June 23, 2016
Los Angeles smog can be partially attributed to the vehicular combustion of fossil fuels.
"The greatest threat to our planet is the belief that someone else will save it." - Robert Swan

Summer is here & the weather is sweet! As promised, we are keeping you up to date with recent news, info and actions you can take to help keep the proverbial ball rolling in a worthy direction.

To kick off this issue, RDA Chemical Adviser Ted Stroter provides some original insight into the global warming conundrum we are all facing. Let's hope the future answers the article's title question with a big fat "NO."

Next, RDA Member Tina McCafferty shares a recap of our recent screening of Josh Fox's latest film, " How to Let Go of the World and Love All the Things Climate Can't Change." 

Our Smith's Knob hike is still on the schedule, another RDA Working Group meeting is planned for next month and sign-ups are available to host a film screening of Josh Fox's new film when it airs on HBO next week. Other news brings you current litigation over water testing and well permit policies, another municipal fracking ban and newly issued well permits in Lycoming County. There are also a number of petitions deserving of your attention.

Thank you for tuning in & enjoy the summer kick-off!

Sincerely,
 
Brooke Woodside
Managing Editor
 
Will Ignorance & Disaster Win Out?
The Big Picture of Global Warming

by Ted Stroter, RDA Chemical Adviser

Climate change or global warming (GW) was intelligently discussed by Barb Jarmoska, RDA Board Member, in a previous RDA newsletter. I feel it is such an important issue I would like to expound on the subject. I am very encouraged that my RDA colleagues have been not only discussing this issue but have been focusing on common sense and necessary actions to combat the threats from GW, e.g. - moving to more use of sustainable energy, as well as economic development based on recreation, nature and heritage tourism. This is in stark contrast to many of our leaders who insist on continued growth through increased extraction and use of fossil fuels which just greatly exacerbates the problems of GW.

The predicting of how fast the earth will warm and what the specific effects will be at some time in the future is complicated and open to debate. This is best left to those like the scientists in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) with the expertise in the needed scientific disciplines. However, I find the basic tenets of GW to be fairly straightforward, based on well established science and supported by much collected data. As anyone with the capability to read should understand, we are putting significantly more CO2 and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere than we did 150 or so years ago and the main reason for this is our accelerated use of fossil fuels. 

The advent of the industrial revolution with its increased manufacturing and mass production gave us many more conveniences at affordable prices but it also caused a rapid increase in fossil fuel use with its inevitable air pollution and other environmental concerns. Adding to the need for fuel was the increased world population's use of energy for transportation, electric lighting, heating/cooking, agriculture and other needs, and in too many other cases, mere wants.
 
Thus we are reaching a critical point. We are generating so much carbon dioxide, along with other greenhouse gases, that the earth's natural processes that act as CO2 scrubbers, the oceans and the forests & other vegetation, have become overwhelmed and cannot remove the CO2 as fast as we are generating it. Then this atmospheric carbon dioxide absorbs heat from the sun that has reached the earth and been radiated back into the atmosphere. Some of this heat is then re-emitted back to earth,  warming the lower atmosphere, the soil and the oceans.
 
The effects of the emissions from fossil fuel burning, besides exacerbating GW, are vividly shown in many of the following pictures. Please click on each image below to be directed to more images from each country:

China (all pictures of Beijing)

India (various areas shown)

United States - Los Angeles (various CA areas shown)

PA residents should be aware that  Pittsburgh is close behind several of those California areas in PM2.5 pollution, the fine particles generated from fossil fuel burning that cause a wide variety of health problems.
 
It is difficult to look at the above pictures and not realize that the many air contaminants from fossil fuel burning are not only causing changes to the earth's atmosphere but are adversely affecting the health of people living on this planet.
 
While it is the emissions from burning fossil fuels that are at the heart of many problems, there are certainly other issues related to fossil fuel extraction/use that are also causing environmental destruction. Oil spills have too often caused large environmental disasters, and even some deaths -- events like the BP spill in the Gulf of Mexico and  many oil-carrying train accidents. As recently as last month there was a significant oil spill from a Shell Oil & Gas Company pipeline in the Gulf. The oil spills in the Gulf have been occurring way too frequently - 147 since 2012. 
 
