Dems criticize party fracking ban

Published by Tim McNulty on .

Eightteen House Democrats wrote their party's state chairman recently saying they were "disappointed" by a Democratic state committee vote in June calling for a statwide moratorium on fracking.

The group -- including House Minority Leader Frank Dermody of Oakmont -- says the anti-fracking resolution approved "on behalf of Pennsylvania Democratic Party is short sighted and ignores the many positive impacts Pennsylvania is experiencing due to the growth of the natural gas industry in this state."

The moratorium plank was approved115-81 at the party's summer meeting in June, after bitter debate and criticism from state AFL-CIO president Rick Bloomingdale, who noted the industry supports union (ie, Democratic) jobs. Former Gov. Ed Rendell, a Democrat and fracking supporter, told the Patriot-News the call for a ban was "ill-advised" for several reasons, one of them being that two Dem gubernatorial candidates (John Hanger and Katie McGinty) are both environmentalists who nonetheless have approved fracking.

Natural gas drilling has boosted the economy across the state, says the July 15 letter to party chair Jim Burn (largely from Western Pa lawmakers), and notes it has been praised by party standard bearer Barack Obama.

It finishes by saying, "we are disappointed in the resolution adopted by the Pennsylvania Democratic State Committee on June 13, 2013, to support a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing in Pennsylvania, and we ask that the Pennsylvania Democratic Party re-examine this position to develop a policy that is in line with the overall environmental impact and vital economic interest of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and its citizens."

The resolution passed in June said fracking should be held off until it can be done "safely" and the gas industry is required to pay for any harms from the drilling process. It resolves:

that the Democratic Party of Pennsylvania supports a moratorium on the practice of hydraulic fracturing
until such time as the practice can be done safely, and further supports requiring full restitution by the natural gas industry for any harm to human life and health, for damage to property, including loss of property value, for harm to water supplies, harm to wildlife, pets and livestock, and harm to the natural environment of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

Backup info in support of the resolution is here.

In an effort to further turn up heat on the caucus, the pro-gas industry Consumer Energy Alliance issued letters to every Democrat in the House asking them if they agree with the resolution or not.

The letter from Dermody and other Democrats is below:

Letter to Dem State Committee Opposing Fracking Moratorium

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