Plausible Deniability, or Informed Precaution?


Indiana County is among the latest to announce plans to adopt the drilling fee. Initial analysis suggests the county could receive almost $1 million in revenue from the impact fee. Those funds must go to address impact from Marcellus Shale drilling in Indiana county. Got an idea how to spend that? Let me know!

This factsheet from the Pennsylvania House Appropriations Committee outlines where the rest of that money is headed, including a number of statewide agencies.

Overall, Act 13 continues to be discussed as a give-away to the oil and gas industry. This from Clean Water Action’s Myron Arnowitt at last months Appalachian Studies Association conference held at IUP. Dr. Ronald Bishop, a biochemist and biosafety researcher at SUNY Oneonta also raised concerns about what to do with waste fluid – and questioned the recycling process:  “No one has ever attempted to study the chemical interactions of wastewater from multiple shale-gas wells when mixed together…..[the industry] seems to believe that plausible deniability is better than informed precaution.”

Wise words to note, since DEP is now asking the industry to consider recycling waste-water. It’s a better idea, but the process still produces toxic waste, and there’s still no tested way to dispose of it.

Two think tanks at Wilkes University agree, Act 13 is no good.  Check out their thorough report here.  Even environmental organizations who supported the passage of Act 13, like the Pennsylvania Environmental Council, are having “buyer’s remorse.”

Among the many problems, the new act could forbid doctors from sharing information with patients exposed to toxic, and proprietary, fracking solutions. Another problem: air pollution near fracking wells (the type of wells that Act 13 allows in residential zones) raises the risk of acute and chronic health problems, according to a new peer reviewed study.

With more and more stories like this exploding water well (check out 0:42), it’s no wonder that many Pennsylvanians are wondering if all this fracking is really what we need. A Penn State study found despite putting strains on communities, drilling hasn’t increased tax revenues for school districts. What happened to the jobs?

Speaking of explosions – did you hear about this one at a compressor station?  No wonder folks in Allegheny county don’t want one near their homes. The environmental impacts of these large and loud industrial sites are only beginning to be understood. Here’s a fun fact – under Act 13, the county commissioners have authority to approve or deny requests for a compressor station in the conservation zone, not the zoning hearing board.

Several communities are not taking Act 13 lying down, and have mounted a legal challenge that the law is unconstitutional. Read more about that here. Secretary Krancer is named as a defendant, although he thinks all the criticism is “overblown.”

In more news of politics, PennEnvironment released their environmental scorecard – guess who gets F’s (hint, they rhyme with Blight, Weed, Stile and Hiss)?  Still others are fighting back, check out this ad running all over PA about Corbett and his love of fracking.

Speaking of blight, last month’s hearing on the Homer City Power Plant displayed a remarkable lack of leadership from our elected officials, as they continue to tie our regional economy to a rapidly declining industry. PennFuture has some far more intelligent things to say about moving towards a cleaner future.

Clean, renewable energy. This farmer in Altoona gets it – Do you?


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