March 15, 2016
Megan Holleran stands in front of her family's nearly three acres of cut maple trees. Now the planned pipeline is facing a delay, making the pre-harvest cutting seem even more unnecessary - Photo credit:  Ecowatch
"I have no words for how heartbroken I am.
-Megan Holleran

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair..."

Is paradox the timeless signature of human life? Surely Dickens's words could not have been truer in 1859 than they are today. We are awash in wisdom and foolishness. Looking through every lens: global, national, state, local and of course, personal - we are both filled with hope and overcome with despair. And so it is that we offer you stories of light and darkness in this issue of the newsletter.

Megan Holleran stands in our banner photo as a sentinel over her fallen maple trees. It is impossible to know the despair of the Holleran family, as these trees provided both their sense of place in the world and their livelihood. Our hearts go out to Megan and her family.

RDA's Ralph Kisberg was in Philadelphia last week, observing the proceedings as the Pennsylvania Supreme Court heard arguments from attorneys representing the Commonwealth and the citizens of PA. In addition to the legal loose ends remaining from Act 13, the PEDF case on Article 1, Section 27 of the PA Constitution was also on the docket. Ralph shares his insights on the proceedings in our feature story.

Shouts of joy and jubilant declarations of victory resonated across the state and flooded social media this past week as the long-awaited verdict in the contaminated water case was declared in favor of the plaintiffs to the tune of $4.2 million. Gas driller Cabot will reach into its deep pockets and file an appeal, so the celebration has now dimmed as the costly and arduous "wait and see" will continue for two Pennsylvania families.

The paradox marched on as some Republican presidential hopefuls promised to completely shut down the EPA, while President Obama joined with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to announce a plan to cut methane emissions, fulfilling a commitment signed at the Paris summit on climate change. The fate of that plan rests in the political debate that now dominates the airwaves, and no doubt many of your own private conversations.

Our main newsfeed also includes announcements about two upcoming RDA events. On March 22, RDA will host a Clean Air Council workshop on methane. See poster below for details. Also, m ark your calendar, invite your friends and plan to come out to Williamsport's Community Arts Center as RDA hosts a premier film event next month. This Changes Everything , the documentary based on Naomi Klein's book of the same title, is coming to Williamsport on Thursday, April 7th at 7:30 pm. This powerful film promises paradox, as it offers up a dire warning about the future of our planet while at the same time leaving you inspired and empowered. Please join us.

The sidebar of this newsletter offers its usual plethora of information and opportunities for activism. I hope you'll take the time to read the many details herein and please consider joining us on RDA's next Keep It Wild hike, coming up on Easter weekend. (Details in sidebar)

Finally, I want to extend our gratitude to all those who contributed to RDA's ongoing efforts by donating during last week's Raise the Region event. Without your financial support, the valuable work we do could not continue. Please accept our heartfelt thanks. 
Barb Jarmoska
RDA Board Member, Editor
Pondering Peace, Safety, Happiness and Environmental Rights
by Ralph Kisberg, RDA Member & Consultant

With the current state of political debate in the Commonwealth (and the nation), the role of the judiciary looms larger than ever. As evidenced in both PA and NY this past week, sometimes the courts get it right. On Wednesday, with three newly elected Justices, a new Chief Justice, and one Justice currently suspended, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court heard oral arguments on some of the remaining overreaches of the first shale-gas-era administrations and legislatures.
Following the 2013 actions of the PA Supreme Court, when key elements of Act 13 were struck down, there remained a few loose ends for the court to tie up. You can find an excellent synopsis of the issues and last Wednesday's court proceedings in this State Impact PA article. Briefly, here are some quotes and comments on the issues raised during the arguments: 
Physician's Gag Order : The question seemed to come down to whether any other industry gets such preferential treatment. Justice Baer commented, "We don't need special legislation for this industry." New Justice Wecht brought up the issue of "hampering their (doctors) ability to stay up on science." Overturning the gag order should be a no-brainer. Or will the proprietary information argument win out over health and safety?
Notification of Spills to Owners of Private Water Wells:  Under Act 13, the DEP only has to inform managers of public water supplies of nearby spills. After the Commonwealth pointed out that spills can occur on roads far from wells, the Justices seemed a bit incredulous of the Commonwealth's argument that, except for those within 3,000 feet of a gas well, the DEP doesn't even know where the private water wells are. No one thought to say that the DEP could simply (and inexpensively) draw a circle with a 3,000' radius of each well (or some well-reasoned, non-arbitrary safety standard) and then inform all dwelling owners within it of a "spill." Perhaps the Justices will figure out this additional no-brainer as they ponder the issue. 
PUC Review Power:  Despite the court's elimination of the Act 13 attempt to require gas drilling in all zoning districts, the provision remains that gives the PUC the authority to withhold impact fee money if municipalities try to regulate how drilling occurs. Justice Baer asked the Commonwealth, "Are there limits on what the state can withhold from citizens in order to encourage industry?" This question seems to be lost in the maze of legal word-parsing. The issue of why to give such power to the politically appointed PUC never came up. Given the current lack of drilling and the large volume of gas still coming out of PA, and with impact fee money being heavily based on fixed amounts (vs. volume-based) from the first and second year of a productive drilled well, isn't it time the whole rotten scheme is scrapped for a sensible, volume-based, price-related severance "fee"?

