It’s practically become a tradition: organizations and citizens gather at the State Capitol in Harrisburg to decry actions taken by elected officials who seem more interested in doing the gas industry’s bidding than what’s right for communities and the environment.
At yesterday’s rally, participants demanded that the legislature revoke Act 13, which gutted local zoning rights over oil and gas operations and would allow facilities even in residential and agricultural areas. When it passed last February, Earthworks and our allies quickly denounced it as another big gas giveaway. As predicted, the backlash was swift and strong—culminating in a lawsuit brought by Delaware Riverkeeper Network and several municipalities that was largely upheld by the state Commonwealth Court (a state Supreme Court ruling is expected this fall).
Now the PA Campaign for Clean Water and residents statewide are demanding that legislators restore the ability of local governments to protect communities by revoking Act 13. Or, they will remain on the “Scroll of Shame,” a 20-foot banner list of those who voted for the bill—unless they don’t make it through the November elections, as voters consult the Act 13 scorecard.
Given all the problems brought on by the state’s rush to drill and dangerously weak gas industry oversight and enforcement, it’s not surprising that the calls for a moratorium on the issuance of new drilling permits are also growing stronger. Senator Jim Ferlo (Allegheny County) announced at the rally that he will introduce a bill to require a comprehensive study on drilling impacts, including on health and the environment—support for which would be a welcome reason to return to the Rotunda soon again.