Fracking Contaminates Water, DEP Finds
The potential for local water supplies to be contaminated by hydraulic fracturing (fracking) for natural gas is among Pennsylvania residents’ top environmental concerns. Oil and gas companies claim this never happens. In 2011 testimony before Congress, Pennsylvania’s then- Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Secretary, Michael Krancer said he knew of no cases of contamination.
Clean Water Action has been helping a statewide coalition determine how many water contamination cases DEP is aware of. The groups want to know what the state has done to help affected families and what actions are being taken to prevent future contamination. Under pressure from Clean Water Action, environmental allies, legislators and the public, Krancer finally wrote a lengthy April 2013 response, stating that DEP was aware of twenty-five water contamination cases from Marcellus Shale gas wells. Krancer resigned as DEP secretary two days later.
In the Pittsburgh region, whenever it rains — even just a little bit — the sewer system is overwhelmed with stormwater. When this happens, ALCOSAN, the region’s sewer authority, cannot handle the huge volume of water and millions of gallons of raw untreated sewage pour into Pittsburgh’s rivers. ALCOSAN has been told by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to fix this problem, soon.
The money to solve this sewage overflow problem, the biggest public works project ever in this region, will come from ALCOSAN rate payers. Rate payers need to be involved in the process so they can get the most value for the money they will be spending.
The beautiful and powerful Susquehanna River stretches 400 miles, provides drinking water to millions of people, supports wildlife and unique environments, and is the largest river feeding the Chesapeake Bay. Natural gas development is expanding throughout the watershed at a rapid rate. Governments responsible for protecting the watershed do not yet have much understanding of how fracking affects the watershed, let alone how to protect human or aquatic life from the negative impacts of fracking.
Clean Water Action’s “Greener Communities” report, released in January, evaluates green stormwater management by 25 municipalities in Chester County’s Brandywine Creek watershed. The report’s focus is “low-impact development” (LID), an approach that uses less pavement and more natural systems and green spaces to reduce environmental impacts.
Clean Water Action continued the highly successful campaign to stop the dumping of toxic gas drilling wastewater into rivers and streams. Clean Water Action reached a legal settlement with the McKeesport municipal sewage plant (south of Pittsburgh), getting an agreement to stop accepting all oil and gas wastewater at the plant. This is the third agreement reached with sewage plants in southwest Pennsylvania. At this point, sewage plants in Pennsylvania have stopped taking drilling wastewater. However, there are several industrial plants that appear to still be discharging wastewater from oil and gas operations. Clean Water Action will continue organizing in 2013 to stop all oil and gas wastewater from being dumped into Pennsylvania’s rivers.
On behalf of our members and supporters, we write today in opposition to H.R. 1965, The
Federal Lands Jobs and Energy Security Act. This bill seeks to undermine how the Department
of the Interior manages federal lands and to prioritize oil and gas development over the other
multiple uses of these lands. It is a clear giveaway to the fossil fuel industry, at the expense of
millions of Americans who rely on our public lands for other uses, such as hunting, fishing,
protection of water supplies, and many others.
The bill contains numerous troublesome provisions. We’ve chosen to highlight a few of these.
We, the undersigned conservation organizations representing millions of members urge you to oppose HR 1900, the Natural Gas Pipeline Permitting Reform Act. This legislation amends Section 7 of the Natural Gas Act (15 U.S.C. 717f) to subvert state permitting authorities, expand the reach of eminent domain, and undercut input in decisions affecting communities.
HR 1900 creates serious negative consequences for states wishing to protect their
November, 5, 2013
The Honorable Gina McCarthy
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
William Jefferson Clinton Building
Mail Code 1101A
1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20460
Dear Administrator McCarthy:
We applaud the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for proposing strong “Tier 3” clean
vehicle and fuel standards, which will make our air cleaner to breathe and save lives. We are
writing to strongly urge you to finalize these critical standards as soon as possible, in order to
maximize the economic, public health and air quality benefits that these standards deliver.