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FINAL Recommendations Marcellus Shale Report City Council of Philadelphia’s Joint Committees on Transportation and Public Utilities and the Environment September 28, 2010

January 24, 2011


o General Recommendations

1. There must be no drilling, or projects related to gas drilling (including exploratory wells and water withdrawals), permitted in the Delaware River watershed until both the EPA hydraulic fracturing risks study and the cumulative impact studies specific to the Delaware River Basin are completed, assessed, and publicly debated.82

1. Those cumulative impact studies must include those performed by the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) and U.S. Geological Survey (USGS); the Academy of Natural Sciences; and Temple University.

2. Based on the combined results of both the national EPA study and the Delaware River Basin-specific cumulative impacts studies, the City of Philadelphia will determine whether it is advisable to call for the entire Delaware River Basin to be kept off limits to unconventional gas drilling techniques, due to the potential for catastrophic risk; potential costs; and the inherent and cumulative risks to water, air, climate, farms, food, economy, fish and wildlife, scenic value and tourism base, and human health.

3. In keeping with Philadelphia City Council’s adoption of the Earth Charter, and in keeping with the precautionary principle as established by modern science and as articulated by Dr. Boufadel in the September 28th hearing, Council hereby establishes its moral responsibility to actively prevent future pollution and ecological destruction rather than waiting until it occurs and then attempting to undo the damage.

4. A non-biased economic analysis should be conducted to examine exactly what jobs will be created in Pennsylvania as a result of unconventional drilling and the amount of job creation applicable to Philadelphia residents.83 These jobs must include training of the drilling industry to Philadelphia high school residents.

1. These potential job gains must be weighed against potential job loss and economic destruction created by

1. “boom and bust” cycles;

2. loss of eco-tourism dependent on healthy, intact ecosystems and/or scenic beauty;

3. potential worst-case catastrophic scenarios (blowout; aquifer contamination; and/or salt line approaching Philadelphia water intakes) and

4. jobs potentially created by investment in energy efficiency and conservation, wind, solar, geothermal, and other aspects of a long-term sustainable renewable energy economy.

5. When a severance tax (tax on gas extraction) is instituted in Pennsylvania, we should direct at least 30% of the revenue of the tax to fund environmental mitigation and enforcement work – specifically to mitigate past, present and future damage done by coal, oil and gas development in Pennsylvania, and to support energy-efficiency initiatives, including efficiency initiatives for all natural gas, propane, and fuel oil customers statewide.84

6. Based on the risks identified in the hearing, and on incidents and accidents escalating since that time, City Council reinforces its earlier resolutions, specifically

1. “Cart before Horse” principle established by the March 25th resolution and the October 15th letter from Councilman Jones and Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown: no rules related to gas drilling projects in the Delaware River Basin should be released, finalized or enacted until the EPA studies and cumulative impact studies are complete, assessed, and widely debated; if rules are released without benefit of such studies, they should be withdrawn.

2. A statewide moratorium, as called for in bills introduced in the state legislature by Senator Ferlo and Representative Tony Payton, or similar moratoria bills which may be introduced in the future, should be enacted to protect Pennsylvania’s other two watersheds as well: the Susquehanna River Basin and the Ohio River Basin

7. Hydrofracking technology, and all aspects of unconventional gas drilling, should be subject to all relevant Federal environmental laws, including the Safe Drinking Water Act, Clean Water Act, Clean Air Act, waste treatment laws and Superfund Law.

8. All chemicals used in hydrofracking, including their commonly understood scientific names (not trade names), proportions, and concentrations, should be required to be disclosed by the industry.

9. To enforce this disclosure, the FRAC Act (Fracturing Responsibility and Chemicals Act) should become federal law

+ Agency Specific Recommendations

1. The EPA hydraulic fracturing risks study should address risks to drinking water, as it is doing; and also assess risks to water quality and aquatic life; air quality; biodiversity, and climate.85

2. The DRBC / USGS cumulative impact study of gas drilling impacts in the Delaware River Basin should emphasize human health risks. It should include not only drinking water threats but also the impact of air pollution, global warming impacts from “cradle to grave” gas extraction, loss of biodiversity, and loss of scenic value. It should assess the need for adequate emergency planning related to fires, blowouts, explosions, and major contamination incidents, as well as the actual cost of worst-case scenarios, both acute and long-term (i.e., future contamination over the course of hundreds of years due to billions of gallons of toxic fluids left underground in the Delaware River Basin)The DRBC should not issue regulations until the cumulative impact studies are released and the DRBC can base its regulations on such findings.86

3. The DRBC / USGS studies should also specifically address the question of combined impacts of billions of gallons of consumptive water use from unconventional gas drilling, also referred to as “de-watering,” with increased global warming impacts from unregulated greenhouse gas emissions from gas drilling; combined with ongoing sea level rise, drought, and increased salinity due to brine and road salt use for de-icing purposes, to determine how to avert: a) water from our streams and rivers becoming un-potable due to high salt content; b) the salt line in the Delaware approaching Philadelphia water intakes; and c) the eventual inundation of Philadelphia due to sea level rise; and, prior to that, ongoing inundation of ecologically valuable wetlands (currently happening)

4. When the DRBC regulations are released they should be subject to a comprehensive public comment process, which should extend for a year after the EPA study and cumulative impact studies are complete to inform the public debate; including hearings in Philadelphia.

5. The DRBC should require drilling companies to join and participate in the Delaware Valley Early Warning System. In addition, the DRBC should contribute support to the system with an increase in real time monitoring of wells.87

1. The monitoring system should be enhanced to include deeper detection technology. To create a better “Early warning System.”

6. The DEP should increase the number and frequency of its inspections on gas wells and be allocated additional staff to meet this requirement.88

7. The DEP should increase the well bond fee and require bonds for each well drilled.

#8. The Philadelphia Gas Works should continue its practice of not directly purchasing Marcellus Shale gas so long as it is responsible and is consistent with the least cost fuel procurement requirement of state law.

#9. The Philadelphia Gas Commission should develop policies whereby the Philadelphia Gas Works could, once the EPA study and cumulative impact studies are complete, discuss with the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission incorporating environmental costs/impacts of Marcellus Shale and other gas supplies in the least cost fuel procurement calculation in a responsible manner.

10. The Philadelphia Water Department should adjust its water quality testing protocols to prepare to detect any fracking chemicals or radioactive substances contained in processed water present in the Philadelphia water supply.

  1. kathy Holsinger permalink
    January 29, 2011 5:31 pm

    Thank goodness for smart city council persons, i only hope those in Tioga County and all of Pa follow suit and soon

    • Kristian Boose permalink
      January 29, 2011 5:42 pm

      Keep us updated on how things are going up there in Tioga County Kathy. I used to live in Wellsboro when I was a youngster so I have a huge personal interest. Peace.


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