Our Lady Susquehanna’s Male Fish Have Eggs: Is She Impaired Yet?

Men With Eggs
By Steve Todd
The Sun, August 28, 2014
Page A2

My Latest on Our Waterways

My Latest on Our Waterways

In its Aug. 3 issue, the Washington Post stated that “at one polluted site in the Susquehanna (watershed) near Hershey, Pa., 100 percent of male smallmouth bass (SMB) that were sampled had eggs.”

As much out of some bad futuristic flick as that sounds, that news comes from a new U.S. Geological Survey based on fish collected from the Swatara Creek in 2007. Nothing has been done about it in the intervening seven years.

The boss here at The Sun is pretty flexible about what we report. There is one unbreakable commandment though: Thou shalt not write about anything outside of Sun Country. Well, the funny thing about pollution is that it eventually becomes ‘local news’ everywhere.

Where ‘Near Hershey’?

Two USGS sampling points along the Swatara Creek lie in Sun Country: at the SR0039 Bridge and Fiddler’s Elbow Road crossings. Neither looked particularly good for hermaphroditic fish.

By the time many farmed acres, and the Lebanon, Annville and Palmyra wastewater plants (WWTPs) discharge into the Swattie, as we locals know our stream, something is bad enough to make 70 percent of male SMB grow eggs in their testes. Just downstream of the Hershey and Hummelstown WWTP discharges, the rate goes to 100 percent. But why?

Endocrine Disruptors

The jury is still out, but most in the field will tell you three words: endocrine disrupting chemicals: so common in discussion that their acronym, EDC, alone needs no further explanation. Tulane University tells us that EDC “are used in pesticides, plastics, cosmetics, electrical transformers and other products. Other substances are generated as a byproduct during manufacturing. Some … are synthetic drugs.” Farms and wastewater plants, then, contribute EDC into our waterways; wastewater and runoff treatment is not normally set up to remove EDC.

What You Can Do

Our most sure path to addressing (versus continuing to ignore) EDC is to declare our waterways, which have abnormal incidences of hermaphroditic organisms, “Impaired”. These waters are by law supposed to support fish, and they are clearly not doing so in a way anyone but Mad Max might accept.

PaDEP has not done so yet, but until this is done, no real federal resources will be available to improve the pollution. The water assessments to declare the Susquehanna River and its tributaries Impaired are done every other year. The 2012 Impaired Waters List for PA did not include the Susquehanna River. Concerned citizens should ask DEP where we stand on getting this done for us in 2014.

Steve Todd is an environmental engineer and the Secretary of the Stewards of the Lower Susquehanna (SOLS). SOLS has long advocated for declaring the Susquehanna River impaired.


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Campaign for Compassion Rally

With only 12 active days remaining in this legislative session, we MUST force a vote (a Floor vote, more Committee studies, discussions, etc are just running out the clock) on #SB1182. This will allow doctors to give their patients marijuana as medicine, as they can in 23 states and DC. This is up from zero states in 1996, and is in keeping with the opinion of over 80% of both PA and the USA.

If we fail, the very small minority of opponents wins. #SB1182 ceases to exist. Sick kids and vets and their caregivers are back to square one. That means the same hearings, speeches, and demonstrations while our sickest get sicker.

Excerpt from Capitol Watch

Excerpt from Capitol Watch

I hope you will join me in telling our employees in our General Assembly to do as we wish.

Monday, September 15at 10:00am – 12:00pm
Pennsylvania State Capitol
Commonwealth Ave
Harrisburg, PA 17101



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How far, far apart We The People of PA are on Climate

On July 31, The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) held a hearing on proposed limits for carbon pollution from existing power plants. The EPA’s proposed Clean Power Plan would cut carbon emissions by up to 30 percent by 2030. Pittsburgh Business Times reports that “EPA officials said they had already received 300,000 comments before the start of the hearing.”

There is no greater example of how far, far apart We The People are on this issue than a comparison of my own Commonwealth’s regulatory agency’s position and my own.

I have read DEP Deputy Secretary Vincent Brisini’s EPA Testimony:

Vince Brisini’s EPA Testimony

I also offered my testimony at that hearing, as a professional civil/environmental engineer. Brisini’s is a little different than mine was:

Steve Todd’s EPA Testimony

It is staggering that Deputy Brisini offers little argument against the soundness of the environmental protection aspects of EPA’s new standards. He makes largely political, legal and economic arguments. While those need heard, it is unnerving that DEP choses to use its testimony to make them primarily. Brisini never claims EPA standards won’t protect our air, dirt and water. Only that it might not respect our state’s power, or cost certain industries to do so. This tendency – of our DEP making economic arguments over, and often in complete absence of, environmental protection issues is so typical of late that it is becoming embarrassing to PA.

