“The people have a right to clean air, pure water, and to the preservation of the natural, scenic, historic and esthetic values of the environment. Pennsylvania’s public natural resources are the common property of all the people, including generations yet to come. As trustee of these resources, the Commonwealth shall conserve and maintain them for the benefit of all the people.”
− The Pennsylvania Constitution (Article 1, Section 27)
Senator Andy Dinniman is a strong advocate for defending Pennsylvania’s waterways, open spaces and natural places. He continues to work for the passage of an adequate severance tax or impact fee on natural gas drilling to fund environmental protection and reclamation programs, as well as local communities affected by the drilling and transportation of natural gas.
Pennsylvania sits atop one of the largest deposits of natural gas in the world – the Marcellus Shale formation. Yet we are the only major natural gas-producing state that does not require energy companies to contribute a portion of their profits to environmental restoration programs
The natural gas industry has an impact on our landscapes, on our waterways and on our wildlife. It takes a toll on residents whose neighborhoods are zigzagged by ever-expanding pipeline projects with little regard for individual property rights. It is high time that these multi-national energy corporations – corporations that make hefty profits off the extraction of a valuable and finite natural resource – are asked to pay their fair share to the communities impacted by their operations.
Dinniman has introduced a legislative package of four bills designed to protect residents’ properties and the public’s natural resources against harm from the growing number of natural gas pipeline projects coming through the region. The package, comprised of Senate Bills 801, 802, 803 and 804, calls for:
- Requiring the Department of Environmental Protection to ensure that residents are notified of upcoming projects in their communities.
- Requiring the DEP to post public documents on its website so residents can better learn about proposed projects.
- Requiring pipeline operators to get the approval of Pennsylvania’s Agricultural Lands Condemnation Approval Board before condemning any Act 43 agriculture easements.
- Protecting taxpayer-funded agriculture and conservation easements by requiring pipeline operators to replace acre-for-acre any land they build on.
There is no doubt that increased drilling operations will continue to pose potential threats to the environment and put increased pressure on Chester County in terms of the number of natural gas pipelines. It is high time that natural gas drillers are asked to pay their fair share in Pennsylvania. After all, we have a constitutional right to “clean air, pure water, and to the preservation of the natural, scenic, historic and esthetic values of the environment.”