Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Corbett Gas Ads Lie to the Public and Should Come Down!


October 5, 2010


joshua.mcneil@conservationpa.org; 215.564.3350

jeff.schmidt@sierraclub.org; 717.232.0101

marnowitt@cleanwater.org; 412.765.3053

david.masur@pennenvironment.org; 215.732.5897

Corbett Gas Ads Mislead the Public

Sierra Club, Clean Water Action, PennEnvironment and Conservation Voters of Pennsylvania call for the Corbett campaign to stop airing ads on Marcellus Shale

Harrisburg – In the last week, gubernatorial candidate Tom Corbett has launched two campaign ads that focus on Marcellus Shale drilling and the severance tax. The first, a radio ad, refers to the severance tax as “a huge extra tax on drillers” that will: “make it more difficult for companies to compete, kill jobs, and increase utility bills.” The second, a TV spot, calls a severance tax “a massive Pennsylvania energy tax that will kill jobs and drive up utility bills.” These statements paint a dire and inaccurate picture of the economic impacts of a severance tax. PennEnvironment, Conservation Voters of Pennsylvania, Clean Water Action and the Sierra Club ask Mr. Corbett to pull these ads off the air.

“These ads are pure and simple fear mongering without any facts,” said Myron Arnowitt, PA State Director, Clean Water Action. “The reality is that communities have had their drinking water contaminated by gas drilling. It’s only fair to ask these multinational oil and gas companies to pay to clean up the damage.”

“A massive/huge extra tax”: Pennsylvania is the only major gas producing state that does not require gas drillers to pay for our natural resources. Montana charges an effective rate of 7.5% on gas drillers. New Mexico: 7.3%. Oklahoma: 6.7% The proposals for a PA severance tax fall into this same range. Pennsylvania is also the only state in which property taxes cannot be collected on drilling rights, lowering the Commonwealth’s overall tax rate for drillers. It’s not a huge tax, it’s a tax that’s in line with established practice throughout the country and one that drillers expect to pay. The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that a drilling executive from Dallas told Rep. Karen Beyer (R., Lehigh) that the industry is willing to pay a production tax. Beyer called Pennsylvania's lack of an extraction tax "an outrage."

“Drilling poses serious risks to Pennsylvanians and our environment. A severance tax will compensate communities and fund projects that repair environmental damage,” state Dennis Winters, Chair of Sierra Club’s Pennsylvania Chapter. “It is time the drillers pay their fair share in Pennsylvania. The public deserves to be told that the severance tax is a tax on producers and not consumers. Mr Corbett seems to be running the same ads as the American Petroleum institute, the industry’s mouthpiece.”

“Drive up utility bills”: Gas is bought and sold on a worldwide market and the production price of any single gas source has a negligible effect on the market rate. Currently, most Pennsylvanians get their gas from out of state, from states that already impose a severance tax. Gas that is produced in Pennsylvania goes into the same gas market as the gas from everywhere else, meaning that an increased production cost in Pennsylvania due to a severance tax will have little bearing on the price paid by consumers.

“Mr. Corbett’s advertisement feels a bit like an Alice in Wonderland scenario where everything is topsy-turvy,” stated David Masur of PennEnvironment. “The environmental community by and large has vocally supported the passage of the natural gas severance tax so for Mr. Corbett to attempt to claim the environmental high ground on this issue by opposing the extraction fee is a bit ridiculous.”

“Kills jobs”: The argument that a severance tax will kill jobs is based on the idea that a tax will slow the production of gas in Pennsylvania and thus delay the creation of drilling jobs. This argument supposes that increased taxation will lead to less drilling. The massive amount of drilling currently occurring in Texas, Colorado, and the other states, each of which currently maintains a severance tax, belies this argument. Pennsylvania’s location, next to the major gas markets of the American northeast, means that Pennsylvania drillers will always have an advantage over other states due to decreased transportation costs.

Additionally, a recent Penn State study* reports that a severance tax will actually create jobs in Pennsylvania. The study predicts that for every $100 million paid in severance taxes, the Commonwealth will see a net job gain of 1,100 jobs. Meanwhile, the Allegheny Conference on Community Development estimates that 70% of the jobs at Marcellus Shale sites currently go to workers from out of state. The job increase from state and local spending based on a severance tax would employ primarily Pennsylvania workers, meaning that the net job gain for Pennsylvanians would be even higher than the study reports. The real truth is that failing to enact a severance tax will cost Pennsylvania thousands of jobs each year.

“If you want to lead Pennsylvania, misleading its citizens is a bad place to start,” said Josh McNeil of Conservation Voters of Pennsylvania. “Mr. Corbett needs to take down these deceitful ads.”

