CBF Testifies that Cumulative Impacts of Drilling for Natural Gas Remain Unknown

CBF supports bill providing for public participation and a proactive approach to analyzing potential damage

(HARRISBURG, PA)—Harry Campbell, Pennsylvania Director for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF), testified today before the Pennsylvania House Democratic Policy Committee about the potential cumulative damage to Pennsylvania's rivers and streams, specifically those in the Chesapeake Bay watershed, as a result of drilling for natural gas.

Roughly half of Pennsylvania lies within the 64,000 square mile Chesapeake Bay watershed. Nearly all of the counties in Pennsylvania's portion of the Bay watershed contain the Marcellus Shale formation.

The Commonwealth also remains the largest contributor of nitrogen pollution to the Bay. And over 19,000 miles of Pennsylvania streams still do not meet clean water standards.

Mr. Campbell was one of seven panelists at a public hearing to discuss House Bill 2318 and the leasing of state parks and forests. Following the hearing Mr. Campbell issued this statement:

"Pennsylvania, along with the other Bay states, has developed a plan to reduce pollution entering local rivers, streams, and the Chesapeake Bay by 2025. This Clean Water Blueprint accounts for current pollution from agricultural activities, urban and suburban runoff, septic systems, and sewage treatment plants.

"Unfortunately, the potential damage from activities related to drilling for natural gas are not included in Pennsylvania's Clean Water Blueprint. By not knowing the cumulative impacts of the industry on Pennsylvania's Bay clean-up efforts, there is no way to have the industry pay its fair share. As a result, Pennsylvania communities, farmers, and businesses could be faced with the costs of having to reduce pollution beyond what is already expected.

"In our view, House Bill 2318 allows the public to weigh in on potential leasing of State Forest lands, and provides for a more proactive approach to analyzing the potential damage associated with the development of natural gas resources. Additionally, calling for a state forest environmental review is an important protection. In 2011, CBF called on the federal government to do just that throughout the Marcellus shale region."

Editor's Note:

In 2011, CBF called on the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) to conduct federal studies of the cumulative environmental impacts of unconventional natural gas extraction in the Marcellus shale basin, as well as pending exploration activities in the Taylorsville basin. Additionally, CBF petitioned CEQ to issue a Programmatic Environmental Impact Study addressing the cumulative impacts, and suggesting reasonable alternatives to mitigate negative impacts throughout the Chesapeake Bay states and promulgate any necessary guidance and regulations based upon the PEIS.

To date, no such study has been initiated.

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