Wednesday, June 08, 2011


1315 Walnut Street, #1650
Philadelphia PA 19107
215-545-0250 phone  
215-545-2315 fax

June 7, 2011              FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact:          Myron Arnowitt, Clean Water Action           412-592-1283
                        Jeff Schmidt, Sierra Club                             717-232-0101
                        Adam Garber, PennEnvironment                973-986-8992

Hundreds at Capitol Rally for Action on Marcellus Drilling
Largest Rally in Harrisburg Calls for Drilling Moratorium and Environmental Protections

(Harrisburg) – Hundreds of Pennsylvania residents rallied at the State Capitol today protesting the state legislature’s inaction on Marcellus Shale drilling.  The coalition of groups holding the rally called it the largest that Harrisburg has seen to date protesting Marcellus Shale gas drilling.

The coalition called for:
1. A moratorium on further drilling in Pennsylvania until a full cumulative impact analysis on gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale is conducted.
2. Improved protections from gas drilling for drinking water supplies and rivers.
3. Ensuring that gas drillers pay their fair share in taxes, and utilizing these funds to restore cuts to the DEP budget.
4. Require full disclosure by gas drillers of all chemicals used.
5. Maintain the moratorium on further leasing of State Forest land for gas drilling.

Groups sponsoring the rally and lobby day included: PA Campaign for Clean Water, Sierra Club, Clean Water Action, Delaware Riverkeeper Network, PennEnvironment, Gas Truth of Central PA, League of Women Voters of PA, Physicians for Social Responsibility Philadelphia, Marcellus Protest, EARTHWORKS Oil and Gas Accountability Project, Green Party of Philadelphia, Mountain Watershed Association, Responsible Drilling Alliance.

Crystal Stroud, a resident of Towanda, PA, in Bradford County, described her health problems caused by drinking water contaminated with barium and other toxins from nearby gas drilling.  “No one is receiving help from our DEP, local, state or federal governments.  Our family has become collateral damage!  We are just 1 of the 33% failure rate of these gas companies. The failure to keep the residents of Bradford County’s wells contaminant free,” she stated.

Other speakers at the rally included Josh Fox, the creator of the film documentary, GASLAND, and Craig Saunter, a resident of Dimock, PA, where considerable water contamination from drilling has occurred.  Also speaking was Jonathan Jeffers, a former worker in Pennsylvania for Bronco Drilling, who described the neglect he saw for health, safety, and the environment while working on gas drilling jobs.

Myron Arnowitt, PA State Director for Clean Water Action, stated, “Drilling has been going on for nearly four years now, but still our state legislature has taken no action to protect residents from harm.  Legislators should take note that the crowds in the Capitol calling for action keep getting bigger.”  In addition to attending the rally, protesters made over 160 appointments with state representatives and senators, covering almost every corner of the state.

Several legislators attended the rally, many of whom have introduced legislation on the issue.  Senator Daylin Leach (D-Montgomery) stated, “We are the only state that doesn't tax them.  70% of Pennsylvanians understand this and want a tax.  Last year and half alone, drillers racked up over 1500 violations.  A severance tax will hold the industry accountable and ensure that the people of Pennsylvania are not left footing the bill.”

"The people of Pennsylvania are alarmed at the growing list of pollution incidents at gas drilling sites across the state," said Jeff Schmidt, Director of the Sierra Club Pennsylvania Chapter. "They are here today because they know that Pennsylvania's gas drilling law and regulations don't provide enough protection for our health or the environment.  We don't need an industry-dominated Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission, whose roll has been to stall the needed reforms.  We call on the Pennsylvania General Assembly to immediately enact amendments to our antiquated OIl and Gas Act legislation, such as HB 971, to protect our communities," he concluded.              

“Every day, the gas industry succeeds in making its voice heard, trying to convince us and our decision-makers that Marcellus Shale drilling isn’t the biggest public health and environmental threat to hit Pennsylvania in a generation,” said Erika Staaf with PennEnvironment. “Yet poll after poll tells us that the majority of Pennsylvanians want industry to pay its fair share in taxes and want clean air and clean water. We’re here to make our voices heard and tell our leaders exactly that.”

“The elected officials of Pennsylvania need to listen to the people who live and work here -- we need protection from the gas industry’s out of control violations through a statewide drilling permit moratorium,” said Tracy Carluccio, Deputy Director, Delaware Riverkeeper Network.

"Elected officials heard loudly and clearly today that they have a duty to protect communities from the rush to drill," said Nadia Steinzor, Marcellus Regional Organizer for Earthworks Oil & Gas Accountability Project. "Citizens are simply asking for health and the environment to be given priority over industry profit."

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