A Moratorium for Pennsylvania
A statewide coalition of Pennsylvania citizens, non-profits, trade associations, special interest groups, and professional alliances is united behind a moratorium, demanding that NO NEW PERMITS be issued for high-volume, slick water hydraulic fracturing, and that no additional fracking be permitted on already drilled and fracked wells. Further, no permits for infrastructure or water withdrawals shall be issued which anticipate new well construction.
Since 2002, when the state of PA issued a single permit to drill a horizontal, hydraulically-fractured well, the gas industry in has grown in a manner not unlike the Wild West-style energy extraction of the late 19th century. In 2006, 39 permits were issued, in 2010 – 2870, in 2011 – 3281. Thus far in 2012, an average of 6 permits per day are being granted to gas drillers.
The rush to drill, and the increasing presence of the industry on PA’s roads and highways, farm fields, forests, rural communities, and neighborhoods has already damaged our infrastructure, our culture, our economy, our environment, our health, and a sustainable future. We need to suspend this rush to drill until we know it can be done safely. The gas isn’t going anywhere, it can wait. Our present rush to drill unsafely will needlessly cause permanent, irrevocable damage to the Commonwealth we love.
With the enactment of Act 13, the Commonwealth’s policies are woefully and dangerously inadequate regarding transparency, impact fees, environmental and public health, and local control. Gas industry favoritism has permeated our government and now threatens the fundamental principle of democracy, the right of a free people to self-determination at the local level. Change must occur before any additional well drilling permits can be approved.
No new permits may be issued until the following measures are in place:
- A statewide Health Impact Assessment is carried out on all phases of the gas drilling industry, and a reliable and accessible process is in place, through the Pennsylvania Department of Health, to report and document gas industry-related health complaints, and to provide education to affected citizens.
- A cumulative environmental impact study is completed in all 3 major watersheds, Delaware, Susquehanna, and Ohio. This impact study must be conducted by an agency or company with no financial or personal ties to the fracking industry. This study must include an analysis of the impact of fracking on the productivity of agriculture and forestry, two of Pennsylvania’s biggest industries.
- Local governments are enabled to protect the health and welfare of their residents.
- The state’s Public Utility Commission is stripped of its unprecedented powers to oversee local land use policies and reverse local decisions.
- Gas drilling is covered under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act.
- Drilling wastes are regulated under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act.
- Hydraulic fracturing is regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency under the Safe Drinking Water Act
- A total ban on the use of diesel fuel as one of the additives in the hydraulic fracturing process is enacted.
- Storm water discharges from gas development are regulated under the federal Clean Water Act.
- Emissions from all gas facilities are aggregated under the Clean Air Act in order to ascertain the true hazardous effect on air quality.
- No gas industry activities qualify for categorical exclusion under the National Environmental Policy Act.
- The gas industry is made to disclose all chemicals used under the Toxic Release Inventory within the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act, in order to ensure that human health and the environment can be protected from these often hazardous and carcinogenic substances.
- Those sections of Act 13 which override local zoning rights, and which prohibit or limit disclosure of chemicals to and by medical professionals are repealed.
- Regulations are in place that require any new wells to bear the full cost of infrastructure and environmental remediation, and to post appropriate bonds for such purposes.