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TODAY in Philadelphia: “River to River” Marchers urge Corbett, Commissions: Stop Permitting Horizontal Hydrofracking in Pennsylvania

April 23, 2011


Saturday April 23, 2011


Iris Marie Bloom, Protecting Our Waters: (215) 840-6489

Corina Delman, River to River: (267) 242-5133

Geoff Belforti, River to River: (717) 572-8139

Marchers urge Corbett, Commissions: Stop Permitting Horizontal Hydrofracking in Pennsylvania

Yet another blowout in Bradford County means “SOS Susquehanna.” Marchers demand that DEP conduct a full investigation of the blowout, and urge Governor Corbett and the Susquehanna River Basin Commission to deny permits for unconventional gas drilling (fracking) statewide; continue to press for complete moratorium in Delaware River Basin

Philadelphia, PA – Today community groups, environmental advocates and concerned residents march from the Schuylkill River to the Delaware River to demand an end to high-volume horizontal hydrofracking, the controversial gas extraction method commonly called “fracking,” which damages air, water, earth, climate, and human health.

Reverend Jesse Brown, Dr. Poune Saberi of Protecting Our Waters, Alex Kaplan of Common Cause, and Adam Garber of PennEnvironment will be among the speakers at Love Park at 3 pm (rain place: Friends Center, 1501 Cherry Street).  Comedian Beth Nixon will perform a hilarious “drilling pro and con powerpoint” and drummers, costumes, puppets and theatrics will add color.

The march begins at 1 pm at 40th and Walnut; gathers at Schuylkill River Park (east side of Walnut Street Bridge) at 2 pm, rallies at Love Park (Friends Center in bad weather) at 3, and marches all the way to a spot onstage at Shadfest (Penn Treaty Park) at 4:30 pm.

“We want to protect our water and air from fracking – not just the Schuylkill and Delaware Rivers, but throughout the state and region,” said Corina Delman, an organizer and artist with “River to River,” which initiated the march.

Drinking water impacts remain a primary, and primal, concern for Philadelphia area residents, who live downstream from where an estimated 18,000 to 30,000 gas drilling wells may be fracked in the pristine, healthy upper Delaware River region.  The toxic chemical-laden, extremely salty, radioactive waste is essentially untreatable; spills are frequent; and bromides in gas drilling waste interact with chlorine at water treatment plants to create trihalomethanes, a carcinogen when swallowed over long periods of time.

Concerns about cumulative impacts are so great that New York’s Attorney General just threatened to sue the Delaware River Basin Commission for skipping the vital step of conducting a cumulative impact assessment prior to issuing rules for drilling.

Several of the groups supporting today’s march (Protecting Our Waters, Delaware Riverkeeper Network, Food and Water Watch, PennEnvironment), with other allies, delivered over 35,000 comments opposing drilling in the Delaware River Basin last week.

But marchers made clear that they want to protect not just water, but air, soil, climate, and human health – statewide.  “Working to stop fracking is key for climate, which is the most global issue there is,” said Reverend Jesse Brown, calling for investment in renewable energy, which means green jobs.  Marchers also want to protect people’s health and safety in the Susquehanna River and Ohio River Basins, where blowouts, evacuations, methane migration, and health problems are becoming more common.

“Recently Carl Stiles, impacted by drilling near the Susquehanna River, was forced to leave his home due to symptoms of chemical poisoning, beginning with numbness and escalating to heart-attack symptoms,” said Iris Marie Bloom of Protecting Our Waters.  “What’s wrong with this picture?  How many homes have to explode, how many blowouts have to happen, and how many sickened people have to leave their homes before we admit this is not safe?  How many red flags does it take?”

The Bradford County blowout began this past Wednesday, April 20th, the one-year anniversary of the BP blowout disaster in the Gulf.  Thousands of gallons of toxic waste spewed from a Chesapeake Energy Marcellus Shale well into Towanda Creek, which feeds the Susquehanna River, which feeds the Chesapeake Bay.  Seven families were evacuated.  Yesterday, demonstrators at Chesapeake Energy headquarters in Towanda demanded that Governor Corbett cease permitting Marcellus Shale drilling.

River to River organizer Geoff Belforti seconds that motion.  “We demand a stop to Gasocracy and fracking NOW! No more drilling permits, no more exemptions.  I for one refuse to stand idly by while the health of Pennsylvanians deteriorates so that Tom Corbett’s pockets can get fat.”

The groups also join in pressing for the FRAC Act and BREATHE Act to be passed by Congress in order to remove “ridiculous, dangerous exemptions” gas drillers have from federal clean air and safe drinking water laws, said Bloom.

As part of the march, there may or may not be a dramatized contamination incident at the Love Park Fountain to protest the plan to put 15 million people’s drinking water at risk.

Organizers: River to River, Protecting Our Waters.  Co-sponsors: Delaware Riverkeeper Network, Food and Water Watch, Drexel Student Sierra Club, PennEnvironment, Temple Students for Environmental Action.



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