Keystone Environmental Youth Coalition

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People’s Gas and Oil Summit in Pittsburgh December 3, 2010

Cross-posted from the Energy Justice Network blog.  This post was authored by Ljubica Sarafov, KEY Coalition member.

For those of you who haven’t watched Gasland, I would strongly recommend checking it out. Besides the cool shots and excellent banjo accompaniments, the story at the heart of the film is extremely compelling and well told. There are honest and admirable protagonists in the movie, as well as shadowy corporations. The movie was created by Josh Fox, self-described child of hippy parents who built a house in the woods of North Eastern Pennsylvania where he now lives. Josh first encountered fracking through a letter in the mail offering him around $100,000 total for the right to drill on his land. Fox, unsure about this financial proposal, sets out to find more information. He starts out with a town near him where drilling is already underway and ends up embarking on trips to Wyoming, Texas and other highly drilled areas in the country.

When Fox made the movie, he had to travel all across the country to find the type of information he was looking for, from personal experiences to empirical data, it was all scattered. Luckily for those of us interested in the movement, Earthworks.org decided to hold the National People’s Oil and Gas Summit in Pittsburgh this year, consolidating many of the people and resources which Fox tracked down in the making of his film. We also had the pleasure of meeting other allies, researchers, and activists not mentioned in the film, and the filmmaker himself (while Fox couldn’t be physically there because he was on shoot in Australia, he did take time to skype with us, from a park).

The summit was right in the heart of the Marcellus Shale Natural gas drilling boom region this year, though it is normally held in the west. This served as a stark reminder to all in attendance that the natural gas battle has spread across the country. There were many great speakers and panels, and the range of topics covered was pretty widespread. Here is a list from Earthworks themselves:

  • The BIG PICTURE – where are they drilling, why and who’s next?
  • Natural gas, CLIMATE JUSTICE and PUBLIC HEALTH: life cycle impacts of gas
  • Hydraulic FRACTURING: Full Disclosure, NO Exemptions
  • To lease or not to LEASE; landowner and mineral owner rights
  • CLIMATE CHANGE: Beyond coal, oil and gas: what is our ENERGY FUTURE?
  • MEDIA: reforming the industry one blog, story, movie and wiki at a time
  • Legislate, Litigate, AGITATE: lessons on organizing and civil disobedience

The conference was packed with information. From excellent economic analysis on the market for natural gas, to strategies, to the personal stories shared by some of the brave speakers. We even had an oil industry insider — granted, he was quietly mocked and booed by polite summit goers, due to his lukewarm stance on gas drilling. I was really blown away by how much I was learning. Although sometimes that new knowledge came at the cost of feeling down or overwhelmed, being surrounded by so many activists and people who care was fantastic.

If you are interested in more information about Marcellus Shale, Hydrofracturing, or Natural Gas, here are some links that might pique your fancy.

  • You can check out an entire section devoted to Natural Gas at. http://www.energyjustice.net/naturalgas
  • You can also check out the mapping feature on our site: http://www.energyjustice.net/map, which not only provides you locations of current operating Natural Gas drilling sites, but also proposed and expanding sites and a plethora of other information
  • At the conference there was actually a panel (Web-based Tools for Information Sharing and Documentation) devoted to some other really great ways that people were using the internet and technology to expose fracking sites, landmen, etc.
    • http://www.fractracker.org/ which also deals with mapping fracking sites
    • http://civic.mit.edu/projects/c4fcm/extract-landman-report-card an MIT related project that creates a community for fracked people, and has come up with a report card for landmen. This is really important because it allows locals to share their experience dealing with the landmen. It also gathers all these experiences into really practical data. So that rather than having anecdotal evidence in the fight, we can actually translate it into empirical data, which can be used to change minds and inspire activism.
  • Even though you may not have been there, you can still get some really great information from people like Wilma Subra, personally, on your computer, just by checking out the speaker’s power point presentations online at:http://earthworksaction.org/2010SummitAgenda.cfm#PANEL4
  • Video was taken during the Summit, in which all the speakers were filmed. The summit organizers still haven’t decided if they are going to put up the video on youtube or if they are going to release it in DVD form. Either way, for more updates about that I would check back here:

    http://www.earthworksaction.org/POGsummit2010.cfm

  • Lastly you can hear coverage of the Summit thanks to Rustbelt radio, which covered two stories:

    Rust Belt Radio 11/22/10

–This has been Ljubica Sarafov, campus and community organizer for PA, signing off!

 

 

EPA Hears From Over 150 Stakeholders, Including KEY Coalition Members July 26, 2010

Filed under: KEY Coalition,Marcellus Shale,Updates — KEY Coalition @ 4:00 PM

Cross-posted from the youth climate blog It’s Getting Hot in Here. This post was co-authored by Sasha Shyduroff and Angela Wiley. Both are KEY Coalition members.

On Thursday, July 22, over 1200 people attended an Environmenal Protection Agency hearing in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania on the relationship between Hydrualic Fracturing and water; it was the most well attended event of the EPA’s nationwide meetings thus far. The EPA was gathering feedback regarding a peer reviewed study slated to begin in early 2011 that would detail the effects of Fracking on the quality and qauntity of drinking water.  Over 150+ registered speakers provided feedback and comments. Landowners spoke about existing water quality issues they connected to fracking, professionals pointed out the precedent in analyzing dangerous compounds used in fracking fluid, and a handful of industry representatives urged the agency to conduct “scientific” studies “not based on emotion”.

