Sunday, February 27, 2011

Statement regarding Sunday NYT February 27th Drilling Article

No compromises can be made about the safety of drinking water.  The Sunday NYT article raises serious issues that must be definitely resolved immediately. 

The most serious issue raised by the NYT is whether or not unhealthy levels of radium are in the drinking water as a result of gas drilling wastewater.

Good reasons exist to believe that the answer is no, including the new drilling wastewater disposal rule that went into effect in August 2010 and the now widespread use of recycling technology to manage at least 70% of drilling wastewater.  But belief is not good enough.

We must not drift into a war of competing theories or studies.  We need the facts.  Pennsylvanians deserve nothing less.

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection should order today all public water systems in Pennsylvania to test immediately for radium or radioactive pollutants and report as soon as good testing allows the results to the public.  Only testing of the drinking water for these pollutants can resolve the issue raised by the NYT.

Moreover, once the results comeback and no matter what the results are, testing should continue on a regular basis at least at the 65 public water systems identified by the NYT. 

Why did I not take these steps when I was Secretary is a fair question?  One answer is that a much stronger rule governing drilling wastewater discharges became final in August 2010 that limited future drilling wastewater discharges (See below for much more detail).

But the main reason is that I was not presented with information in the manner that the NYT does in this article. The NYT references confidential reports, anonymous statements supposedly made by EPA scientists, and other material that I have never seen until this article.  I was informed by agency radiation experts that the radiation levels were not a threat to truck drivers, workers at sewage treatment facilities or the public.   To be clear the buck stopped with me up to January 18th, 2011 and I believe the agency staff were handling this issue in a serious, careful manner.  I still believe that to be in the case

But as I said, beliefs are not good enough.  Now only testing can resolve one way or another the issue about radium that the NYT raises.

Having said that, some further points about the article need to be made. 

1. The piece looks at a three year period and characterizes regulation in Pennsylvania as lax. Lax regulation is the theme or narrative of the piece and virtually all elements and word choices of the article are consistent with that theme. 

Buried late in this enormous piece is a paragraph that states that the rules today are much stronger.  Shortly after I became Secretary on September 2nd, 2008, I concluded Pennsylvania's rules governing gas drilling and protecting our waters needed to be strengthened.  I directed 4 new policies or rules be drafted and completed as soon as possible.  All now have been.

2. The 4 strengthening regulatory packages that were barely or not all mentioned in the NYT article included:

First, finalizing protective water withdrawal policies requiring at the time of the drilling application the submittal of a water plan that insured water withdrawals would not damage streams even during droughts.

Second, I ordered a major rule to end Pennsylvania's decades long practice of allowing unlimited amounts of drilling wastewater untreated for total dissolved solids (salts etc) into rivers and streams and won passage of this rule over opposition from the gas industry, the coal mining industry, the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry, and other supporters of the gas industry. 

The new drilling wastewater rule became effective in August 2010 and applies to all sources of TDS pollution, including mining and industrial sources.  The rule, however, singles out drilling wastewater for the strongest requirements.  The 2010 rule requires new or existing drilling wastewater plants that expand to treat drilling wastewater to the Safe Drinking Water Standard for TDS if it is returned to a river. 

The rule does allow plants that had been operating for many decades to conditionally do so if they do not expand and if the river to which they discharge has TDS levels below 75% of the Safe Drinking Water standard of 500 mg/liter.  The NYT erroneously suggests that the existing plants if they do not expand can continue operating under the rule no matter their impact on the receiving stream.  False.  If the receiving stream has TDS increase as a result of the existing plants discharge or other reasons, these existing plants will have to modify how they operate and possibly cease operations.

The drilling wastewater rule is hugely important and must be enforced fully.

Third, I ordered a strengthening across the board of the rules governing drilling well design, materials, construction, monitoring, testing, and disclosure of chemicals.  This rule became effective on February 5, 2011 after being begun in 2009. They are state of the art standards.  They must be followed and enforced.