Neither the Sierra Club nor Clean Water Action have made an endorsement in the Pennsylvania Governor’s race. Conservation Voters of Pennsylvania and PennEnvironment have endorsed Dan Onorato.

*Rose M. Baker and David Passmore, Benchmarks for Assessing the Potential Impact of a Natural Gas Severance Tax on the Pennsylvania Economy, September 13, 2010 http://www.personal.psu.edu/dlp/remi2010/#/.

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Monday, September 13, 2010

Pennsylvania needs a moratorium on any new Gas Drilling!

With a history of environmental degradation, economic exploitation and safety violations, the coal industry’s record foreshadows the impact hasty drilling will have on Marcellus Shale communities.

Pennsylvania needs a moratorium on further Marcellus gas drilling until state and federal governments have adequate regulations to protect local drinking water standards. The Marcellus drilling boom has swept across Pennsylvania before our state government was prepared to handle this. It has imposed a heavy costs on our state environment: from air pollution due to hydrocarbon emissions; pipelines defacement our forests and natural areas, drilling pads and wastewater pits scarring our landscapes; heavy rigs damaging our roads; billions of gallons of water taken from our streams with the potential to them to dry up; and operational errors contaminating our land and water and air

Pennsylvania communities are affected as well, people being killed and injured from accidents, communities and towns having to pay for additional services such as training and equipment necessary for emergency personnel to deal with fires, toxic spills. Towns are also involved in costly legal battles to make companies comply with regulations and zoning. All these expenses are occurring which communities have to absorb in a time of economic downturn!

The state was not prepared for the onslaught. As a result, thousands of permits were issued before the problems you read about in the newspapers were revealed. This problem included:

1. A gas well explosion in Clearfield County, which led DEP to impose requirements on operation of blow out preventers.

2. The contamination of drinking water wells in Dimock and in other counties due to poor casing and cementing of the wells;

3. The gas explosion where two workers were killed in Explosion near Pittsburgh.

4. Fracking Spills which have ruined Pennsylvania Streams

5. The lack of wastewater infrastructure to treat wastewater

6. The Pennsylvania State Police finding that 40% of trucks serving the Marcellus industry had safety violations; and the destruction of rural roads by heavy trucks.

7. Pennsylvania DEP issued 1435 Violations in 2.5 Years - 952 Identified as Most Likely to harm the environment.

8. The quarantine of cattle after a mixture of fresh water and wastewater leaked from an impoundment pit

9. The Spilling of 12,000 gallons of synthetic drilling mud spilled in Sproul State Forest

10. Numerous fish Kills From Marcellus Shale Drilling like what happened in Cross Creek Park Washington County

This is just the tip of the iceberg to the numerous problems and issues which face Pennsylvania because of natural gas drilling

If we can't protect our communities and natural resources, then we should not drill!

Pennsylvania needs proven assurance their irreplaceable water sources will remain clean and safe to drink long after the gas has been fractured away. We ask you to write your Legislators in Harrisburg to impose a drilling moratorium until state and federal governments have adequate regulations to protect local drinking water standards.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Why did Jane Hamsher attack the Sierra Club? MONEY!

After looking and contemplating the two articles by Ms Hamsher attacking the Sierra Club, it became clear to me  why she went after the green groups, and more specifically the Sierra Club.

It had nothing to do with who is the better environmental organization or who is not being tough on the current administration or BP. The reason is to get more green. I realized this after noticing both of the articles  right up there along side the big bold title is another column which states “Firedoglake needs to raise $50,000 by June”  (see graphic below)

This got me to thinking of her possible rationalization for the attacks
If you need money to keep your site operating who can she get to fund her site, who has deep pockets and may be able to provide an infusion of cash donations. What issue is a hot button issue right now? Of course the oil spill!  People are clamoring to help with this cause!  but the field of worthy groups is pretty crowded. How can she divert some of that money from these environmental groups to my own personal cause?

How about attacking the large environmental groups for not being as critical as FDL on the administrations and show how FDL more concerned with the issue in the gulf than the others.

Now which organization to lead off with which organization has the most name recognition? Of course the Serra Club! They even have some controversies which I can use to stir up the pot! Lets attack them!
Hence the first article which attacked several major environmental/conservation origination, and specifically targeted the Sierra Club

if you notice predominately displayed right next to the article is a second Column boldly displayed which states “Firedoglake needs to raise $50,000 by June”

The interesting thing to note, on other articles this donate section is lower on the page and only on the two Sierra Club attack articles are the donation buttons pushed up to the top.(see examples of other articles below.

