In his letter, Mr. Spigelmyer touts Pennsylvania's strong regulatory framework with regard to the oil and gas industry, while imploring us to "stick to the facts." With pleasure...
Fact: a recent Harrisburg Patriot-News investigation has uncovered "systemic failures" on the part of state regulators to enforce environmental, health and safety standards for the multibillion-dollar oil and gas industry. http://www.pennlive.com/midstate/index.ssf/2015/10/state_regulators_fail_to_prote.html#incart_m-rpt-2
Fact: The federal Environmental Protection Agency has found "major issues" with the Pennsylvania DEP in a recent review of DEP practices. http://www.pennlive.com/midstate/index.ssf/2015/11/federal_regulators_find_major.html
Fact: The EPA itself is under fire from its own scientists re: a study of fracking's effects on drinking water; the scientists refute the study's claim that fracking "has not led to widespread, systemic impacts on drinking water resources in the United States." http://insideclimatenews.org/news/19112015/fracking-water-pollution-epa-study-natural-gas-drilling?utm_source=Inside+Climate+News&utm_campaign=3c54768dcb-Weekly_Newsletter_11_22_201511_20_2015&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_29c928ffb5-3c54768dcb-327748361
What we have here is a case of tumbling regulatory dominoes, making it doubtful that the public can trust the oil and gas industry to be adequately regulated at any level, state or federal.
Both Mr. Spigelmyer's letter and the editorial Jeer refer to health studies done in relation to unconventional drilling. Regarding such studies, let's be clear: none of these studies are "conclusive." All of them point to the need for further research. So by all means let's throw caution to the wind and "drill baby drill" near schools and residential areas until all the research is completed! How many times have we done this in our nation's sad industrial-health history, only to rue the consequences later?
Health care practitioners at the Southwest PA Environmental Health Project in Washington County are assisting residents with medical issues that reflect those being indicated by these studies.
In the press release to the Johns Hopkins University study linking proximity of unconventional drilling to premature births and high-risk pregnancies, lead researcher Dr. Brian Schwartz, MD states: "The first studies have all shown health impacts. Policymakers need to consider findings like these in thinking about how they allow this industry to go forward." http://www.jhsph.edu/news/news-releases/2015/study-fracking-industry-wells-associated-with-premature-birth.html
Meanwhile, local policymakers in Middlesex and Butler townships and other municipalities in Butler County have seen fit to approve unconventional drilling in close proximity to schools and residential neighborhoods in the face of all scientific medical research and what most of us consider sound zoning practices. In the zoning boards as well as the lower courts there seem to be two and only two guiding principles with regard to zoning for drilling, both of which benefit leaseholders: 1.) a person has the right to develop his property as he sees fit, and 2.) a person can get money from this kind of development.
This new approach to "zoning" poses significant soul-searching for me as I try to figure out the most profitable use for my half-acre. A methadone clinic? An adult bookstore? Maybe a small-scale nuclear waste dumping site? Points to ponder. At least there's one thing which apparently I don't need to worry about: how any of these options might impact my neighbors...
Hey -- I got my rights!!!
Mr. Spigelmyer's comments are to be expected from someone who is paid handsomely by the gas industry to make it look good. And I suppose the disparaging editorial comments from a newspaper that receives thousands of dollars annually in advertisements (read: propaganda) from the gas industry is to be expected as well.