Unitarian Universalist Pennsylvania Legislative Advocacy Network
It is the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, sex, national origin, or income with respect to the development, implementation and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies. Unitarian Universalism's seventh principle, respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part, calls Unitarian Universalists to action regrading environmental justice!
Join with other UUs throughout Pennsylvania to oppose unregulated gas drilling and to combat global warming. Contact Team Leader Rev. Darcey Lane (Athens-Sheshequin), firstname.lastname@example.org.
To keep up to date and contribute to our Environmental Justice Team, check out our Blog -- http://uuplanenvironmentaljustice.wordpress.com/.
For more on UPLAN's Response to Marcellus Shale, see the resources below:
The truth about Hydraulic Fracturing: Fracking
How does hydraulic fracturing work?
Hydraulic fracturing or fracking is a means of natural gas extraction employed in deep natural gas well drilling. Once a well is drilled, millions of gallons of water, sand and proprietary chemicals are injected, under high pressure, into a well. The pressure fractures the shale and props open fissures that enable natural gas to flow more freely out of the well.
What is the Halliburton Loophole?
In 2005, the Bush/ Cheney Energy Bill exempted natural gas drilling from the Safe Drinking Water Act. It exempts companies from disclosing the chemicals used during hydraulic fracturing. Essentially, the provision took the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) off the job. It is now commonly referred to as the Halliburton Loophole.
The INSider Scoop!
Pennsylvania sits atop one of the largest deposits of natural gas in the world — the Marcellus shale formation. New drilling technology means that drillers are just now starting to tap into this resource. The PA Department of Environmental Protection issued a record 7,792 drilling permits in 2008 (up from roughly 2,000 in 1999).
Most states with natural gas resources tax the extraction of the gas. Governor Rendell (R) has proposed a tax on the extraction of natural gas identical to the one that has been in place in West Virginia since 1987. This tax is projected to initially raise more than $100 million a year, rising to more than $630 million annually by 2014.
Impact on Communities and Environment
Natural gas extraction imposes heavy costs on our communities and environment – pipelines, drilling pads and wastewater storage pits altering our landscapes and fragmenting wildlife habitat, heavy rigs damaging our roads, billions of gallons of water taken from our streams and operational errors contaminating our land and drinking water.
Some of the money raised from a natural gas extraction tax could be used to offset these costs and invest in watershed restoration and protection, habitat conservation, public access to outdoor recreation, and conservation of open space and farmland. This can be accomplished by directing a portion of the tax to the Environmental Stewardship Fund (Growing Greener) as well as to Pennsylvania’s natural resource commissions for habitat improvement and public access purposes.
Gas Drilling: A Reality?
Pennsylvania must enact a gas drilling impact fee to ensure that gas drillers - not the Pennsylvania taxpayers - shoulder the public costs that come with increased gas drilling.
Drillers pay an impact fee in other states they do business.
Out of the top 15 natural gas producing states, Pennsylvania is the only one that doesn't have a fee to compensate for the loss of our natural resources and help fix the scars of extraction. An impact fee (also called a severance tax) identical to the one in place in West Virginia since 1987 would raise more than $100 million a year initially, rising to more than $630 million annually by 2014.
Pennsylvania is ideally situated close to large markets, and since the cost to transport natural gas constitutes at least 40 percent of the price, Pennsylvania gas is among the cheapest in the country. Even with an impact fee, Pennsylvania gas will still be a good value.
Most gas companies operating in Pennsylvania are limited liability companies (LLC), which means they pay only the 3.07 percent personal income tax, not the 9.99 percent corporate income tax that other companies pay.
Environmental funding is running out.
Pennsylvania has already made significant investments in ensuring that our magnificent natural heritage will be passed on to our children. But that funding will soon end. Greener II bond money is nearly depleted and it will all be gone by 2012. Nearly half of the Environmental Stewardship Fund money is being diverted this year to pay off debt for Growing Greener II bonds, and that amount could grow to $60 million over the next several years. And the Oil and Gas Lease Fund, created in 1955 to reinvest in Pennsylvania’s green infrastructure, has been raided to help close the General Fund budget gap.
We must protect and restore our natural resources.
For generations, Pennsylvania’s waterways and public lands have been the backbone of our billion-dollar outdoor recreation and tourism industries. We must protect our economy and environment from natural gas drilling.
A portion of an impact fee should be dedicated to:
We must levy an impact fee now!
Multi-national corporations, such as ExxonMobil, are rushing to Pennsylvania to take advantage of the tremendous resource under our land. This represents a great opportunity to make the transition to cleaner fuel. But without an impact fee, we bear all the risks while the companies make all the profit. Pennsylvania cannot afford to ignore the lessons of the past, with coal mining leaving billion dollar damage to our water and land.