CCJ joins regional response to petrochemical buildout

This screen shot shows the planned route of the Falcon Pipeline network and its associated facilities.  The interactive map can be found here: https://maps.fractracker.org/latest/?appid=ae3e7531eae0453abb62e10fecdf3818

This screen shot shows the planned route of the Falcon Pipeline network and its associated facilities.  The interactive map can be found here: https://maps.fractracker.org/latest/?appid=ae3e7531eae0453abb62e10fecdf3818

In November of 2017, CCJ joined a regional meeting at the People vs. Oil and Gas Summit to discuss the planned petrochemical buildout for the Ohio River valley, focusing primarily on the Shell Ethane Cracker Plant, the Appalachian Storage Hub, and the Falcon Pipeline. Various organizations throughout the region - from Pennsylvania to Kentucky - came together to identify what was known about each project, but also to plan how to move forward to protect our air and water quality.

Background Information:  

The Shell Ethane Cracker Plant in Beaver County is a proposed plant where oil and gas would be transported to be broken down into ethylene and polyethylene. Ethylene, in turn, is used to make plastics. The process of “cracking” the oil and gas to make ethylene, though, can release pollutants like nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide, and particulate matter into the air. They also can emit volatile organic compounds that react with other compounds in the air when exposed to sunlight, causing smog. Pittsburgh’s air quality, while significantly better than it was years ago, still remains in the dirtiest 6% of U.S. cities. While legislators like to say that they are not spending money on the Cracker Plant, the tax credits to Shell Chemical will value $1.65 billion over 25 years, the largest tax break in PA history.

The Appalachian Storage Hub (ASH) is a proposed underground storage area. One hundred million barrels of natural gas liquids would be stored in a yet-to-be-built system underground, utilizing underground caverns, salt caves, and other voids. Once natural gas is extracted from the Marcellus, Utica, and Rogersville shales in West Virginia, Kentucky, Ohio, and Pennsylvania, it can be stored underground until it is ready to be sent through a pipeline network to its destination. When the Aliso Canyon storage facility had a leak in 2015, the carbon footprint is said to have been larger than the Deepwater Horizon storage leak in the Gulf of Mexico, with further-reaching consequences.

The Falcon Pipeline Network is a planned buildout of a 97.5 mile high-pressure pipeline, similar to the Mariner East 2, that would transport ethane through Ohio, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania to Shell’s Ethane Cracker Plant in Beaver County. Pipelines, particularly highly pressurized ones like this, leak: the high consequence areas (HCAs), or areas that would be affected by the vapors leaked from the pipeline, include more than 8,700 residents, 5 schools, 6 daycare centers, and 16 emergency response centers.

CCJ is working with allies to convene regional efforts to protect public health and safety from the threats posed by these projects. Not all of these projects are in our communities (the falcon pipeline cuts through northern Washington County)but we will feel the effects of increased fracking - and in some cases we already have, as we are hearing from more landowners being asked to sign leases. Our communities are already overly-extracted and the risks to water and air quality will affect the region at large. We continue to support and stand for the people who are most impacted by fossil fuel extraction and its related activities.

Shell Falcon Pipeline Permits Open for Comment at Department of Environmental Protection

Shell has applied to build a 97-mile Falcon pipeline to feed the Shell Petrochemical Plant in Beaver County. The pipeline will traverse 22 townships in Pennsylvania (including several in Washington County) and others in West Virginia and Ohio. The track record of other pipelines like the Mariner East 2 pipeline, for which DEP needed to halt construction because of many permit violations, means this pipeline should take all necessary steps to get public input and ensure public safety for the hundreds of homes, hiking and biking trails, waterways, and public drinking water sources it is planned to cross. Please take action and send this letter to the DEP permit reviewer Dana Drake and request a public meeting as well as a 60-day extension to the public commenting deadline.

Please take action now and send a letter to PA DEP: 

 

 

Environmentalists want more action from Tom Wolf. More talk would be nice, too.

Photo credit: AP, Matt Rourke

Photo credit: AP, Matt Rourke

Marie Cusick | StateImpact 

Environmental groups are pushing Governor Tom Wolf to advocate more for green causes as the Democrat gears up for the final year of his first term and runs for reelection.

Wolf will deliver his fourth budget address Tuesday—the annual speech to the legislature that lays out his priorities.

Many environmentalists say his record, so far, has been disappointing.

Read more, and see comments from CCJ's Executive Director, here. 

A Hazy Future: Pennsylvania's Energy Landscape in 2045

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by Sam Rubright, DrPH

FracTracker Alliance released the report: A Hazy Future: Pennsylvania’s Energy Landscape in 2045 on January 10, 2018, which details the potential future impacts of a massive buildout of Marcellus Shale wells and associated natural gas infrastructure.

Industry analysts forecast 47,600 new unconventional oil and gas wells may be drilled in Pennsylvania by 2045, fueling new natural gas power plants and petrochemical facilities in PA and beyond. Based on industry projections and current rates of consumption, FracTracker – a national data-driven non-profit – estimates the buildout would require 583 billion gallons of fresh water, 386 million tons of sand, 798,000 acres of land, 131 billion gallons of liquid waste, 45 million tons of solid waste, and more than 323 million truck trips to drilling sites.

