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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2019 - 2020 Regular Session


Posted: June 19, 2020 10:44 AM
From: Senator Daylin Leach
To: All Senate members
Subject: Banning Hydraulic Fracturing in Pennsylvania
Soon I will introduce legislation to create a constitutional amendment banning hydraulic fracturing in Pennsylvania.

Article 1 Section 27 of the Pennsylvania Constitution grants the people of our Commonwealth the rights to “clean air” and “pure water.” In 2012, with that right hanging in the balance, this General Assembly provided for the regulation of a natural gas extraction technique called hydraulic fracturing. Extraction of natural gas proceeded swiftly thereafter. Sadly, the negative health effects of the extraction process soon began to become apparent. Citizens of our Commonwealth were deprived not just of their Constitutional rights to clean air and pure water – they were deprived of lives free from pain, of the chance to meet their grandchildren, of the promise of common wealth – what William Penn called the “law in our hearts to love and help and do good to one another, and not to do harm and mischief unto one another.”

Air pollution caused by hydraulic fracturing pollutants has been linked to asthma, respiratory diseases, lung diseases such as silicosis, and lung cancer, especially among sensitive populations and on-site workers. Water pollution, including dangerously high levels of methane and ethane, has been found in the groundwater up to a kilometer away from hydraulic fracturing activities. This pollution and its dire health consequences are caused by the undisclosed, toxic chemicals that are fundamental to the hydraulic fracturing process and the radioactive waste that is an unavoidable byproduct. The PA Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has acknowledged 345 cases of groundwater contamination caused by drilling activity, including hydraulic fracturing. At least one study found a correlation between homes with relatively high radon and homes that use well water and are located near unconventional wells. It is difficult to know exactly which chemicals in the fracking process are contaminating our water, land, and air because our law allows the industry to keep that a secret. However, studies have identified some of the chemicals being used and linked them horrific health outcomes.

While our neighbors continue to suffer, contamination continues unchecked. I have lost all confidence in the DEP and the industry’s ability to keep people safe from hydraulic fracturing. We were promised that the industry would bring jobs and wealth to Pennsylvania, but in 2018, 28 oil and gas producers filed for bankruptcy and, so far this year, 26 oil and gas producers filed for bankruptcy. Executives from these companies are getting rich off of our resources and suffering, and then leaving us to clean up the mess they’ve made. This is clearly not a model that works. Pennsylvania’s hydraulic fracturing experiment is an utter failure.

But the suffering does not end in our backyard. Our hydraulic fracturing activity has directly contributed to the global increase in methane emissions that is accelerating the pace of our planet’s climate crises. Methane traps heat at roughly 86 times the rate of carbon dioxide on a 20-year time scale, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and directly aggravates climate change, counteracting efforts to fight it. By now it should go without saying that the pain and suffering being caused by climate change is already staggering and will only get worse in the years to come. We face food and water shortages, natural disasters, disease, and war on a scale never before seen in human history.

We have ignored the staggering human cost of hydraulic fracturing for too long. For the sake of our families, neighbors, and all of humankind, we must stop hydraulic fracturing as soon as possible.

Please join me in supporting this important legislation. If you have questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Document #1

Introduced as SB1218

Description: This is the constitutional amendment that would enshrine the fracking ban in the state constitution. 
  View Attachment

Document #2

Introduced as SB1217

Description: This supplemental statutory legislation would implement the fracking ban by providing for penalties and liability. 
  View Attachment