For the second Article I theorize that she noticed how much discussion there was and it must have created a flurry of donations to her FDL site so she decided to write another attack ad to try and generate more donations. Hence the second attack on the club

It looks like I may have contributed to the second attack article as when I read the first article I felt she was attacking me, and as an active member of the Sierra Club she was.   So I went on a rampage and wrote a long response to her article I posted this on my blog and posed an abbreviated version on FDL with a link to the longer response.  In her second article she even linked to my blog and stated:  "Sierra Club loyalists were quick to defend the club..."

I think she noticed how much discussion there was and it must have created a flurry of donations to her FDL site,  so she decided to write the second attack article to try and generate more donations,  Hence the second attack on the club

In the second article she also tried to attack the club again as well as bring up the club’s past controversies, much of the information she used was edited to mislead or distort the club’s stance on issues and to show just how much more concerned she and FDL is when compared to the Sierra Club. If you read her second article she tries to make the club look like a “corporate sellout” and infer how evil those corporations are, taking money to protect the environment is bad and evil, don’t support that horrible origination give your money to me I am greener than them.

One question which was posed by a reader was about the first article being posted on Huffington post as well as FDL  and that Huffington does not solicit donations for FDL.  I think the reason to post on Huffingot was to act as an unpaid advertisement to draw others to FDL.  there is noting like free press to draw others to your site and that is what the Huffington post article was supposed to do. 

It easy to point fingers and criticize and yes I am not saying the club have not made mistakes in the past, but at least to me it is truly a low blow to criticize an organization and people trying to better the planet just to fund your own organization  (and pay yourself!). 

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

My response to Sierra Club: Pro-Corporate, Anti-Grass Roots on Firedoglake

Article URL http://fdlaction.firedoglake.com/2010/06/15/sierra-club-pro-corporate-anti-grass-roots/

Since Ms Hamsher is going to try and show the Sierra Club’s dirty laundry, let’s list it all. The controversy concerned payments for supporting Greenworks  She stated clorox gave $1.1 million to the Sierra Club is inacurate as the amount was "not discolsed"  The Club put the Florida chapter executive committee on probation not the members as she states in her article.

for those of you who want more information on the club's perespetive of greenworks it is at http://www.sierraclub.org/greenworks/

Delving further into the past how about the club’s immigration issue controversy which nearly tore the club apart or even further back with the club’s nasty firing of David Brower.  Controversy stretches all the way back to and also involved John Muir.
Ms Hamsher stated where is the Sierra Club focusing its attention? …. The Sierra Club issued a press release saying “It’s encouraging to see the Obama administration taking steps to improve safety regulations for offshore drilling.” On that same day, they took out a full page ad in the Washington Post, thanking Obama for putting a hold on an Alaska drilling project (no press release).

Of course Ms Hamsher neglects to mention the other environmental groups who were also listed on the ad. She also totally neglected to show the other press release the club issued on June 7th (http://action.sierraclub.org/site/MessageViewer?em_id=180143.0) or the other ad the club took out (http://www.sierraclub.org/oilspill/downloads/beyondOil.pdf)

Ms Hamsher also tries to infer that the club is totally backing Kerry Lieberman, but if you look at this http://action.sierraclub.org/site/PageServer?pagename=adv_aces&s_src=ac the club has and  is pushing to improve any clean energy legislation, But again she doesn’t bother to point that out

I stated before the actual part where the rubber meets the road are the volunteers. And it is the volunteers who run this organization so when she is trying to belittle the club she is belittling every single one of the people who set and urn meetings, organize and set up events, conduct outings, write their elected officials about legislation testify at hearing and in court for the environment she defames each and every one of these dedicated individuals. But NO she doesn’t think that her words hurt them, that is not the true Sierra Club in her mind. Well in the mind of every sierra club volunteer it does!

From comments on the FDL site it is obvious that most of the club dissenters were never member of the club or if they were most likely just sent in their application and expected “the club” to handle it for them These people most likely ever laid a hand at actually volunteering at any actions or events! (and probably don’t do anything now but complain now either! These people are just looking for an excuse to bash the club

The Sierra club is not perfect it never will be and there will always be something that upsets or angers someone  the old saying “can’t please all the people…” and they shouldn’t try as there is always other groups such as Greenpeace, or the the Audubon Society.

Let me also point out some additional misinformation from Ms Hamsher:  Mr. Pope is not the head of the Sierra Club, He is the chairman, he was the executive director until March 2010. when Michael Brune was hired. The actual “head “of the Sierra Club is the president of the board of directors; I posted the org chart (http://bucksenvironment.blogspot.com/2010/06/sierra-club-org-chart.html) for reference. The Board of Directors are unpaid volunteers elected by the general membership of the club.

