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Saving the scenery: Activist trainings teach skills, forge connections

By Nadia Steinzor

January 19, 2011

Don t blame me for signing a lease, and you'll never stop the drilling, the man said. There s an old saying: you can t eat the scenery.

Most days, this would have been depressing to hear and just another reason why gas development is running amok. But on this day, the speaker was part of something very positive, a role play on how to talk about the downsides of drilling with reluctant friends and neighbors.

This topic was part of Get Organized: Skills to Protect your Community in the Marcellus Shale, a training held last week in Pittsburgh and Connellsville, PA. Dozens of local residents turned out to learn how to recruit volunteers, generate media coverage, coordinate with other activists, and track problems in communities.

The events were hosted by PennEnvironment (which is planning more such events in the coming months) and co-led by EARTHWORKS, Clean Water Action, Three Rivers Waterkeeper, University of Pittsburgh's Center for Healthy Environments and Communities, and Mountain Watershed Association.

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Tagged with: drilling, natural gas, marcellus shale, community organizing, gas development


Justice Department backs up EPA: Range Resources' fantasy in wonderland ends

By Alan Septoff

January 19, 2011

Last week, Sharon Wilson blogged about Range Resources willful blindness to the EPA's charge that it had contaminated a Texas aquifer. Basically, despite EPA confronting the company with evidence of its pollution, Range had sent a letter to EPA thanking the agency for agreeing that Range wasn't responsible for pollution.

Yesterday, the other shoe dropped.  Sharon has the full story over at Bluedaze, including context and links.

In short, the Department of Justice backed up the EPA's emergency order against Range Resources by filing a complaint in federal district court.

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Tagged with: epa, range resources, justice department, bluedaze


Government oversight at risk: new House Oversight Cmte chair to publish regulatory hit list

By Alan Septoff

January 18, 2011


Darrell Issa

Well, at least we can credit Darrell Issa with the courage of his convictions.

Our friends at OMB Watch brought to our attention that Darrell Issa, the new chair of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, has

"promised to publicly release responses he receives from 150 companies, trade groups and think tanks that he asked to compile wish lists of regulations they would like rolled back." -- from The Hill, "Oversight head to release business requests for regulation rollbacks", 1/10/2011

We'll be watching this list closely. 

Communities and the environment rely upon federal oversight, present and future, to force resource extraction companies to account for the public good (to a greater or lesser degree, depending upon regulatory effectiveness) when operating.  Without government oversight, these companies will and do simply ignore what's in the public interest.  And, sometimes, even with it.

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Tagged with: regulation, oversight, darrell issa


House Democrats support disclosure on public lands

By Lauren Pagel

January 18, 2011

Yesterday, 46 Democrats from the House of Representatives sent a letter to Department of Interior Secretary Ken Salazar that supports Interior s move towards public disclosure of fracturing chemicals for oil and gas operations on public lands. This letter stands in contrast to the 32 House members that signed a letter urging Interior to put off regulations until after the EPA hydraulic fracturing study has been completed.

As a first step in regulating what happens with oil and gas production on our public lands lands that are owned by you and me disclosure is a no-brainer, from my perspective. Regardless of what the findings of the EPA study might be, citizens deserve to know what chemicals are being by companies operating on lands that are part of our national heritage. 

I hope the Interior Department stays true to its mission to protect public lands and the waters contained within them and moves forward with strong disclosure provisions. In addition to disclosure of chemicals involved in hydraulic fracturing, the Interior Department should lead the way by instituting the most stringent regulations for the entire lifecycle of oil and gas production. DoI should require that companies operating on public lands adhere to best practices to protect air, land and water resources. 

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Tagged with: fracking, hydraulic fracturing, oil and gas, public lands, disclosure, congress, department of interior


West Virginia considers shale gas drilling regulation

By Alan Septoff

January 14, 2011

From our friends at the West Virginia Surface Owners' Rights Association:

Interim Committee Advances Marcellus Shale Legislation

Earlier this week, Subcommittee A of the Joint Judiciary Committee advanced a bill establishing a new regulatory program for gas wells utilizing horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing.  Although the committee advanced the bill without a recommendation for passage by the full legislature, this keeps the bill alive. (You can read more here, here and here.) It also means the legislature will have two comprehensive bills to consider. The DEP has finalized its legislation and acting Governor Earl Ray Tomblin has signed off on the package (although it will not be a governor's bill and Tomblin did not mention it in the State of the State address).

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Tagged with: west virginia, state legislation, surface owner rights, wvsoro


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