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Bear in the Woods: Environmental Law Blog

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Passionate supporters come out in the name of stronger oil and gas regulations

It was encouraging to see so many people come out to participate in the Department of Environmental Protection’s (DEP) public hearing about its proposed Chapter 78 regulations regarding oil and gas wells this past Thursday at West Chester University.

Public participation in government decisions is one of the purest and most important features of democracy, and environmental advocates made it clear that they understand the importance of fulfilling their role as educated and informed citizens.

The public hearing at West Chester University was well attended, and the vast majority of speakers spoke in favor of stronger environmental protection. In addition to members of the public and environmental advocacy groups such as PennFuture, Delaware Riverkeeper Network, and the Clean Air Council, a number of elected officials took the microphone to support stronger regulations. Among them was West Chester’s mayor, Carolyn Comitta, who testified that it was important for all citizens, even those who do not live in towns where oil and gas drilling is likely to take place, to concern themselves with drilling regulations because, “we all live downstream.”

During my opportunity to speak on behalf of PennFuture, I spoke about the importance of considering the long-term impacts that drilling would have on Pennsylvania’s environment, and thanked DEP and the members of the Environmental Quality Board who were present for the portions of their proposal that adequately protect the Commonwealth‘s long-term interests. I went on to ask DEP to consider making changes to other proposed regulations that aren’t strong enough to get the job done.

A copy of the testimony I gave is available on PennFuture’s website. Other hearings are scheduled between now and January 27, and information about those hearings is available on DEP’s website.

I encourage everyone to attend one or more of these hearings and make their voices heard. Suggested talking points are available on PennFuture’s website.

Mike Helbing is a staff attorney for PennFuture, based in Philadelphia.

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