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Sat May 31, 2014, 08:31 AM

PA Gov.Corbett holding firesale on state's natural resources

Now that PA Governor Tom Corbett is facing historically massive odds against being re-elected, he's holding a fire sale for Big Fracking and Big Coal, opening up state parks and lands for fracking and long wall coal mining. The payback will be in major campaign contributions and/or post elective-office board appointments, consultancies, hiring by law firms representing fracking/mining interests, etc.

The Center for Coalfield Justice has appealed a state mining permit allowing a 3,175-acre expansion of Consol Energy's Bailey Mine that the center says will undermine and subside 14 streams in and around Ryerson Station State Park in Greene County.

According to the Washington, Pa.-based environmental organization, the planned longwall mining operation will damage and dry up several of the streams in the park where subsidence caused by the same longwall mine in 2005 resulted in the draining of Duke Lake, a popular 62-acre recreational lake. The lake remains dry today.

"First, Consol destroyed Duke Lake in the middle of Ryerson Station State Park," said Patrick Grenter, CCJ executive director. "Now, they're looking to destroy the streams that flow through the dry lake bed. When will the DEP learn its lesson and just deny the permit? How many more public lands will the state sacrifice to this company?"

The appeal, filed Friday with the state Environmental Hearing Board, seeks revocation of the permit, which, Mr. Grenter said, allows Consol to add five new longwall "panels" and mine an additional 50 million tons of coal from the Pittsburgh coal seam. The state Department of Environmental Protection declined to comment.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/local/south/2014/05/30/Environmental-group-appeals-Consol-mining-permit-for-Greene-County-park/stories/201405300187#ixzz33ILUOcZy

And just three days after the state primary, and on the Friday before a 3 day holiday weekend, Corbett opened the frackgates to poisoning the air and water at our state parks and forests.

Groups Slam Corbett for Lifting Ban on Fracking in State Forests and Parks

On May 23 Gov. Tom Corbett issued an Executive Order lifting a three-year moratorium on fracking in state forests and parks. Eight environmental organizations immediately issued a joint press release challenging the claim that fracking beneath these areas would have “no long term surface disturbances”, see below. A ‘Protect Our Forests’ rally will be held on Tuesday, June 17 in Harrisburg. (more…


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Response to Divernan (Original post)

Sat May 31, 2014, 08:42 AM

1. Letter re DEP I sent to Wolf campaign.

Along with all the Dem. primary candidates, Tom Wolf has promised to impose an extraction tax on fracking, which is fine - but does nothing re the gutting Corbett/Krancer inflicted on the state's Department of Environmental Protection. Here's an email address for the Wolf campaign. I plan on forwarding to them every breaking news story re fracking fires/explosions/pipeline leaks/ etc., from anywhere in the US or other countries. Please join me in this effort. I sent this to INFO@WOLFFORPA.COM.

Dear Mr. Wolf,

First, congratulations on your primary victory.

Second, please find time to read this news report, which details evidence leading to the first jury verdict (in Texas, surprisingly enough) against a fracking company for major personal injury and destruction of property value to a family whose home was surrounded by fracking operations on neighboring properties. The overwhelming majority of the times, fracking companies settle out of court, which settlements include do-not-disclose agreements - precisely to avoid any court decision or ruling setting legal precedent. The details of what this family suffered support the point I wish to make to you: While an extraction tax is an obvious, necessary change to how the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania deals with fracking, that tax alone does nothing to protect the health and welfare ofPennsylvanians from the deleterious effects of fracking.

I am a retired attorneywho worked for the Democratic Caucus of the PA House of Representatives. During my 10 years with the House, I had occasion to interface between constituents and the DEP, and had great admiration for the integrity and abilities of that state agency. I have watched with horror as Corbett has eviscerated PA’s DEP and left it a mere shell without the policies, regulations,enforcement power, trained personnel or budget to control fracking in the state.

I believe you will soundly defeat Corbett in November and I urge you to be ready to hit the ground running when it comes to reviving the DEP. Please track down and rehire the experienced inspectors fired or otherwise driven out of the DEP by Corbett’spolitical appointees to that agency.

Best regards,


Allegheny County, PA
Texas Fracking Verdict Puts Industry on Notice About Toxic Air Emissions
David Hasemyer
The Center for Public Integrity / News Report
Published: Thursday 29 May 2014
A nearly $3 million jury verdict against a Texas oil and gas company highlights regulatory failures and health risks linked to fracking.

