Pa. families call on Josh Shapiro to fulfill recommendations of fracking grand jury

This story originally appeared on StateImpact Pennsylvania.

Families that live near fracking in Washington County are disappointed in Gov. Josh Shapiro’s recent partnership with a major gas driller, saying it doesn’t do enough to bring accountability to the industry.

Moms and Dads-Family Awareness of Cancer Threat Spike or MAD-FACTS met at the state capitol last week to share stories about illnesses they’ve experienced since fracking boomed in the southwest corner of the state.

Jodi Borello said she lives about 1,400 feet from a pipeline inspection gauge receiving station. She said she and her family can see a mist of emissions when they are released from the station. If they stay outside when the mist drifts into her yard, she said, they develop a painful rash.

The group wants Shapiro to do more to adopt the recommendations of a 2020 grand jury that found the state failed to protect the public from the health effects of fracking.

Earlier this month, Shapiro announced an agreement with CNX for the company to voluntarily follow most of the report’s recommendations.

Shapiro said the agreement could serve as a model for extracting natural gas “in the most responsible, sustainable way anywhere in the nation.” He added that he was tired of waiting for the General Assembly to pass laws on natural gas standards.

For MAD-FACTS, the agreement makes it look like Shapiro is siding with industry. The group says it can’t trust CNX, and says CNX has committed more than 400 violations since the grand jury report, according to FracTracker Alliance data.

“He did exactly what he said he was trying to protect Pennsylvanians from and I believe he sided with bigger wallets and better connections,” Borello said.

Under the agreement, CNX will keep new infrastructure 600 feet from homes, up from 500 feet.

The grand jury recommended a 2,500-foot setback.

CNX is also promising to be more transparent about what chemicals it uses in the fracking process and to put an end to the “revolving door” between regulators and industry by not hiring Department of Environmental Protection employees for two years after they leave the agency.

  • November 21, 2023
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