Anti-Fracking activists gathered on Wednesday in Philadelphia’s Love Park to protest Act 13, signed by Pennsylvania Governor Corbett last February 14th and largely seen as a big valentine by the Republican controlled General Assembly to the natural gas industry in the state. The fractivists wanted to send their own valentine to Corbett this year.
Act 13 rewrote existing statutes regulating the industry, implementing a long-overdue impact fee, but overriding local control over zoning and handing it over to the General Assembly – and the industry that currently controls it. Although that portion of the bill was struck down as unconstitutional, other problematic parts remain in force. For instance, although the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PA DEP) has access to the “proprietary” chemicals used in frack cocktails, the public does not. Although DEP has access to information about how and where wastewater is disposed of (if they ask for the records), the public does not. A “gag rule” prevents physicians from speaking about their knowledge of “proprietary” chemicals used in the frack process and their health impacts. To add insult to injury, the state has spent over a half million dollars in taxpayer money on appeals. The matter is before the Pennsylvania State Supreme Court, which has not yet made a ruling.