The third full paragraph, begins with “Pennsylvania questions EPA’s authority to…” As a citizen of PA with every bit as much sovereignty (no more, but no less) than Brisini, I submit that his opening should read “PaDEP questions EPA’s authority to…”, or perhaps “The current Administration questions EPA’s authority to…” PA citizens do not, by and large question EPA’s authority. We tend to know that EPA delegates regulatory authority to DEP, and that EPA can indeed rescind that delegation.

In that paragraph, Brisini declares the new EPA standards will “establish programs that are more related to achieving desired social and economic outcomes rather than developing and implementing performance standards to achieve emission reductions from existing units.” This is unbelievably arrogant, doubly so from a person in a position that should know better. While the standard may affect socio-economic outcomes, its sole intention is to reduce emissions. If we could burn coal without the tremendous harm it produces, I would never oppose it. I doubt many would, and further doubt that EPA would either.

This reversed logic continues. Brisini testifies that EPA is moving to “establishment of an overarching energy policy that picks winners and losers in the marketplace…in a manner that manipulates the free market…” Unless those profiting are to begin funding the 24/7 global military presence, manipulating the market is the only thing that keep fossil fuels even viable as an energy source. We have forever picked fossil fuels as the winner, but only at tremendous cost to each person. And now, at tremendous and almost certainly catastrophic, cost to Earth.

Brisini’s call for “the need for EPA to recognize state leadership and authority to regulate pollutants within their borders,” is a terrible idea for all citizens of Earth. Only governments, and humans when made to, recognize borders of human creation. Pollution can not and does not. States must only be free to self-regulate inasmuch as it is effective in keeping all pollution inside said artificial borders. This is, of course, not possible.

Brisini recognizes “that the proposed emission reduction goals for Pennsylvania cannot be achieved solely by inside-the-fence-line improvements at existing fossil fuel-fired EGUs,” but goes on to wrongly state that such improvement “is the only legal method to achieve these CO2 emission reductions.” What makes DEP think no other method of compliance is legal is too baffling to even retort to. I used to work there, and at least at that time, DEP had considerable in-house legal council.

He again wrongly identifies the Commonwealth of PA as the entity which “does not believe that environmental agencies should regulate or influence energy markets.” I submit, again, that it is the Corbett Administration’s DEP who does not believe this. PA people who eat, breathe and drink here most certainly DO believe that environmental agencies should regulate energy markets. I hope that we also believe our DEP executives should hold similar beliefs, and believe many of us find it surprising that at least this one does not.

What is our recourse, when those paid of, by and for us to protect our environment drive 3 hours each way to testify about state/federal jurisdictions and economic impact?


Me at the demonstration outside EPA Hearings on carbon dioxide regulations, after my testimony. I am in the middle of a little back and forth with a couple thousand coal miners who want to keep mining coal, which has been documented to be killing our kids.

Steve Todd at #ActOnClimate July 31, 2014

Steve Todd at #ActOnClimate July 31, 2014 – Photo Credit: Gene J. Puskar, AP


Scary? Very. I am very scared of leaving my 12 yr old an unlivable planet. Why else would I go over 3 hours away to confront folks who from all appearance would rather I die than testify in support of EPA’s regulation of our air?

Attend the “Largest Climate March in History”


In September, world leaders are coming to New York City for a UN summit on the climate crisis. To change everything, we need everyone on board. Sunday, September 21 in New York City.  Join us, and together, we’ll take to the streets to demand the world we know is within our reach: a world with an economy that works for people and the planet.

Here is the People’s Climate March Route:

People's Climate March Route

People’s Climate March Route

How big is this, and how fast is it growing? Thanks almost solely to social media (quick, when was the last time you heard about this on MainStream Media),

As of Aug 2:

11,100 going (400 more in the past 24 hrs)
3,500 maybe (200 more)
191,200 invited (20,000 +/- more)

As of Aug 16:

12,400 going (1,300 more in 2 weeks)
3,900 maybe (400 more)
213,000 invited (22,000 +/- more)

As of Aug 27:

13,800 going (1,400 more in 11 days)
4,400 maybe (500 more)
228,800 invited (15,000 =/- more)

Keep spreading the word. To change everything, we need everyone.


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Dauphin County Democratic Committee 2014 Annual Picnic & Swim

Our first fundraiser and get together will be a splash! Please join the Dauphin County Democratic Committee for our Annual Picnic on August 16. This year’s event will be at the Rainbow Hills Swim Club, 4075 Swatara Drive, Harrisburg. It is behind the Swatara Twp Police Station.

