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Press Release; Philadelphia Caravan to Harrisburg: Rein in Gas Drillers; Rally for Health, Air, Water, Earth

January 17, 2011

For Immediate Release

Contact:  Austin Kelley c 646-244-5634 / Austinamerican@gmail.com / www.protectingourwaters.com

Or Iris Marie Bloom c 215-840-6489 / protectingourwaters@gmail.com

PROTECTING OUR WATERS TO GOV. CORBETT:  REIN IN GAS DRILLERS TO PROTECT HUMAN HEALTH, AIR, WATER, SOIL

Philadelphia, PA, Jan. 17 – Gas masks and all, about 50 Philadelphia area residents brave ice to rally in Harrisburg for clean air, water and earth just prior to the inauguration of Tom Corbett as Governor January 18th. “Human health is central to our concerns about the technology called ‘fracking’ – high-volume hydraulic fracturing with horizontal drilling, a mile down under.  We know for sure it degrades water quality.  Now scientific evidence is mounting that this dangerous new type of drilling, which uses toxic chemicals and also releases radioactive materials from deep underground, hurts human health,” said Philadelphia physician Poune Saberi of Protecting Our Waters.

The citizen action group urges the Pennsylvania legislature to pause all gas drilling permits at least until the EPA has finished its study of hydraulic fracturing’s risks to water and air.  POW also believes the Delaware River watershed, which provides Philadelphia with 100% of its drinking water, should be set aside completely from fracking because toxic contaminants from fracking are turning up in water and air, and are linked to serious illness and fatal diseases such as pancreatic and adrenal cancer and leukemia, in several states.

New York State has a moratorium on gas drilling in place.  The state of Arkansas issued a moratorium on all new gas drilling permits in December.  Wyoming has new rules in place requiring natural gas drillers to disclose chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing.  But in Pennsylvania, the only gas drilling state which doesn’t even tax natural gas production, citizens feel increasingly frustrated that officials fast-track permits for gas drillers, who benefit from federal environmental exemptions and from the lack of any cumulative impacts study in Pennsylvania.

Protecting Our Waters believes a gas drilling moratorium is needed at least until:

  • Complete chemical disclosure is mandatory, and the Halliburton Loophole is closed;
  • The EPA study is complete AND a cumulative impact study has been assessed for each watershed in the state – the Ohio, Susquehanna, and Delaware River Basins;
  • Open, plastic-lined impoundments filled with toxic waste are outlawed throughout PA;
  • Greenhouse gas emissions from the industry are measured and regulated;
  • Drilling wastewater is 100% accounted for and toxic loads in streams measured daily, not monthly;

The Halliburton Loophole refers to a set of exemptions gas drillers won in 2005, exempting hydraulic fracturing from many federal environmental laws including the Safe Drinking Water Act, Clean Water Act, Superfund Law, waste treatment and community right to know laws, and Clean Air Act.

Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is the high-pressure injection of hundreds of thousands of pounds of chemical-laced fluids into wellheads to force gas deposits to the surface.  Fracking has polluted groundwater in Wyoming, Colorado, Texas, Pennsylvania, New York and other states.  In December, the EPA confirmed the presence of benzene, a carcinogen, in drinking water wells in Parker County, Texas, linked to fracking operations by Range Resources, which also drills in Pennsylvania.

“Drillers dumped 44,000 gallons of toxic waste into Neshaminy Creek outside Philadelphia when there was supposedly a moratorium; I don’t trust them, ” commented Austin Kelley, a Protecting Our Waters advocate.  “This drilling pollutes our water and air, hurting local communities,” he said.

“We are putting our health and ecosystems at risk, and for what?” asked Protecting Our Waters director Iris Marie Bloom.  “Ben Franklin said you don’t know what your water is worth until your well runs dry.  Fracking pollutes water permanently; this is consumptive water use combined with deforestation, community destruction, and underground toxic injection which puts future generations at risk.  All this for an energy source which, scientists now say, is at least as dirty as coal in greenhouse gas emissions!

“We are going to Harrisburg to tell Governor Corbett, Patrick Henderson, and the public:  Dirty drilling is not acceptable.  Public health is a bottom line issue.  Don’t give us dirty gas, give us clean AWE: Air, Water, Earth,” Bloom concluded.

Protecting Our Waters joins Gas-Truth of Central Pennsylvania, Marcellus Protest from western Pennsylvania, Northeastern Pennsylvania Citizen Action, and grassroots organizations statewide, at the rally.  Tom Corbett accepted close to a million dollars in campaign contributions from gas drillers, and put gas drilling company lawyers and lobbyists on his transition team.

One of the Protecting Our Waters carpool departure points is 48th Street and Baltimore Avenue, where “Protectors” will gather — signs, gas masks, and all – at 7:30 AM before a 7:45 AM departure.

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