Friday, March 19, 2010

Activists Statewide Urged to Support Tougher Rules on Natural Gas Drilling
March 19, 2010

HARRISBURG – Clean Water Action e-mailed tens of thousands of its members in Pennsylvania, calling on them to tell legislators to support H.B. 2213 that would beef up protections of drinking water sources and require tougher inspections when companies drill for gas in the Marcellus shale formation.

Representative Bud George (D- Clearfield) is sponsoring HB 2213 that would update many out of date aspects of the Pennsylvania Oil and Gas Act, the act that governs how the oil and gas industry drills for natural gas in Pennsylvania. The Oil and Gas Act was written before the new deep shale drilling for gas began here, and needs to be strengthened and updated to reflect the potential hazards of the new drilling techniques.

“Deep shale or Marcellus Shale natural gas drilling costs more money and uses more water than traditional natural gas drilling. It’s different by perhaps one or two orders of magnitude, and that’s why it’s not fair to say that drilling has been going on in our state for 70 years. This is something new,” said Myron Arnowitt, PA State Director for Clean Water Action.

“Our organization, Citizens for Clean Water, is proud to endorse H.B. 2213. Our regulations aren’t any good if no one double-checks the drilling industry’s work,” said Vera Scroggins in Susquehanna County.

HB 2213 includes these tougher standards:

  • Disclosure of the actual recipes of hazardous chemicals added to water in the hydrofracking process.
  • Inspections by DEP each time a gas well is sited, drilled, cased, cemented, completed, altered and stimulated.
  • Extra precautions near residential water wells
  • Increased bonding requirements to accurately reflect the state’s costs for plugging and reclaiming abandoned wells.
  • Affirmation of the right of municipalities to govern the hours and locations of drilling activity (this requirement was upheld in a recent PA Supreme Court case)

"I am a resident of an area with heavy drilling activity. I support this legislation. These protections are long overdue. If they were in place from the start maybe my pond would not have been contaminated.” said Ron Gulla from Hickory Township in Washington County.

“I urge the Pennsylvania house to pass HB2213 by Bud George. We need its improvements to the Oil and Gas act. It improves the water protection provisions, increases the well inspection requirements, increases permit fees to fund the DEP, requires frac chemical disclosure, adds more realistic bonding requirements, and excludes Marcellus wells from the blanket bond option.”, said Wayne Chudleigh of Union Dale, PA.

"We are outraged by the dismal impact of shale gas drilling in our state so far,” said Iris Marie Bloom of Protecting Our Waters (POW) in Philadelphia. “POW calls for a statewide moratorium for Pennsylvania, and an outright ban on shale gas drilling in the Delaware River Basin, which supplies drinking water to 15 million people. We strongly support Rep. George's bill because it provides an absolute minimum of protection for the people, land, and waters of Pennsylvania.”

“Clean natural gas does not exist if you take into account the dirty extraction process and all that it encompasses-from huge amounts of diesel fuel used to run the machinery, trucks, generators, bulldozers, the arsenal of chemicals, waste water and the resulting destruction to landscape, environment and lives,” Said Victoria Schweitzer of Dimock, Pennsylvania . “This “bridge fuel” as it is called is a disastrous chapter of the Commonwealth's history in the making. What will be on the other side of that bridge when the last rig leaves? That is why we need Representative George’s bill." (Victoria’s ground water was contaminated by Marcellus Shale Gas drilling near her property.)

“We support HB 2213, which would put some much-needed but reasonable controls on the gas drilling industry in Pennsylvania. Many more common sense controls are necessary, but this is a start,” said Ellie Hyde of the South Branch Tunkhannock Creek Watershed Coalition. “It is unconscionable that an industry with as much potential to contaminate the water we drink and depend on, should be exempt from laws and regulations that other industries must follow.”

Clean Water Action is an organization of 1.2 million members, including 150,000 Pennsylvanians, working to empower people to take action to protect America's waters, build healthy communities and to make democracy work for all of us. For 36 years Clean Water Action has succeeded in winning some of the nation's most important environmental protections through grassroots organizing, expert policy research and political advocacy focused on holding elected officials accountable to the public.



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