RSVP by Aug 13: administrator@dauphindems.com or 717.233.1321

$25 per person over 12, $15 person younger includes lunch.

DCDC Picnic Flyer

DCDC Picnic Flyer

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PEDF Stops Governor Corbett – from leasing gas rights under DCNR lands this year


The Pennsylvania Environmental Defense Foundation [“PEDF”] has prevented the Governor from leasing gas rights under DCNR lands this year.

Commonwealth Court has entered an order in which Governor Corbett has agreed not to lease any more State Forest or Park land until the Court has made a decision on the merits of PEDF’s big [eight-point] court case against him.

With the fear of losing more Park and Forest land to new leases for gas extraction gone, PEDF is eager to get the main legal action case decided as quickly as possible [ see http://www.pedf.org for the details of the case].

The main part of PEDF’s legal action v. Governor Corbett is on schedule to complete the briefing of the issues by September 14. Oral Argument will then be held before the court in October, 2014.

It’s a reprieve for our State Parks. Support PEDF’s efforts by relaying this message to your local newspapers – and see below for supporting PEDF.

Yours in conservation,

Dick Martin

Mission: Good Stewardship of our Public Lands

Support Our Constitutional Right to Clean Air & Water !
Join Pennsylvania Environmental Defense Foundation’s
legal action against Governor Corbett.


The PA Forest Coalition will match the first $4,000
donated – Just mention “PFC Matching”

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The True Cost of Oil and Gas in Our Public Lands

Never reported and always ignored. A $0 cost – not even a line item – in cost:benefit discussions about the subject of Oil & Gas extraction. The cost shown below is certainly worth more than $0 to our kids…it is to mine.

Dam Run Road, typical forestry road, Tiadaghton State Forest, Lycoming, Clinton, Potter, Tioga, and Union Counties, PA

Dam Run Road, typical forestry road, Tiadaghton State Forest, Lycoming, Clinton, Potter, Tioga, and Union Counties, PA

Okome Road, former forestry road expanded to accommodate O&G, Tiadaghton State Forest, Lycoming, Clinton, Potter, Tioga, and Union Counties, PA

Okome Road, former forestry road expanded to accommodate O&G, Tiadaghton State Forest, Lycoming, Clinton, Potter, Tioga, and Union Counties, PA

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LNG “Cleaner” Than Coal? Depends Who Measures and Where

Don’t fall for the old “well, there are a lot of numbers out there” trick.

This US Department of Energy’s May 29 report still uses a laughably low maximum of 1.6% leakage rate to “prove” Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) is better than coal.

Conservatively double that leaks, from a well-run life cycle; Stanford puts it as high as 7.1%

This is like when an article about climate change pops up, and within minutes 18 anonymous posts with links from GlenBeck.com or similar sources “prove” the icecaps are growing and honey bees are happy.

It is true that emissions estimates range and vary…ever-increasingly to the detriment of NG.


For perspective on the effect of all these percentages of leakage:

“Chesapeake Climate Action Network, an environmental group…finds that if the oil and gas system methane leak rate exceeds 1.9%, U.S. natural gas loses its greenhouse gas advantage over European coal” (when US gas is shipped to Europe):


While EDF (Environmental Defense Foundation, a pro-gas environmental group) says: “An overall system leak of 1.2% of production…equals the annual greenhouse gas emissions of 112 million cars and 140 coal-fired power plants:”


“Over a 20-year time frame, natural gas is as bad as or worse than coal and oil as a driver of climate change,” according to Howarth, R. W. (2014). A bridge to nowhere: Methane emissions and the greenhouse gas footprint of natural gas [Abstract]. Energy Science & Engineering. doi: 10.1002/ese3.35


Former Assistant Counsel to the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission Mark Wieder recently published that: “A research team lead by Cornell University concluded that up to 40% of oil and gas wells drilled in Pennsylvania might end up (or already are) leaking methane. The argument goes that it is unwise to rely on natural gas as a replacement for dirtier coal. Methane is a more dangerous greenhouse gas than the CO2, and the reductions in CO2 emissions gained by decreasing the use of coal are diminished or eliminated when methane escapes from natural gas wells.” He cites the widely circulated report:


This report ends with the striking revelation: “One surprise, he added, was that the researchers could not find any inspection reports at all for 8,000 wells, even though the state is supposed to inspect them all once a year.”

Per our USEPA: “Pound for pound, the comparative impact of CH4 on climate change is over 20 times greater than CO2 over a 100-year period.”


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