Groups Call on State Legislature to Revoke Act 13 Marcellus Legislation
Groups Call on State Legislature to Revoke Act 13 Marcellus Legislation – Urge an End to Political Favors with State-wide Moratorium
Groups unveil ‘Scroll of Shame’ listing legislators supporting Act 13
(Harrisburg) – With only two weeks left before the state legislature breaks for the fall elections, environmental and community organizations called on lawmakers to revoke Act 13 and restore the rights of local governments to control oil and gas operations. Earlier this year, the PA General Assembly passed Act 13, omnibus legislation addressing Marcellus Shale gas drilling operations. Act 13 took away the ability of municipal governments to utilize zoning ordinances to control where gas extraction operations and infrastructure are located. Seven townships have challenged this provision, and a PA Supreme Court ruling is expected later this month.
Nancy Alessi, Township Supervisor for Nockamixon Twp. in Bucks County stated, “Nockamixon Township is one of the petitioners in the lawsuit against the state because we are appalled by the elimination of our zoning authority in Act13. Requiring gas and oil development to be permitted in every municipal zoning district turns the concept of zoning on its head and produces incompatible land uses that zoning is designed to prevent.”
Tracy Carluccio, Deputy Director, Delaware Riverkeeper Network, stated, “Act 13 is one of the worst pieces of environmental legislation to be passed in Pennsylvania and speaks volumes about whose interests the majority of the Legislature and the Governor are protecting. It’s clear the industry tried to take over the Commonwealth by removing municipal rights but communities are fighting back, Act 13 has been ruled unconstitutional and we’ll stand together to defend that ruling before the Supreme Court this month. The out of control gas industry must be reined in and we’re here today to say a statewide moratorium is the first step to restoring necessary protection of public health and the environment.”
The groups unveiled a 20 foot “Scroll of Shame” in the Capitol Rotunda listing all the legislators who voted for Act 13 this past February.
"We believe that the people of Pennsylvania deserve to know who stood up for Pennsylvania's public health and the environment, and who supported the out of state drillers. Our "Scroll of Shame" lists every Representative and Senator who voted YES on Act 13, thereby voting against the public interest and for increased profits for the drillers," said Jeff Schmidt, Director of Sierra Club's Pennsylvania Chapter. He continued, "During the November 6 General Election, voters should remember what action their state legislators took on Act 13, and hold them accountable. We need a General Assembly that puts people ahead of polluters."
Sierra Club, PennEnvironment, Conservation Voters of PA, and Clean Water Action have published a Marcellus Scorecard rating lawmakers on their votes on Act 13. The Scorecard is available at: http://www.cleanwateraction.org/Pennsylvania-Marce...
Myron Arnowitt, PA State Director for Clean Water Action, stated, “As we talk with voters this year, we are finding that many are shocked to see that our state lawmakers have ignored the needs of their local communities over the needs of the oil and gas industry. It is common sense that towns should be able to keep drilling, pipelines, and waste pits out of residential neighborhoods and away from schools. The passage of Act 13 showed that this legislature is completely out of touch with the reality of gas drilling in this state. Clean Water Action can no longer support legislators who failed such a simple test.”
Speakers also criticized Republican leadership’s efforts to establish a drilling moratorium in parts of southeast Pennsylvania as a handing out of ‘political favors’ after there was clear voter backlash to the passage of Act 13. The provision, stuck into the fiscal code bill in the state budget, states that a study will be done prior to drilling in the South Newark Basin in Bucks and Montgomery Counties, however, the study is only required to examine economic considerations.
“Pennsylvania deserves a moratorium on shale gas drilling, a real moratorium that says the drilling will stop until the process is proven to our satisfaction to be safe, not a phony moratorium jammed into a piece of budget legislation at the 11th hour that reads like something dashed off on a napkin. The South Newark Basin moratorium is not only toothless, it fails to do what its author promised. Senator Chuck McIlhinney pushed his moratorium through to protect his district from Act 13, but it provides no protection from Act 13’s stripping of local control over pipelines, compressor stations, and other drilling operations related to Marcellus and Utica drilling,” says Karen Feridun, founder of Berks Gas Truth.
Senator Jim Ferlo (D – Allegheny) addressed the crowd and announced that he will soon be introducing legislation to establish a state-wide moratorium on drilling in the Marcellus Shale, requiring the conducting of a six year study, the same period as the South Newark Basin legislation. However, this study would require the full examination of the environmental and health impacts of shale gas extraction on Pennsylvania’s air, land, and water.
The event was sponsored by the following organizations: Clean Water Action, Gas Truth of Central PA, Delaware Riverkeeper Network, Earthworks, Berks Gas Truth, Sierra Club, PennEnvironment, Physicians for Social Responsibility, and Protecting Our Waters.
Legislators listed on the “Scroll of Shame” were:
PA House of Representatives
Rep. F. Keller
Rep. M. Keller
Rep. S. Smith
Sen. D. White
Sen. M. White