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PA groups to Baker: support the moratorium; Keep ‘Independence from Fracking’

Pennsylvania residents and members of groups like Damascus Citizens for Sustainability rallied in front of Senator Lisa Baker’s office in Hawley, PA on July 11 to protest fracking and show support in favor of a state-wide gas drilling moratorium.
TRR photos by Isabel Braverman

By Isabel Braverman
July 17, 2013

A week after July Fourth celebrations, Pennsylvanians rallied for independence from fracking across the state on July 11, in events organized by Food and Water Watch.

Constituents, community groups and environmental organizations rallied at senators’ offices in support of legislation to establish a moratorium on fracking. Members of local groups, like Damascus Citizens for Sustainability (DCS), went to Senator Lisa Baker’s office in Hawley to meet with Thomas Yoniski Jr., the field representative of Baker. The event was organized by Alice Zinnes, who said she is against fracking for health and environmental reasons, and is in strong support of renewable energy.

Other senators included Browne (Lehigh), Dinniman (Chester), Farnese (Philadelphia), Kasunic (Fayette), McIlhinney (Bucks), Scarnati (Jefferson), Ward (Westmoreland), and White (Indiana).

To begin the meeting, Yoniski read a letter from Baker, in which she stated that she has heard from countless people on both sides of the fracking debate, and has taken their opinions into consideration and thought about the state-wide moratorium on fracking. She decided she is against the moratorium and wants fracking to come to Pennsylvania, and is in favor of emergency planning regulations on well sites, and keeping the wells a safe distance from water sources. She also said that fracking will bring economic opportunity.

The representatives and individuals were there to urge Baker to co-sponsor Senator Jim Furlo’s gas drilling moratorium legislation to halt future permitting of drilling until an independent study commission can determine if it is safe to move forward with it.

Wayne County has had a three-year moratorium, which has prevented gas drilling from coming to the area. Tension is rising over the moratorium, with pro-fracking group Northern Wayne Property Owners Association recently threatening a lawsuit against the DRBC to end it, and anti-frackers urging senators to support and continue the moratorium. The DCS website states, “By saying ‘no’ to a moratorium in PA – your state senator is saying ‘yes’ to unsafe, dangerous, and unproven fracking in PA.”

The goals of the state-wide “Independence from Fracking” were to increase the number of sponsors to Senator Ferlo’s fracking moratorium legislation, to showcase that a majority of Pennsylvanians now are against fracking, to increase the momentum the movement has now created and to show Senator Baker that her constituents do not want fracking in Wayne County, or anywhere in PA.