An energy supply and consumption watchdog group is taking its fight against a proposed moratorium on shale drilling in Pennsylvania to the lawmakers sponsoring the bill and to their constituents.
The Consumer Energy Alliance sent a letter to State Sen. Jim Ferlo (D-Allegheny) asking him to pull the legislation from consideration. SB 1100 was introduced in September and was referred to the Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee where it has languished ever since.
The bill calls for the state to stop issuing new drilling permits until a full assessment of the environmental, social and economic impacts of shale drilling can be completed.
“This is poor legislation that will impact the poor, the elderly, and the disenfranchised folks that have benefited from lower natural gas prices in heating their homes,” said Andrew Browning, Executive Vice President, Consumer Energy Alliance.
Sen. Ferlo declined to comment on the request.
Along with the direct plea to lawmakers, the Alliance has also launched an on-line petition asking Pennsylvania residents to sign on to the following letter:
We would like you to support shale gas development in Pennsylvania and abandon the Statewide Natural Gas Drilling Moratorium, SB 1100.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy 38% of Pennsylvanians heat their home with natural gas.
It's cold this winter.
Why would you support legislation that would stop the energy development that is keeping families in Pennsylvania and throughout the northeast warm this winter?
Browning believes a moratorium would bring the growing natural gas industry to a halt and end economic growth in the state, not just temporarily but permanently.
“We see this as ban language,” said Browning. “It’s one year then it’s another year. I mean how many years has the state of New York had a drilling moratorium at this point?”
New York instituted its moratorium in 2008 and has made little movement since then to either lift the ban or make changes to its drilling laws.
Browning would not say how much the Alliance is willing to spend on the effort other than to say he believes it is fighting an uphill battle.
“Anti-development activist supporters are trying to make ‘fracking’ a four-letter word. We are trying to educate people on all aspects of gas production,” said Browning.
Browning said citizens need to understand how fracking fits into the larger public policy debate on climate change and energy independence.