Eminent Domain Power for Gas Storage:  This argument, not addressed in the State Impact story, seemed to come down to whether there is a public benefit to forced pooling of underground property once a majority of land owners have signed on to underground storage. The attorney for the municipalities argued, "If you are giving the supreme governmental right to take private property for the public good, there has to be a public component." What is the Pennsylvania public's benefit from underground storage? Is there any public detriment to the compressor station pollution and leakage associated with the storage? That was not raised in the argument. Surely there is enough gas coming out of PA wells and in PA pipelines to fulfill all PA's gas demand even on the highest demand days. Someone needs to do the math. Is the underground storage capacity just for other states and export? Want to bet on it? 
Oral arguments on the Pennsylvania Environmental Defense Foundation vs. Commonwealth Suit : These are well covered in the State Impact article (see link below). RDA has been a strong supporter of PEDF on this issue, but we always knew it was a bit of a risky proposition. Following Wednesday's arguments and talking with numerous attorneys in attendance, there was a wide variety of opinion as to the results and potential consequences that may come from the court's decision. The most prevalent theory was that even if the suit is lost it will not cause any serious damage to the environmental rights amendment. At least one prominent environmental rights advocate was "appalled" by the courtroom proceedings and highly concerned about what may result; another was equally convinced that PEDF will prevail.
Things didn't look good as the Justices questioned PEDF attorney John Childe. They seemed impatient with his line of argument right up until the end when it appeared perhaps a spark of thought was ignited that may have tipped things in another direction. Without a transcript, it is hard to recall exactly what was said or why it felt that way; it was a just a palpable feeling in the courtroom. The outlook for PEDF seemed to brighten as the Justices questioned the Commonwealth advocate's attempt to bring the Constitution's "peace, safety, and happiness" provision into play as counterweight to environmental rights. It seemed as though that concept was viewed as a stretch. Given the Dimock trial results, the hundreds of DEP-determined water contamination cases, and a number of prominently publicized shale-gas-era damage settlements across the Commonwealth, this angle of the determination may be another easy one for the court. 
Coming Next Week - 
Methane Workshop
The Maple Trees Have Fallen
This is a sad end to the saga of the Holleran family farm, where eminent domain forced the sacrifice of 90% of their sugar maple trees to a pipeline right-of-way. RDA has been covering this story for the past couple months. As if it couldn't get any worse, the pipeline has now been delayed , reinforcing Megan Holleran's statement. "It proves that I was right when I said it was completely unnecessary for them to do this at this time," she said. "It's proof of how stupid it was that they came out and cut our trees already."

NEW MILFORD, PA - Guarded by heavily armed U.S. marshals, a  Constitution Pipeline  tree crew  began felling trees  in the Holleran family's maple sugaring stand while upset landowners and protesters looked on.

The cutting began 11 days after Federal Judge Malachy Mannion dismissed charges of contempt against the landowners for allegedly asking a tree crew that had arrived on the property not to cut the trees. The charges were dismissed due to the prosecution's inability to show enough evidence of violation of the February 2015 order that cited eminent domain in giving Constitution Pipeline Company permission to cut on the property without landowner permission. The judge expanded on the original order, adding a 150-foot "safety buffer" to be maintained around all tree-cutting activity, effectively extending the size of the Right of Way. All visitors and family members are remaining outside of the buffer while trees are being felled this week.

" I have no words for how heartbroken I am," Megan Holleran, a family member and field technician for North Harford Maple, said. "We've been preparing for this for years, but watching the trees fall was harder than I ever imagined it would be." She admits that she expected more compassion from the company, but was wrong. This week's cutting will destroy 90 percent of the only sugarbush that the family owns. " They refused to see us as people and brought guns to our home ," she added.

Cabot Oil and Gas is Finally Held Accountable for Dimock Water Contamination
Remember the  Gasland images of people lighting their tap water on fire?

A federal jury awarded two couples from Dimock, Pennsylvania, $4.2 million after finding Cabot Oil and Gas negligent for contaminating their well water during drilling for natural gas.

