HARRISBURG – State Rep. Camille “Bud” George, D-74 of Houtzdale, lambasted Republican lawmakers for using political shenanigans to defeat an effort to protect water supplies from Marcellus shale wastewater contamination.
“I’m disappointed and appalled at this distortion of logical thinking,” Rep. George said. “Rather than debating and voting on the merits of my amendment, most House Republicans decided to dance around the issue and save themselves from public scrutiny. Well I won’t accept that.”
George on Wednesday offered an amendment to Senate Bill 995, a bill establishing emergency response regulations for Marcellus shale gas wells. While Rep. George supports the bill-in-chief and voted to move the bill out of committee, he offered an amendment to bolster the bill and protect water supplies from potential pollution from deep injection wells, including one proposed in Brady Township, Clearfield County.
The amendment would have banned deep injection wells – used to dispose toxic drilling wastewater – from near public and private water supplies. The amendment called for a 2,000 feet setback from private wells and 5,500 feet setback from public water sources.
Injection wells used to dispose drilling wastewater has alarmed residents, and the City of DuBois –roughly a mile from the proposed disposal site in Brady Township – has objected to the proposal.
“I’m receiving letters from concerned citizens every day,” George said. “I knew something had to be done and I placed an amendment to remedy the situation.”
The amendment, which called for the state Department of Environmental Protection and the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency to adopt emergency regulations for injection wells, including the setbacks from water supplies, was declared to be non-germane to the bill-in-chief. A largely party-line vote was cast and the amendment was never brought up for debate.
The germaneness vote was 99-96, with only seven Republicans voting that the amendment was germane. Despite both the amendment and the original bill dealing with emergency well regulations, the procedural move prevented the issue of injection wells from being considered.
“I’m not anti-drilling, but this trickery further shows that the GOP and Governor Corbett are all for Big Gas and won’t take common-sense steps to protect our water,” George said.