Well known in PA is water pollution from coal that is still on-going because of the acid mine drainage and will continue for many years to come with incalculable costs to taxpayers for cleanup. Natural gas extraction is the "new kid on the block" among fossil fuels, but despite the gas industry's denial, there have been a number of confirmed cases of water contamination in PA with varying degrees of severity, including some new cases just discovered this year.

When discussing natural gas it is necessary to understand some of the chemical and environmental properties of methane, its major constituent which can be up to 98% in some areas. Methane is the smallest organic molecule and almost half the weight of air. What this means is that it is very difficult to contain methane within any tank, pipe or soil/earth formation. There its environmental property of having a global warming potential 80+ times that of carbon dioxide over a 20-year period causes it to exacerbate the earth's warming.   
 
Less well known is the environmental destruction from fossil fuel extraction that is often out of view. Consider the damage shown in the following photos. Clicking on each image will take you to more photos of that industry:

Coal extraction

Canadian tar sands

Natural gas extraction
 
So where do Americans stand on the issue of GW and our human contribution to it? A Gallop poll in March of this year indicated 64% were worried a great deal or a fair amount about this issue. Then in April a National Geographic WILD poll found "...94% of Americans believe our planet is warming and 87% that humans contribute at least a little bit to climate change." An overwhelming number of scientists agree that the planet is warming and humans are the primary cause. Temperature tracking indicates that "most of the warming occurred in the past 35 years, with 15 of the 16 warmest years on record occurring since 2001."  The U.S. Defense Department believes that GW will aggravate a number of problems that will lead to further political instability in the world.
 
If such a large percentage of Americans believe the planet is warming and we contribute to this at least a little bit, why do a significant number of our politicians and leaders not believe in global warming and fight efforts to combat it? For example, EPA's Green House Gas Emissions Standards are being challenged by 29 states. 

Here are some interesting facts from Harper's Index: 
-Estimated amount G20 nations spent in 2014 on climate-change-adaptation assistance for poorer nations: $4,500,000,000.
-Estimated amount G20 nations spent in 2014 on direct subsidies to fossil-fuel producers: 
$77,000,000,000.

And in the US, this from Harper's Index:
-Ratio of state-level lobbying organizations to state lawmakers: 6:1.  

And at a national level, from Oil Change International:  
Total amount spent by Big Oil, Gas and Coal in campaign donations & lobbying on the U.S. Congress in 2013 & 2014: $350,587,282 (over $350 million dollars). 
And what did they get for their money?: $41,840,275,998 (over $41 billion) in federal production and exploration subsidies. 

That is a return on investment of $119 for every $1 spent or a 11,900% return on political investment!

What could our lawmakers po$$ ibly be thinking?
 
Two issues I have not covered are health effects from fossil fuel use and what our readers can do to help transition away from such fuels. Undoubtedly there are people who have experienced health issues related to extraction, processing or other operations associated with these fuels but that is too complicated an issue to cover here. As for what people can do to speed the transition to a more sustainable future given our immense energy needs, that will be covered in future RDA newsletter articles as well as on our redesigned website.

I will close with a most pertinent quote from Wendell Berry:

The care of the Earth is our most ancient and most worthy, and after all, our most pleasing responsibility. To cherish what remains of it, and to foster its renewal, is our only legitimate hope. 
How to Let Go of the World and Love All the Things Climate Can't Change
by Tina McCafferty, RDA Working Group Member

We went to the see Josh Fox's new film How to Let Go of the World and Love All the Things Climate Can't Change at the Campus Theater in Lewisburg last week. I really did not know what to expect, but was pleasantly surprised that I was *not* told what I feared the most, that everything was going to be okay. I do not want to hear those words because I know too much and realize things are really, really *not* okay on this planet.

