Last week, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) reported that at a natural gas drilling site in Susquehanna County, a pipe transporting between 6,000 and 8,000 gallons of fracturing fluid leaked and the fluid spilled into the ground and a neighboring wetland. At this time, information regarding the contents of the fluid has not been released to the Pennsylvania DEP. Without this information, the DEP and community members have no idea what has seeped into the watershed.
Natural gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale region is a major issue for many towns and communities throughout Pennsylvania. The opportunity to drill for our own natural resources has led to job creation, strengthened our state economy and reduced our dependence on foreign oil. However, despite its many benefits, natural gas drilling presents a concern for the people living near these drilling sites. Hydraulic fracturing involves the use of toxic chemicals that are injected underground, sometimes directly into underground sources of drinking water. It is a highly variable and unpredictable process that can lead to unintended consequences and is linked to contamination of drinking water.
I believe it is important that we enact legislation to protect the health and safety of Pennsylvanians as we further develop this natural resource. For this reason, I have introduced the Fracturing Responsibility and Awareness of Chemicals (FRAC) Act that requires chemicals and additives used in hydraulic fracturing be reported to Environmental Protection Agency or appropriate state agencies for public disclosure. The FRAC Act also requires that companies disclose detailed information about chemical usage to medical professionals in the event of a medical emergency. To be clear, I do not oppose natural gas drilling, I only seek to ensure that these operations do not endanger the people of Pennsylvania.