Fourth, we enacted a 150 foot buffer requirement from all development for High Quality streams, Pennsylvania's best waters.  About 22,000 miles of streams receive this protection or one-quarter of all of Pennsylvania's streams.  This rule commenced in 2009 and was final in November 2010.

3. I also concluded in 2008 that the DEP gas staff was too small so we more than doubled the drilling staff from 88 to 202 positions.  This substantial staffing increase was paid for by using emergency rulemaking powers to raise the drilling application fee to $5,000 to $10,000 per Marcellus application from the ridiculous amount of $100 that had been set in 1984 and never raised.  We hired in 2009 and twice in 2010.  We opened a new drilling staff office in Williamsport in 2009 and another in Scranton during 2010. 

Pennsylvania is the only state that has hired substantial or any staff for its drilling operation.  The NYT does not say that, because it does not fit its narrative of lax Pennsylvania regulation.  Indeed, the reporter deliberately did not include a long list of actions by DEP that represented strong enforcement.

4. On these first 3 points, in a sea of ink, the NYT article just says: "Recently Pennsylvania has tried to increase its oversight, doubling the number of regulators, improving well-design requirements and sharply decreasing how much drilling waste many treatment plants can accept or release."  Yes, indeed.  See the above for some of the details.

5. The NYT piece makes errors when discussing the 2008 high TDS levels on the Mon River.  The NYT fails to state that it was state regulators, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, at my direction that issued Drinking Water Advisories to the public when TDS levels on the Mon River exceeded the Safe Drinking Water Act secondary drinking water standards.

6. The NYT piece does not state clearly or fully that in October 2008 that DEP issued orders to municipal sewage plants discharging to the Mon River or its tributaries to cut by 95% its drilling wastewater volumes.  Those orders were not lifted.  The order to cut by 95% drilling wastewater discharges applied to any municipal treatment plant that had been taking drilling wastewater without a specific permit to do so.

Reporting accurately and fully this action plus that DEP issued the Public Water Advisory would not fit with the article's determined narrative of lax regulation.  Some themes just cannot be moved no matter what.

7. Near the end of the piece the article argues that DEP has lax regulation.  Its major evidence for that proposition is that DEP issues twice as many warning as fines for violations.

Here is what the NYT completely and apparently willfully ignored or placed outside of the main story due to the famous space limitations.  It is quite a coincident that the facts or points that were ignored completely or not included in the main story are the ones showing strong regulation.

1. Telling its readers that DEP has issued 1400 violations to the industry just for the period from January 1, 2008 to June 30, 2010.

2. Telling its readers that DEP has issued to companies orders to stop drilling for weeks and months;
other orders to companies to stop fracking for weeks and months; orders to companies to pay fully for all spills and leaks.  These orders cost companies tens of millions of dollars and greatly exceed the amount of fines.  Fines run into the millions, but the Legislature should raise the maximum amount of fines.

3. Telling its readers that DEP required Cabot Oil and Gas to plug wells and repair wells at the cost of many millions of dollars to remedy a gas migration that impacted 19 water wells.

4. Telling its readers that DEP won a settlement with Cabot that paid the 19 impacted families on average $200,000 per family or twice the market value of the property, while allowing families to keep their property and their mineral rights. Payments and yet another major fine exceeded $4 million in this single action. These payments were won even for 14 of the 19 properties were testing indicated that methane had been removed from the water supplies. 

5. Telling its readers that DEP and the State Police do major truck inspection operations, pulling drilling trucks over for inspection.  That these repeated operations have put about 40% of the drilling trucks inspected out of service.

6. Telling its readers that the DEP gas drilling regulatory program was reviewed in 2010 by an Independent Auditing organization called STRONGER that includes reviewers from industry, other states, and environmental organizations.  The DEP regulatory program received high marks.  Of course the reporter did not include the fact of this independent audit in the story.

These are facts and important ones for the public to know and for a good reporter to report.  There are still more that could be shared with a reporter interested.

