Tuesday, March 9
by Sue on Tue 09 Mar 2010 08:12 AM EST
Now is the time, according to Thomas C. Waters, for you to have a significant impact on the attempt to move the "Marriage Protection" amendment out of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Check out his blog for details.
Two quick side notes of interest.
Senator Barry Stout's seat is up for grabs as he retires. Stout voted to move the marriage amendment out of committee in 2008. One strong contender for the seat is House Rep Tim Solobay who was one of a very few Western PA Democrats to vote AGAINST a similar amendment in 2006 (the House did not vote on this issue in 2008). I have a list of his district so now is also a chance to identify and elect an ally to reclaim a Senate seat from those who believe we should add discrimination to the PA Constitution.
One of cosponsors of this bill is a Western PA Democrat, Senator Kasunic from the Fayette/Westmoreland/Washington county area. Now is a good time to follow the link to see if you have friends or family in that neck of the woods. Now is a good time to make those real time phone calls (as opposed to email) so he knows what his constituents think about him being front and center in promoting discrimination.
Monday, March 8
by Sue on Mon 08 Mar 2010 10:51 PM EST
This is a link with some basic details. http://www.ourcampaigns.com/RaceDetail.html?RaceID=272104
I think this might be a race to watch if Bracken and Maggi give good primary challenges. Bracken looks good on MH funding which is near and dear to my heart.
The Wheatley/Payne race will certainly be interesting, but from an LGBT perspective both are good on our particular issues. From a "what the heck is going on in Pittsburgh politics" perspective -- it will be quite a ride.
Back here in the Northside, Ravenstahl (#Chet4Pgh) is an unknown entity. He's running on his brother's coattails and Luke has done nothing to be proactive on LGBT issues; he's all reactivity. I don't know anything about Keller and I can say that Tuinstra has been proactive in seeking out the LGBT Steel City questionnaire.
Very early feedback. But nice to have some races to watch. I hope they all return the questionnaire's for transparency sake.
by Sue on Mon 08 Mar 2010 03:57 PM EST
State Senator Barry Stout in the 46th District has announced that he will not seek reelection. His distric includes:
by Sue on Mon 08 Mar 2010 02:39 PM EST
Did I mention that Democracy for Pittsburgh has endorsed Joe Hoeffel?
It is very interesting to read their rules for voting. You have to have been to two DFP meetups or attended two events since February 2009 (within the last year). I think that's a very reasonable way to avoid the endorsement vote being packed by "sudden" members. Endorsement requires 70% vote and vote counts are not released.
From casual conversation with members of various "clubs who endorse" my undesrstanding is that vote packing is a longstanding tradition. Sad to say. I'm not in favor of people being able to walk in off the street, pay cash and cast an endorsement vote. I think it is ripe for fraud and damages the credibility of the club/organization. Attending an event or two over the course of 12 months is not an arduous burden to meet for voting privileges. It is incumbent on the organization to avoid the appearance of impropriety (along with actual impropriety) and DFP seems to have a threshhold that's reasonable.
Sunday, March 7
by Sue on Sun 07 Mar 2010 01:42 PM EST
Ledcat and I attended the women's version of this event last spring. It was quite nice. Come out to support the partnership between the GLCC and Adagio Health.
Let the stress melt away:
Relaxation and Wellness
night for MEN
Mini spa night featuring:
hot wax hand treatments
guided meditation, facials,
blood pressure monitoring
BMI, STD testing
Sponsored by Adagio Health, Inc
and the GLCC
Gay and Lesbian Community Center
210 Grant Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15219
When: Tuesday March 23, 2010
Who: Gay and Bisexual Men
Why: Because healthy living is relaxing
call Kat 412-304-8181
March 23rd will be Men's Wellness night
May 4th will be Trans Wellness night
by Sue on Sun 07 Mar 2010 12:41 PM EST
Great piece from Sally on the need for good laws to help families of all types step up when crisis happens.
by Sue on Sun 07 Mar 2010 12:33 PM EST
My mother-in-law is a Democrat with liberal leanings. My father is a Catholic Republican with small government leanings. My cousin is well, I don't know, but a proponent of education, decent roads and elected officials paying attention to small towns.
In the past 24 hours, I've had conversations with all three about my reasons for supporting Joe Hoeffel. And to my surprise, all three were willing to listen.
