EARTHblog » Nadia Steinzor
June 16, 2011
With Pennsylvania s Marcellus Shale train rushing down the tracks nearly 3,100 wells drilled, two-thirds just since 2010 the present seems like a good time to adopt measures to protect health and the environment.
Yet as legislators drag their feet on regulatory change, another measure is gaining traction: adoption of a severance tax or impact fee. This is critical to ensure that the companies profiting from drilling also pay for the pollution, infrastructure damage, and safety risks that result, rather than continuing to make taxpayers foot the bill. (According to the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center, the lack of a severance tax has already cost the state $190 million since late 2009.)
May 12, 2011
For decades, gas and oil companies have enjoyed seemingly unshakeable influence over policy and politicians. So it s nice to think that they might be paying attention to recent events, in which citizens have spoken so loudly and clearly that decisionmakers have been forced to listen.
Yesterday, the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) voted unanimously to temporarily table a request by XTO Energy (ExxonMobil Corp.) to withdraw 250,000 gallons of water a day from a stream in Broome County, NY known for its unique trout habitat. It wasn t a full meeting agenda that did it but the receipt of over 7,000 emails and hundreds of letters in just over a week from residents and organizations across the region, thanks to an outreach push by Delaware Riverkeeper Network and its allies.
The key argument made was that issuing the permit would be premature and risky given the current moratorium on drilling permits in the Basin and work now underway to assess the impacts of gas development, including water withdrawal. Hopefully the commissioners will ultimately heed this logic; they'll certainly have another chance to hear it from more residents because they did agree to another citizen ask: to hold a public hearing on the application in the area that would be most impacted by the withdrawal.