UPDATE
Lastly, though I am quoted in the piece, this reporter never interviewed me prior to the publication of the sunday article. The reporter claims that he told DEP staff that he wanted to interview me.  I was never told so and have not confirmed the request. As Secretary, I was interviewed hunreds and probably thousands of times.  I made myself totally accessible to reporters.  My staff knew that I was available to reporters. This reporter today says he asked Governor Corbett's administration at DEP on January 21st, three days after Governor Rendell and I left office, to confirm the quotation that the reporter strung togehter from some other source.  The words that I find myself saying in this piece were said by me somewhere at some time and in some context but they were not said in the context of an interview for this piece. The reporter never called me after January 18th for any purpose including to confirm the quotation that he put together for me.  The reporter did not ask the new administration for my contact information after I left office.  He made no attempt to reach me from January 18th until the piece was published, including again to confirm the quotation he uses.  The reporter did make effort to contact my former colleague Secretary Quigley after he left office and did interview former Secretary Quigley about a week ago. 

Update II

Secretary Quigley was a superb Secretary of the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, the agency charged with managing state parks and state forests.  He oversaw gas leasing of state forest land and did a great job in difficult circumstances, including writing a very protective lease for gas drilling on state forests. Secretary Quigley has unmatched dedication and knowledge about the state forests and parks.

Some confusion exists about the jurisdictions and roles of DCNR and DEP. The DCNR does not regulate the oil and gas industry in Pennsylvania. DEP does. The Department of Environmental Protection enforces the state Oil and Gas Act, the state clean streams law, the federal Clean Water Act, the federal Safe Drinking Water Act, the federal and state clean air laws, the state waste management laws and other provisions of law that apply to gas drilling.  DEP promulgates all rules and regulations governing oil and gas drilling.

I suspect that I will have more to say on this soon.

28 comments:

  1. Much of the information in the Times article repeats many of the well-established and well-reported concerns regarding Marcellus gas extraction. But it includes many unpublished and even previously confidential documents that point to the environmental risks of drilling and wastewater disposal that are pretty damning. It's unfortunate, and perhaps bad journalism, that they didn't interview you to get your perspectives.

    As with many pieces dealing with the risks of a given energy source, it gives only minimal attention to Marcellus's potential in addressing our voracious thirst for energy. Unfortunately, it fails to address the important question: If not Marcellus, then what?

    ReplyDelete
  2. The only response to this piece and the "confidential" reports and anonymous statements by EPA and others that are major part of it is to test the water.

    Everything else is a sideshow. Test the water.

    I can say about the sideshow that I have never seen many of the reports or letters mentioned. I was not aware that EPA scientists supposedly raised concerns. I want to know more about this part of the story. But now testing the water is the first and last priority.

    ReplyDelete
  3. John said some very kind things about me in his second update, which I deeply appreciate.

    I want to be very clear on my views. I told the New York Times reporter - as I have told many others in interviews and in testimony both before and after my tenure as DCNR Secretary - that I believe that John Hanger and his staff at DEP, with the support of Governor Rendell, did heroic work in putting into place the policies, regulations, fee increases, and staffing increases that he discusses above. They did all of this work in record time, despite stiff opposition. Those measures have provided essential protections for Pennsylvania's water, environment, and public health, and positioned Pennsylvania as the strongest state regulator of the natural gas industry.

    Had John continued at DEP, much more would have been done. Unfortunately, the protections that he put into place have already begun to be peeled back by the Corbett Administration.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Thank you John for the comment. But no thanks to more time at DEP. It was time to hand the batton to the next runner.

    I am very well aware that this NYT reporter is highly selective in what material he uses and does not. He had a narrative and it governed. The NYT piece is strikingly different from today's 8 page Pittsburgh Post Gazette piece concerning whether regulation in Pennsylvania was lax or rigorous over the last 3 years.

