Gas news at a glance
Brockovich, Gibbs investigate bizarre teen behavior for environmental link
Activists Erin Brockovich and Lois Gibbs say New York officials might have prematurely ruled out environmental reasons for teens exhibiting neurological symptoms, as reported by Energy Central Daily. 14 LeRoy Junior-Senior High School female teens and one male have developed involuntary twitches and verbal outbursts similar to Tourrette’s syndrome, with some reporting fainting and seizures. Neurologists have currently concluded the teens suffer from a psychological malady called “conversion disorder,” in which a stress-induced psychological incident converts to physical symptoms. Jeffrey Hammond of the New York State Department of Health said state officials looked into the cluster, but were not speculating about the cause. He said indoor air testing of the school district found no evidence of toxic-chemical contamination, a lack of fresh air, mold or other air problems. Environmental groups maintain that more investigation is needed to rule out environmental contamination based upon two additional factors. It is alleged that the school may have been built upon soil contaminated by a 30,000 gallon spill of the toxic solvent trichloroethylene from a 1970 train derailment. In addition, five active natural gas wells owned by the school district surround the junior-senior high school building.
GOP senators now oppose gutting local control of drilling
Nine Republican members of the Pennsylvania Senate have announced their opposition to a key provision of the drilling legislation passed by both the Senate and House in late 2011. Sens. Chuck McIlhinney (Bucks), Tommy Tomlinson (Bucks), Ted Erickson (Delaware), Rich Alloway (Franklin), John Rafferty (Montgomery), Stewart Greenleaf (Montgomery), Pat Vance (Cumberland), Mike Folmer (Lebanon) and Bob Mensch (Montgomery) sent a letter to Senate Republican leaders stating their opposition to the bills' impact on the ability of local governments to regulate certain aspects of drilling in their communities. See the letter at http://www.pennfuture.org/UserFiles/Daze/20120127_Letter_SB1100HB1950_Se....
NY DEC seeks fines for inadequate stormwater controls at PA drilling sites and roads
The NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) filed an administrative complaint seeking an order requiring U.S. Energy Development Corporation to pay $187,500 for water quality violations associated with Pennsylvania drilling activities that affected Yeager Brook in Cattaraugus County, NY. DEC is also requiring that U.S. Energy install appropriate stormwater and erosion controls to prevent any future water quality impacts in New York state. “We will not allow U.S. Energy’s actions in Pennsylvania to negatively impact New York’s waters,” said DEC Deputy Commissioner and General Counsel Steven Russo Three separate incidents of water quality violations caused turbidity in Yeager Brook from stormwater runoff. DEC and the NYS Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation investigated and found that during heavy rain events in September 2011, December 2011 and January 2012 significant amounts of sediment from U.S. Energy’s mining roads and well pads in Pennsylvania’s Allegheny National Forest washed into nearby waterways, resulting in severe turbidity in the waters of Yeager Brook within Allegany State, NY Park. See DEC’s complaint at www.dec.ny.gov/docs/legal_protection_pdf/usenergy.pdf.