Drilling Bans Hurt Low-income Families

Some local communities, such as affluent Peters Township, are seeking local bans on drilling in the name of environmental protection, but these unnecessary bans would hinder the ability of low-income families to provide for themselves. Here’s my letter published in the Philadelphia Inquirer addressing this:

Banning fracking would reverse the 70 percent reduction in natural-gas prices consumers have experienced since 2008. This would have a stark impact on Pennsylvania families, especially low-income families, who spend almost a quarter of their after-tax income on energy. An attack on affordable energy is an attack on low-income families’ ability to heat their homes, run hot water, and cook food.

Thankfully, we don’t have to choose between the environment and the poor, because drilling is being done responsibly, ensuring clean water and fresh air. But in “Drilling push raises stakes on health, environment,” (Sept. 10), the Inquirer Editorial Board frames the hydraulic fracturing process as “pumping a witch’s brew of chemicals underground” and never mentions the state’s stringent drilling standards, monitoring, and enforcement regimen, or that leading experts agree the process will not contaminate groundwater.

The state Department of Environmental Protection makes available online the list of chemicals used in fracking. In addition, many drilling companies are voluntarily disclosing the names of chemicals along with their classifications, volumes, dilution factors, and specific purpose, which can be located at fracfocus.org.

Of course drilling has impacts, but these impacts have been exaggerated and distorted beyond reality. Citizens’ drinking water and clean air are not in danger.