DEP, “Don’t Expect Protection”

DEP, “Don’t Expect Protection”

pennsylvania-enviornment_0Fracking’s Toxic Secrets: Lack Of Transparency Over Natural Gas Drilling Endangers Public Health, Advocates Say

Some frustrated residents and anti-fracking activists are finding new names to call the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) — “Don’t Expect Protection,” “Department of Energy Production” — according to Dana Dolney of ShaleTest, a nonprofit that provides free air and water quality testing for low-income residents near natural gas wells.

The department is taking heat for providing what critics see as incomplete water quality test results to property owners who are concerned about pollution from nearby fracking operations. Withholding such information, the critics say, could endanger residents’ health.

“Based on what is happening in the Marcellus Shale, we saw a huge desperate need for this kind of testing,” Dolney said. “We wouldn’t have to do what we do if it wasn’t for the failures of the DEP.”

The DEP and natural gas companies are defending the testing methods, asserting that the contaminants most likely to be associated with fossil fuel extraction are included in what is shared with the DEP and, subsequently, with homeowners.

Still, critics suggest the purported “filtering” of testing data is just one of the ways people are left in the dark about the assortment of heavy metals and other toxic contaminants that may be in their air and water as a result of drilling, hydraulic fracturing and other phases of natural gas production. Recent studies have identified more than 600 chemicals used throughout the process of natural gas production, and often left undisclosed by companies. Additionally, natural but equally hazardous substances can be released from the wells.

Fracking’s Toxic Secrets: Lack Of Transparency Over Natural Gas Drilling Endangers Public Health, Advocates Say

Not telling people the information you don’t want them to have is lying. It’s just easier to justify to yourself. This is what happens when an agency is captured by the industry it is supposed to regulate.

James Pilant


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Andrew Comments On My Post, Gasland – The Documentary

Andrew Gates once again provides his usual intelligent commentary to one of my postings, in this case, Gasland – The Documentary.

These companies will DEFINITELY take advantage of land owners in a second if they can.

My paternal ancestors were coal miners from Kentucky. My great grandfather worked for the mining company for a very long time. When he retired, the company gave him a piece of land on one of the mountains (that they thought was worthless, of course) that they owned. That was sort of a tradition back in that time.

Anyways, about 10 years after he retired, another company comes to him and says that they found more coal on that mountain and that they wanted his permission to mine the coal from under his property. They offered him a fixed amount per month for the rights to mine.

My great grandfather, being a veteran of the mining industry, knew that the company would mine the coal as quickly as possible without regard to his property, so that they would only have to pay him a few thousand dollars for hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of coal.

So my great grandfather told them that he would not give them rights to mine unless they paid him a fixed amount per ton of coal that was mined from his property. The company did NOT like those terms and tried everything in the book to get around it, but eventually they caved and accepted his terms. Because the company gave him so much grief about the terms of the mining deal, he also forced them to pay him a fee for every truck that went up and down HIS road to the mountain.

Its always a good story to tell to people who think that one man cant stand up to a large company.

I’m glad for the comment. There is no one in my family that has that kind of experience. (Pilants tend to be ministers, teachers and farmers although on rare occasions they may be found as Internet bloggers.)

Here’s another preview of Gasland:

Gasland – The Documentary

From the Huffington Post

Josh Fox’s home sits in the woods of Milanville, Pennsylvania, near the rushing waters of the Delaware River. In May 2008, a strange letter appeared in his mailbox. A natural gas company was offering him $100,000 if he granted them permission to drill on his property.

Instead of signing, Fox decided to investigate. Armed with a video camera and a banjo, he set off on a journey up and down the Marcellus Shale, a massive reserve of natural gas that stretches 600 miles from Pennsylvania to Maryland, Virginia and into Tennessee. Known as the “Saudi Arabia of natural gas,” the shale contains billions of dollars in untapped fuel.

Fox wanted to know: What happened to other families who agreed to drilling on their property?

What he found was a heartbreaking collection of severely ill families whose aquifers had become so tainted by the gas, they could literally light their tap water on fire. He edited his footage into a modest documentary, Gasland, which was soon embraced by outraged viewers across the country. It won the Special Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival, the Lennon-Ono Peace Prize, and now has been nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary.

I was reading about the Academy Award nominations when I came across this film. I read up on it. I find it compelling, it’s a moving story about real people who lose the right to have clean water.

James Pilant