Philadelphia, Pa. (KDKA) — A Pennsylvania senator says the damage caused by fracking outweighs any economic benefit.
Fracking for natural gas in the Marcellus shale has been a source of jobs and dollars for many in Southwest Pennsylvania.
Pennsylvania State Sen. Daylin Leach, a Philadelphia Democrat, is proposing a constitutional amendment to ban fracking throughout the commonwealth after a visit to this area.
He said toured Washington County fracking sites, met with people who live near those sites and heard their stories.
“At the end of the day, we want industry to do well,” Leach told KDKA money editor Jon Delano on Thursday. “But that can’t be our top priority. We can’t do that at the expense of people’s health.”
Leach cites cases of cancer, skin and respiratory problems, and even dead animals.
But the president of the Marcellus Shale Coalition disputes those claims.
“The Department of Health has studied and will continue to study it. To date, they’ve not found a single link that would provide validity to that kind of report or that kind of a statement,” said Dave Spigelmyer.
Spigelmyer says the abundant natural gas here has reduced home gas bills by 70 percent.
“We’ve got incredible job growth in our commonwealth,” Spigelmyer said.
Spigelmyer says this constitutional amendment is short-sighted and has broad implications.
“You not only kill the natural gas industry, you kill the oil industry as well,” Spigelmyer said.
“Preserving the natural gas industry is not my top priority,” Leach said. “Preserving public health is my top priority. Preserving the environment is my top priority.”
A constitutional amendment requires the support of the legislature in two subsequent sessions before it goes to the voters in a statewide referendum.