Instead of disguising the truth through rose-colored glasses, the film starts off with  Josh explaining how he felt when he first realized that the threats facing us here in Pennsylvania are not isolated to horrendous acts being conducted by the natural gas industry, like fracking and massive air pollution, utter fragmentation of our forests and endless tree cuttings killing unknown numbers of wildlife. No, our troubles are much larger than most people realize. Abrupt climate change is taking an unprecedented toll on this planet, on a scale that is overwhelming to try and grasp. These impacts leave no entity safe from harm and threaten our children's future like no other.

So, how does one take these truths and use them to empower fellow citizens of the globe? By finding all the strengths that come out in humans when faced with unprecedented challenges, hope remains that we can overcome. The human race is innately warrior-like. Adversity brings out our passion, our determination, our ingenuity and yes, our love. Josh travels around the world to meet warriors at every corner of the globe, fighting for their right to clean air, clean water and a safe place for their children to thrive; in other words, basic human rights that are being stolen from us at an unprecedented rate.

I felt comforted when I heard Josh say that he too reached a point where he just wanted to stay home and be left alone. The reality of the crisis we are in is daunting and I often wonder if I can continue this fight for my son's future. It is exhausting, to say the least. 

But, like Josh, I muster the strength to stare this crisis in the eyes and say "Not on my watch." There are people all over the planet, millions of us, fighting to save it from the assault being perpetrated on it by the fossil fuel industry, but we need more people to join us, we need everyone to join us. 

So, don't stay home and don't skip this final call to arms. We need more than just a village to face our reality. Get involved on any level you can. Josh is hoping many of us will consider hosting a home screening party for  How to Let Go of the World and Love All the Things Climate Can't Change when it premiers on HBO . If you missed RDA's free screening, here is a link to the film's website, which includes a trailer . You can use the website to sign up to be a host in your community. 
In This Issue

Events

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Keep it Wild Hike - 
Smith's Knob Redux
 
 
Mid/end July - 12 Noon
Little Bear Creek
Plunkett's Creek Township
 
Our last two planned adventures to Smith's Knob were rained out, but we know the 'third time's the charm" so we've put this scenic hike on the schedule once again. Come join us as we hike to the beautiful vista pictured above! Hikers will gather at 12 noon across from the ranger station on Little Bear Creek Road, which turns east off Rt 87 about 5 miles north of Rt 973. 
 
Due to concerns with the long and challenging ascent, we may begin the hike on the gentler slope of Painter's Run. Look for the event on RDA's Facebook page for the finalized date and other up-to-date information. 

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RDA Working Group Meeting 

Wed, July 13 - 5:30 pm
Cloud Nine Restaurant
Montoursville, PA

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 endeavors. 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.

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Host a Film Screening:
How to Let Go of the World and Love All the Things Climate Can't Change

Wed, July 27 - 9 pm
HBO

In  How to Let Go of the World and Love All the Things Climate Can't Change , Oscar Nominated director Josh Fox ( GASLAND ) continues in his deeply personal style, investigating climate change - the greatest threat our world has ever known. Traveling to 12 countries on six continents, the film acknowledges that it may be too late to stop some of the worst consequences and asks, what is it that climate change can't destroy? What is so deep within us that no calamity can take it away?

RDA recently hosted a screening of Josh Fox's new film. if you missed the free event, you can click here to watch the trailer.  Be sure to also check out Tina's review of the film in the main news feed.


In Other News  InOtherNews
 
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Lawsuit Accuses Range Resources and Lab of Doctoring Water Test Results
 
A water testing company that worked with Range Resources to evaluate whether or not residential water supplies were contaminated is defending itself against a lawsuit that claims the company allowed the gas driller to alter a printout of the test results, which Range then submitted to the Department of Environmental Protection.

TestAmerica argues that it did not participate in any fraud because it was Range Resources, not the testing company, that altered the data in the printouts sent to DEP. And it was the DEP, not Range Resources or TestAmerica, that sent the results to the residents.


