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Group seeks moratorium pledges in Pa. gubernatorial race

By Bob Downing Published: April 16, 2014

From Food and Water Watch Fund today:

Anti-Fracking Group Announces New Electoral Campaign Seeking Drilling Moratorium Pledges from Dem. Gubernatorial Candidates L.G. Candidate Koplinski Signs on, Will Discuss Along with Filmmaker Josh Fox

Philadelphia, PA- Today, Food & Water Watch Fund announced the launch of a new electoral campaign to pressure Democratic gubernatorial candidates to publically pledge to institute a moratorium on new fracking operations if elected. The campaign, Pa. Voters Against Fracking, will utilize a wide variety of grassroots organizing, communications and advertising strategies, and leverage the already strong and growing movement for a drilling moratorium among Democratic voters.

Central to the campaign is the group’s Pledge to Halt Fracking, which calls for a commitment from candidates for governor and lieutenant governor that, if elected, they will instruct the Department of Environmental Protection to halt issuing new drilling permits in Pennsylvania until the practice is proven safe. Activists working with the campaign have hand-delivered the pledge to each of the candidates for Governor at various campaign events, and have secured their first pledge commitment from Lieutenant Governor candidate and Harrisburg City Councilman Brad Koplinski, the first statewide candidate to take the pledge. He and award-winning filmmaker and anti-fracking activist Josh Fox joined for the conference call.

“The movement against fracking is strong, and we intend to show that strength as primary election day approaches,” said Sam Bernhardt, Senior Pennsylvania Organizer for Food & Water Watch Fund. “For the first time, a political operation will now be able to harness the energy of the huge grassroots anti-fracking movement and channel it directly into swinging what will surely be a wide-open race with a very tight margin of victory. Let me be clear: we are putting those candidates who stand in support of fracking on notice.”

Joining the call was the first statewide candidate to take the pledge, Lieutenant Governor candidate and Harrisburg City Councilman Brad Koplinski. "As a candidate for the office of Lt. Governor, a role which would allow me oversight of the gas drilling industry through the Marcellus advisory committee, I am proud to join in the PA voters against fracking pledge,” said Koplinski. “This action is consistent with my campaign and my values as a progressive. I support the call for a moratorium until the human and environmental costs of this practice can be fully understood."

"The only sensible position on fracking in PA is an immediate moratorium,” said Josh Fox, the award-winning filmmaker behind Gasland and Gasland Part II. “Citizens of the commonwealth are being put in harms way by a rapacious industry that cannot be controlled and resists responsibility for the grave damage they are inflicting on our public and private water supplies, our air and on public health. I have investigated the harms of drilling and fracking in PA for five years and the results are conclusive: everywhere this industry goes, it destroys the environment and the integrity of the community and makes life very difficult and dangerous for people. Add to this the very dire need to stop drilling for fossil fuels because of climate change and you get a very simple answer: continued drilling and fracking is irresponsible and damaging to this and future generations. It must be stopped and the shift to renewable energy must be made as fast as possible, it's a no-brainer."

“Last June, the Pennsylvania Democratic Party voted 59% - 41% to support a statewide moratorium on fracking around the same time a Muhlenberg College poll showed that 58% of all Pennsylvanians support the same thing,” said Karen Feridun of Berks Gas Truth, who led the charge to pass the Democratic committee resolution. “We’re thrilled that Brad Koplinski is listening to what Pennsylvanians are telling him. His decision to sign the pledge is smart policy and smart politics.”

More info:

Fracking is evolving as a highly contentious issue among Democratic voters. Tellingly, the State Democratic Party has called for a drilling moratorium. For the first time, a political operation will now be able to harness the energy of the huge grassroots anti-fracking movement and channel it directly into swinging what will surely be a wide-open race with a very tight margin of victory.

Pennsylvania's Governor and Lieutenant Governor are critical decision-making positions on the issue of fracking. With their control over the Department of Environmental Protection, the Governor has control over the issuance of permits for fracking. As the presumptive chair of the Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission, the Lieutenant Governor can act as an advocate to highlight the numerous problems associated with fracking.

Pa. Voters Against Fracking has formally presented the pledge – which specifically promises a moratorium on all new fracking in the state – to each candidate. We will aggressively pursue the other candidates for their compliance through a blending of grassroots organizing and advocacy tactics that Food & Water Watch has mastered, and targeted political spending through media buys, visibility, etc. Additionally, we will collect more than 20,000 signatures of voters opposed to fracking. We will deliver our voter list to any candidate that publicly endorses our pledge.

Pennsylvania Voters Against Fracking is a project of Food & Water Watch Fund. View the Pledge to Halt fracking in its entirety.



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Utica and Marcellus shale web sites

Ohio Department of Natural Resources' Division of Oil and Gas Resources Management State agency Web site.

ODNR Division of Oil and Gas Resources Management. State drilling permits. List is updated weekly.

ODNR Division of Geological Survey.

Ohio Environmental Protection Agency.

Ohio State University Extension.

Ohio Farm Bureau.

Ohio Oil and Gas Association, a Granville-based group that represents 1,500 Ohio energy-related companies.

Ohio Oil & Gas Energy Education Program.

Energy In Depth, a trade group.

Marcellus and Utica Shale Resource Center by Ohio law firm Bricker & Eckler.

Utica Shale, a compilation of Utica shale activities.

Landman Report Card, a site that looks at companies involved in gas and oil leases.FracFocus, a compilation of chemicals used in fracking individual wells as reported voluntarily by some drillers.

Chesapeake Energy Corp,the Oklahoma-based firm is the No. 1 driller in Ohio.

Rig Count Interactive Map by Baker Hughes, an energy services company.

Shale Sheet Fracking, a Youngstown Vindicator blog.

National Geographic's The Great Shale Rush.

The Ohio Environmental Council, a statewide eco-group based in Columbus.

Buckeye Forest Council.

Earthjustice, a national eco-group.

Stop Fracking Ohio.

People's Oil and Gas Collaborative-Ohio, a grass-roots group in Northeast Ohio.

Concerned Citizens of Medina County, a grass-roots group.

No Frack Ohio, a Columbus-based grass-roots group.

Fracking: Gas Drilling's Environmental Threat by ProPublica, an online journalism site.

Penn State Marcellus Center.

Pipeline, blog from Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on Marcellus shale drilling.

Allegheny Front, environmental public radio for Western Pennsylvania.