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Response to Divernan (Original post)

Sat May 31, 2014, 10:34 AM

2. Privatize public resources, leave the losses with the public and cry about welfare, pretending

corporate welfare is not our most costly kind of welfare.

The very first public park was at the request of the railroad interests. They thought more people, even those who were not in the !0%, would use their investment if they had a nice, low cost destination to which to travel. So, our tax dollars subsidized the park and, indirectly subsidized some of the wealthiest people of that day. At least in that instance, though, the public also got a real benefit.

The genuine public benefit bit is the part of the equation that's not been so evident in more recent examples of private profits, public losses.

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Response to Divernan (Original post)

Sat May 31, 2014, 06:37 PM

3. And the most infuriating thing about it

is that there is absolutely nothing that the citizens of PA can do to stop it. We can only stand by and watch. And that makes me more mad than anything else, because I get frustrated by inaction.

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Response to Curmudgeoness (Reply #3)

Sat May 31, 2014, 06:55 PM

4. Environmental Defense Fund is seeking preliminary injunction.

Court Hears Testimony on Attempt to Halt State Forest drilling plan (headline)
The state Commonwealth Court heard testimony today on an effort to prevent the Corbett administration from opening up more public park and forest land to natural gas drilling.

As part of a larger lawsuit, the Pennsylvania Environmental Defense Foundation (PEDF) is seeking a preliminary injunction to halt additional leasing of public land and the transfer of $117 million from the state Oil and Gas Lease Fund for DCNR’s operating budget.

On Friday, Governor Corbett issued an executive order ending a four-year moratorium on oil and gas leasing of park and forest land in a effort to raise $75 million dollars for this year’s budget.

The administration has called the order a restrictive approach to expanding drilling. It allows companies to extract gas horizontally from wells located on adjacent private land or in areas of state forests where leases already exist.

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Response to Divernan (Reply #4)

Sat May 31, 2014, 07:01 PM

5. Thanks for the information. nt

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Response to Divernan (Reply #4)

Sat May 31, 2014, 07:01 PM

6. Both Rendell and Corbett charged w/treating state forest as "cash cow".

“The forest was being treated as a cash cow”

Former DCNR Secretary John Quigley testified next, and he did not mince words when it came to his former boss, Governor Ed Rendell.

“The state forest was being treated as a cash cow,” Quigely said of the leasing that took place under Rendell. “That was extraordinarily dangerous and presented an existential threat to the resource.”

He went on to say he was “shocked and angered” in 2009 when the legislature amended the state fiscal code to give the General Assembly control over how royalty money from the state’s Oil and Gas Lease Fund was spent. It had previously been managed by DCNR.

“It was taking away a significant source of revenue from the agency,” he said. “The governor and the General Assembly were coming very close to slaughtering the cash cow.”

Attorneys for Corbett and the Commonwealth did not have time this afternoon to cross-examine Quigely. PEDF is planning to call three more witnesses. The hearing is scheduled to resume on Monday and may continue into Tuesday.


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Response to Divernan (Original post)

Sat May 31, 2014, 08:21 PM

7. Here's the docket sheet on PDEF's suit to stop Corbett

Last edited Sat May 31, 2014, 09:59 PM - Edit history (1)


Haven't plowed through one of these since I retired from trial practice, but found some interesting nuggets of info.

The Pennsylvania House Republican Caucus and Senate Republican caucus have separately filed to intervene on the side of Corbett.

An attorney representing State Treasurer Robert McCord filed Preliminary Objections to PDEF's suit in April of 2012 but withdrew from the case on June 29, 2012. McCord was never a named respondent.

Multiple attorneys representing Corbett, who is a named respondent in his capacity of Governor, have also filed appearances on behalf of Charles Zogby, who is Corbett's Budget Secretary but NOT a named respondent.

Multiple attorneys have been entering appearances and then withdrawing appearances on behalf of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the Governor. Some of these are from the Governor's legal staff, others from Attorney General Kane's office. We all know there is NO love lost between Corbett and Kane, so doubtless there is far less enthusiasm from the AG's office than from the Governor's office.