Mr. Pope does not have the authority to disband a group that can only come from the board of directors not from the executive director. And the number in the chapter was 175-member not the 700,000 which was stated by Ms Hamsher.

While we are on the topic disbandment my own Sierra Club group, The Bucks County Group of the Pennsylvania Chapter, which I was actively involved with in the 1990’s was disbanded 2 years ago. The reason several individuals from the local (Bucks County PA) democratic committee tried to take over the group and use it for their personal and political benefit. They wanted to use this group to only politically endorse democrats at the exclusion of other candidates from other parties. It took the board of directors and the PA chapter to disband the group. While I was upset at the actions I understood the reason for their action.  (Note I was not "an active volunteer" at that time.)

Lastly Ms Hamsher you never bothered to address the main point of my response which I repeat here

While you feel the Obama administration can wave this magic wand and instantly fix this mess in the Gulf, they can’t. No one can. Even if the administration nationalized the efforts to cap the well and clean up the spill they would not be able too much of anything until the well is sealed.

If you want to criticize someone, look in the mirror. It is the public’s apathetic and uncaring attitude which caused this spill. The Sierra Club has been fighting for decades for cleaner energy solutions while the general pubic buys gas guzzling SUVs and energy inefficient mc-mansions. The public has also allowed the previous administration to block any measures aimed at increasing energy efficiency.

It is disappointing when people like you suddenly jump on the bandwagon to criticize others who have spent years making REAL efforts to protect our environment. It’s time you and your fellow ambassadors of anger stop complaining about the problem and become part of the solution.

So, I pose a question to all of Ms Hamsher minions what are you doing to help this crisis? Other than criticizing the hard work of others. The volunteers of the Sierra Club are gathering volunteers to help in what ever way we can in the gulf   http://action.sierraclub.org/site/DocServer/VOLUNTEER_OPPORTUNITIES_AND_RESOURCES.pdf?docID=5142,   pressing for clean energy solutions http://republicans.resourcescommittee.house.gov/UploadedFiles/ZichellaTestimony11.05.09.pdf , and attempting to push better environmental legislation through congress http://action.sierraclub.org/site/PageServer?pagename=TakeAction_CI_Energy and the states

It looks all Ms Hamsher's and her cronies are willing to do is complain about others!

Sierra club Org Chart

Monday, June 14, 2010

My response to Jane Hamsher' Artilce "Why The Sierra Club No Longer Deserves Your Trust"

This is my response to Jane Hamsher's article titled "Why The Sierra Club No Longer Deserves Your Trust"   published in the Huffington Post on June 14, 2010

Article URL http://huff.to/a99ETV

Dear Ms Hamsher,

As 30 year member of the Sierra Club, I find you article insulting and degrading to every member of the Club. The Sierra Club is a grass roots organization, so I ask you, what are you doing -- besides criticizing others -- to assist with the people and the ecosystem of the Gulf?

The Club has been actively asking for volunteers to assist with whatever they can to assist the people and animals of the Gulf. Members from around the country have answered the call and are donating their time, talents, and resources to aid the people and the environment of the Gulf.

Your article insults those very volunteers and every Sierra Club member who has ever volunteered to help with an environmental cause -- be it lobbying for stronger legislation, testifying at local or state hearing, or promoting the outdoors by sponsoring a trip or an outing to a natural wonder.

While you feel the Obama administration can wave this magic wand and instantly fix this mess in the Gulf, they can’t. No one can. Even if the administration nationalized the efforts to cap the well and clean up the spill they would not be able too much of anything until the well is sealed.

If you want to criticize someone, look in the mirror. It is the public’s apathetic and uncaring attitude which caused this spill. The Sierra Club has been fighting for decades for cleaner energy solutions while the general pubic buys gas guzzling SUVs and energy inefficient mc-mansions. The public has also allowed the previous administration to block any measures aimed at increasing energy efficiency.

It is disappointing when people like you suddenly jump on the bandwagon to criticize others who have spent years making REAL efforts to protect our environment. It’s time you and your fellow ambassadors of anger stop complaining about the problem and become part of the solution.

You want someone to do something? You start! Write your congressman and senators and urge them to support legislation that provides for clean energy. Volunteer at a local environmental preserve. Make a donation. Just stop pointing fingers… unless it’s at yourself.

Jane, your ramblings are not better than the claptrap that comes out of Rush Limbaugh or Gen Beck!