    Impressively the Pittsburgh Post Gazette reporters were able like hundreds of other reporters to interview me before quoting me. How about that for journalism? Such quaint practices are refreshing.

    Excuse the sarcasm. But this NYT reporter apparently is the only reporter unable to interview me in the last 2 years and 5 months.

    I remain open-minded and hopeful about the approach that the new DEP administration will take. Time will soon tell. The stakes on Marcellus are so big and so much of the public wants strong regulation, safe operations, and environmental protection and improvement that I perhaps naively still think this will turn out well.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I just have one (maybe obvious) question. Why are companies allowed to drill BEFORE the technique is determined safe? It seems like all this testing after the fact is just playing to the general public.

    In cases like this - so much money is involved the taxpayers get pushed aside. I doubt we, as the general public, will hear the truth about natural gas drilling until its too late. sad..

    ReplyDelete
  6. John Hanger promised the folks on Carter Road a water line. He concluded that a waterline would be the best choice to restore the quality of water and quality of life to the residents. Instead the water line was axed and a monetary bribe offered to the impacted residents. Cabot is allowed to continue their operations in our state after repeated serious violations occured. Hanger himself stated he had never dealt with such a company..he made many strong statements regarding the horrific conduct of Cabot Oil and Gas..yet Cabot continues and my neighors get their water delivered..Mr. Hanger made a promise, in a church of God..we believed him and applauded him. He has moved on while we are still living in the middle of a gasfield gone wrong. Mr. Hanger, methane gas is the least of our worries.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Oh, lets just have a big Gas Industry group hug! okay is so everything is just so honkey dorey with the industry and we should be glad that factually, they have destroyed pristine land and have in fact polluted our water and have in fact caused accidents leading to major injury, death and pollution, so please Mr. Hanger spare the defense for the poor multi billion dollar industry, oh btw check out the Marcellus Shale nightmare the couple in Sullivan county went through in the Patriot News or did they ignore facts to?

    ReplyDelete
  8. Hot Air: NY Times Blows Story on Drilling “Dangers”
    http://hotair.com/archives/2011/02/28/ny-times-blows-story-on-drilling-dangers/

    ReplyDelete
  9. I'm going to quote Alison Levy's latest Huff Post article. In it, she writes, "When following fracking, a family loses its drinking water, property, and in some cases, livelihood, instead of redressing, the industry demands that on a case-by-case basis, each individual family spend $20,000 or more to engage geologists and lawyers to "prove" that fracking is the source of what in some instances is overnight contamination. This imposes on private citizens the burden to prove the safety or danger of a practice, that a responsible government in the past would have typically required an accountable industry to prove."

    This, my friends, is why we're stuck between a rock and a hard place in PA. Many of us are filled with regret. We were promised the moon, but ended up with dirt (and a lot of bad H2O).

    ReplyDelete
  10. In response to "Yoko," Here is the Rest of the Story. She (I know and like her) is correct that I did favor a water pipeline to bring public water to 19 families whose well water had been contaminated by methane that migrated from gas wells. The opposition to that remedy after it was announced from people in the community, including its elected officials, as well as from elected members of the General Assembly meant that the line was never going to be built after Governor Rendell left office. Instead of letting that happen and that be the end of the story, DEP negotiated a settlement that pays each of the impacted families on average $200,000 or twice the market value of their property. Families kept their homes and mineral rights. In addition, when I left office, remediation work ordered by DEP and done by Cabot (including plugging and repairing gas wells) had removed methane from 14 of the water supplies. This settlement plus the fines, plus the orders to stop drilling for months, to stop fracking for months amounts, to pay for spills and leaks is the Rest of the Story.

    ReplyDelete
  11. The NY Times, the house that Duranty built, is desperate for sales.

    Two years ago, it ran a series on how "radiation" in kitchen granite counter tops was a "serious" hazard. That story died a quick death when it was pointed out that one would have to eat or breath in the whole table top for it to be a hazard.

