Range Resources Pays Damages when Plaintiffs Gagged

Confidential agreement should have been part of Washington County Marcellus Shale case record

Newly released transcript also reveals details of lifetime gag order on Hallowich family
July 31, 2013 10:02 am

Pam Panchak/Post-Gazette
The Hallowich family on a hillside on their property in 2010.
By Don Hopey / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

A just-released Washington County Court transcript of an August 2011 settlement hearing in a high-profile Marcellus Shale damage case shows the case records should have included a missing confidential settlement agreement, and reveals details of an unusual lifetime “gag order” that covers two minor children involved in the case.

According to the 16-page transcript, then-Washington County Court Judge Paul Pozonsky approved sealing the court records with the settlement agreement “attached thereto” in the private hearing held to settle the claims of Chris and Stephanie Hallowich against Range Resources, Williams Gas/Laurel Mountain Midstream and Markwest Energy.

The Hallowiches, who had been long-time critics of shale gas drilling, claimed that Marcellus Shale gas development — including four wells, gas compressor stations and a 3-acre wastewater impoundment — adjacent to their 10-acre farm in Mount Pleasant, Washington County, damaged the family’s health and the value of their property.

The Hallowiches signed an affidavit as a condition of the settlement that stated their family’s health was not damaged by the gas operations.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and the Washington Observer-Reporter successfully petitioned the court to unseal all of the Hallowich case records, but when more than 900 pages of records were released in March, the confidential settlement agreement was missing from the file.

Aug 24 March Gathering New Energy: Help Us With The Buses!

by Tina Shannon, President

PA 12th CD Chapter, Progressive Democrats of America

July 24, 2013

Friends, You’ve probably all heard about the 50th Anniversary March on Washington by now. At first it seemed the March might be a well-deserved but merely historic commemoration of Martin Luther King Jr’s magnificent I Have a Dream speech.

As time passed though, it became clear that many folks were quite aware of how relevant Dr. King’s words were to our present time. We are having our voting rights curtailed. We need jobs. The important institutions of civil society, such as schools and social services are being cut and even eliminated.

Then the incident in Florida made painfully clear to our entire nation how strongly racism still exists. Trayvon Martin is a black teen-ager cut down before his life was even launched, and he is only one of many with more to come. The whole country now must confront the truth about ALEC, the right wing think tank creating harmful & divisive legislation for corporations to foist upon Republican State lawmakers. We must also face the fact that Stand Your Ground laws are in place throughout the country allowing scared racists to confront those they perceive as different and dangerous and kill them if they feel threatened.

So, on top of all the economic and political problems we face, laws like this are being implemented that destroy the very fabric of our society.

It’s time to say, enough.

Folks all over the country are reserving buses and getting their friends & family to go to Washington to deliver this message.

We have reserved & filled 4 buses in Beaver County already. Enough people are expressing interest that we have reserved a 5th bus. We are currently raising funds to pay for it.

The cost of the 5th bus is $2400. One of you has already very generously donated $500. Only $1900 more to go. Please donate whatever you can. If everyone gives $10 or $20, we’ve got this.

Please sign up to go on the bus also. I think this March shaping up to be a historic event all on it’s own.

I often hear people ask, “When are we in this country going to get fed up & take to the streets?” Good question. It might be August 24th.

Let me know.

Tina Shannon


The Jobs Project: Unemployed Coal Miners Install Solar Panels In West Virginia


Beaver County Blue via AP

July 23, 2013 – MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — A group devoted to creating alternative energy jobs in Central Appalachia is building a first for West Virginia’s southern coalfields region this week – a set of rooftop solar panels, assembled by unemployed and underemployed coal miners and contractors.

The 40- by 15-foot solar array going up on a doctor’s office in Williamson is significant not for its size but for its location: It signals to an area long reliant on mining that there can be life beyond coal.

People were skeptical when the idea was first floated about a year ago, says Nick Getzen, spokesman for The Jobs Project, which is trying to create renewable energy job opportunities in West Virginia and Kentucky. In the southern coalfields, he says, people have only ever gotten electricity one way – from coal-fired power plants.

"This is the first sign for a lot of folks that this is real, and that it’s real technology, and they can have it in their communities," Getzen says. "In no way are we against coal or trying to replace coal. There’s still going to be coal mining here. This is just something else to help the economy."

The Jobs Project teamed up about a year ago with a solar energy company from the Eastern Panhandle, Mountain View Solar & Wind of Berkeley Springs, to develop a privately funded job-training program. The 12 trainees are earning $45 an hour for three days of work, while some local laborers are earning $10 an hour helping out.

