Largest Petition Ever Submitted In Pennsylvania

And It Calls For A Fracking Moratorium

April 30, 2013 is an historic day.

Today, a coalition of environmental organizations and anti-fracking activists deliver the largest petition ever submitted to the Pennsylvania state legislature. It calls for a moratorium on new shale gas drilling permits in Pennsylvania.

The petition, Protect Pennsylvania From Gas Drilling, includes the names and signatures of more than 100,000 Pennsylvania residents, and it sends a stunning message to state legislators and the shale gas industry. This is what it says:  

Dear [Decision Maker],

Gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale has become one of the greatest threats to Pennsylvania’s environment and public health in decades, including:

* Contaminating drinking water supplies;
* Destroying our state forestlands;
* Increasing air pollution.

I am asking you to support a moratorium on further shale gas extraction in Pennsylvania until it is proven safe for our environment and the public’s health.


[More Than 100,000 Pennsylvanians who want more information and greater sunshine]

Over 8,982 unconventional shale gas well have been fracked in Pennsylvania, and perhaps thousands of new drilling permits have  been issued, while exactly $0 have been spent to study the health, environmental or economic impacts. In sharp contrast, New York State Governor Cuomo recently upheld his state’s moratorium on shale gas drilling in order to study the health impacts more thoroughly.

According to PennEnvironment: “Gas drillers have already committed more than 3,000 environmental violations and the state is withholding information about the results of water tests for Pennsylvanians at risk, putting gas drillers before our health.

Originated and maintained by PennEnvironment, the petition is supported by a broad coalition of environmental organizations across the state, including:

Iris Marie Bloom, Protecting Our Waters, shares her account of why this moratorium is so timely and so necessary in A Call To Action: Moratorium Action on April 30th! by Sarah Lowry:

As Pennsylvania communities are fractured, residents and workers are suffering both the health impacts and the quality of life impacts which make life unbearable for many in shale country. The drilling and fracking is terrible, causing methane migration and a ‘roulette’ in which some water is contaminated, some not; it kills animals through spills, illegal dumping, access to toxic frack waste ponds; it causes erosion, fish kills, and more. But the infrastructure — flares, waste pits, compressor stations, separators, dehydrators and many other toxic fume-emitting components of shale gas development — is even more overwhelming.

“Economists find that dairy production is going down in shale country. Yesterday I met yet another farmer from Bradford County, PA who has relocated out of state because fracking surrounds her farm. Workers are getting skin lesions and going to the emergency room for little-understood illnesses; residents are being forced out of their homes at times with respiratory distress, nosebleeds, scorched throats from flaring, and other impacts. IT’S TIME TO CALL A HALT!”

Having collected a few of those signatures myself, at places like Philly Farm Fest and The Pennsylvania Farm Show – a mere drop in the bucket compared to the tireless efforts of many! – I can tell you that Pennsylvanians are now becoming more fully aware of the  problems and dangers associated with hydraulic fracturing. Most people agree, we need more information and greater protection before it can be deemed safe. When our water, soil and air are at risk, it seems I’m not the only one who’s unwilling to simply take it on faith that this industry will “get gas right.”

PennEnvironment: Gas Drilling Is Leaving A Trail Of Pollution Across Pennsylvania

According to Erika Staaf, PennEnvironment Clean Water Advocate, “The faster the gas industry grows, the bigger the swath of destruction it leaves across Pennsylvania. Already, gas companies have contaminated our drinking water with benzene, toluene, formaldehyde and other dangerous contaminants; dumped under-treated wastewater in rivers and streams from the Monongahela to Neshaminy Creek; and clearcut our state forestland to make way for gas wells.”

PennEnvironment’s Marcellus Shale Stories introduces viewers to the impacts of shale gas production in several concise video presentations covering the major issues: Family Health; Water Contamination; Property Value; Farming & Food; State Forests; Heritage Places and Downstream Impacts.

For a link to the LIVE FEED of the Petition Delivery and Press Conference held on the Capitol Rotunda steps in Harrisburg on April 30, 2013, posted by Drew Hudson, visit EnvironmentalAction: Don’t Frack PA 


UPDATE [April 30, 2012]:

For Immediate Release Contact: Adam Garber, PennEnvironment Research & Policy Center, (267) 515-1220

Maya van Rossum, the Delaware Riverkeeper, (215) 369-1188 ext. 102 Karen Feridun, Berks Gas Truth, (610) 678-7226 Sam Bernhardt, Food and Water Watch, (516) 680-0760 Iris Marie Bloom, (215) 840-6489

100,000 Signatures for a Moratorium on Fracking Delivered to Gov. Tom Corbett

[Harrisburg, Pa.] – With public concern about serious harms caused by the gas drilling process known as fracking continuing to rise, PennEnvironment Research & Policy Center and a coalition of public health, community and environmental groups delivered more than 100,000 petitions to the state Legislature and Gov. Tom Corbett today. The petition calls for a moratorium on gas drilling in Pennsylvania until our environment and public health can be protected.

This is believed to be the largest public outcry on fracking in state history.