    And so it is with the "hazardous" drilling mud in this hit piece. Why would ever consider consuming ground up counter top and water? Off course that would be hazardous but is it something to worry about?

    No, but I guess it will sell a few newspapers.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Where was the DEP when Dunkard Creek was destroyed by waste water?
    http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/11015/1118228-58.stm

    Where was the DEP when men were killed over the summer in a well explosion?
    http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/10206/1075294-455.stme

    Where was the DEP when another gas exoplosion rocked in the state? http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/11060/1128846-100.stm

    The list of failures to protect PA water is endless. So far, the new DEP Secretary is looking golden compared to the incidents on your watch. Even with all your positive spin, It looks bad for you, sir.

    ReplyDelete
  13. I dealt with the Pa DEP in Aug of 2010 regarding methane migration into a beaver pond in Bradford county Pa. They did respond in a timely manner and made Chesapeake energy stop a fracking operation and the migration problem was solved. Sec. Hanger was directly involved in this issue and I have the documentation in the form of emails. Thanks John I think you did a good job for the people of Pa. I do however think you were understaffed and still are. If not complete in it's reporting the NYT article still has great merit. Once again thanks John. Bill Earnest Laceyville pa.

    ReplyDelete
  14. John:

    The pollution discharge that caused the massive fish kill in Dunkard Creek came from a coal mine in West Virginia. The Pa dep had no jurisdiction of the coal mine. The EPA did enter into an order requiring the coal mine to treat its discharge. The Pa DEP participated as an interested party but had no jurisdiction.

    The explosion that tragically killed 2 workers who were welding a tank was investigated by DEP and OSHA. The environmental damage was limited. DEP did take action against the company including fines and ordering the company to change practices for repairing tanks in the future.

    The explosions underline the safety challenges posed by this industrial activity. Drilling must be strongly regulated. The Government must be a watchdog or environmental cop creating incentives and pressures for safe operations. But there is a limit to what government can do. Government will not be on site 24-7. It won't do the welding. The industry will and it must have a culture of safety throughout every company involved. As recently as this Sunday in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette, I said the industry is not at that point. Can it be done? Yes. No miner died on the job in 2010 for the first time in Pa history. DEP regulates coal mining safety and I was the first chair of the Pennsylvania coal mine safety board that began operations in january 2009. A true culture of safety exists among Pennsylvania coal mining companies and it is a result of those companies, its workers, unions, and the strong regulatory oversight.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Bill:

    Thank you for the post and the recognition of good work done by the DEP employees.

    John: I want to add that I hope that Secretary Krancer continues to look golden to you and all of us. I really do. I can say it is not an easy job.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Mr. Hanger, Why are the municipalities downstream (such as Pittsburg) not testing the water to determine how much radioactivity is present? Someone donate a frigging geiger counter to the state of Pennsylvania for the love of G-d.

    ReplyDelete
  17. I have read all your comments, Mr. Hanger, and I truly do sympathize with you over the lack of credit given to you for trying to gain some control over the gas industry. Unfortunately you and Governor Rendell will be remembered as the PA officials who let the gas industry loose on the PA environment and the human, animal and plant life it supports without exercising due precaution. Surely you know of the Precautionary Principle, which was ignored with respect to this industry's potential to cause irreparable environmental harm. You have been playing catch-up with the industry ever since. That will be the bottom-line legacy of your tenure. The gas industry got the best of you, which is a tragic outcome given the deep dedication to protecting the environment that you obviously have. New York and Maryland, by contrast, are taking more time before letting this industry have its way. It remains to be seen whether they will ever permit shale gas drilling. Maybe they will, but at least they have recognized that we presently do not have enough data or studies to allow this industry to proceed. So they are taking more time.

    You know that the industry fought you every step of the way on your new waste water standards, and other regulatory issues, and you have said so. Your time now would be well spent in giving the public a full accounting of the extent to which this industry has acted as one with something to hide. Name the names. Let the entire world know what you had to face from the companies and their lobbying organizations. Say more about the extent to which corporate power has captured the political power of our state and bent the laws in its favor, making it impossible - as you once said - to shut down the "bad actors" that would do business in our state.

