Monday, November 09, 2009

Sestak on Natural Gas Drilling

Congressman Joe Sestak, currently running for senate, sent out a press release on the environmental problems associated with natural gas drilling. Here is an excerpt:

In light of recent Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) findings across the state, which have revealed harmful contamination of drinking and bathing water by oil and gas companies, Democratic U.S. Senate candidate, Congressman Joe Sestak is renewing his push for Congress to immediately pass the Fracturing Responsibility and Awareness of Chemicals (FRAC) Act, which he co-sponsored in the House of Representatives (HR 2766).

Drinking water throughout the state has been found to be contaminated in cases linked to gas drilling in at least seven counties. Pennsylvania oil and gas wells now produce nine million gallons of wastewater a day and will produce an estimated 19 million gallons per day by 2011 at the current pace, according to DEP estimates. Joe, who is among the 37 co-sponsors of the bill, sees this crisis in Pennsylvania as a wake up call for Congress to take action.

"If Pennsylvanians can't trust their own drinking water, then they should at least be able to trust their representatives in Congress to hold these companies accountable to fix the problem," Joe said. "This problem isn't new, but what's getting old is how long it takes for our government to respond. The bill I am advocating will repeal the Bush-era measure, know as the 'Haliburton exemption,' which allows oil and gas companies to bypass restrictions and inject potentially dangerous chemicals into our drinking water. What we need now is more leadership for Pennsylvania in Congress."

This past summer, the DEP investigated drilling areas in Western Pennsylvanians along the Monongahela River, after seeing contamination levels rapidly rising. More recently in Wayne County, Dimock Township residents fell victim to contaminated drinking and bathing water at the hands of Texas-based Cabit Oil & Gas, which was found to have gas wells seeping combustible levels of methane into a local aquifer for almost a year, according to The Wayne Independent. Just this past week, the DEP issued a 23-page order for corrective actions to eliminate a "slew" of environmental violations in Dimock, fining the company $120,000, adding to a previous $56,000 fine just months earlier, for three toxic chemical spills.

Among the companies engaged in "hydro-fracking" is Halliburton, noteworthy for being awarded no-bid contracts by the Bush Administration for reconstruction efforts in Iraq amidst allegations of waste, fraud, and abuse.

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