Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Open Letter To Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee

This letter has not been sent yet. When completed, it will be sent to all of the members of the SEREC. Feel free to add your thoughts in the comment section.

Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee

Sen. White, Chair

Sen. Tomlinson, Vice Chair

Sen. Musto, Minority Chair

Sen. Boscola

Sen. Brown

Sen. Brubaker

Sen. Dinniman

Sen. Erickson

Sen. Ferlo

Sen. Folmer

Sen. Fontana

Sen. Scarnati

Sen. Washington

Sen. Wonderling

From: Angelo Serignese, Washington County

I am writing today in hopes that I can stir this committee to meaningful action on behalf of all Pennsylvanians.

Since April 23rd, just a month ago, my life has been turned upside down. That was the day I discovered that an absentee neighbor (who currently resides in Colorado) had leased his property (a few thousand feet from our home) to a shale gas drilling company.

The very next day I heard about two property owners in Washington County who have lost all of their property value because of gas drilling. The first is Ron Gulla who lost $500,000. Ron introduced me to George Zimmerman who lost $11,000,000 in property value. These properites were paid for in full -- no debt. These owners can't get a bank to lend them a dime against either of these, once pristine farms.

I have been researching this matter non-stop for 30 days – 7 days a week, eighteen hours a day. I have expended resources on this study to come up with real science and hard evidence. I have spent hundreds of hours consulting with scientists, attorneys and landowners across the country. What I have discovered is a rapidly developing environmental disaster that my mind can barely imagine. The first piece of drilling equipment hasn't even shown-up yet and I am already overwhelmed by several findings;

• There is a stunning ignorance and unwillingness to take intelligent action on the part of my elected officials and agency heads at the state and local level.
• Thousands of my neighbors don't even know they are about to experience the most horrific attack of their lives, on their health and finances.
• The roll-out on these well sites is moving at exponential velocity.
• The unprecedented volume of toxic chemical spills in this county.
• The level of criminal conduct on the part of drilling companies, their attorneys and the politicians who are complicit in the theft of property and natural resources of the Commonwealth.
• The politicians and agency heads who hesitate to move aggressively for a moratorium on shale gas drilling and fracturing.
• One county in the entire state has declared a moratorium on frac drilling based on expert, scientific observation.

Now I have some questions for you, the members of the Environmental Resources and Energy Committee.

1. If an individual, like me, with no experience or background in shale gas mining, can assemble enough information in thirty days, to realize that this state will be un-inhabitable in a few years, why has this committee been unable to arrive at the same conclusion?

2. If you hold yourself out as having the knowledge and power to make policy and pronouncements on the shale gas industry, then why do you have the public, including trusted, environmental scientists and legal experts, trying to convince you about the glaringly obvious damage already occurring and the future devastation we can logically expect.

3.Where do the members of this committee plan to live when the soil, water and air of this state become unsuitable to sustain life?

4. Do you realize that even if the billions of gallons of clean water used in the fracturing process did not involve one toxic chemical going down and it came up free of toxic chemicals – do you realize that the radioactive uranium content alone would be enough to render the state a toxic waste site?

5. Do you realize that when a landowner discovers a spill or gas leak on their property and they call in qualified, independent testing personnel to test the soil, water and air, they are harassed and intimidated by the drilling company employees and management?

6. Do you know that administrators at local universities, that have dispatched their testing teams to a spill or leak, are harassed and intimidated directly by drilling company management?

7. Do you know that banks are refusing to lend against properties that have been frac drilled? If banks know these properties are high risk why doesn't this committee?

8. Do you know that the out-of-state drilling employees frequently commit the crimes of property vandalism and theft near well sites?

9. Do you know that fracing chemicals are now present in the public drinking water supply and that the chemicals got there via sewage treatment plants? Do you know that these facilities don’t even know what deadly chemicals to test for before releasing that treated water?

The people of Pennsylvania will have many more questions going forward. Please spare me any statements about pending legislation. All I am interested in is arresting the current perpetrators and shutting this racketeering operation down.

Most of the people who signed leases with drillers were lied to. Promises were made. Not only were they broken, but the end result has been a loss of livelihood and health in many cases.

Unfortunately these victims are in most cases, friendly, quiet and trusting farmers. They don't have a high powered computer with four monitors and hours to sift through news accounts, track down hundreds of landowners and scientific evidence. They think they are helping the country become energy independent. And they often don't realize until it's too late that they did the wrong thing.

One more question;

Why am I able to find these people so easily?

Hell, I wanted to buy Washington County land in part to exploit the natural gas for domestic use.... until I found out by accident, that it's a nightmare. I found hundreds -- not a few -- examples, of families whose land and resources have been permanently destroyed by the direct effects of shale gas drilling.