Monday, January 13, 2014


Hearing: 1.13.14, 6-9PM, Pennsylvania College of Technology, Klump Academic Center, One College Avenue, Williamsport, PA, 17701.

Talking Points from The Delaware Riverkeepers:

Comments on proposed changes to Pennsylvania’s oil and gas regulations. Ch. 78, PA Code:

My name is Wendy Lynne Lee, Shale Justice Coalition. I’d like to begin by reiterating that the public comment period must be expanded to 120 days minimum with more hearings in frack-affected counties. This expansion is crucial not only to insuring that affected people and communities get to be heard, but because being heard is a bulwark of a democracy, however much this state and its agencies routinely ignore it just as they ignore the science relevant to the hazards posed by fracking and its associated infrastructure.

As opposed to commenting on each of the stipulated changes proposed for Ch. 78, I’d like to address the very idea that hydraulic fracturing from well-head to compressor, to pipeline, to export depot, to LNG transport tanker, can be regulated sufficiently to guarantee the ecological integrity, species diversity, human health, property value, or the constitutional right to clean air and water. While perhaps no regulation can offer guarantee against accident, the now well-documented hazards posed by fracking have clearly been shown to be substantial whether or not accidents occur. Hence it is equally clear that no regulation can be adequate to make this process of industrialized extraction safe.

We know that the intent of the industry is not to make fracking safe, but to make it as inexpensive, expeditious, and profitable as possible. Today’s hearing on Senate Bill 411, legislation that would render immune to liability the use of acid mine drainage as frack water, SB 1047 that would gut and politicize the process by which species are listed as endangered, or SB 259 that would allow old leases to be treated as newly negotiated, even if the leaseholder declines to permit fracking on her property or didn’t know there was an old lease, make plain that regulation in Pennsylvania is written by and crafted for oil and gas. Because fracking is inherently unsafe, the proposed changes to Ch. 78 are inconsistent with Article 1, section 27 of the Pennsylvania Constitution. Given, moreover, the clear legislative pattern we must assume that the intent of the changes is consistent with SB 411, SB 1047, and SB 259—to act to facilitate the interests of the oil and gas industries.

What the “proposed changes” really encapsulate, therefore, are the negotiated terms of our surrender to these industries. We at Shale Justice have no interest in acceding to this forfeiture of our autonomy as citizens or our recently reaffirmed right to clean air and water. We’d like to thank Chief Justice Castille for his role in the over-turning of Act 13. To accede to any of these “proposed changes” runs directly contrary to that 4-2 Supreme Court decision.

Here’s why:

To wrestle over the details of changes to Ch. 78 presumes that fracking will continue. Many are resigned to this grim possibility. Otherwise, we’d not be haggling over who’s responsible for pre-drill water testing, the use of open pits for frack waste water, the definition of fresh water, the disposal of brine, or the status of orphaned wells. Make no mistake: the industry will cry foul that such regulatory changes will cost them too much money, that they are somehow the injured party. But the facts are that these proposed changes are nothing but crumbs offered to appease us, to convince us that the agencies charged with protecting our air and water actually act to do so. The language here follows the pattern of SB 411 that aims to convert acid mine drainage into “beneficial use” even though its primary effect is to relieve the industry from liability for contaminated water. It follows SB 1047’s absurd argument that “endangered” is best determined via economic matrices. It follows SB 259 that empowers the industry to access more land for drilling under the guise of making royalties more transparent. We cannot afford to accede one more inch to oil and gas drilling. Can you imagine what our country-sides, forests, rivers and trout runs will look like if the proposed Dominion export depot at Cove Point Maryland is completed? 7000 wells will become 100,000, and with it we will become a fossil fuel extraction colony owned and operated by multinational corporations.

I urge you say no to more “regulation.” Why on earth should we surrender our autonomy, our communities, and our health to a rate of harm? Just as there’s no such thing as a little pregnant, there’s no such thing as a little cancer, a little asthma, a little bran damage. Many things are negotiable. Some are not. Just as there could be no compromise on apartheid or slavery, there can be none when the stakes are climate change. Whether we like it or not, our responsibilities are global. Hence there’s also no such thing as a “special place” unless what we mean is the planet.

My yard’s a special place.

So is yours.


Wendy Lynne Lee said...

Here's just one more reason "regulation" means "negotiating the terms of surrender to the extreme extraction industry": it's drilling companies are often creations of other--larger and far more powerful--corporation who are difficult to locate, not necessarily energy production concerns at all, and--given the circuitous route they take to the actual frack operations--notoriously difficult to hold liable.


