Energy. Environment. Economy.

Ferlo Introduces ‘Open-Ended’ Fracking Moratorium Bill

Senator Jim Ferlo (D-Allegheny) has introduced a bill that would place a moratorium on gas drilling in Pennsylvania.

Senator Jim Ferlo (D-Allegheny) has introduced a bill that would place a moratorium on gas drilling in Pennsylvania.

Legislators will soon be considering a bill that would place an “open-ended” ban on natural gas drilling in Pennsylvania.

The bill, introduced Tuesday by Sen. Jim Ferlo (D-Allegheny) doesn’t place a time limit on the moratorium in order to allow a seven-member commission, created by the bill, to study a range of impacts of hydraulic fracturing on the state.

“It’s not closed because we don’t want to anticipate what the good, bad or indifferent would be of their work product, so in that sense, I guess you could argue it’s open-ended,” Ferlo said in a conference call with reporters, noting that the commission would need at least three or four years to complete the study.

The bill would halt any new permits for natural gas drilling. Some 14,000 wells that have already received permits from the Department of Environmental Protection would be grandfathered in.

The commission would study the environmental, social and economic impacts of drilling. Ferlo compared it to what neighboring New York State is doing as lawmakers there decide whether or not to lift a moratorium.

While a Republican-controlled House and Senate make the chances of a such a bill passing very slim, drilling has also caused a rift in the Pennsylvania Democratic Party. While a majority of members voted in June in favor of a moratorium, some legislators have argued it sends the wrong message. Ferlo acknowledges it’s a bill Governor Tom Corbett would never sign.

When asked how he would face critics who say a moratorium would be unrealistic and even impossible at this stage of natural gas, Ferlo believes there is enough public support to give it a chance.

“I think the growing concern about the manner in which this industry operates in a very unregulated way without very many environmental regulations,” he said. “I think we need to cover all fronts.”

Republican lawmakers have already jumped on the proposed legislation. GOP Chairman Rob Gleason released a statement accusing Ferlo and democratic gubernatorial candidate Allyson Schwartz of “[catering] to the extreme left-wing of their party” and ignoring the economic benefits the industry has brought to Pennsylvania.

Schwarts does not support a moratorium on drilling and recently proposed a severance tax on Marcellus Shale gas.

You can read the proposed Senate Bill 1100 here:


  • KenMacMillan

    Why in the hell would they want to do this?

  • Crystal Marie

    Why WOULDN’T we take the time to study a new technology such as fracking BEFORE unleashing it in neighborhoods, beside schools, hospitals, nuclear power plants, parks, preschools? What is the hurry? The gas has been there for 400 million years. Thank you Senator Ferlo, I have already contacted Senator Vulakovich asking for his support (ehhhh.)

    • Ladderback

      “The hurry” may be with current gas customers who want to lower their costs or perhaps change from coal/oil to gas. People are funny in that most don’t want to wait for 400 million years to get those savings.

      • Crystal Marie

        That would be a decent argument if not for a few facts. Now that gas prices are so low and current gas customer’s prices have gone down…oh wait. Mine hasn’t actually gone down, has yours? Anyway, now they are shipping gas overseas, so that the price of natural gas goes up.

        • Ladderback

          Yes, my prices are down; UGI’s prices are down; NJ’s prices are down; Philly’s prices are down. You need to talk to your supplier and/or change suppliers if you have that option. I have a friend in Philly who switched to gas from oil (thus reducing his carbon footprint) and he’s saving over $1000 a year. You’ll have a hard time proving that prices have not declined.

        • J. Stay

          yes, most of the gas WILL be shipped over seas, because they can get much more money for it…and by doing so, it WILL eventually raise the cost of energy here. But we have to accept that, because gas companies rule / they control the politics and everything following it….no one can stop them.

  • Ken Snyder

    The studies have already been done in PA and other states. Even the EPA’s own reports say that fracking is not hurting the environment. Jeez, these idiots are all for “science” when it fits their narrative. Now who is the “denier”

    • Crystal Marie

      If you can show me some independent studies (ie, not funded by oil and gas industry) I would love to see them.

    • Crystal Marie

      So far, this is what we DO know: In 2010 1609 wells were drilled and 6.9% failed (leaked) due to faulty well design and/or construction. In 2011 1979 wells were drilled and 7.2% failed. In January-August of 2013 1014 wells were drilled and 6.6% failed. That means over 300 wells failed in PA, putting the groundwater at risk. And, if you live within a mile of these failed wells, there is a likely chance if you have well water, your well was affected. We are studying as we go.

