MONROEVILLE, June 3, 2022 – State Senator Katie Muth (D- Berks/Chester/Montgomery), chair of the Senate Democratic Policy Committee, joined Senator Jim Brewster (D-Allegheny/Westmoreland) to co-host a public hearing on state policies and the public health impacts of the development of the shale gas industry in Pennsylvania yesterday in Allegheny County.
“Pennsylvania is one of the largest gas producing states and therefore one of the biggest waste and pollution-producing states in our nation. The continued development of the fracked gas industry with regulators using discretionary enforcement, allowing reckless companies to put people in harms way all across our state, writing off the harm as the cost of doing business,” Muth said. “The stories we heard from impacted residents and research presented on the health impacts of the drilling industry make it abundantly clear that the Majority party in the House and Senate in Harrisburg must enact stronger regulations and close loopholes in the law so that the fracked gas industry is held to the same standards as other industries operating in our Commonwealth, and take urgent action to replace contaminated water supplies and ensure healthcare to every resident suffering from the harms they’ve been forced to endure for the sake of corporate profits.”
The Senate Democratic Policy Committee hearing, hosted at CCAC’s Boyce Campus in Monroeville, featured three panels of testimony that included Pennsylvania residents impacted by the shale gas industry and public health and policy experts.
“Thanks to the experts who provided informative testimony about the policies surrounding Pennsylvania’s shale gas boom,” Brewster said. “While I am a supporter of the shale gas industry because it boosts our economy and creates family-sustaining jobs, I also believe that companies need to pay their fair share and follow the rules to protect the health and safety of residents.”
In April, the Environmental Health Project presented its latest white paper, Pennsylvania’s Shale Gas Boom: How Policy Decisions Failed to Protect Public Health and What We Can Do to Correct It, which demonstrated that public health considerations have not been central to the conversation in the development of the shale gas industry in Pennsylvania.
“The path that got us to where we are today involved downplaying existing public health research, presuming safety and vast economic benefits based on the word of industrial interests, and pushing the burden of proof to those who are often least equipped to advocate for themselves,” Alison L. Steele, Executive Director, EHP added. “It is within the government’s capability to create a better, stronger, more health-protective approach, starting today. We call on leaders in the Pennsylvania government to introduce policy and support decisions that protect the public’s health in the face of this emission-intensive extractive industry. There is much to be done.”
Participants in the hearing included Gillian Graber, Executive Director, Protect PT; Cathy Lodge, Washington County resident; Mackenzie White, Public Health Manager, EHP; Dr. Brian Schwartz, Professor of Environmental Health and Engineering, Epidemiology, and Medicine, Johns Hopkins University; Lisa Graves-Marcucci, Pennsylvania Coordinator, Community Outreach, Environmental Integrity Project; and Alison L. Steele, Executive Director, EHP.
“Pennsylvania residents are reporting serious health impacts from shale gas development. As a public health professional, I find these stories to be quite concerning,” Mackenzie White, Public Health Manager, EHP, said. “While not everyone can be a public health professional, legislators are in a position to represent their constituents—so many of whom have similar stories. We can still take actions to protect the health of Pennsylvanians and ensure a healthier future for all.”
Other members of the Senate Democratic Policy Committee that participated included Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa, Senator Lindsey Williams, Senator Wayne Fontana, and Senator John Kane.
“Yesterday’s hearing emphasized that more work needs to be done to address the serious public health concerns surrounding natural gas extraction,” Costa said. “The economic, health and environmental factors surrounding the matter are not mutually exclusive and I know that we can balance those needs in an effective, responsible manner.”
All submitted testimony from the policy hearing and the full video is available at SenatorMuth.com/Policy
Panel 1: Community Impact
Panel 2: Health Effects
- Makenzie White | Public Health Manager, Environmental Health Project
- Dr. Brian Schwartz | Professor of Environmental Health and Engineering, Epidemiology, and Medicine, Johns Hopkins University
Panel 3: Policy Solutions
- Lisa Graves-Marcucci | Pennsylvania Coordinator, Community Outreach – Environmental Integrity Project
- Alison L. Steele | Executive Director, Environmental Health Project
- Environmental Health Project – Position Statement
- How Shale Gas Development (Fracking) Affects Public Health (Environmental Health Project)
- How Policy Decisions Failed to Protect Public Health and What We Can Do to Correct It (Environmental Health Project)
- Marcellus Shale: What Local Government Officials Need to Know (Penn State)
- A Snapshot of the Shale Gas Buildout in Pennsylvania (Environmental Integrity Project)