-off and pick-up schedules.

Fort Cherry parents were shocked to watch the resulting chaos as water trucks heading to the road construction site forced buses full of students going to school to the side of the road. Equipment was piled up on the side of Fort Cherry Road, blocking the only road leading to the school.

The parents of Fort Cherry Schools believe this was a violation of the conditions set by the township and a violation to the safety and well-being of our children. After a parent contacted the township solicitor, they were told this incident was merely “a hiccup.”

Join us in protecting our most precious resource, our children, by urging our local government to issue a Notice of Violation to Range Resources for this bus incident and to not permit any more infrastructure near our already vulnerable schools.

Please join us for a Rally on Wednesday, October 26th, 6:00 pm, at the Mt Pleasant Municipal Building, 31 McCarrell Road, Hickory, PA 15340.

If you are unable to attend, please consider sharing one of that attached images and Facebook Event to your network.

For more information on Protect, go to

On September 22 Pittsburgh Said NO to Trump

The following is an account by Tom Hoffman of the rally held last Thursday in Downtown Pittsburgh:

On Thursday, September 22, Donald Trump rolled into Pittsburgh town to speak to an Oil and Gas Convention and attend a Republican Fundraiser at the Duquesne Club. To make sure that he knew that his racist, sexist and anti-environmental campaign was NOT going to play well here in the home of the Three Rivers, about 400 Pittsburgh’s gathered at the convention center and then followed the Republican candidate to the Duquesne Club on 6th Avenue


Marchers making their way to the Duquesne Club.      Photo: Paul Heckbert.

In her book This Changes Everything, Naomi Klein tells of her hope that the issue of climate will build a large progressive movement. The seeds of that movement here in Pittsburgh came to stand up to Trump on that Thursday. Pittsburgh’s labor, faith, environment, social justice and community movements were all represented. While the rally was a bit fragmented, everyone came together behind one banner – literally – when it was time to march to the Duquesne Club.

The banner read “Edgy Elders – Leaving a Legacy – Justice: Racial Economic Climate” and was carried by seniors from the Thomas Merton Center. People on the march carried signs ranging from “Black Lives Matter” to “Still We Rise” to “Hate Has No Place Here” to “Love Trumps Hate” to “Climate Voter”.

After blocking traffic at Wood and Sixth for ten minutes, the march moved on to the Duquesne Club. When chants of “Let Us In” filled the air, Pittsburgh Police arrived in full battle gear and used horse mounted police to move demonstrators away from the doors of the Duquesne Club. One protester, Michael Bagdes Canning was arrested for trying to enter the large donor fundraiser event.

This will not be the last time Pittsburgh rallies to say NO to Trump but it was certainly a definitive statement to that effect from a very broad coalition of progressive forces in Pittsburgh. Here’s hoping that the movement they brought together on that September afternoon survives beyond the November election.

State Forests Given Stronger Protection from Drilling

Just a few days after his inauguration in January 2015 Gov. Tom Wolf issued an executive order placing a moratorium on additional gas drilling on the state owned forest land, stating that “subject to future advice and recommendations made by DCNR, no State Park and State Forest Lands owned and/or managed by DCNR shall be leased for oil and gas development.”

In the newly announced 2016 resource management plan based in part on public input the DCNR states that it will actively purchase and exchange real estate interests to acquire subsurface oil, gas and mineral rights to conserve state forest and state park lands. As expected, industry sources have opposed this latest move by the Wolf administration

GOP Platform Doesn’t Bode Well for the Environment

According to the 2016 Republican Platform the GOP is prepared to set aside many of the measures to protect the environment and our health. The folk at Grist have captured the environmental highlights of the platform that can be further summarized as:

  • Cancel the Clean Power Plan
  • Build the Keystone XL pipeline and more like it.
  • Kill federal fracking regulations.
  • Oppose any carbon tax.
  • Expedite export terminals for liquefied natural gas.
  • Abolish the EPA as we know it.
  • Forbid the EPA to regulate carbon dioxide.
  • Turn federal lands over to states
  • Revoke the ability of the president to designate national monuments.
  • Halt funding for the U.N.’s Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Democratic Party Platform – Mainly Good, but Some Misses

The 2016 Democratic Party Platform is being hailed as the most progressive ever, and for environmentalists there are some gains. Compared to the GOP platform there is strong recognition of the dangers of climate change, and support for the Clean Air Plan as well as the COP21 agreement, no drilling off the Atlantic coast and in the Arctic, no Keystone Pipeline, protection of public lands, all with a strong call for environmental justice.

However, there is no call for a ban on fracking, although the Halliburton loophole will be closed. The absence of opposition to the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) raises the question of just how strong is the stated opposition of Hillary Clinton to the TPP. The  environmental portion of  the platform is presented with bold highlighting.

