Thursday frontline community members, scientists, and environmental advocates met with Gov. Tom Wolf and members of his cabinet to urge him to halt shale gas extraction statewide to allow for a comprehensive assessment of its short- and long-term impacts on the Commonwealth.
The meeting organized by Pennsylvanians Against Fracking included presentations by Dr. Robert Howarth of Cornell University, Dr. Yuri Gorby of Rensselaer Polytechnic, Jenny Lisak of the Pennsylvania Alliance for Clean Water and Air, Elaine Mamrek of Concerned Citizens Against the Easton Compressor, and Karen Feridun of Berks Gas Truth.
“It was encouraging to know that he’s willing to listen to citizens’ concerns. Now if only he would act now and soon before more Pennsylvanians are harmed. His policies shouldn’t be at the expense of healthy communities and healthy families. Pennsylvania families should be safeguarded, not sacrificed,” said Jenny Lisak, Co-Director of Pennsylvania Alliance for Clean Water and Air, a Pennsylvanians Against Fracking steering committee member.
“I was thankful for the welcoming reception we received from the Governor for this introductory meeting and am motivated by his offer to follow up with a more substantive, comprehensive engagement. As this process moves forward, I strongly urge that the Governor focus on and address the human health impacts currently being suffered by his citizens and take immediate action to protect them,” said Yuri Gorby, Ph.D., a Rensselaer Polytechnic microbiologist who has spent considerable time studying fracking’s impacts in Western Pennsylvania.
“Gov. Wolf was very engaged and interested in what we had come to tell him. He directly asked us what it would take to safely develop the gas. The answer we gave is that so far, shale gas has not been developed in an acceptably safe manner anywhere,” said Robert Howarth, Ph.D., a Cornell earth systems scientist who, with his colleague, did groundbreaking research on methane migration and is well-known for his work on climate.
“In the end, shale gas makes no sense as a bridge fuel, since even with aggressive reduction of methane emissions, its greenhouse gas footprint will likely remain too large. As the Governor and his staff continue to investigate the latest science on this topic and on the public health consequences, my hope is that Pennsylvania may join New York in banning this process and in moving to a 21st Century powered by renewable energy rather than extreme fossil fuels,” continued Dr. Howarth.
“Ultimately, to frack or not to frack will be Governor Wolf’s decision and, in turn, his legacy. When Gov. Cuomo looked at Pennsylvania, he banned fracking. It’s time for Governor Wolf to look at Pennsylvania. Unlike his predecessors, he can avail himself of more than 425 studies on fracking that now exist. In addition, the New York State Department of Health issued its report in December. We provided him with a packet containing those resources,” said Karen Feridun, Founder of Berks Gas Truth, a steering committee member of Pennsylvanians Against Fracking.
“We hope he reviews it. We urge him to do that and more – visit frontline communities, consult with experts, fill the glaring gap in research on health impacts, and stop fracking,” concluded Feridun.
Pennsylvanians Against Fracking is a statewide coalition of organizations, institutions, and businesses calling for a halt to fracking in the Commonwealth.