Dear Governor Wolf,
Montgomery and Bucks are the only counties in Pennsylvania where there’s a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing. We don’t see rigs from our front porches, or continuous flares. We don’t get headaches from strange odors, or drive on crumbling roads clogged by endless truck traffic. In the Philadelphia suburbs, it’s easy to ignore the health and environmental impacts of Marcellus shale gas drilling.
When the shale gas industry arrived nearly a decade ago, it was still somewhat plausible to insist that there’s “no proof” gas drilling has ever polluted water supplies. Today, there’s plenty of proof. In 2014, The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection reported 248 cases of water supply contamination since 2007. Nationwide, there are more.
On January 14, 2015, Don Hopey reported in The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that scientists have found “high concentrations of ammonium and iodide, two potentially hazardous pollutants, in oil and gas well drilling wastewater discharged into streams and rivers in Pennsylvania and other states. The peer-reviewed study, which will be published this week in the journal Environmental Science & Technology, is the first to identify those contaminants as widespread in the wastewater discharges from spills and treatment plants, including three facilities in the Allegheny River watershed.”
So compelling is the mounting evidence of the negative health impacts of fracking overall that in December 2014, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo banned it. Cuomo listened to his health secretary, who led a multi-year assessment and determined that he would not let his family live in a place they’re doing high-volume fracking. “That’s good enough for me,” Cuomo said.
When asked about it, you said you want to “have your cake and eat it, too.” Everyone knows you can’t do that. But will you heed emerging data? Will you embrace sustainable energy and jobs?
Today, Tuesday, January 20th, is your inauguration day. This date happens to coincide with a 2014 Philadelphia train derailment that left a tanker car of fracked crude oil dangling from a hundred-year-old trestle bridge over the Schuylkill River. It was a wake up call for Pennsylvania.
Today, anti-fracking activists will rally outside the capitol. Some demand a ban; others want to halt the permitting scheme of the Corbett-era DEP; many want to protect precious watersheds like the Delaware and the Susquehanna; still more are opposed to the numerous high-pressure gas liquids pipelines that threaten to criss-cross their communities.
No doubt, some will jeer as you are sworn in, but I think most people simply want to ask you to listen.
Tags: Tom Wolf