UPDATE: Additional Signatures Bring Tally to 132 Organizations & 1,130 Concerned Citizens on Letter Saying No to SB790; New Literature Review Points to ‘Data Gap’ for 86% of Chemicals Found in Produced Water

Berks Gas Truth resubmitted a letter to lawmakers and Governor Wolf to include the signatures by more than a dozen organizations and businesses and 140 concerned citizens that were added after the letter’s initial submission on October 29.  The letter expresses opposition to a move to allow the road-spreading of drilling waste on unpaved roads in the Commonwealth. Senate Bill 790 introduced by Senator Joseph Scarnati (R-25) provides other benefits to conventional drillers, including a loosening of the requirements for reporting spills.

The resubmission coincides with the publication of a literature review  in Environment International by The Endocrine Disruption Exchange entitled, “An integrative method for identification and prioritization of constituents of concern in produced water from onshore oil and gas extraction.” According to the researchers, “Disposal of this wastewater is challenging, and current efforts to use it for crop irrigation, road de-icing, and dust suppression are cause for concern, given how little is known about the chemical constituents.”  Of the 1198 chemicals they looked at, 86% lack the toxicity data needed to complete a risk assessment.

The letter addressed to Senate leaders, but copied to other legislators and the governor, comes after the bill was moved straight from the Appropriations committee to a floor vote with no debate.  The letter states, “We, the undersigned, are writing to protest your refusal to follow the established process in a rush to get a win for the industry you have come to believe you represent.”

“Pennsylvanians are getting tired of the industry’s every wish being our government’s command. For months, we have been calling for an investigation into the alarming number of diagnoses of rare cancers in children in the shale fields. No response. Instead, our elected officials have pushed several bills, SB790 being just one, that would roll back environmental protections and provide the natural gas and petrochemical industries with subsidies and incentives. It’s a sad day when a public health crisis that has already killed thirteen young people takes a back seat to reinstating the very kind of toxic practices that may be linked to their deaths.” said Karen Feridun, Founder of Berks Gas Truth.

The letter closes, “Doing the bidding of the natural gas industry is not your job. You are in Harrisburg to represent the best interests of Pennsylvanians. You are failing us, regularly and miserably. We call on the House to stop both SB 790 and HB 1635 (a similar measure introduced this year). Should they fail to represent our best interests, we call on Governor Wolf to commit to vetoing whichever bill reaches his desk.”