For MIL and my Dad, it was all about the Marcellus Shale. MIL owns farm land and Dad has worked on wastewater emissions for coke plants (steel mills) for two decades. They both care about the environment and they both have witnessed firsthand the devastation that unchecked corporate greed can wreck on our planet. They both agree that drilling the Shale will overload the municipal water treatments of small communities and that the gas companies should have to basically clean up their mess. My Dad would prefer if the companies would be forced to do it themselves, but he recognizes the improbability of that option so he agrees that taxes to fund the clean up are fair and just. The both want their grandchildren to grow up with a cleaner environment and believe that dedicating this tax to environmental preservation is something they support.
My Dad thinks the County tax assessment is ridiculous and my cousin agrees. She wants more detail on education and she is beyond angry that PennDOT ignored small towns outside of Allegheny County while getting all this glory about their stellar road clearing inside the County.
None of them think Onorato has been doing a heck of a job, Danny. And all three are giving a second look at the "Socially Progressive, Fiscally Responsible Candidate" from the East, Joe Hoeffel.
You can have an impact if you talk with your families about this race. The numbers are amazingly close considering the size of the Onorato war chest. Folks like my family members have not been impressed with Onorato's ability to deliver to struggling communities in this region so they don't buy the argument that electing a Western PA Democrat will be good for us. They don't buy it.
by Sue on Sun 07 Mar 2010 12:16 PM EST
You just need to read this for yourself ...from the AP.
Wow. This could get interesting. Surely there are much more worthy issues for the State Attorney General to worry about than academic institutions creating inclusive environments. Is he going to poke into the anti-discrimination practices of all private contractors receiving state funding?
Yet another reason for you and your family to get involved/pay attention to LGBT politics.
by Sue on Sun 07 Mar 2010 12:09 PM EST
Thought this is something interesting worth noting ....The conference is April 1-3 at the University of Pittsburgh. Just one of those things you might not realize takes place in Pittsburgh (unless you subscribe to the Queer Events list).
Friday, March 5
by Sue on Fri 05 Mar 2010 09:46 PM EST
The Marcellus Shale and Responsible Development
The extraction of Marcellus Shale natural gas represents an entirely new economy for Pennsylvania. It has the potential to create thousands of jobs, drive local economies, and build revenue for the commonwealth. Drilling in the Marcellus Shale also opens up new environmental concerns with extremely serious consequences for all Pennsylvanians.
Joe Hoeffel will fight for responsible gas drilling with strong environmental regulations. Currently, the gas companies are exempt from many federal water safety restrictions. Joe will keep Pennsylvania safe while allowing us to prosper from this resource for decades to come.
Pennsylvania sits above a treasure trove of natural gas: a layer of rock called the Marcellus Shale a mile underneath two-thirds of the commonwealth. The Marcellus Shale contains what may be the largest natural gas reserve in the United States.
To drill a Marcellus Shale well, millions of gallons of water (taken from a local stream, river, or lake) are forced down into the shale to fracture it and allow the gas contained within to come to the surface: this is called hydraulic fracturing. To aid the process, dozens of chemicals (including arsenic, benzene, and pesticides) are added to the water. Most of the water returns to the surface as industrial wastewater. Each well produces millions of gallons of chemical-laced wastewater.
In 2008 and 2009, over 1,000 wells were drilled and began operation in Pennsylvania's Marcellus Shale. Over 2,000 drilling permits were issued by the end of 2009. The Department of Environmental Protection estimates another 5,200 drilling permits will be issued in 2010.
The natural gas industry is not currently responsible for treating this wastewater: since 2005 it has been exempt from the Clean Water Act and the Safe Drinking Water Act. Pennsylvania has wastewater treatment regulations, enforced by the Department of Environmental Protection, but Pennsylvania's regulations don't cover most of the chemicals in Marcellus Shale wastewater.
The drinking water supply of the entire commonwealth is at risk of contamination.
With no requirement to treat the wastewater, the natural gas industry can simply deliver it to municipal water treatment facilities. The industry is allowed to create a mess and isn't held responsible for cleaning it up. That's something Pennsylvania allowed the coal industry to get away with for decades, and we're still suffering the consequences. We can't let that happen again.
Municipal facilities aren't equipped to remove the chemicals in industrial wastewater. Municipalities will be hard-pressed to afford expensive new treatment plants capable of adequate treatment.
