PITF Draft Report Talking Points
1) Comment on the fact that the task force is all about perpetuating fossil fuel extraction. In the first meeting, Secretary John Quigley, head of the Department of Environmental Protection, said the aim of the task force is to build public acceptance of the industry. (see video link below) Point out that taxpayers’ money would be better spent on a task force to speed the transition to sustainable energy. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YukYnM6F70w&t=67m30s
2) Comment on the composition of the task force itself. The Public Accountability Initiative issued a report on October 28th noting how stacked in favor of the industry the task force’s membership is. In fact, Scott Cannon of the Gas Drilling Awareness Coalition was invited to join one of the working groups and was almost immediately disinvited when they realized that he’s a vocal grassroots pipeline opponent. http://public-accountability.org/2015/10/pennsylvanias-pipeline-infrastructure-task-force-is-dominated-by-the-oil-and-gas-industry/
3) Comment on the fact that the task force met to finalize the report 4 days after the public comment period began. Their original plan was to not meeting again until January 13 when they would present the finished report. They have now added a meeting on December 16, two days after the comment period ends, but it probably has more to do with the fact that the task force couldn’t come to agreement over much at the November meeting when the industry started balking at the use of words like “required” in the recommendations. The task force obviously has no interest in what the public thinks.
- We are each given only two minutes to speak at the end of their meetings.
- We have been given 30 days to comment to the DEP on a 335-page document.
- The 30 days occurs over the holidays when people are busy and distracted.
- No public hearings have been scheduled.
- The task force started finalizing the report only four days into the comment period. When members of our group protested, they were ejected from the meeting. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oRVdQvp9VAg
4) Comment on the fact that many of the 184 recommendations have to do with either educating the public or providing better access to information. The “education” will clearly be one-sided. Many of the other recommendations are so obvious that it’s hard to believe they’re not already in practice or that it would take a 148-member task force to come up with them. For instance, Recommendation #6 from the Conservation & Natural Resources working group says “Avoid Geologic Hazards During Planning” by looking for recorded areas of seismicity. Or Recommendation #1 from Emergency Preparedness working group, “Standardize Emergency Response Plans” or #2, “Train Emergency Responders”. Or Recommendation #36 from the Environmental Protection working group, “Require Shutoff Valves for Liquid Product Pipelines”.
5) Comment on your disappointment that this effort by the Wolf administration would be led by the Department of Environmental Protection. This is an excerpt from the draft report, “Pennsylvania already has more than 12,000 miles of large-diameter oil and gas pipelines in the ground, but now, according to Pipeline Development – Strategies and Tools to Minimize Landscape Impacts, a presentation made to the PITF by The Nature Conservancy , the miles of natural gas gathering lines alone will at least quadruple by 2030.” Point out that while the rest of the world is trying to find ways to transition off of fossil during those same years, the remaining years we have left to get any sort of handle on climate change, our Department of Environmental Protection and the administration it serves is supporting an expansion of this climate-killing industry. The latest research indicates that fracking is contributing even more than previously thought to the climate crisis. https://www.dovepress.com/methane-emissions-and-climatic-warming-risk-from-hydraulic-fracturing–peer-reviewed-fulltext-article-EECT
6) Every pipeline means more fracking. Right now, there are about 9,000 wells in the ground. That represents less than a 10th of what the industry plans to drill if it has its way. We have seen so much damage to our natural resources, our communities, and the people of Pennsylvania, that it’s hard to imagine what 100,000 wells would do to our state. Currently, more than 555 studies make a collective case for a ban on fracking, not an expansion of it. http://psehealthyenergy.org/site/view/1233
The full draft report can be viewed here: http://files.dep.state.pa.us/ProgramIntegration/PITF/Meetings/11-18-15/Governor’s%20Pipeline%20Infrastructure%20Task%20Force%20DRAFT%20Report.pdf
Instructions for submitting comments can be found here: http://www.irrc.state.pa.us/regulations/RegSrchRslts.cfm?ID=3052
Other organizations will be critiquing the report point by point. There are many disturbing recommendations made, like the one that would establish natural gas municipal authorities. “As compared to other similar options, natural gas municipal authorities could provide advantages for direct control of all governance aspects, ability to issue tax-exempt bonds, eminent domain power, and clearer exemption from PUC regulation.”
We believe, however, that the formation of the task force, the process it has followed, and the premise behind all of it are so flawed that we need to deluge the task force with comments on those points specifically.