B eginning in the fall of 2008, Dimock families noticed problems with their drinking water, and began to experience rashes, nausea, headaches and dizziness. A trigger point to the litigation was the explosion of Norma Fiorentino's private water well on New Year's Eve, December 31, 2008 due to methane gas accumulation in the well head.

"It's been a battle," said plaintiff Scott Ely. "I mean, you're up against a multi multi multi million dollar company. We are the lucky ones in the case, but there are still many more families in the Dimock area who are without the benefit of clean water."

The travails of these plaintiffs, as well as those of other Dimock families, have been chronicled in the HBO documentaries, Gasland and Gasland II, by Oscar-nominated director Josh Fox.
Coming Next Month -
This Changes Everything
US Targets Oil and Gas Wells to Cut Methane Emissions by 2025
Obama's recent announcement on methane is the latest step in a broader effort to clamp down on domestic greenhouse-gas emissions. With this announcement, Obama demonstrated to the world that America is committed to the global agreement on climate change that roughly 200 nations agreed to in Paris late last year. The EPA is unlikely to complete a regulation before President Obama leaves office at the end of 2016. Any proposal the EPA issues would likely stay on track if a Democrat wins the White House, while a Republican administration would likely withdraw it.

WASHINGTON DC - The Obama administration recently announced its first step toward regulating methane emissions from hundreds of thousands of oil and natural-gas wells across the U.S., drawing pushback from an industry battered by cheap oil and cheers from environmentalists.

The administration made the announcement in coordination with Canada, which is taking similar actions. Canada's new prime minister, Justin Trudeau, is visiting the White House for the first time since taking office in November.
The U.S. and Canada will commit to cut methane emissions from oil and gas by between 40% and 45% below 2012 levels by 2025, a commitment the Obama administration has previously made.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, already working on rules for cutting methane emissions from oil and gas wells not yet drilled, will begin devising regulations for existing wells and aims to release in April draft requirements for companies to provide information about equipment, emissions and control technologies from a broad range of oil and gas activities, including production, transmission, processing and storage, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy said Thursday.

The step, being taken under the Clean Air Act, indicates the agency is preparing to write a regulation that is likely to affect hundreds of thousands of existing wells across the U.S.

The Canadian government's environmental regulator also intends to regulate methane emissions from new and existing oil and natural gas sources, publishing initial proposed rules by early 2017.

In This Issue

Events  Events

Keep it Wild!  - Old Logger's Path

Saturday, March 26, 10 am,
Loyalsock State Forest

Next Saturday, we will be venturing back to one of our favorite "Special Places." This outing will offer two hike options. All hikers will venture out together, then some can head back at a middle point. The route is long (~8 miles), but mostly level.

Public Hearing on PA Natural Gas Incentives

Monday, March 21, 10 am, Minority Caucus Room, 418 Main, Harrisburg, PA

The House Democratic Policy Committee will conduct a public hearing to discuss if Pennsylvania should act to encourage the use of natural gas. The issue will be examined from a climate change, economic and health perspective.

The hearing will be streamed live at

Public attendance is welcome, but questions will be limited to Policy Committee members. Members of the public can submit written questions and comments to the committee.

If you have any questions or would like to submit comments or questions, please contact Rob Fogel at

"Resource Wars" Art Exhibition 
Aaron Hughes Artist Residency

Installed until March 25
Lycoming College Art Gallery
25 W 4th St, Williamsport, PA

Gallery hours: 
Wed - Fri, 4 - 8 pm
Sat - 11 am - 2 pm, 5 - 9 pm

"From the companies involved, to the communities most impacted, to the underpinning economic and political interests, there is a haunting mirroring between wars and occupations abroad, and resource extraction here in the United States." Resource Wars is a collaborative residency and exhibition by artist, activist and Iraq War veteran Aaron Hughes that explores the relationship between resource extraction in Pennsylvania and wars abroad.

NOTE: This show can be seen during RDA's upcoming workshop on March 22nd. Join us!

The Let Go And Love Tour

Josh Fox is currently touring the world with his new film,  How to Let Go of the World and Love All the Things Climate Can't Change.  This free-screening LET GO AND LOVE Tour  is traveling to 100 cities and towns currently threatened by dangerous fossil fuel infrastructure projects like fracked-gas pipelines and power plants. This enlightening tour is not only meant to raise awareness, but also to give communities the tools to ignite a renewable energy revolution. A Kickstarter campaign is funding the tour. 

RDA Working Group Meeting 

Wednesday, April 13, 5:30 pm, Cloud Nine Restaurant, Montoursville, PA

Our first Working Group meeting in the new location inside the Williamsport/Lycoming County Airport was a success. Thank you to all who participated & we hope you will join us again next month.

