Bill to monitor Marcellus Shale health effects reintroduced in state Senate

  • Marie Cusick
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.

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