“The voices of concerned Pennsylvanians have spoken loud and clear today: If this track record of pollution, destruction and environmental violations is what we’re seeing in fracking’s ‘infancy’ stage, the people of Pennsylvania don’t want to see maturity,” said Adam Garber, PennEnvironment Research & Policy Center’s field director. “The public response has been overwhelming as Pennsylvanians from all walks of life signed the petition: Democrats, Republicans and Independents; residents from our cities, suburbs and rural Pennsylvania; and from every corner and county of the commonwealth.”

After a news event highlighted the numerous dangers from fracking, 20 Pennsylvanians, each carrying a box filled with the names of other concerned citizens, marched over to Gov. Corbett’s office to deliver the 100,000 signatures.

Despite growing public concern over fracking, the gas drilling industry has used their political muscle in recent years to stop any new environmental protections from passing. Just last year, their army of lobbyists and PR firms—combined with millions of dollars in campaign contributions—were even able to remove communities’ ability to establish local protections from gas drilling.

“As nurses, our focus is on preventing illness by reducing hazards and advocating for healthy environments,” said Nina Kaktins, Co-Chair of the Pennsylvania State Nurses Association Environmental Health Committee. “A number of illnesses have been reported in areas where fracking occurs, including nosebleeds, headaches, skin irritation, fatigue, stomach pains, difficulty breathing, and more. While research projects are underway to investigate the health effects of fracking, a moratorium is a common-sense measure to prevent further illness.”“My life has been devastated by working in the gas fields. Without proper training, tools or protection, I was routinely sent out to handle toxic fracking fluid in unsafe ways,” said Rick “Mac” Sawyer. “Now, a year later, I’m sick, with no health insurance. The gas companies don’t care about the health and safety of their employees, or any Pennsylvanians for that matter.”

The rush to drill has had devastating effects on Pennsylvania’s environment and public health, and includes a track record of thousands of violations of cornerstone environmental laws and protections. In fact, the gas drilling industries have committed over 4,363 environmental violations in recent years.

There have also been dozens of cases where people’s health has suffered. In Dimock, Pa., drilling operations contaminated the drinking water wells of several households for roughly three years, perhaps more. And, recently released court documents show that gas drillers settled with a Washington County family who endured health problems.

“We hold the future of civilization in our hands now,” said Rev. Thwing, Pastor of St. Paul’s United Church. “The decisions we make now are critical. We demand a moratorium on fracking until we are absolutely sure that our water will be safe and the methane leaks are reduced to levels that will minimize climate change.”

“With 18 new pipelines planned to crisscross Pennsylvania this year, we will all soon live in the drilling region,” said Karen Feridun, founder of Berks Gas Truth. “These pipelines, with air polluting compressor stations every 40-100 miles, will bring the same risks that wells bring to communities in the Marcellus region and they’re just as poorly regulated. We are not willing to forsake any part of this state for fracking.”

Sen. Jim Ferlo (Allegheny) joined the organizations at their rally, pledging to respond to this call from action in the coming days.

“I am proud to introduce legislation in the coming days which will halt fracking in order to do thorough and accurate study of its environmental effects. I ask my colleagues in the General Assembly to take heed of the request of these 100,000 petition signers, and I ask citizens to continue their tireless advocacy on behalf of the Commonwealth’s environment,” said Senator Ferlo (Allegheny).

“After years of poisoned drinking water, toxic spills and air pollution, Pennsylvanians are increasing becoming fed up with fracking. They’re organizing street by street and town by town – at churches, at colleges and at coffee shops,” said Sam Bernhardt, Food & Water Watch’s Pennsylvania organizer. “Across the state, local officials have been feeling the heat from residents, and now our leaders in Harrisburg are feeling the heat as well. Pennsylvanians are sick of fracking.”

Farmers, religious leaders, impacted community members and others spoke passionately about the threats posed by gas drilling and the need for a moratorium.

“Drillers are dumping radioactive drill cuttings and toxic fracking flowback all over the state, starting up operation of compressor stations despite explosions, fires, and health. With impacts this extreme, it’s time to admit the fracking experiment has failed and call a halt before more people get hurt,” said Iris Marie Bloom, Director of Protecting Our Waters.

“Our DFA Pennsylvania groups is extremely concerned about the dangerous impacts fracking has on human health and the environment. Our members are willing and ready to demand Governor Corbett and legislators to protect Pennsylvanians from fracking,” said Ljubica Sarafov, Mid-Atlantic Field Organizer for Democracy for America.

“We don’t need fracked gas to power our economy, and our planet can’t afford any more wasted time perusing these kind of bridge fuels to nowhere,” said Jesse Bacon, an organizer for Environmental Action. “It’s time for leaders in Harrisburg to end this dangerous and unnecessary drilling practice.”

“Communities are being subjected to water and air pollution from drilling and gas infrastructure and our forests and rivers are bearing the brunt of the state allowing the industry to do what they want. We must stop this assault now before the next wave of permits ruins the state,” said Maya van Rossum, the Delaware Riverkeeper.

The event’s organizers pledged that the fight doesn’t end with this petition delivery, as the groups plan to continue highlighting the dangers of fracking, organize communities to call for a moratorium, and call on decision-makers to start listening to the public on this issue instead of the industry’s lobbyists in Harrisburg.



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