Getting to the BEST part of what I found, the Commonwealth Court judges involved in this case, which has taken several years (thanks to stalling and delays by Corbett's lawyers) to get to the point of the present hearing, are pretty impressive. A panel of three judges hears main arguments, with one of the panel handling lesser aspects/hearings. The panel is led by President Judge, Dan Peligrini, hailing from Pittsburgh/Duquesne Law. He's a Democrat by background and highly respected by attorneys and fellow judges (that's why he was elected President Judge) as a fair and ethical jurist. Other judges involved are senior judge Keith Quigley (Dickinson Law); senior judge J. Wesley Oler (Georgetown); and (filling in once) Robert Simpson (Dickinson Law). With Pelligrini in charge, I am hopeful for a decision favoring the environment.

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Response to Divernan (Reply #7)

Sat May 31, 2014, 08:29 PM

8. GOP Caucuses Seek to Quash PEDF Lawsuit Aimed at Protecting PA's public lands/natural resources.

June 14, 2013
Attorney for the Pennsylvania Environmental Defense Foundation (PEDF)
Phone: 717-743-9811


Do these words of Pennsylvania’s Constitution matter?
Article 1
Natural Resources and the Public Estate
Section 27.
“The people have a right to clean air, pure water, and to the preservation of the natural,
scenic, historic and esthetic values of the environment. Pennsylvania's public natural
resources are the common property of all the people, including generations yet to come.
As trustee of these resources, the Commonwealth shall conserve and maintain them
for the benefit of all the people.”

Yesterday, June 13, 2013, the State Republican Caucuses for both the House and the Senate
petitioned the Commonwealth Court to intervene in the action brought by the Pennsylvania Environmental Defense Foundation against the Governor of Pennsylvania
(Case No. 228, M.D. 2012, Original Jurisdiction).

The Commonwealth Court action challenges the Governor’s approval of legislation in
2009 and 2010 that ordered leasing of State Forest land for natural gas exploration in
order to raise money to balance the State budget that diverted vitally needed funds from
the conservation of Pennsylvania’s State Forests and Parks to the State’s General Fund
Budget. These actions threaten and impact huge areas of our State’s natural resources
through leasing for Marcellus Shale gas production. These resources are the property of
all the people of the Commonwealth, protected by the public trust established in Article I
Section 27 of our Constitution.

The Republican Caucuses want to challenge the very basis of the public trust. They see
the leasing of State Forest land for gas extraction and the money from those leases as
their own golden goose to provide a continuing source of general revenue, without any
consideration of the costs to our natural resources. Amazingly, their Petition argues that
the Article I Section 27 can and should be ignored whenever the legislature decides to
lease more State Forest land for natural gas, and to take the funds from those leases for
whatever purposes they determine appropriate.

The Republican Caucuses ignore the statutory framework that the legislature had
previously established to allow some leasing of State lands for natural gas extraction.
Through the Conservation and Natural Resources Act and the Oil and Gas Lease Fund
Act, the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) was given the
authority to lease some State Forest land for oil and gas, using their best judgment as to
how much could be leased without changing the integrity of our natural re
sources, with the requirement that DCNR use all of the funds generated from the leases to build and maintain our award winning State Parks and Forests as we know them today.
The 2009 and 2010 legislation being challenged by PEDF strips DCNR of the funding
and the authority to conserve Pennsylvania’s public lands and maintain the balance in
managing those lands that was created by statutory framework of the Conservation and
Natural Resources Act.

Governor Corbett–and now the Republican Caucuses-say that Pennsylvania’s

Constitution doesn’t matter. That the public trust created by our state Constitution doesn’t
matter. That the duty that it imposes on the Governor and the General Assembly to
conserve and maintain Pennsylvania’s precious public lands for the benefit of ALL the
people, including future generations, doesn’t matter.

PEDF believes that the rights created and the duties imposed by Pennsylvania’s
Constitution DO matter. That the people DO have the right to the preservation of their
natural resources, and that right is NOT subject to the whims of the Governor and the
General Assembly.

The mission of the Pennsylvania Environmental Defense Foundation is to aid, assist and
educate the people of Pennsylvania by advocating and enforcing their rights to a clean
environment. Where environmental laws grant citizens the right to enforce the law by means of
litigation, the Foundation will help individuals and environmental organizations exercise
the citizen's provisions of the law. The Foundation was established in 1986 as a Pennsylvania nonprofit corporation. It is registered both with the Pennsylvania Department of State as a charitable organization and with the Internal Revenue Service as a tax-exempt organization under IRS Code 501(c)(3).
For more information, visit: http://www.pedf.org/

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