ACTION: Public Support Needed for Changes in Rules Governing Oil and Gas Drilling


ACTION: Contact your State legislators and urge them to support adoption of Chapters 78 and 78A. Click HERE.

Before the state legislature is an effort to improve rules governing oil and gas industry in Pennsylvania. Both the Environmental Quality Board and the Independent Regulatory Review Commission approved the changes developed over five years by the DEP and included in Chapters 78 (conventional drilling) and 78A fracking). The areas covered in these Chapters are:
— Improve protection of water resources,
— Add public resources considerations,
— Protect public health and safety,
— Address landowner concerns, and
— Enhance transparency and improve data management.

Environmentalists and citizen groups across the state believe that the changes are needed to protect the public from harmful exposure to toxic air and water pollution. But on June 8 friends of the industry on the House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee introduced a measure (SB 279) to eliminate the new regulations.

EPA Acts to Reduce Methane Emissions from New Fracking Operations

Following the EPA’s Clean Power Plan last August to curtail green house gas emissions from power plants, on May 10 the EPA issued the first ever standards to curb methane emissions from existing oil and gas operations including fracking. According to the EPA, methane (CH4) accounts for 10 pct of all GHG emissions from human activities and lasts in the atmosphere for a shorter time than CO2, but it’s effect on climate change is 25 times greater than CO2 over a period of 100 years.

Designed to reduce CH4 emissions to between 40 and 45 pct less than the 2012 levels, the final regulations are issued after 50,000 comments on the initial proposals last summer. During that time the EPA revised upwards the inventory of total CH4 emissions in 2013 from 636 million metric tons to 721 million metric tons CO2 equivalent, and a total of 731 million metric tons in 2014. In justifying the final standards the EPA estimates that climate benefits will amount to $690 million in 2025 and will outweigh the estimated costs of $530 million in 2025.

The CH4 emission standards now adopted by the EPA only pertain to new oil and gas operations – production, transmission, storage, and distribution. However, on March 10 EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy wrote on March 10 that her agency has begun to develop standards for CH4 emissions from existing facilities.

In a connection of concern to climate activists, the new assessment of the amounts of methane emitted from fracking now undermines the notion that we can shift from coal to natural gas for electric power generation as a bridge to a clean energy future, without having a negative impact on public health and climate change.


Environmental Injustice in the Shale Fields?

At an Environmental Law Forum in Harrisburg earlier this month Range Resources executive Terry Bossert made a comment that suggested his company avoided locating gas wells near well-to-do communities because potential opposition would be stronger. Mr. Brossert later apologized for his statement, saying it was simply sarcasm and not approval.

Attorneys from environmental organizations who were in the audience interpreted the comment as indication of environmental injustice in the fracking business. The attorneys from the Center for Coalfield Justice, Clean Air Council, and Sierra Club wrote to the Director of DEP’s Office of Environmental Justice calling for the Director to implement the Environmental Justice Public Participation Policy of 2005 for every future well permit application, and “to conduct a retroactive analysis of permits previously issued to determine whether there was an adverse impact on environmental justice communities”.

Another aspect of this dispute is that Mr. Brossert of Range Resources was formerly DEP’s chief counsel in the 1990s, an example of the revolving-door nature of the regulatory atmosphere in former administrations.

FERC Rejects First LNG Terminal on West Coast

In a remarkable decision on March 11, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) rejected plans for a liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal on the shore of Jordan Cove near the town of Coos Bay in Southern Oregon. What is judged remarkable is the finding that the terminal is not needed, contrary to an earlier recommendation for approval by the FERC staff.  The latest decision is contrary to the FERC decision last October to approve the first LNG terminal on the Atlantic coast, at Cove Point, Maryland.  

If approved, the Coos Bay massive LNG Jordan Cove terminal would have been the first on the Pacific coast. Moreover, it would have been fed by the proposed 230-mile long Pacific Connector pipeline, a project long opposed by those wanting to protect the Oregon forests.

EPA Strenghens Efforts to Reduce CH4 Emissions from Fracking Facilities

In a joint announcement on March 10 President Obama and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau confirmed a common goal of reducing methane emissions from oil and gas facilities by 40 to 45 percent below 2012 levels by 2025. The EPA proposed last August a methane emission reduction rule for new and modified oil and gas wells. But EPA’s own inventory published at the end of February revealed that methane emissions from 1990 to 2014 were higher than previously estimated. In a welcome move, on March 10 the EPA announced that it will propose new rules for methane emissions from existing oil and gas wells.

In related news NOAA announced that the concentration of CO2 at the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii increased by 3.05 ppm in 2015, which is the largest annual increase on record.


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