In shadow of oil boom, North Dakota farmers fight contamination | Al Jazeera America

In shadow of oil boom, North Dakota farmers fight contamination | Al Jazeera America.

Pennsylvania farmers who signed drilling leases to speak in Skaneateles |

Pennsylvania farmers who signed drilling leases to speak in Skaneateles |


Pennsylvania farmers who signed drilling leases to speak in Skaneateles

Published: Friday, November 11, 2011, 11:16 PM     Updated: Friday, November 11, 2011, 11:19 PM

Skaneateles, NY — Two Pennsylvania dairy farmers will speak Wednesday night about their experiences after signing leases for natural gas drilling by hydraulic fracturing.

Dairy farmers Carol French and Carolyn Knapp will present “Hydrofracking: The Good, the Bad and the Very Ugly” at 7 p.m. at the Skaneateles First Presbyterian Church, 97 E. Genesee St., Skaneateles. French and Knapp will discuss their observations of hydrofracking in their community.

“They will address the benefits, the negatives, lease negotiations and the effects of intensive fracking on the air, water, roads, quality of life, health of people and livestock, and land values in Bradford County,” according to a news release.

Bradford County is the second “most fracked” county in Pennsylvania. The county is in northeastern Pennsylvania’s Endless Mountains region. French and Knapp will answer questions. The public is invited to attend.

The presentation is sponsored by the Skaneateles branch of the American Association of University Women. For more information, contact Skaneateles AAUW President Kathy Gorr at or 685-6545.

Contact Catie O’Toole or 470-2134.

Sponsored Links

Video of Vestal GasCapades June 22, 2011

Thanks to Jeff and Jodi Andrysick, Weston Wilson, Tara Meixsell, and Rick Roles for travelling a long way to present their personal experiences and knowledge of the impact of hydraulic fracturing, and to Don Glauber for calming things down when some of the audience started to get rowdy.  Videos are now online of the entire event, including the at-times confrontational question-and-answer session.  Links to the videos are below.


GasCapades – Introduction and Jeff and Jodi Andrysick

GasCapades – Weston Wilson

GasCapades – Tara Meixsell

GasCapades – Rick Roles

GasCapades – Conclusion with Jeff and Jodi Andrysick

GasCapades – Question and Answer Session

Industrialization of Agricultural Land From the Marcellus to South Africa June 27, Ithaca 7:30PM

Industrialization of Agricultural Land

From the Marcellus to South Africa


Monday, June 27, 7:30 – 9:30 pm

At the Women’s Community Building

100 W. Seneca Street

Ithaca, NY


SPEAKERS from South Africa, fighting a proposal by Shell Oil to extract gas in their agricultural homeland:

–         Doug Stern has been farming and ranching for the past 35 years on a 4th generation family farm

–         Lukie Strydom has been farming and rancing for 10 years


SPEAKERS from the Finger Lakes, NY:

–         Art Hunt, co-owner of Hunt Country Vineyards, producer of an excellent variety of Finger Lakes wines

–         Christine Applegate, organic grower and member of Gas Drilling Awareness for Cortland County


Everyone is welcome – free and open to all.  Refreshments will be served.


Sponsored by: Shaleshock, Sustainable Tompkins, and Social Ventures, Inc.




Background Information

A group of folks from South Africa (SA), on a 2-week fact finding tour, are interested to hear NY citizen views on the gas drilling technique known as “fracking”. The South African group is made up of two farmers and a news media person.


The panelists are Doug Stern, a self described 62 year farmer/rancher who has been actively raising cattle for the last 35 years in a region known as the Karoo.  Four generations of Sterns have farmed his land.   The second farmer is Lukie Strydom, a younger farmer; he has been farming/ranching with livestock for the past 10 years. He has also worked in the corporate world as a group general manager for a Global Retail Company. Freelance journalist, Jolynn Minnaar is the expected third member of the visiting SA delegation.


The SA moratorium is in response to planned shale deposit drilling by multinational oil giant, Shell.  Shell has submitted a request to drill in an area of South Africa that is home to hundreds of farmers who are concerned about the safety of hydofracking, a drilling process that requires huge amounts of water mixed with thousands of gallons of chemicals. The chemically treated water is a threat to livestock, food production and human health.