      • Ladderback

        The Ground Water Protection Council that examined more than 34,000 wells drilled and completed in the state of Ohio between 1983 and 2007. The data show only 12 incidents related to failures of (or graduate erosions to) casing or cement – a failure rate of 0.03 percent.

        • Crystal Marie

          You are talking about a very different process. My father in law drilled wells in OH in the 80′s and 90′s. Nothing like the horizontal fracking we are talking about in this bill. Halliburton started fracking on the scale that Ferlo’s bill addresses in the 90′s. Ohio has as of January only 200 drilled Utica shale wells and of those only 47 were producing. You are telling me how safe apples are when you’re trying to sell me an orange.

          • Ladderback

            No, you were talking about “faulty well designs and/or construction”, not fracking — just as I was. Well casing probllems do not equal fracking — they are two different processes.

          • Crystal Marie

            No, the study I was talking about studied horizontally drilled wells ONLY drilled in PA from 2010 to August of 2012. I myself had an old gas well on our farm in SE Ohio drilled in the 1970′s that no longer produced gas because the well casings had rusted out and failed. Leaking. The company we leased from told us that. SO, I guess we were one of your 1000 leaking wells in Ohio, aka the .03%. Regardless, I don’t have a problem with those kinds of wells. But let’s be clear, are you talking about the old time shallow wells on farms, or the horizontally drilled Marcellus and Utica shale? I, and Senator Ferlo are talking about horizontal fracking.

      • speakthetruth

        how does this add up? 1609+1979+1014= 4,602 wells with 300 that failed- that is less than 1%! check your math!

  • Samuel

    This clown and other Democratic senators like him are the enemy of the people, and the enemy of revitalizing Pennsylvania’s dreary economy. It would be interesting to know where his political contributions come from!

    • Crystal Marie

      You are correct, it IS interesting to see where political contributions come from: Corbett (governor) 1.8 million, Senator Scarnati $360K, Rep David Reed, $140K, Rep Mike Turzai, $100K, Senator White, $95K for a complete list from 2010 see here: It is alarming that our politcians can be bought and paid for by anyone with enough $$ to buy them.

  • Crystal Marie

    THIS is why Senator Ferlo is introducing this bill. He has listened to the people he represents, as well as the people of PA.

    • Samuel

      How about publishing a list of all of Ferlo’s political contributors and the amounts donated!

  • Samuel

    We do not need a moratorium. We need to vigorously defend hydraulic fracturing which has the ability to develop O&G resources which can totally free us from our need for petroleum from the middle east. O&G development in Pennsylvania has the capacity to totally revive Pennsylvania’s economy which has been moribund for many years. Wouldn’t it be nice if the O&G development kept our boys from dying in unnecessary wars in the middle east? We have the federal EPA and the state EPA which currently provide quite enough regulation! Finally we do not need a severance tax. Though Louisiana and Texas have severances taxes their citizens are not burdened by other taxes currently imposed on Pennsylvania citizens.

  • Samuel

    New technology??? It’s been around since 1947!!??..

  • Samuel

    New technology….not really. Hydraulic fracturing began in 1947! And as for studies, New York has their moratorium and has their studies. And they are at least considering whether to lift the moratorium. Probably they won’t and the poor farmers saddled with high taxes will gradually be forced out of farming.

  • Ridiculous

    I am a Petroleum Engineer that started in the oil business more than 35 years ago. People are engaged in an attempt to shut down an industry that provides billions of dollars to the local, state and nationwide economy. It is blind ignorance that allows people to get “duped” into a notion that hydraulic fracturing somehow is dangerous. We go to great lengths to preserve groundwater resources and the environment when we flow the well back. We pump less water in the ground to “frack” 100 wells than it takes to irrigate 300 acres of corn for one year. There are no risky or dangerous chemicals and mostly water with a 2% concentration of Potassium Chloride. Most people do not understand that we MUST do everything we can to ensure that we do everything right to make sure we get the water/frac fluids where they need to go to ensure that we get a good well. Not to mention we do not want the liability of any contamination. Regulatory agencies are overflowing with unqualified zealots that have no clue as to what they are doing, Especially in the oil and gas industry. Ask anyone that has ever had to deal with any state or federal agency. If people would spend more time to educate themselves instead of reacting to some really ridiculous notion that somehow, someway an appointed board is going to act in the public’s best interest. Anytime something like this is driven by some hidden agenda it always ends up in a mess. More legislation, more rules, more stupidity.

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