    And if as you say, PA must test all drinking water for unsafe levels of radiation right away, and all beside that is "sideshow" (including your own hurt), then let's have you back as an advocate and watchdog to make sure they do that, now, without delay.

    Let's hear John Hanger's true voice again, now that you do not have to be both the promoter of gas drilling and the one who issues the permits.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Stephen:

    Thank you for a thoughtful, challenging, and caring comment.

    I do care deeply about the environment; the 1 i 6 women with elevated levels of mercury from coal burning; the 0ne-third of US coal plants that are 40 plus years old with little or no pollution control equipment that cause 14,000 to 36,000 deaths in the US each year; the 500 mountain tops "removed" in Appalachia and the 1200 miles of streams covered from mountain top mining. The rising concentrations of heat trapping gas in our atmosphere to the point where I nearly despair that concentrations can be stopped from reaching 500 ppm, a level itself that world scientists with a handful of exceptions warn will cause massive natural damage and significant economic costs. I also care about our economy and the near depression in 2008 that was substantially caused by a manic ideologically driven commitment to self-regulation or deregulation of the financial services industry and oil at $147 and natural gas at $13 for a thousand cubic feet in July 2008 that helped break a weakened economy. I care about the well-being of low-income and middle-income families. The median income family in Pennsylvania has gross income of $49,000 and is paying $3,000 just to heat their home if they are part of the 30% of Pennsylvania using heating oil. I care about the fact that the US has been in two wars in the Middle East oil fields in the last 20 years. And yes I do care about regulating strongly the natural gas industry. Natural gas is industrial activity. It must be regulated professionally and independently. A culture of safety must become universal in the industry. The industry does need to be careful for what it wishes. Was BP better off because the regulatory process for off shore drilling was corrupted and became a rubber stamp? Was anyone? The reality today is America runs primarily on coal and oil and often in old, inefficient plants and vehicles. That must change. We must accelerate renewables; we must accelerate energy efficiency; and we must substitute natural gas that is cleaner, domestic, and cheaper for coal and oil being combusted in old plants and vehicles. I will be a vigorous advocate for this transformation, professional, independent environmental regulation, and for developing a universal culture of safety within the Pennsylvania natural gas industry.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Thank you, Mr Hanger, for your thorough response. You are the environmentalist I have judged you to be. Although as a proponent of a moratorium on gas drilling we might differ, I tend to think that most of us across all sorts of divides really share about 95% of our values and end up arguing over the other 5% to the extent sometimes that we lose sight of our agreements.

    I do have to ask about the last part of your comment that asserts that natural gas is a cleaner fossil fuel. Yes, in terms of combustion. But what do you think of emerging research and arguments that this energy source is actually quite dirty like all the rest when you look at it from a lifecycle perspective of what it takes to get it out of the shale? I am sure you are aware of some writing by Dr. Howarth at Cornell University on this topic. Do you think the case has been made that natural gas is, from that perspective, not at all the "bridge" fuel to renewable sources that we need? And that our investment in natural gas weakens and retards the investment in renewables that should be our national and global priority?

    ReplyDelete
  20. I share many of the concerns expressed over the practices of the natural gas industry. It must be regulated following our best scientific assessments of potential avoidable impacts. I am especially concerned by greenhouse gas impacts that hardly seem to be discussed.

    Yet the problem remains that we have an enormous thirst for energy, including natural gas (0.8 trillion cubic feet in Pennsylvania in 2009). Are critics of natural gas development in PA of the opinion that our consumption is OK? Is all of that gas developed outside the state produced in a squeaky clean manner? Where's the righteous indignation over impacts outside the state? The implication seems to be that if we Pennsylvanians don't experience the costs, we shouldn't be concerned about them.