The Shell proposal could possibly affect a 95,000 square kilometer area known as the Karoo, a semi arid part of SA.  With small amounts of water available within the region, gas drilling water usage would compete with agricultural use.


The question of whether fracking and farming are compatible is seen by growing numbers of researchers to have tremendous importance for the future of NY agriculture.  This importance lies in ensuring that the food growing areas of NY remain adequately protected.


NY ers are not alone in trying to understand the connections between fracking and safe food production.  South Africa has recently enacted a nationwide Moratorium on fracking.  The government cited potentials for water pollution and other factors that could threaten food production as reasons for the moratorium.



Press Contact:  Hilary Acton, 257-4133


Fracking in the Foodshed Martha Goodsell, Christine Applegate gWpS33h7fE1A5ic0iwg.

Fracking in the Foodshed Martha Goodsell, Christine Applegate NYRAD presentation May, 2011

Room for Debate – Is the world producing enough food?

Room for Debate –

Food prices are zooming again for reasons besides bad weather, climate change and global growth.

Enbridge denies responsibility for oil spill | Michigan Messenger

Enbridge denies responsibility for oil spill | Michigan Messenger.

Enbridge denies responsibility for oil spill

Refuses to pay some claims of property damage, business loss, health problems
By Eartha Jane Melzer | 01.31.11 | 8:22 am

Despite public promises to compensate residents for losses associated with the summer oil spill, in Calhoun county court Enbridge is arguing that it is not legally liable for damages from the spill.

Last July a pipeline rupture on Enbridge’s 6B pipeline spilled an estimated million gallons of Canadian tar sands crude into the Kalamazoo River system. The oil traveled 30 miles down the rain-swollen river, coating the floodplain.

Officials declared a state of emergency, recommended evacuation because of unsafe levels of benzene in the air, and closed the Kalamazoo River to all activity by the public.

In numerous public statements Enbridge CEO Pat Daniels apologized for the spill and promised to take responsibility for the cleanup and address the needs of the affected people and businesses.

But six months after the spill, the river remains closed and some residents have not been able to get compensation through the claims process set up by the company.

Attorney Bill Mayhall represents 10 households in Marshall and Battle Creek that were not able to find satisfactory arrangements with the pipeline company for property damages and health issues such as headaches, nausea, vomiting, and respiratory issues.

These clients are accusing Enbridge of nuisance and negligence for failing to adequately maintain its pipeline and are seeking damages in Calhoun Circuit Court.

Enbridge is fighting the claims. The company has retained Dickinson Wright attorneys Kathleen Lang and Edward Pappas — the same team that is defending Dow Chemical against a class action suit over dioxin contamination in the Saginaw River watershed — and its answer to the legal claims sounds very different from the friendly promises offered by Daniels at community forums.

In the days after the spill Enbridge representatives went door to door promising that they would pay for spill damages, Mayhall said.

“Now they want us to prove that they are responsible for the spill.”

Enbridge argues that it cannot be held liable for the oil spill because it has followed all relevant laws, regulations and industry standards and the damage was not foreseeable.

The company also argues that the charges against it are improper “because federal, state and/or local authorities and agencies have mandated, directed, approved and/or ratified the alleged actions or omissions.”

And though Enbridge repeatedly told residents it would pay all legitimate expenses, in filings with the Calhoun court the company says:

“The statements at issue, that were made in Defendants’ press releases and brochure, were mere expressions of intention, not offers.”

The owners of the Play Care Learning Center in Marshall are suing Enbridge for interfering with their daycare business, which was located a half mile from the spill site.

Play Care, represented attorney Donnelly Hadden, says that they were forced to close their business when parents pulled their kids out of care because of the air pollution from the spill.

Play Care argues that Enbridge failed to maintain its pipeline and failed to adequately protect them against a long list of chemicals related to the contamination.

In an answer to this lawsuit Enbridge argues that the day care center can’t know what chemicals it was exposed to because no one knows what chemicals were released during the oil spill.

“Defendants state that different types of oil contain different constituents and substances in varying quantities and that the investigation of the nature and extent of the crude oil discharged is ongoing,” the response said.

“It is time for Enbridge to state in court if they really meant what they said to those injured by the spill,” said Mayhall, “or whether their statements to pay legitimate damages were simply a public relations ploy to calm community anger.”

