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Article published May 4, 2013
Retract Senate Bill 411
Ken Gayman Jefferson, Greene County
The other day I received some very disturbing news from PennEnvironment concerning Senate Bill 411 sponsored by state Sen. Richard A. Kasunic of Fayette County. The bill is meant to motivate gas drillers to use highly contaminated water from abandoned coal mines in the fracking process. That sounds like a good idea, right? Wrong. This Senate bill has a backdoor proposal to amend the Environmental Good Samaritan Act’s liability protections, which means that the oil and gas industry would be exempt from accidents or spills that can damage property and destroy lives. Meanwhile, the bill is so vague that it is unclear if fracking companies will even be held accountable under our existing laws if they choose to violate them. This bill is unconstitutional, according to the Pennsylvania Constitution’s Article 1, Section 27, Natural Resources and the Public Estate: “The people have a right to clean air, pure water, and to the preservation of the natural, scenic, historic and esthetic values of the environment. Pennsylvania’s public natural resources are the common property of all the people, including generations yet to come. As trustee of these resources, the Commonwealth shall conserve and maintain them for the benefit of all the people.” Kasunic’s Senate Bill 411 would take away our rights and hand them over to the big oil and gas industry. This so-called Senate bill allows for the destruction and the devaluation of our property and has the real potential to destroy our water, air and the environment. A public hearing should have been held before any such bill was even considered. I urge all Pennsylvanians to contact Kasunic today at 717-787-7175 or 724-626-1611, or fax him at 717-787-0195. He should be told to retract this bill in its current form. Senate Bill 411 is a bad bill and a bad deal for all of Pennsylvania for generations to come.