Pittsburgh Student Environmental Coalition gets front row seating at EPA hearing in Canonsburg, PA.

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DRBC Approves Gas Permit in Philadelphia Watershed

Filed under: Marcellus Shale — KEY Coalition @ 3:20 PM

Cross-posted from It’s Getting Hot in Here. Authored by Amy Wilson, KEY Coalition member.

Delaware is a state I do not know much about. From elementary school and a road trip I remember that its capital is Dover and that Delawareans prize themselves on tasty seafood. My knowledge of Delaware extends beyond that, but I don’t claim to be any sort of expert.

But on Wednesday, I was impressed by “The First State” (Delaware). That is because on Wednesday, at a hearing on a proposed natural gas development in Wayne County, Pennsylvania, the Commissioner from Delaware was the lone member of the interstate Commission – the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) – who voted against the Stone Energy water withdrawal permit.

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Keeping (and Calculating) Tabs on Gas Drilling

Filed under: KEY Coalition,Marcellus Shale — KEY Coalition @ 2:40 PM

Cross-posted from the youth climate blog It’s Getting Hot in Here. Authored by KEY Coalition member Amy Wilson.

In the past decade, our elected officials and regulators opened state forests and impoverished rural communities to natural gas drilling. Environmentalists began talking about animal deaths, land fragmentation, and water, while residents got the short end of the stick. Here’s how it happened in Pennsylvania, and why I think we need to take a look at the economic justice implications of gas drilling.

In 2008, the gas industry had more than 52,000 producing gas wells in Pennsylvania. Between 2003 and 2008, drilling increased 42%, while new enforcement staff hires inched up only 9 percent. My guess is that rates of inspected wells are lower than the unemployment rates; maybe even lower than unemployment rates of the 90s!  The Pennsylvania-based group Damascus Citizens estimates that there are approximately 30 Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) inspectors in the entire state. New York, Texas, and other gas producing states tell a similar story – fewer than 20 enforcement staff in NY are responsible for more than 12,000 wells. In 2008, Texas had 106 enforcement staff responsible for inspecting more 250,000 wells. (more…)

 

Gubernatorial Candidates Speak on Marcellus Shale May 3, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — KEY Coalition @ 4:41 PM

This April gubernatorial candidates laid out their plans to address environmental threats and tap into local food potential in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

Importantly to our youth state network, KEY Coalition, each of the candidates in attendence identified drilling in the Marcellus shale gas formation as their ‘top’ environmental concern. Below is an account of the sustainability forum at the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia. While several candidates did not attend the event, Joe Hoeffel, Anthony Williams, Dan Onorato, and Jack Wagner participated in the forum.

Joe Hoeffel, Montgomery County Commissioner, called for more caution on gas drilling than Onorato, Wagner, or Williams. Hoeffel would proceed with gas drilling only after the implementation of a severance tax and a moratorium on all permits until new Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) wastewater standards are in place and enforceable. Hoeffel also called for a moratorium on leasing public lands to drillers until a full study is complete and until Pennsylvania waters meet the federally established Safe Drinking Water standards.

Other candidates echoed Hoeffel’s demand for a severance tax, though Wagner threw in the caveat that Pennsylvania should not tax shale at a rate higher than other states. Hoeffel commented that severance taxes have been levied in every other state drilling for gas and that the industry turns a significant profit, is already well-established, and far from a local industry. He contended that it does not need a tax break.

Hoeffel, Onorato, and Williams each plan to use revenue generated from a severance tax to plug various budget shortfalls and fund Pennsylvania green initiatives. Hoeffel estimated that the state could generate 20 million to fund ‘green’ initiatives and invest in community colleges. Onorato offered that he would use severance tax revenue to fully fund the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and Williams planned to fund green initiatives with money from a severance tax and by renewing the Growing Greener program. Wagner did not mention funding green initiatives with shale money; instead he advocated campaign finance reform, reducing education costs, and using money from a gaming industry that faces intense opposition in Philadelphia to pay for the proposed green initiatives.

Proposals to solve Pennsylvania’s budget problem cannot demand greater sacrifice from Pennsylvania’s most vulnerable populations. Balancing the budget cannot demand more from environmental justice communities or from poor people badgered into signing a gas lease. It cannot degrade our public lands. In my opinion, no candidate should advocate leasing or taxing land atop Marcellus Shale as a means to solve our many financial woes. Relying on money from drilling for mass transit repairs, college financial aid, and a laundry list of other worthy financial expenditures can dangerously handcuff our state government to an ugly industry. The budget crunch is real, but solutions to it should not exacerbate inequalities.

Williams and Hoeffel stated that they are not taking campaign contributions from gas companies, despite indications that other unnamed candidates have received donations from the gas industry.

The KEY Coalition has not endorsed any candidate, but urges candidates running for every political office to work for environmental justice and move beyond ALL fossil fuels.

 

Hello There! March 21, 2010

Filed under: Updates — KEY Coalition @ 4:43 PM

The KEY Coalition website is currently under construction and will be going live on April 1st!

Please visit our Facebook page for information: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=369067936311&ref=ts

You can also join our Google Group E-mail list here: http://groups.google.com/group/KEYCoalition