Enbridge Spokeswoman Terri Larson said that the company “remains committed to paying all non-fraudulent claims that are directly related to the incident.”

A schedule for the cases is expected to be set at a conference on March 7.


Pa. farmer: Natural gas drilling ‘a nightmare’ Nov. 16, 2010

Pa. farmer: Natural gas drilling ‘a nightmare’

By Derrick Ek
Posted Nov 16, 2010 @ 11:44 PM

Elmira, N.Y. —

Ron Gulla, a farmer from Hickory, Pa., says he had no idea what he was getting into when he leased his land for gas drilling.

“When I saw what was happening on my property, I couldn’t believe it,” Gulla said. “They totally misinformed us and misrepresented the lease.”

Over the past few years, he saw his farm – in a rural area just south of Pittsburgh – become a large industrial site over which he had no control, and had his water supply tainted by high levels of toxic chemicals, he said.

Gulla – who also sells construction and forestry equipment and once spent six years working in the oil and gas industry – tried to take out a mortgage loan to finance a lawsuit against the well operator, Range Resources, but was told by the bank that his land was basically worthless because of the drilling activity there.

Gulla told gutwrenching stories of other farmers in Washington County whose property was virtually ruined by drilling. Many of their calves have been born with strange deformities, he said. Cows and horses – even dogs – have been sickened or killed from drinking the water from streams and ponds near the well pads. Folks living near compressor stations have had serious health issues from air pollution, he added.

The farmers affected in his area have received nothing in compensation, he said.

“It’s been a nightmare for a lot of people,” Gulla said. “You’re going to hear some people say this is the best thing that’s happened to them, that it’s the best thing since sliced bread. And they’re making money, granted, but at what price, and what risk?”

Gulla was one of a half-dozen speakers to tell cautionary tales about the gas rush under way in Pennsylvania – and on the horizon in New York – at a public forum Tuesday night in a crowded parish hall at Trinity Episcopal Church in downtown Elmira.

The event was organized by area environmental groups People for a Healthy Environment, Coalition to Protect New York, Committee to Preserve the Finger Lakes, and Pax Christi Upstate New York. It was clearly not a balanced panel on the issue, although recent chamber of commerce forums touting the economic benefits of gas exploration haven’t been either: those have mostly featured speakers from the gas industry and pro-drilling elected officials.

Not all of Tuesday’s speakers spoke directly against drilling.

One of them, Lou Allstadt, is a retired Mobil Oil Corp. executive vice president and a past director of the U.S. Oil and Gas Association. A Cooperstown resident, he has extensively reviewed the state Department of Environmental Conservation’s proposed permitting guidelines – now being finalized – for high volume, horizontal hydraulic fracturing, and believes they are insufficient.

In his remarks, Allstadt gave a list of suggestions on how gas drilling might proceed safely in New York, some of which are being developed but are not yet widely implemented, he said.

Among them:

Developing a “green” fracking fluid, and ending government exemptions that allow the industry to use the fracking fluid it currently does. In the meantime, identifying markers should be added to fracking fluid, so if there is a case of suspected water contamination, it can be traced to the source, he said.

Using a closed loop system for drilling wastewater, rather than storing it in open, lined ponds where toxins can evaporate into the atmosphere. “It’s a bad system, and it doesn’t have to be that way,” said Allstadt, who also called for greater recycling of fracking fluid at well sites.

Allstadt also called for seismic testing prior to each time a well is fracked, to identify underground cracks and fissures that could lead to toxins migrating to aquifers, he said.

Better standards are needed for the casings that line well bores near the surface and protect aquifers, he claimed.

There should also be greater setback distances for well pads from drinking water sources and residential areas. Also, the state should give local governments a say in regulating drilling locations, Allstadt said.

Saying human error contributes to most drilling accidents, he called for more stringent training for drilling crews, which often have a high turnover, he said. He also called for making gas companies post multi-million dollar “performance bonds” to fund cleanups should any incidents occur.

Allstadt also said the DEC needs to greatly increase its mineral resources staffing levels, saying it would be “impossible” to properly monitor a shale drilling boom with its current staffing levels. He also called for the state to form a separate agency to issue permits and collect revenues, so the DEC can focus solely on protecting the environment.

Organizer Susan Multer of People for a Healthy Environment said she counted approximately 240 people at Tuesday’s forum.