Now let see if Jane Hamsher bothers to read or reply (I doubt she will)

Saturday, May 22, 2010

A national mess, worse by the day, so where is the urgency?

May 22, 2010
Just a thought by W. Kenton

The Exxon Valdez oil spill of 1989 released an estimated 250,000 barrels (10.8 million gallons) into Prince William Sound one of the richest wild life and fishing grounds found anywhere. Today, 21 years later this once vital and rich nature wonder is just a shadow of its former self, with oil and tar still to be found. Prior to last month this was known as the largest and most devastating human-caused environmental disaster ever to occur in history (1).

Since the explosion and sinking on April 20 of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig, BP, government, and/or media estimates have reported repeatedly that approximately 5,000 barrels a day are being released into the Gulf of Mexico (2). Since this past weekend estimates of 210,000 gallons are being extracted through an inserted pipe in the ruptured well, admittedly a very small amount of the overall leak. (3)

Some noise has been made in the last few days that the oil leak is much larger per day than estimated and reported. Additional multiple leaks have been reported but where is the national coverage, where is the urgency, where is the science and fact reporting? Today another story has estimated that 4 million gallons per day (95,000 barrels daily) is actually pouring into the Gulf, much of it unseen (4). If multiplied by 30 days that is 2,850,000 barrels since the explosion have poured into the surrounding ocean. Said another way, 11.4 times the Exxon Valdez oil spill disaster have been released into the Gulf in the last month alone; the equivalent of one disaster every 2.6 days.

Reports of oil reaching the Gulf Loop Current and oil washing up in the Keys is now a fact, and so is predicting the oil will make its way in the Atlantic Gulf Stream currents and be carried to every beach along the East Coast in the very near future.

I have one question, where is the national emergency and who is calling for more action? Are we completely dependent on BP to solve their disaster, or shouldn’t we be demanding much more action from everyone! Back in 1989 the response as I recall it was all over the national media and government stepped in under then President Regan. Is it me or was our response then far more aggressive, caring, and complete then what we are seeing today? The clean up in Alaska two decades again fell far short and was in itself a disaster, maybe it was all media hip I recall then, but my goodness where are we headed today with an event now calculated at many times that size?

Possible leak solutions have ranged from the stupid plugging it with golf balls to the scarcest using nuclear blasts (5) (6) to seal the wells nearby geology. Recent reports suggest that we could still be faced with the same leak or rate until August or more, that is 4 months, and that is if their Band-Aid attempts actually work someday. Based on performance to date it is clear regardless how difficult it may be, BP is way over their heads and only trying; they have no real solution or the talent or urgency to get it done any time soon!

It is high time that this national crisis be elevated to the highest levels in the most urgent manner and to get the best national talent and resources working on a solution today. It is time that BP turn over all technical data to the public, immediately start Sandia National Labs modeling solutions on their super computers, and get the Department of Defense engaged; this is a national crisis. Yes, media noise indicates that this may all be happening slowly in the background but again we cannot stand by idly; this event is killing the Gulf of Mexico for generations to come, placing the entire Gulf Coast on a countdown to destruction, and threatens the entire Atlantic Gulf Stream Region and eventually the Northern Caribbean Basin.

It is time to remove this solution from private industry, clearly unable to handle this growing mess, elevate this to the crisis level that it is and to mobilize all resources! Sorry BP you destroyed our ocean and national well being, once again we are paying the price for poor leadership and understanding. Call your Congressman today and demand the most immediate response and our best national talent possible be called upon. Enough is enough; we are past needing real action, get mad and get making the calls to Congress to get this stopped.
  1. Source Wikipedia.org
  2. Source http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/14/us/14oil.html
  3. (3) Source AP posted to: http://www.nashuatelegraph.com/news/worldnation/744617-227/bp-concedes-gulf-oil-spill-is-bigger.html?i=1
  4. Source http://www.examiner.com/x-27431-World-News-Examiner~y2010m5d20-Second-leak-on-BP-Gulf-oil-spill-brings-total-gushing-to-4-million-gallons-per-day
  5. Source: http://news.yahoo.com/s/ynews/20100513/ts_ynews/ynews_ts2052
  6. Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Plowshare#Natural_gas_stimulation_experiment
  7. Sources indicate these tests did not yield the results sought and actually created a geologic cap that seal off much the desired area, exactly what is needed today but nowhere near on the same scale. Russia has also used this technique with mixed results. Two down sides are clear, 1. Conventional explosive yields are not enough, 2. The oil exposed to the a nuclear blast becomes radioactive rendering unsellable, thus is the quest saving the oil or the ocean, not sure if it is that simple or even a choice still