Continue reading The Jobs Project: Unemployed Coal Miners Install Solar Panels In West Virginia

New York City Labor Council Endorses Medicare for All

New York City Labor Council Endorses HR 676,

National Single Payer Health Care, aka Medicare for All

The Executive Board of the New York City Central Labor Council, AFL-CIO,
unanimously approved a resolution supporting HR 676, national single payerNYC AFL-CIO
health care legislation, sponsored by Congressman John Conyers (D-MI).

NYC CLC President Vincent Alvarez calls this resolution “Labor’s way of
standing up for the health and well-being of working men and women and
their families,” noting “The national legislation is a true means of
controlling ever-increasing healthcare costs, while ensuring that
Americans get the medical care they so desperately need.”

In the resolution, the Council notes that almost every union is forced to
battle and sacrifice to sustain healthcare benefits for members.  The
Council also notes that while the United States spends twice as much of
our GDP on healthcare as other developed nations, we remain the only
industrialized country without universal healthcare coverage.

Robert Score, Recording-Corresponding Secretary of IATSE (Theatrical &
Stage Employees) Local One, said “As we all know, nobody in the United
States should have to choose between healthcare and keeping a roof over
their heads, food on their table or clothing on their children. HR 676
will prevent such calamities.  I am thankful to President Alvarez for
guiding the NYC CLC to endorse HR 676.”  IATSE Local One submitted the
resolution that was passed.

Continue reading New York City Labor Council Endorses Medicare for All

Unions Demand Democrats Fix Affordable Care Act

Three Union Presidents write to Senator Reid and Representative Pelosi

demanding an “equitable fix” for Obamacare

Joe Hansen UFCW
Joe Hansen UFCW
James Hoff IBT
James Hoffa IBT

The presidents of three international unions, IBT, UFCW and UNITE-HERE,
have sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Minority
Leader Nancy Pelosi expressing deep concern over the impact Obamacare will
have on workers.  

The full text of their letter follows.

Dear Leader Reid and Leader Pelosi:

When you and the President sought our support for the Affordable Care Act
(ACA), you pledged that if we liked the health plans we have now, we could
keep them. Sadly, that promise is under threat. Right now, unless you and
the Obama Administration enact an equitable fix, the ACA will shatter not
only our hard-earned health benefits, but destroy the foundation of the 40
hour work week that is the backbone of the American middle class.

Like millions of other Americans, our members are front-line workers in
the American economy. We have been strong supporters of the notion that
all Americans should have access to quality, affordable health care. We
have also been strong supporters of you. In campaign after campaign we
have put boots on the ground, gone door-to-door to get out the vote, run
phone banks and raised money to secure this vision.

Now this vision has come back to haunt us.

Continue reading Unions Demand Democrats Fix Affordable Care Act

DEP Allows Range Resources Illegal Dump in Cecil Township

July 17, 2013 11:53 pm

Public be damned in Cecil Township

Published Jul 17, 2013 at 11:04 pm (Updated Jul 17, 2013 at 11:04 pm)
Worstell Impoundment, Cecil Township, PA
Worstell Impoundment, Cecil Township, PA

The idea that the state Department of Environmental Protection, under the Corbett administration, works primarily for the benefit of the people of Pennsylvania took another hit last week when it became clear that the DEP has no interest in hearing the questions and comments of those who live near the Worstell impoundment in Cecil Township.

The impoundment, for those who haven’t been following the story, is operated by Range Resources and has been a point of contention since the first of this year, when township officials wrote to the DEP to allege that the company failed to obtain proper approvals for the original use and construction of the impoundment, which is a repository for gas-drilling wastewater.

Some township officials say that even though drilling of wells has been completed near the site of the impoundment, trucks continue to bring in fracking water from other locations. Andy Schrader, vice chairman of the township supervisors, says a counter on the road indicates that a truck is coming into or out of the impoundment every 18 minutes. Yet Range has indicated that the site is used sparingly.

One would think that six months would be more than enough time to get to the bottom of this, to satisfy the concerns of township officials and answer the questions of those who live near the operation. One would be wrong.

Initially, there was a move by some supervisors to have a private meeting with the DEP about the Worstell site and other drilling-related matters, but when word of that proposed behind-closed-doors gathering created a backlash, the session was scrapped and there was hope that a public meeting would result. But the DEP is now making it crystal clear that it has no interest in an open discussion of the issues.

