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.
Another blow to the new Pennsylvania state budget — but good news for environmentalists: Gov. Corbett won’t let energy companies drill on public land until a lawsuit challenging the practice is resolved.
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?
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.”
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.
You probably missed it last Friday when Gov. Tom Corbett ordered state park and forest land opened up to gas drillers. (Philebrity didn’t, and captured the moment with this great headline.) But the controversy isn’t going to go away.
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 »
Hey Allyson Schwartz, if you want to break through and guarantee that you win the Democratic nomination to run for governor, have I got an idea for you. It’s loosely based on the philosophy of Sarah Palin, but don’t let that stop you.
You ready? Here goes. Pennsylvania is sitting on a mother lode of cash, right? The natural gas in the Marcellus Shale reserve is worth at least $2 trillion dollars.