Fracking and its infrastructure is not safe. It doesn't belong anywhere but it is particularly dangerous when it is located nearby. It is linked to premature births, low birth weight, problem pregnancies, admissions to local emergency rooms for cardiac incidents, childhood asthma and a host of other medical conditions. Fracking has also been linked to groundwater contamination, air pollution, and methane is a very powerful greenhouse gas. Accidents at drill sites can have catastrophic consequences and evacuation zones extend beyond the half mile separating the Geyer well and the Mars Campus (and certainly the 700 feet from the Kozic Brothers well to Summit Elementary); putting children and their teachers at risk is not acceptable.
Communities in Butler County have, for too long, been subjected to industry malpractice, governmental negligence and collusion, and unneighborly acts of aggression by leaseholders who assert rights to "improve" property while endangering people nearby.
Drilling needs to stop. The short and sordid history of shale extraction in Butler County shows that it is too dangerous, its practitioners too reckless, and government oversight inadequate to nonexistent.
We, the undersigned, demand that Rex and other drilling companies, the Butler County Commissioners, leaseholders (including Commissioner-elect Kim Geyer), other local government officials, our representatives in State and Federal government act to protect our communities and vulnerable children, restore water to the Woodlands, stop drilling and give more than lip service to the concept of neighborliness. We further demand an investment in "green" technologies and conservation measures.
In the last several months, several studies from highly respected institutions have been released linking the proximity of fracking and negative health impacts:
- A study released in June out of the University of Pittsburgh linked proximity to fracked wells and low birth weights
- An October study out of Johns Hopkins linked proximity to fracked wells and premature births and problem pregnancies
- A University of Pennsylvania study released in July linked proximity to fracked wells and increased cardiovascular admissions to emergency rooms
- The Southwestern Pennsylvania Environmental Health Project has linked proximity to fracked wells to many health impacts - from minor to acute
- A Public Herald expose' recently uncovered thousands of water complaints related to fracking in DEP's own paperwork and a completely inadequate response from that agency.
Here in Butler County, you are, today, facing a significant shortfall and I'm sure you are looking at ways to impact fees from the state. I'm here to tell you that we have significant impacts right here in Butler County.
I have some suggestions for spending that impact fee:
The people in the Woodlands have been without water for 5 years. Get them water.
The children and staff at Summit Elementary are mere hundreds of feet from the Kozik Brothers well. Purchase high quality air filters to, at least, partially mitigate the dangers they are subjected to.
The children and staff in the Mars School District and the people of Weatherburn who are, as we speak, being placed in harm's way by the reckless and irresponsible decisions by the industry, local government, land owners (including Commissioner-elect Kim Geyer), and State and Federal decision makers: they, too, need protection.
I've heard you Commissioners say in the past that fracking is not something that the Commissioners can deal with. I say, on the contrary, just as you can be ambassadors for the county for things like tourism and business, you can be advocates for the health and welfare of the residents of Butler County. Just as you can be administrators of the public purse, you can make sure that the public is not harmed by bad actors and that those already harmed can be justly compensated and made whole.
I'm calling on the new Commissioners to do what you have failed to do - protect the people of Butler County from this dangerous industry."
-- Michael Bagdes-Canning