Submitted by Rick Webb, DPMC
When Governor Terry McAuliffe endorsed the Atlantic Coast Pipeline he declared it would be “the most environmentally responsible pipeline ever built in the history of the United States of America.” Yet he promoted the project and its benefits without first consulting state natural resource officials and agencies, thereby preempting real environmental review and consideration of alternatives. (See: McAuliffe/Farrell, 9/2/14)
His indifference to actual information and analysis became more apparent when he announced that the proposed pipeline would not be used to move gas from fracked sources. (See: Washington Post, 9/10/14)
He has refused to even respond to requests for a Citizen's Advisory Panel to study and make recommendations on state regulatory review of the ACP and MVP proposals. His top officials had to be threatened with a lawsuit to provide citizens information on pipeline deliberations, and others have actively worked to hide information from the public. (See: Roanoke Times, 6/1/16)
We still don’t know if the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality will step up to its oversight responsibilities, or if it will simply facilitate regulatory short cuts? Meanwhile Governor McAuliffe has mislead the public, claiming Virginia has no power over the pipelines, despite the fact that the States have veto powers under the Clean Water Act to stop damaging projects. (See: The News Virginian, 7/22/15)
When Terry McAuliffe ran for Governor he promised a new level of transparency and openness, declaring that "Virginians should never have to question who their leaders are putting first." (See: VCU Capital News Service, 12/3/13)
Terry McAuliffe has forgotten his promise. He needs reminding.
See: March on the Mansion, Saturday, July 23rd
06.30.16Washington, D.C. – Today, more than 100 families personally affected by fracking sent a letter to President Obama asking for him to meet with them in advance of the Democratic National Convention, where impacted people from across the country will be coming to participate in a march calling for a ban on fracking and extreme fossil fuel extraction and a swift transition to renewables.
“We are here to ask you and ranking EPA officials to meet with our families to hear the personal testimonies – how they have been harmed by the oil and gas industry, and how they have been abandoned by local, state, and federal agencies and officials,” says the letter, coordinated by Friends of the Harmed, an all-volunteer, direct-service organization providing relief to families affected by fracking in Pennsylvania with support from Food & Water Watch, the first national advocacy organization to call for a ban on fracking.
“Your trip to Flint, Michigan, the veto against the Keystone XL Pipeline, and recent statements around action on climate change show you care and understand people have a right to clean water, clean air, and a healthy planet,” says the letter, which asks President Obama to meet with the many affected families who will be coming across the country to march at the Democratic National Convention (DNC) to demand a “Clean Energy Revolution.”
“President Obama should take the opportunity to provide bold leadership and acknowledge that fracking comes at a cost to families and to communities,” said Dana Dolney, Director of Friends of the Harmed and publisher of Shalefield Stories. “It’s not too late to provide leadership on fracking as part of his lasting legacy for the history books.”
"I've seen firsthand the appalling lack of federal and tribal action to prevent, mitigate, and enforce regulations on the oil industry that not only effects the land, air, water and our health, but also led to an increase in violence—in particular, violence against Native women— and there is little justice because, by law, tribal and non-tribal law enforcement cannot exert criminal jurisdiction over non-Natives on tribal land," said Cedar Wilkie Gillette, a member of the MHA Nation in North Dakota.
“We’re labeled as radicals,” said Lois Bower-Bjornson, a mother of four from Washington County, Pa. “But it’s the industry that is being allowed to radically alter our future and our lives with no consequences."
Late last week, the DNC Platform drafting committee voted to leave a ban on fracking out of the DNC platform, to the disappointment of climate activists and affected communities alike.
“Pennsylvania, the host state of the DNC, has been ravaged by fracking, yet President Obama and the Democratic establishment continues to ignore the negative impacts it has on people there and across the country,” said Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch. “Direct service organizations like Friends of the Harmed should not be the only place for affected communities in Pennsylvania to turn. We need our federal and state agencies to stop sweeping fracking harms under the rug.”
Friends of the Harmed has compiled two publications that include personal testimonials of affected individuals. Shalefield Stories, Vol. 2 is available for a small donation to Friends of the Harmed. All public donations go into a direct aid fund to provide relief to impacted families in the gas fields of the Marcellus in the form of replacement water, air filters and independent testing. For more information, visit shalefieldstories.org.