Pennsylvania needs stronger wastewater treatment regulations which establish limits on the amount of total dissolved solids and toxic chemicals, to comply with Safe Drinking Water Act standards.
Joe Hoeffel will continue to call upon the DEP to strengthen its regulations to adequately protect the drinking water of our commonwealth. He has already delivered testimony to the DEP at a hearing in Allentown and spoken at a forum on natural gas drilling chaired by State Representative Vitali.
Joe is working with environmental organizations and advisors from universities to understand the science of water safety. He's also visiting communities around the commonwealth to learn about the effects of drilling from local residents.
Pennsylvania must require natural gas companies to pay a severance tax on the gas they mine. Pennsylvania is the only major natural-gas-producing state without a severance tax. The silver lining is that we can learn from other states and create a fair tax with maximum benefits.
The industry is extraordinarily profitable and Pennsylvania's natural gas supply is enormous. Pennsylvania must stand firm and enact a tax that will meet the costs the industry places on the state. Joe Hoeffel will make sure Pennsylvania gets a fair deal from the natural gas companies.
Joe will seek a severance tax which will double the projected revenue from Governor Rendell's currently proposed tax to provide Pennsylvania with $300 million in its first year.
The tax has to be used wisely. A severance tax won't last forever: once the gas is gone, the tax revenue ends. Pennsylvania must devote some of the severance tax money to protecting the towns experiencing a boom economy during the gas rush from experiencing a bust economy later.
Joe Hoeffel will dedicate portions of the severance tax to fund:
Bolstering our community colleges will help prepare Pennsylvanians for thousands of skilled jobs today in the natural gas industry and environmental protection. Community colleges will also prepare our workforce for jobs in green energy, manufacturing, infrastructure, technology, health care, and other fields which will long outlast the Marcellus Shale natural gas.
Joe Hoeffel will make sure Pennsylvanians are prepared to take the jobs the industry creates.
The Department of Environmental Protection has estimated the number of Marcellus Shale permits issued will triple in 2010. The DEP is already overwhelmed and unable to meet its current obligations. Our regulations are not adequately protecting our drinking water, and we lack the facilities and funding to provide this treatment. It's time to slow down and do things in the right order.
Joe Hoeffel supports a moratorium on issuing new drilling permits until the new wastewater regulations are in place and enforceable.
Joe also supports a moratorium on the leasing of additional state lands for drilling until a comprehensive study of all state land is performed to prioritize which land is most critical to protect.
Already, we have seen disasters which have resulted from a lack of careful management, oversight, and protection. Leasing mineral rights and receiving royalty payments is extremely attractive to many landowners, but once drilling begins, the picture often changes.
A Washington County resident tested his water a year before the drillers came and again after they drilled three wells on his property. He discovered arsenic at 2,600 times acceptable levels, benzene at 44 times above limits, and naphthalene five times the federal standard.
He now says, "I don't want to live here any more. I'm afraid of the chemicals."1
In the Susquehanna County town of Dimock, tests have showed drinking water now contains high quantities of aluminum, iron, and methane.
Methane from natural gas drilling leaked into groundwater caused a drinking water well to explode and another well to catch fire; wells were found to contain so much toxic gas that residents were told to open windows for ventilation when bathing.
"The smell and rotten taste, you couldn't take a shower in it because the smell stayed on your skin, you couldn't wash clothes in it," said one Dimock resident of the town's water.
Another Dimock resident has contemplated selling her house and moving. "How would you advertise it?" she asks. "'Beautiful house in the country. Bring your own water.'" 2
Pennsylvania can benefit tremendously from the natural gas reserves of the Marcellus Shale with careful planning.
With environmental regulations that protect our water statewide, a severance tax which allows our towns to adapt to their new industry, and a plan in place to protect our state land, Pennsylvania can take pride in its natural gas industry. Landowners, towns, and the commonwealth will prosper. Many Pennsylvanians will be employed working on gas wells and in treatment facilities. And most importantly, Pennsylvania will be prepared for the day the drilling ends. If we prepare, the boom won't turn into a bust.
Joe Hoeffel will fight for the crucial policies which will maximize the benefits to Pennsylvania from our Marcellus Shale resources without compromising the safety and beauty of the commonwealth.
1. "Pennsylvania lawsuit says drilling polluted water." Environmental Compliance Monitor. n.d. Web. March 4, 2010. http://tinyurl.com/y89xkup