Everyone is invited and encouraged to attend. We welcome your active participation and are in need of help for special projects, publicity, research and other projects. Please come join us and see what the RDA Working Group is all about. Attendance at a meeting is not an obligation to join the group.


In Other News  InOtherNews

Corr upt, Rogue Agency Approves 100% of Pipelines, Suit Says

The federal commission in charge of overseeing new interstate pipelines is a "corrupt, rogue" agency and its processes violate the U.S. Constitution, according to a lawsuit filed by environmentalists.

The Delaware Riverkeeper Network filed the suit against the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in U.S. District Court, charging that the commission's financing structure precludes it from an open, unbiased hearing of interstate pipeline applications.

The commission, which has final say over which pipelines get built and where, gets its entire operational budget from fees it charges companies applying to build pipelines, the lawsuit says.

As a result, FERC has not denied a gas pipeline application in 30 years, according to the suit.  Click here to read more from

That is, until just this past Friday, March 11! FERC finally denied two projects: the Pacific Connector Gas Pipeline and the Jordan Cove Energy Project. Click here to view FERC's Order.

Could this be in response to FERC's current legal pressures?

Greek Tragedy -
The Billionaire Who 
Fracked up PA

It was right around the moment that the first chainsaw was cutting into the Hollerans's maple bark when a newsflash swept through the business world and beyond: Aubrey McClendon - the ostentatious Oklahoma billionaire who was also essentially the godfather of our PA fracking explosion, enmeshed in controversy until his final hours - had died under murky consequences.

Energy Company Blames Pipeline Blast on Corrosion

Remember the pipeline blast that rocked the countryside last summer? Williams now says it was corrosion on the exterior of an underground pipe that caused the rupture that released enough natural gas to heat nearly 10,000 homes for a month.

We are fortunate this blast happened in a rural area. The folks in California and New York were not so lucky.  Click here to learn more about the dangers of gas pipelines.

Well Count - Lycoming County

The following permits, renewals and violations were issued in Lycoming County. Click on the blue title below the company name for more information on each well/violation.

Gamble Township:
Seneca Resources, Co rp.

EXCO Resources, PA, LLC

Penn Township:
EXCO Resources, PA, LLC
(another cement casing failure)


There are currently 17,401 permitted unconventional gas wells in PA located on 4,681 well pads.

Lycoming County has the dubious honor of being the top county for violations in 2015

Top 5 counties: highest number of violations in 2015

Lycoming: 70
Susquehanna: 67
Bradford: 46
Tioga: 31
Greene: 28 


Save PA State Species from Climate Change

Pennsylvania's climate is already beginning to change, and the impacts could be disastrous for our state habitat and wildlife. If temperatures continue to rise to what scientists expect, our state bird, tree and fish may disappear from Pennsylvania altogether. But if we cut climate pollution from dirty power plants, we can reduce or prevent the worst impacts of climate change, including this travesty. Please take rapid action on climate change by implementing the Clean Power Plan as soon as possible.

Block the Alberta Clipper Pipeline Scheme
Canadian pipeline company Enbridge is pushing an illegal plan to nearly double the amount of dirty tar sands oil it pumps into the U.S. through its Alberta Clipper pipeline, bypassing the environmental review required by law - and the State Department is prepared to allow this disastrous plan to move forward. Last November, we convinced President Obama to reject the climate-wrecking Keystone XL pipeline. Now let's stand together and demand that Secretary of State John Kerry put the American people before polluters and block the reckless Alberta Clipper pipeline scheme!
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RDA Newsletter

Brooke Woodside, RDA Working Group, Managing Editor
Barb Jarmoska, Treasurer - RDA Board of Directors, Editor
Ralph Kisberg, RDA Working Group, Contributing Editor
Ted Stroter, RDA Working Group, Chemical Advisor & Contributing Editor
Jim Slotterback, President - RDA Board of Directors
Robbie Cross, Vice President - RDA Board of Directors
Jenni Slotterback, Secretary - RDA Board of Directors
Mark Szybist - RDA Board of Directors
Roscoe McCloskey - RDA Board of Directors 
Dianne Peeling - RDA Board of Directors

This biweekly e-newsletter is  written and designed by the RDA consultants and Board of Directors and sent to RDA members/subscribers. Every effort is made to assure complete accuracy in each issue. This publication and the information contained herein is copyrighted by RDA and may not be reproduced without permission. All rights reserved. Readers are invited to forward this newsletter in its entirety to broaden the scope of its outreach. There is a forward link below. Readers are also invited to submit articles to be considered for publication in a future issue.    

Please note: The RDA newsletter includes reporting on a variety of events and activities, which do not necessarily reflect the philosophy of the organization. RDA practices only non-violent action in voicing the organization's beliefs and concerns.

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Please mail donations to:
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