Contact: Seth Gladstone, sgladstone[at]fwwatch[dot]org, 347.778.2866
For over a century, rural West Virginia has been the dumping grounds for toxic waste. So on Jan.12, 2016, Fayette County passed an historic ordinance to ban it. Fayette has one of the highest cancer rates in West Virginia, a state where cancer is projected to rise faster than most everywhere else in the nation.
However, on June 10, after cancelling a scheduled hearing, Federal Judge John T. Copenhaver ruled that state-issued permits for the purpose of dumping horizontal hydrofracturing (HHF) wastes override the Fayette County Commission's authority to protect county residents from being contaminated from them.
Cancelling all scheduled testimony one day before the hearing, Judge Copenhaver, who has recused himself from numerous previous natural gas cases, may have felt that the evidence slated for the Fayette County Commission's appeal too informative for public consumption.
Ruling from the bench, Copenhaver effectively prevented getting on the court record that the WV Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) had recently re-issued permits for two HHF waste injection wells despite the agency knowing that the facility had seriously contaminated nearby Wolf Creek. Located upstream from a Fayette public water intake, the DEP has incredibly never ordered the dumping stopped, nor even adequately monitored to determine if the wells are still leaking.
With assistance from natural gas lobbyists, the same DEP whose permitting authority Judge Copenhaver upheld, has instituted three WV regulatory laws that seriously endanger public health.
One classifies all gas- and oil-field wastes as non-hazardous, no matter how toxic or radioactive. Another prevents anyone, including first responders, from ever finding out exactly what chemicals are in HHF fluid wastes.
Possibly the worst allows owner-only monitoring of HHF-waste tanks.
Throughout the state thousands of natural gas waste holding tanks are all under-classified by state regulators, as if they simply contain brine. Yet curiously, as a Homeland Security measure, public disclosure of their locations is disallowed. But if they only contain "brine", then why are Homeland Security measures necessary?
The truth that Homeland Security hides, DEP obscures, and Judge Copenhaver ignored is that many, if not most, contain extremely corrosive material and up to 500 different compounds that are highly toxic and even radioactive.
Historically, terrorists have never poisoned a single West Virginia stream. Meanwhile, numerous corporations have seriously contaminated the sourcewaters for communities across the state. Without adequate public oversight West Virginia extraction industries have a legacy of running rampant, operating under permits “legitimately” issued by an agency that has become known across rural West Virginia as the state's Department of Everyone Poisoned.
If their lips weren't sealed by a Waste Virginia court order, the survivors of Rawl, Merrimac, Sprigg, Lick Creek, and many other communities would tell you that piping "city water" to their homes came too late for far too many residents. Long after their water wells were contaminated with coal slurry, DEP permits to dump it into abandoned coal mines local to those communites were revealed in a WV Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR) study to have been dangerously inadequate.
By failing to initially step in around a decade earlier to block the initial DEP decision to permit the pumping of coal slurry into abandoned mines, the DHHR shirked its responsibility to protect WV citizens from the DEP's serious lack of regulatory integrity.
After the infamous MCHM leak into Elk River, we should all by now fully understand that the need for public oversight of our sourcewaters far outweighs the threat of terrorism. Nonetheless, for the first time ever, the WV Bureau of Public Health's Source Water Assessment Program demands that its officials sign non-disclosure agreements. This prevents the general public from being able to efficiently monitor the exact whereabouts, size, or contents of significant potential pollution sources. Incredibly, the WV legislature recently exempted federal and state agencies from answering citizen FOIA requests regarding the state's Source Water Assessment Program.
These loopholes, instigated WV's Dept. of Homeland Security, lead local citizens to wonder if the fear of terrorism isn't being used to hide yet more mass poisonings of entire communities, under DEP-permitted dumping of even more industrial wastes.
Often hauled in out of state, there are no other sources of HHF waste in Fayette County. So until Copenhaver's ruling is successfully appealed, no West Virginia county can exercise its state-codified authority to protect against state-permitted toxic dump sites, or outlaw the seriously under-regulated "holding" tanks located on them.
As it stands now, there are more than 600 similar HHF injection wells scattered throughout West Virginia threatening the sourcewaters of your community.
Barbara Daniels & Tom Rhule
WV Mountain Party Environmental Justice Committee
304 989 1629
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