The Public’s Interest in Chapter 78


By: Joe Minott, Clean Air Council Executive Director

Amy Nassif did not plan to become an activist. She was - as she puts it - a working Pennsylvania mom who “turned Mama Bear” after learning that hydraulic fracturing operations were dangerously close to her daughters’ school.

Amy and the Butler County Mars Parent Group have been researching unconventional gas drilling since March 2014, when a six well drilling site was proposed for an area just one half mile from the school Amy’s daughters attend every day. The group compiled peer reviewed data from experts at the Harvard Center for Environmental Health, Centers for Disease Control, and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, “just to name a few.”

The data were clear: unconventional well sites create immediate “harmful health and safety impacts” within a two-mile radius of drilling.

This morning, Amy testified before the Department of Environmental Protection’s (DEP) Technical Advisory Board to share these findings and ask that the rules known as Chapter 78 include stronger provisions to protect schools from the negative impacts of gas drilling. 

She also urged the DEP to address methane pollution from gas operations. Methane is a potent greenhouse gas when it leaks into the atmosphere. It leaks alongside other toxic air pollutants, like benzene, formaldehyde and the volatile organic compounds that react to form smog. Technologies that prevent methane leaks also reduce emissions of these other pollutants, which means cleaner air for everyone.

Amy believes that our children should not have to risk their health to attend school. She deserves to send her daughters to school each day knowing the state has taken reasonable steps to protect them from the health and safety risks of drilling.

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