    The problem is that our society loves to take individual forms of energy production, hold each one up to the light, and pick it to death. We see it with wind. And geothermal. And hydropower. And solar. And nuclear. And coal. And oil. And now natural gas. We can't continue to live our lives under the pretense that we can have cheap energy to run our economy, but yet knock down every energy source out there. We can't have it both ways.

    Instead we need to take a sober, balanced look at the costs and benefits of ALL energy sources together. Concurrently we need to look at energy consumption, and figure out how to reduce it in a way that doesn't lead to 30% unemployment and massive starvation. From that assessment, we need to develop a target portfolio of energy production that matches anticipated consumption.

    And tell people who complain about single energy sources to stuff it.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Thank you, Mr. Hanger, for your thorough response of March 3. I wrote right back but did not see that you had received this additional comment. Maybe you are not checking this stream of comments anymore.

    At any rate, you are the environmentalist I had judged you to be. Although as a proponent of a moratorium on gas drilling we might differ, I tend to think that most of us across all sorts of divides really share about 95% of our values and end up arguing over the other 5% to the extent sometimes that we lose sight of our agreements.

    I do have to ask about the last part of your comment that asserts that natural gas is a cleaner fossil fuel. Yes, in terms of combustion. But what do you think of emerging research and arguments that this energy source is actually quite dirty like all the rest when you look at it from a lifecycle perspective of what it takes to get it out of the shale? I am sure you are aware of some writing by Dr. Howarth at Cornell University on this topic. Do you think the case has been made that natural gas is, from that perspective, not at all the "bridge" fuel to renewable sources that we need? And that our investment in natural gas weakens and retards the investment in renewables that should be our national and global priority?

    ReplyDelete
  22. Stephen Gleghorn:

    I have your comment on email but not on the blog. Please try to repost it. It is a good comment that contributes to the conversation.

    ReplyDelete
  23. You wrote above,
    "The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection should order today all public water systems in Pennsylvania to test immediately for radium or radioactive pollutants and report as soon as good testing allows the results to the public. Only testing of the drinking water for these pollutants can resolve the issue raised by the NYT."
    Has that been done?
    I've read there were tests of seven (7) river waters that showed no serious risks but not of drinking waters.
    Thanks.

    ReplyDelete
  24. Partially or not exactly. DEP did not issue an order to all drinking water suppliers to test drinking water that they send to the tap for radionuclides. DEP has strongly encouraged a number of drinking water systems in Southwest Pennsylvania to do so. A few providers have publicly said that they would do so. Those providers include Pennsylvania American Water Company for drinking water plants and systems it runs in Southwest Pennsylvania, the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority, and the Lancaster water system. I believe that those tests are underway. DEP conducted in stream tests of samples taken in November and December 2010 (when I was Secretary) and released the results in March 2011. I posted on the results at 7 streams. The results had in stream levels at background.

    ReplyDelete
  25. Hi

    I read this post 2 times. It is very useful.

    Pls try to keep posting.

    Let me show other source that may be good for community.

    Source: Geography teacher interview questions

    Best regards
    Jonathan.

    ReplyDelete
  26. I've heard that this gas is being exported, not used domestically. Is this true?

    ReplyDelete
  27. Currently no Marcellus gas is being exported. The US imports some gas from Canada and some LNG gas. There have been for many years some exports of US gas to Canada and Mexico by pipeline.

    ReplyDelete
  28. This discussion is one of the most level headed and insightful debates on the subject of natural gas. I feel horribly misinformed to make my own decisions on the matter. Until now all I could find are industry yes men and environmentalist doomsday theories. I would love to know the results of drinking water testing to help solidify my own theories on the matter.

    At the same time, I applaud the regulation efforts that still allowed industry and business to thrive at least in the energy sector in PA. I hope properly regulated and controlled natural gas exploration and extraction can be a positive answer to our nation's energy needs. I want to believe it can, but the possible environmental dangers are too terrible to ignore outright. Thank you John Hanger and everyone else for this educational discussion.

    ReplyDelete