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Protect Our People, Not Our Polluters May 18, 2011 Protest: Corbett Letter

May 23, 2011

Protecting Our Waters had another solid action on Wednesday May 18th with 60 protesters turning out in the rain to confront former Governor Ridge’s doublespeak, on behalf of his employer, the Marcellus Shale Coalition, at the Doubletree Hotel. There were speakers and street theatre for the Protect Our People, Not Our Polluters protest. We were covered by Fox 29, WHYY radio, Grid Magazine, and Philadelphia Weekly.

A delegation of eight knowledgeable, well-spoken people hand-delivered the letter below to Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett at his Philadelphia office.  We marched inside and expressed our concerns and demands to Adam Gattuso, Director of the Governor’s Southeast Regional Office at 200 S. Broad Street.

Rebecca Roter of Susquehanna County speaks while her daughter, Rachel, holds sign asking, "Would YOU drink this Gasfield tap water? -- Water is Life!" at the rally outside the Doubletree Hotel Weds. May 18th. After confronting Ridge, Range Resources and the Marcellus Shale Coalition with a group of 60 protesters, Rebecca and Rachel Roter joined Iris Marie Bloom, Kristian Boose and others from Protecting Our Waters, forming a delegation of eight which visited Governor Corbett's Philadelphia office, met with the director inside and delivered strong spoken messages along with a set of demands. Rebecca Roter offered a bottle of contaminated well water from Dimock, PA to the director of Governor Corbett's Philadelphia office, Adam Gattuso, as a reminder of our delegation's visit. He declined to keep the water. (Source: Mark Schmerling)

To download and print a copy of this letter for yourself, please click here: Protect Our People, Not Our Polluters Demands Letter to Governor Tom Corbett – Print & Send

Governor Corbett
200 S. Broad Street
Philadelphia, PA 19107
May 18, 2011

Dear Governor Corbett:

We the undersigned call for an immediate halt to shale gas drilling in Pennsylvania. Unfortunately, even the over $1 million fine slapped on Chesapeake Energy yesterday will not prevent gas drilling operators from harming air, water, and the food chain, which are the only basis for human health.

Our concerns include:

AIR – While you have acted, shockingly, to REDUCE air pollution controls at gas drilling operations, research shows that asthma increases in heavy drilling areas, especially in children. Do you not care about children’s health, human health, or the health of future generations?

WATER – While the DEP fine against Chesapeake Energy cites 16 families who experienced methane migration into their drinking water supplies, the magnitude of water contamination is much greater than that. Arsenic, barium, benzene and other gas drilling contaminants have poisoned private water supplies and made people sick; 1.3 billion gallons of radioactive gas drilling waste have been dumped into PA waters; and the Academy of Natural Sciences shows that even without accidents or spills, water quality is degraded by drilling simply due to the enormous soil disturbance and deforestation. None of these concerns have been addressed by your administration. Why are you not protecting our water?

EARTH and FOOD CHAIN – Contamination of soil by gas drilling operations is routine; the Bradford blowout is just the most recent obvious case in which thousands of gallons of toxic flowback spilled onto a farmer’s field. Worse, the food chain is contaminated due to huge open “frack pits” full of toxic flowback. When birds or animals drink from these open pits and die, they are in turn eaten by other birds or animals, ensuring that radioactivity enters our food chain and ecosystem.

END EXEMPTIONS – We demand that you listen to people, not polluters. Why have you allowed lobbying by the Marcellus Shale Coalition (speaking across the street today) to prevent tracking toxic flowback waste in Pennsylvania? This waste is hazardous, not residual; it must be tracked by a manifest system! We demand today that you institute a manifest tracking system for all flowback and brine.

BAN FRACK PITS: Today we specifically demand that you permanently outlaw open fracking pits or impoundments in the state of Pennsylvania. The plastic lining breaks, leading to soil contamination. The berms soften in rain, leading to overflow and water contamination, as recently happened in Bradford. The volatile chemicals evaporate, leading to air pollution and ground-level ozone, which hurts human health. Radioactive substances from these pits enter the ecosystem through multiple channels.

CORRUPTION — Governor Corbett, just yesterday, your Secretary of the DEP, Secretary Krancer, said in a press release, “It is important to me and to this administration that natural gas drillers are stewards of the environment….” Well that sounds great, but why was Secretary Krancer, on the very same day, attending a fundraising luncheon for the gas industry’s #1 uncritical cheerleader in Bradford County, Commissioner McClinko? Commissioner McClinko is well known to minimize and deny environmental impacts of gas drilling, even in Bradford County, where water companies have told individuals that they are delivering replacement water to 60 families (42 receive bottled water; 18 receive water buffaloes).

Why wasn’t Secretary Krancer visiting, instead, the home of Crystal Stroud? Ms Stroud, of Towanda, found that her water tested high in barium after gas drilling began near her home. She suffered terrible consequences of barium poisoning including numbness, muscle weakness, racing heart, and finally found out that the level of barium in her blood was near-lethal (110; the safe level is 0 – 10).

Why does an official whose appointment is meant to protect the environment – and therefore public health – avoid returning phone calls from, or visiting, gas drilling victims and yet find time to attend a fundraising luncheon for the re-election campaign of the industry’s darling in Bradford County?

In closing, it is clear that only a halt to gas drilling will protect the people of Pennsylvania. Impact fees will not protect people from environmental and health consequences, and Scarnati’s bill (SB 1100) in fact uses impact fees as a bludgeon to attempt to prevent municipalities in PA from asserting any control over the terrible impacts gas drilling extraction operations (from water withdrawals to drilling and fracking to pipelines, condensate tanks and waste storage and treatment) have locally. SB 1100 even prevents municipalities from preventing gas drilling in floodplains. That is an outrage; SB 1100 must be opposed as an insult to all Pennsylvanians.

What is occurring right now is nothing less than an assault on the air, water, earth, health, economy, and democratic rights of the people of Pennsylvania. Governor Corbett, we hold you personally responsible for every contamination incident in the state, for you have the power to direct DEP to halt all permits beginning immediately to protect the people of Pennsylvania.

Finally, we demand that you direct your Commissioner on the DRBC to vote “NO” to the request for Exxon subsidiary XTO to withdraw hundreds of millions of gallons of fresh clean water from a high-quality trout stream in the Delaware River Basin. XTO already spilled over 4,300 gallons of frack fluid into a tributary to Sugar Run in the Susquehanna watershed, contaminating waterways and private drinking water wells. KEEP EXXON / XTO OUT OF THE DELAWARE RIVER BASIN – just say no!

Signed,

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