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Urgent: Tell your PA Senator to Vote No on SB411 Right Now

March 11, 2013

SB411 Would Grant Immunity to Fracking Polluters: Vote May Be today

By using, and twisting, the concept of a “Good Samaritan,” the Pennsylvania Senate is right now considering, and may vote this afternoon, on a bill which would facilitate pollution from both acid mine drainage (AMD) and shale gas drilling. The bill, SB411, would grant immunity — freedom from any lawsuit by impacted people — to end users, including fracking companies, of AMD-polluted water when it is used for fracking, or for any aspect of shale gas drilling. Why? Fracking is being defined by the law as a “beneficial use.”

Please call and email your PA State Senator immediately, today, to urge them to vote no on SB4111.

Alert: this bill appears to have its origins in ALEC, the right-wing American Legislative Exchange Council, which specializes in making bills which take away democratic rights, and which harm the environment, look “as if” they are adding rights or protecting the environment. Please help your Senators shed the scales from their eyes immediately.

According to expert legal analysis by the Delaware Riverkeeper Network,

The Bill defines “other beneficial use” as “Any use of water for a purpose that produces any economic, environmental, ecological, or other benefits, including irrigation, silvaculture, cooling water, flow maintenance and augmentation, consumptive use makeup, and any other use of water deemed to be a beneficial use under common law.” This opens the door for many uses that provide pathways of pollution that will impact our environment and water supplies, including fracking, irrigation, even adding it to waterways as replacement water by industries that consume large quantities.

This raises a few questions:

How does it make sense to facilitate the spread of pollution from mining throughout the state, even on food crops and into our waterways and aquifers? How does it make sense to hand out more favors to gas drillers? How does it make sense to make a dirty process (fracking for gas and oil) even dirtier by shielding drillers from liability when they use AMD in place of water in frack fluids? How does this help the next door neighbor whose water well is polluted by gas drilling when they can no longer sue for recovery from water loss and the water replacement requirement in current law is overridden by SB411, protecting the driller instead?

How does it protect our streams and aquifers when AMD water pollution abatement operators, haulers and users are immune from liability under the Hazardous Sites Cleanup Act, the Solid Waste Management Act, and Pennsylvania’s Clean Streams Law when AMD is used? Why is the PA Senate considering removing an effective deterrent to pollution – the operator’s legal responsibility to clean up pollution the operation caused?

Get the lowdown here.

See letters filed with the Senate by environmental groups here.

Please call and send an email to your Senator and call TODAY since the vote is imminent.
Find your Senator here.

Tell your Senator:  

  • Vote NO on SB411
  • Don’t grant immunity to industries for using polluted mine drainage
  • Protect our communities and drinking water; don’t facilitate pollution by shielding polluters

Thank you for taking urgent action to protect Pennsylvania! Our communities, our water and our future depend on your actions. Thank you.


  1. March 11, 2013 10:02 pm

    I sit down late to write and what am I bombarded with, The piece of legislation that could put every Pennsylvanian in danger. They voted already to approve this latest piece of Cooperate Welfare but I am convinced that this will be the tipping point. Trashing PA is not the cost of doing business. If you did not get a chance (like me) to call your PA senator, do it in the morning. —

  2. Claudia Crane permalink
    March 15, 2013 9:25 pm

    What I wrote in as a comment to (They got around to reporting on SB 411 only today! I know, Iris, you had a lot to do with making that finally happen!):
    “SB 411 represents a golden opportunity for the gas industry to use already poisioned mine water, add poisonous chemicals to that water for the purposes of fracking, and pick up more poisions from fracking (including radioactive compounds), then, with impunity, do whatever they want with these millions of gallons of wastewater per wellpad. Until now. they had no fracking idea what to do with this poisonous wastewater–injecting it underground has caused earthquakes, letting it lie open pits lined with only a thin layer of PVC doesn’t solve anything, discharging it to the surface is (rightfully) illegal in most places, and practically speaking, they can’t clean it up. SB 411 is the answer to the gas industry’s prayers! They can poison us all and completely get away with it!”

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