The agency says it will instead have a “conference” with township supervisors, select “officials,” and, according to Schrader, “other guests that have a direct interest.” We would assume that residents of the township who have environmental, traffic and other concerns related to Worstell would have a “direct interest.” The DEP, clearly, does not.

Continue reading DEP Allows Range Resources Illegal Dump in Cecil Township

PA High Court Hears Voter ID Challenge

Pennsylvania Voter ID Trial: State Court Weighing Constitutionality Of Law

Posted: 07/15/2013 8:05 am EDT  |  Updated: 07/15/2013 8:05 am EDT

pennsylvania voter id trial


HARRISBURG, Pa. — A trial set to begin Monday on the constitutionality of Pennsylvania’s voter identification law represents a major step toward a judicial ruling on whether the photo requirement should be enforced at polling places statewide or thrown out as unconstitutional.

Nine days are set aside for the trial in Harrisburg in Commonwealth Court. Civil libertarians challenging the law and state officials defending it say they expect the state Supreme Court will ultimately decide the case.

At issue is a voter ID law that would be one of the strictest in the nation if it is upheld but has never been enforced.

After legal jousting that reached the state Supreme Court, Judge Robert Simpson blocked enforcement in last year’s presidential election and again in this year’s municipal and judicial primary because of lingering concern that it could disenfranchise voters who lacked a valid photo ID.

The 2012 law was approved without any Democratic votes by the Legislature’s Republican majority and signed by GOP Gov. Tom Corbett amid a bitterly contested White House race in which Democratic President Barack Obama ultimately carried Pennsylvania and was re-elected.

Continue reading PA High Court Hears Voter ID Challenge

Protest Voter ID Law in Harrisburg July 11

voterrightsRally To Oppose Voter ID Law

July 11, 2013 @ 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm

Pennsylvania State Capitol Rotunda
Main Capitol Building
North 3rd Street,Harrisburg,PA 17120

Bus leaves IBEW Hall in Vanport, PA at 7:00am Contact Linwood Alford 724-843-6319

 The rally will be held in the Capitol Rotunda to express continued outrage over the state’s voter ID law and to generate awareness for the upcoming court case, which begins July 15 in Harrisburg.

Joining members of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus (PLBC) will be members of the NAACP, AFL-CIO, Communications Workers of America and Service Employees International Union.

Serving as keynote speaker for the rally is the Rev. Dr. William Barber, president of the North Carolina NAACP, who is known for his stirring commentary and fight for civil rights.

Under his leadership, the NAACP developed a new voter registration and voter participation system, which resulted in registering more than 442,000 new voters in North Carolina.

“Dr. Barber is one of this country’s strongest voter protection advocates, and I am pleased that he will be addressing our rally and supporting us in this very important issue,” said Representative Vanessa Lowery Brown. “Although Pennsylvania’s voter ID law was not implemented in the last election cycle, our work is far from over. We must continue to fight against this discriminatory law and make our voices heard until it is no longer law in our Commonwealth.”

Continue reading Protest Voter ID Law in Harrisburg July 11

The Blue-Green Alliance at Work at Lordstown, Ohio Plant

World’s Largest LED Retrofit Saves 80% For GM, Sets Positive Energy Example

By Tina Casey
Beaver County Blue via Clean Technica

July 9, 2013 – GM’s clean tech cred is pretty well established in the public eye through its popular Chevy Volt, and the company is no slouch behind the factory gates, either. At its Lordstown complex in Ohio, GM can now lay claim to the world’s largest LED retrofit project of its kind. The project involves more than 1,600 fixtures so far with another 4,000 set for installation this summer, and it has already reduced energy consumption by more than 80 percent at one factory in the complex. That’s partly because the LEDs themselves are more efficient and partly because the new fixtures incorporate some advanced energy management bells and whistles.

New GM LED lighting by ALLED (cropped) courtesy of GM.

The World’s Largest LED Retrofit

Aside from that impressive savings of more than 80 percent (which translates into about $780,000 per year), this project caught our eye because it was implemented by the Ellwood City, Pennsylvania LED specialist ALLED Lighting Systems, Inc., formerly known as Appalachian Lighting Systems.

CleanTechnica first noticed the company under its former name back in 2010, when it performed an enormous LED retrofit for Pittsburgh International Airport. At the time, it was the largest project of its kind in the US. The project was noteworthy not only due to its size but because of the company’s potential for creating new green jobs in its tiny home town.

Continue reading The Blue-Green Alliance at Work at Lordstown, Ohio Plant