From WikiMarcellus:

"Denver, Colorado-based Inflection Energy LLC is a privately held natural gas exploration company with holdings in both the Marcellus and Utica shale plays. As of May, 2011 its leasehold in New York State was 15,000 acres with an additional 6,000 in Pennsylvania.
The company has reportedly leased land in Broome and Tioga counties, New York. Inflection was in the news in July, 2010 when it offered to lease 5,610 acres of land belonging to Broome County, New York. Negotiations had been suspended at the time of the article. Later in July, the company was again in the news when it appeared before the town of Vestal Zoning Board of Appeals. Vestal is also located in Broome County, NY. The matter before the Board was an application by Inflection's business partner MegaEnergy Inc to build a natural gas metering station along Owego Rd. close to Vestal Parkway. The station was to measure and depressurize gas before connecting to a pipeline belonging to the Rochester, NY-based public utility, NYSEG. Inflection had reportedly leased 800 acres in the vicinity of Owego Rd. and already drilled a vertical pilot well. According to a May, 2012 company press release, Inflection acquired an additional 3,000 acres in Broome County, bringing its total New York acreage up approximately 15,000 acres" (

Wendy Lynne Lee said...

Inflection, LLC is a member of the Marcellus Shale Coalition--but unlike every other company name on the MSC website, Inflection has no access link.

Inflection is in fact an an equity investment of the Noble Group, "a leading global supply chain manager of bulk commodities."

The Noble Group: "Noble Group is a diversified natural resources supply chain manager of agricultural and energy products and metals, minerals and ores. Noble’s global operations include mining, farming, processing, ports, shipping and marketing and our supply chains ensure the smooth, long-term flow of essential commodities. Noble follows a long-term strategy of building low-cost sourcing capacity from countries such as Argentina, Australia, Brazil and Indonesia, and delivers to high demand growth markets including China, India and the Middle East" (

The Noble Group, in other words, supplies commodities like natural gas to CHINA and INDIA (

Its CEO is Richard Samuel Elman: "Mr. Elman is the founder and Chairman of the Company. He first arrived in Asia during the mid-1960s from England and has more than 50 years experience in the physical commodities industry. Prior to setting up the group in 1986, he spent 10 years with Phibro as Regional Director of their Asia operations, including two years in New York as a Board Director."

The Noble Group was incorporated in Bermuda. Elman is "Asia's number one commodities trader" with an annual profit margin of $80.7 billion, (

Inflection Energy LLC is also an investment of Bregal Energy.

Wendy Lynne Lee said...

Here's their take on hydraulic fracturing in Pennsylvania and New York:

"This investment in Inflection will enable drilling to commence immediately, providing local jobs and significant tax revenue for local communities in Pennsylvania. In addition, once the moratorium on high volume hydraulic fracturing is lifted in New York, Inflection will be able to bring best in class technology to the region, enabling responsible development of those resources.

Despite low natural gas prices, given the current low and improving cost of extraction we continue to view the Marcellus, and other shale plays with favorable fundamentals, as attractive investment opportunities” said John Breckenridge, leader of Bregal Energy. “In addition to continued investment in the E&P sector, we are also very focused on associated opportunities in midstream and services and are actively evaluating opportunities to deploy more capital in the region. We continue to view the shale plays broadly as critical for energy security, affordable energy prices and continued job growth" (

Bregal's CEO, John Breckinridge: "John joined Bregal Energy from CCMP Capital Advisors (formerly known as J.P. Morgan Partners), where he served as Managing Director in both Tokyo and New York. During his seven years at the firm, John was responsible for investing in and leading many of the firm's portfolio companies in the USA, Asia and Europe. While at CCMP, he led the management of investments in the renewable energy, traditional energy, industrial service, automotive, manufacturing and chemicals sectors, among others. He also provided guidance to western companies expanding into China or other Asian countries" (

Still, the big player here is Noble: "Since 2008, Noble has spent more than $781.2 million in the U.S., investing in natural gas pipeline companies and storage facilities, according to Bloomberg data."

Wendy Lynne Lee said...

"In the U.S., Noble is wagering on the rapid growth in shale gas production. Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, has helped U.S. producers reach natural gas supplies trapped deep in tight layers of shale, unlocking massive reserves. In June, Noble invested $50 million in Inflection Energy LLC, a privately held exploration and production company that plans to use fracking to develop resources in the Marcellus shale, which stretches from New York to West Virginia, and Ohio’s Utica shale. Noble also acquired a 25 percent stake in Thunderbird Power Holdings LLC, which owns a natural gas power generation facility in New Jersey, for $7.2 million" (

Elman also claims to care about the environment and human communities. You be the judge--but look first at the photographs of frack pads literally yards from rows of houses. Look first at the sheer size of the tree trunks left after Inflection decimated a hill top to construct a frack operation. Look first at the roads Inflection is willing to destroy with truck and rig traffic.

And all of it for export to markets destined for China and India.

So much for " Cheap, Abundant, American."

Inflection might wave the American Flag--but it's not red, white, and blue.

It's green--the color of money.

It's the rape of the sunrise, the death of trees, the ruin of communities.

Inflection: "is the modification of a word to express different grammatical categories such as tense, grammatical mood, grammatical voice, aspect, person, number, gender and case."

Inflection Energy LLC: the modification of soil, water, and air to express commitment to differing venues of exchange, differing global currencies, and growing profits. It's voice is the voice of the Good Old Boy Extraction Club; it's gender is predominantly white and male. Its numbers are billions of dollars, and its case is environmental rape.