Energy. Environment. Economy.

Bill to monitor Marcellus Shale health effects reintroduced in state Senate

Kim McEvoy of Butler County is among the people who believe gas drilling made them sick.

Susan Phillips/ StateImpact Pennsylvania

Kim McEvoy of Butler County is among the people who believe gas drilling made them sick.

A bill aimed at creating an advisory panel to monitor potential public health effects of Marcellus Shale drilling has been reintroduced in the state Senate.

Senate President Pro Tem Joe Scarnati (R- Jefferson) first proposed the measure in 2013. He reintroduced it on Friday. SB 375 would create a nine-member advisory panel that would meet at least twice a year to consult with experts to analyze the health effects of natural gas extraction.

“There has been much discussion regarding the potential effects of Marcellus Shale drilling on public health and safety,” Scarnati wrote recently in a co-sponsorship memo.  ”The creation of an advisory panel will provide Pennsylvania with a critical asset in addressing any current or future impacts arising from the development of the Marcellus Shale.”

In 2011, former Gov. Tom Corbett’s Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission recommended that the state monitor public health impacts from drilling, however the legislature never allocated funding for it.

Last June StateImpact Pennsylvania reported on allegations by two former state health workers who said they were instructed to ignore public complaints about drilling. In response, the Department of Health changed its Marcellus Shale policies.

After New York State banned fracking in late 2014, citing health concerns, Governor Tom Wolf said he supports creating a registry for public health complaints.


  • Perryjeff

    There is nothing in Scarnati’s bill that requires the state to create a registry of health effects. All the bill does is create an advisory committee, with no authority to do aything except advise.
    There are hundreds of cases of individuals and families in PA who have reported health effects they believe come from exposure to fracking and drilling-related activities, but Scarnati isn’t interested in tracking those cases.
    However, Scarnati’s bill does require that any health experts consulted by the advisory committee meet “peer review” requirements, but doesn’t require the same of the “experts” they consult from the drilling industry.
    Seems to me that Scarnati’s bill is a smokescreen to distract from the need to create and fund a health registry for gas drilling/fracking health effects. Scarnati was responsible for killing the original health registry and funding contained in Act 13, before it passed on final consideration in 2012.
    No wonder New York state is banning fracking. They know that there is inadequate research into or tracking the health effects from drilling/fracking in states where fracking occurs, like PA.

  • Tam

    Scarnati needs to protect the water, air and health of the people of this state,and listen to the many fields of research and reports from medical doctors who are unfortunately seeing the effects of fracking and calling it a public health crisis. We are being sacrificed from well, to pipeline, to exportation in this plunder and no amount of money can bring life back to water or even the investors who did us wrong. No new wells, no more fracking.

  • Tam

    He and his peps continually say “potential” public health effects. Over 250 wells have been contaminated and finally admitted as such by the gas industry! And even then, they said, “only” 250 wells were contaminated! If your family for generations farmed and lived depending on clean well water, then, they have lost their livelihood and heritage. Did you try taking a shower with a few plastic gallons of water, or water the horses with bottled water?
    Can anyone sell a home without water???? No more wells.

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