GAO: Fracking Could Threaten Clean Drinking Water

A new report from the Government Accountability Office suggests the federal Environmental Protection Agency has fallen somewhat short in its duties to ensure that  gas production in Pennsylvania — using the “fracking” process, particularly — leaves behinds safe, clean drinking water.

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Court Delivers Blow to Tom Corbett, Drilling Industry

A Pennsylvania court upheld the rights of municipalities to regulate drilling, delivering a setback to Tom Corbett, the Republican legislature and the drilling industry. In December, a state court ruled that a 2012 law unconstitutionally restricted towns from regulating where oil and gas facilities can be located.

The state won on some points. For example, the court “confirmed that state regulators can be required to notify public water suppliers but not private water well owners of drilling-related spills.” Also, it upheld the limits on what doctors can tell the public about proprietary chemicals used in the extraction process. Yay?

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Ex-State Health Official: Pennsylvania Didn’t Study Fracking’s Health Effects

Former Pennsylvania Health Secretary Eli Avila said Gov. Tom Corbett did the state’s citizens a “disservice” by not having the state study the potential health effects of fracking. “The lack of any action speaks volumes,” Avila said. “Don’t BS the public. Their health comes first.”

Avila is now the public health commissioner for Orange County, New York. He made the comments after retired state officials said they were silenced on responding to residents with questions about fracking’s health claims. “What are you so afraid that we’re going to uncover?” Avila told the Associated Press. “It’s not that I’m against fracking. I’m sure it’s helping many individuals financially.”

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Retired Pennsylvania Workers: State Health Employees Silenced on Fracking

Two retired state employees have said they were told not to respond to calls about drilling in the Marcellus Shale by their bosses. The former employees — Tammi Stuck, a retired nurse in Fayette County, and Marshall Deasy, who worked for the Bureau of Epidemiology — made allegations that Department of Health employees were told to keep silent on drilling.

Stuck says employees at state health centers around Pennsylvania received lists of “buzzwords” — fracking, gas, soil contamination — that they could not respond to questions about. Instead, they’d take down information and pass it along to a supervisor. Stuck says she didn’t know if calls were ever returned. While science is unclear on the effects of fracking on nearby residents, some studies show adverse health effects.

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WATCH: Anti-Fracking Protesters Interrupt Pennsylvania Democratic Governor’s Debate at Drexel

About halfway into last night’s Pennsylvania Democratic gubernatorial primary debate at Drexel University, a protester jumped on stage to criticize the four candidates — Rob McCord, Kathleen McGinty, Allyson Schwartz, and Tom Wolf — for failing to support a moratorium on fracking, the controversial mining technique.

The protester was Liz Arnold, who has been working with Pennsylvania Voters Against Fracking. The group held a rally against the process outside the gubernatorial debate at Drexel — but were rebuffed from entering the debate, says Food & Water Watch Fund Senior Pennsylvania organizer Sam Bernhardt. FWW Fund is the political arm of the D.C.-based Food & Water Watch, and is coordinating Pennsylvania Voters Against Fracking’s advocacy this election season. The group supports a moratorium on fracking in the state. Read more »

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