Activists express fears on gas drilling

Green Party rally on Earth Day protests environmental concerns regarding fracking.

By Sherry
Staff Writer

WILKES-BARRE – Local environmental activists used this year’s Earth Day to address their viewpoints on gas drilling.

Members of the Luzerne County Green Party held a rally on Public Square around lunchtime Thursday explaining their fears that gas companies drilling throughout Northeastern Pennsylvania will cause more environmental harm than good by drilling.

This year was the 40th anniversary of Earth Day, the international movement to bring awareness to economical issues.

Party co-chairman Carl Romanelli thinks the state needs to enact stiffer guidelines to protect the water resources because the gas drillers were given what he called a loophole in 2005 in the federal Clean Water Act.

He believes the hydro-fracturing system, also known as fracking, used to extract gas from deep within the earth could be harmful because it uses what he calls a “toxic soup” of chemicals.

“It is essential that the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania step up to protect its citizens and natural resources of Pennsylvania and not sell us out,” Romanelli said.

Chris Tucker, a spokesman for the Marcellus Shale Coalition, an organization based near Pittsburgh, created to support gas drilling throughout the state, disagreed with Romanelli. He said gas drilling is more environmentally friendly than other drilling practices of decades past.

“Because of hydraulic fracking and horizontial drilling, we today produce 10 times the amount of energy with one-tenth the number of wells drilled. We are reducing land disturbance, reducing the need for infrastructure and reducing all types of environmental foot prints because we are drilling fewer wells,” Tucker said.

The primary elements used in fracking are excessive gallons of water and sand with a small amount of chemicals mixed in, he added. Those chemicals help push the water down nearly two miles deep into the surface, which then forces the gas upward.

He said fracking has been around for 60 years and is used by the federal Environmental Protection Agency to clean up severely toxic sites and dig nine out of every 10 wells, including water wells across the nation.

John Hanger of the state Department of Environmental Protection said the state monitors fracking very closely and there have been no instances of where fracking has contaminated anyone’s drinking water.

Copyright: Times Leader