Read more and see the study here.

Settlement: No Longwall Mining Beneath State Park Stream in Greene County

Photo Credit: Reid Frazier/State Impact Pennsylvania

Photo Credit: Reid Frazier/State Impact Pennsylvania

By REID FRAZIER | STATEIMPACT PA  JAN 19, 201

Consol Energy has agreed not to conduct longwall mining beneath a section of a southwestern Pennsylvania stream, as part of a settlement it reached with environmental groups.

In addition, the company discontinued an appeal of a court decision that blocked it from mining beneath another nearby stream with longwall mining, a method of coal removal that shears off long sections of rock. The technique can cause the ground above it to fall in, or subside, which can cause problems for buildings and waterways on the surface.

As part of the settlement, Consol Energy will not conduct longwall mining beneath the “3L” section of Kent Run, a small stream that runs through Ryerson Station State Park in Greene County. The Center for Coalfield Justice and the Sierra Club had argued that longwall mining could crack the stream bed, causing damage to water flow and aquatic life.

Read the full story here

Our People, Our Mountains, Our Future: Get on the Bus to Greenbrier!

Beginning on January 31, Donald Trump and every Republican member of the House and Senate will gather at the Greenbrier Resort in West Virginia to plan their 2018 agenda. Join us on a trip to Greenbrier, WV to make our voices heard!

CCJ is partnering with One Pennsylvania in sending buses from locations in Pittsburgh and Washington as part of an overnight trip to make sure that Trump and Congressional Republicans hear our priorities as they're setting their agenda. All expenses - travel, lodging, and food - will be covered as part of the trip through our partnership with the Center for Popular Democracy.

During their retreat, Trump and Congressional Republicans will step into meetings to strip away what is left of our healthcare and plan even more racist immigration policies. They will figure out ways to poison our water and deregulate our workplace protections. Mineworkers will suffer. Teachers will suffer. Students will suffer. Mothers and children will suffer. We have to lift up the stories of the people who are being hurt by these policies and show them that we won't sit back and let it happen without a fight.

Reserve your spot on one of our buses here: http://bit.ly/2Ex9TxL.

Please reach out to Sarah Martik at 724-229-3550 x1 or smartik@coalfieldjustice.org with any questions.

Transportation information is as follows:

Pittsburgh departure at 8:00 am: Pittsburgh United (841 California Ave. Pittsburgh, 15212)

Washington departure at 8:00 am: J. Barry Stout Park and Ride (E. Beau St., Washington, 15301)

Overnight lodging arrangements will be made for all participants. Hotel information is forthcoming. We will return home from West Virginia by 9:00 pm on February 1.

Bailey Mine Litigation Settlement and Commonwealth Court Appeal Update

Kent Run at Ryerson Station State Park. (Photo credit: Sarah Winner)

Kent Run at Ryerson Station State Park. (Photo credit: Sarah Winner)

A Stipulation of Settlement Entered in Permit Revision 204 Litigation

Permit Revision 204 authorized longwall mining beneath Kent Run and Polen Run in the 3L panel of the Bailey East Expansion. In January 2017 we successfully petitioned for a supersedeas that prohibited Consol from conducting longwall mining beneath Kent Run in the 3L panel, located within the park, while the appeal is pending.

As part of Permit Revision 209, the DEP approved a revised mining map submitted by Consol that shows development mining only beneath Kent Run. As a result, on January 5, 2018, we entered into a stipulation of settlement with the DEP and Consol. In the settlement, the parties agreed to quit fighting now and also agreed that we can pick the fight back up again if the DEP approves longwall mining beneath Kent Run in the future.

The settlement agreement recognizes and makes clear that Consol no longer has permission to conduct longwall mining under Kent Run in the 3L panel, which is located within Ryerson Station State Park. It also states that any future authorization of longwall mining would require a permit revision subject to public notice and comment. In other words, if Consol ever wants to return to the 3L panel and longwall mine beneath Kent Run, it will be required to go through the permit application process again.

Any future authorization of longwall mining beneath Kent Run in the 3L panel would be a final DEP action that is appealable to the Environmental Hearing Board (EHB). The agreement preserves our ability to raise any factual and legal issues that we identified in the Permit Revision 204 Appeal, including issues related to post-mining stream mitigation in Kent Run, in an appeal of any future permit revision which reauthorizes longwall mining.

Consol Discontinued its Appeal of EHB Decision on Permit Revision 180 and 189

On August 15, 2017, the Environmental Hearing Board (EHB) delivered a major victory to CCJ, Sierra Club and their members in a consolidated appeal of two longwall mining permits for the Bailey Mine: Permit Revision No. 180 and Permit Revision No. 189. Shortly thereafter, Consol appealed the EHB’s decision to the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court.

On January 9, 2018, Consol discontinued its appeal of the EHB’s decision. That decision, which sets forth important guidance for evaluating longwall mining applications in the future and provides stronger protection for Pennsylvania streams, cannot be overturned.