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Court Hears Dispute Over Oil and Gas Well Permit Policies 

As Pthe Pennsylvania Environmental Defense Foundation (PEDF) continues the fight for our Constitutional right to clean air and water under Art 1, Sec 27 in the State Supreme Court, another assault is in progress in Commonwealth Court as the gas industry wants the Court to declare that DEP has no authority to affirm a lower-court decision from 2013 declaring that DEP has no authority to mandate that gas drillers coordinate with agencies and prepare detailed plans to protect us.

The PA Independent Oil and Gas Association wants the court to affirm that DEP no longer has the authority to mandate that companies applying for well permits coordinate with agencies that manage public resources and prepare detailed plans to protect them.
 
DEP's attorney counters that it is crucial that drillers cooperate in providing adequate warning and safeguards for public resource protection. And if the court does not concur, then the law should revert to its prior 1984 form.
 
The judges gave no indication of when they would issue a decision in the case.
 
Click here to read more from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

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Butte County Voters Pass Fracking Ban

 

The voters in Butte County, California approved Measure E, a ban on fracking,  by an overwhelming 71% on June 7.

Butte is the fourth California county to ban the environmentally destructive and dangerous method of oil  extraction, according to a statement from Frack-Free Butte County, in the largely rural and agricultural county. San Benito, Santa Cruz and Mendocino counties have also passed fracking bans, as have the cities of Beverly Hills and Carson. 

"We are thrilled that Butte County voters decided to protect our clean water and almond and walnut farms from fracking," said Dave Garcia, of Frack-Free Butte County. "We're proud that we can hand down a community that's green and pristine to our children and grandchildren."
 

Well Count - Lycoming County
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New permits/renewals were issued in the following townships since our last publication. Click on the blue titles for more information on each well:

Fairfield Township:
INFLECTION ENERGY (PA)  

Eldred Township:
INFLECTION ENERGY (PA) 

Jackson Township:
RANGE RESOURCES APP
-The following are renewals:
-Drilling has begun at the following sites:

Petitions

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Fruits and Vegetables Grown with Oil Field Wastewater? 
 
California's Central Valley produces fruits and vegetables for much of the United States, but did you know they may be grown with wastewater from oil field operations - even some organic brands?!   
 
Last year, Water Defense revealed that the Cawelo Water District was accepting oil wastewater and selling it to its agricultural water users. But Cawelo wasn't alone.
 
New Food & Water Watch research shows that this practice is more widespread than previously realized, impacting the North Kern Water Storage District as well.

This is a national problem as California exports much of this produce to the rest of the US.

Brands that buy some of their products from farmers in these water districts include: Sunview Raisins and Grapes, Trinchero Family Estates (Sutter Home wines), Halos mandarins (formerly known as Cuties) and The Wine Group (Cupcake and Fish Eye wines).   
 

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End Fossil Fuel Subsidies in the Next Fiscal Year 
 
The leaders of the UK, US, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the European Union encouraged all countries to join them in eliminating "inefficient fossil fuel subsidies" within a decade. We think that's a decade too late.

We don't think the fossil fuel industry needs our money anyway, so to give them subsidies for another ten years seems outrageous.

Click here to sign the petition. Tell government leaders and the United Nations to end fossil fuel subsidies in the next fiscal year.  

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Protect Pennsylvania from Shale Gas Pollution
 
Every day that there aren't strong air pollution standards for shale gas infrastructure in Pennsylvania is another day that residents in the shalefields are forced to breathe in toxic air.

Fortunately, last January, the Wolf administration laid out a framework to cut air pollution from shale gas operations. But we're still waiting for them to roll out a formal proposal, the next step toward turning these ideas into enforceable regulations that will clean our air.

Tell Governor Wolf that Pennsylvania communities can't afford delay - we need to cut air pollution from shale gas facilities now!

Click here to sign the petition. prepared by the Clean Air Council. 
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RDA Newsletter

Brooke Woodside, RDA Working Group, Managing 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
Contributing Editors:
Ralph Kisberg, RDA Working Group
Ted Stroter, RDA Working Group, Chemical Advisor
Norm Lunger - RDA Working Group
Barb Jarmoska - RDA Working Group

This 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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