Senator Jim Ferlo (D-Pittsburgh) recently announced the introduction of Senate Bill 1100: a moratorium on issuing new permits for hydraulic fracturing, known as “fracking,” in Pennsylvania. While there are over 14,000 permits issued for unconventional wells in various stages of operation, the legislation would stop the granting of new permits for fracking while an appointed study commission analyzes the agricultural, economic, environmental, and social impacts of oil and gas drilling.
“Since the advent of the shale gas industry in Pennsylvania, I have advocated for a more cautious approach to natural gas extraction from our precious natural resources. We have seen the damage wrought by careless oil and gas drilling companies on our land, water, air, property, families, and livelihoods. I have introduced this bill because Pennsylvanians and gas field residents all over the country have been forced to stand by and watch these infractions, and we must take a step back to deliberately and thoughtfully direct our path into the future,” Ferlo explained.
Senate Bill 1100, known as the Natural Gas Drilling Moratorium Act, will stop the issuance of permits for drilling unconventional gas wells, and establish the Well Drilling Study Commission. This seven-person Commission will be tasked with conducting an unbiased study of a number of issues, including: water source protection, air quality regulations, disclosure of chemicals used in fracking, the permitting process, and more. The Commission must also issue recommendations for changes to the Commonwealth’s regulatory and statutory framework to ensure the protection of the public and the environment. The findings of the study must also take into account the legal, mineral, and property rights of the existing oil and gas industry already operating in Pennsylvania.
The Commission, made up of representatives from a nonprofit environmental organization, an academic representative, geologist, medical or public health expert, oil and gas industry representative, and both the Secretaries of Environmental Protection and Conservation and Natural Resources, will issue its report in January 2017.
“I stand by my legislation as an achievable goal, and want to reiterate my call on the public to take part in the advocacy process to advance this bill. Citizens all over Pennsylvania must take action and get involved in this effort,” Ferlo noted.
Senator Ferlo held a press conference in the Courtyard of the Allegheny County Courthouse on Wednesday. He was joined by PennEnvironment, members of Food and Water Watch, other community and environmental advocacy groups, and concerned citizens. The Senator called on his Senate colleagues for ongoing support of Senate Bill 1100. The bill is likely to be referred to the Environmental Resources and Energy Committee for further action.
About State Senator Jim Ferlo
State Senator Jim Ferlo is a Democrat representing the 38th Senatorial District comprised of parts of the City of Pittsburgh; Armstrong and Westmoreland Counties. Senator Ferlo serves constituents in two district offices; one in Lawrenceville and one in Natrona Heights. For more information, visit www.senatorferlo.com.