By ANDREW SHAW and CHRISTINA KAUFFMAN The York Dispatch
Updated: 12/14/2011 From YorkDispatch.com
The chant might have been tongue-in-cheek, but the message was serious.
About two dozen protesters circled on the sidewalk in front of state Sen. Mike Waugh's North George Street office in the city Tuesday morning. They were there to denounce his support of Senate Bill 1000, which they say would limit municipalities' ability to prevent gas drilling.
"No fracking way," they chanted, with some holding signs that read "How much cancer is too much?" or "Fracking poisons air and water."
Fracking is the hydraulic extraction of natural gas from shale, a wastewater-producing process whose environmental impact is the source of debate between natural gas proponents and environmentalists.
There are no companies fracking in York County; drilling is being done in Pennsylvania's Marcellus shale formation. While the geological formation stretches across most of the state and into New York, it breaks west and north of south central Pennsylvania.
Waugh and all other state senators who represent portions of York County voted in favor of the bill, which is being aired in the House as House Bill 1950.
Dirty water: Protest organizer Nathan Sooy said lawmakers need to protect people from corporations, not the other way around.
"This is absolutely wrong," Sooy said. "This is a big government move on behalf of big corporations."
"How will they protect the public health of the people who live in those areas" getting drilled, added Steve Izzo of Chanceford Township.
In order to extract the natural gas, fracking fluid is pumped down a well under high pressure to fracture rock and release oil and gas.
Picketer Jane Heller of Springettsbury Township said she doesn't want "fracking juice" in the Susquehanna River.
If municipalities don't have the ability to hold off gas drilling, then she's worried the river will be "poisoned."
"Nobody really knows what's in it," Heller said.
Waugh's response: Waugh, who was in Harrisburg at the time of the protest, said he thinks the protesters would like to prevent and eliminate any gas drilling, "and I think that's inappropriate."
He said responsible drilling has merit.
Though protesters are convinced municipalities will be stripped of power, the bill as it exists in the House strengthens requirements for companies and imposes an impact fee for gas companies, he said.
Waugh said he knows of some of the protesters, and "interestingly enough, some of the same folks who were part of the demonstration were in support of an impact fee."
He met with one of the protestors last week, and "we had a good meeting."
Waugh said he was surprised the man's response to a good meeting was to "come out with his friends and walk around my office."
About 90 percent of the wells in the U.S. have been fracked, but the fluids and the process have become controversial over concerns that they threaten groundwater.
Eleven states have adopted or are working on fracking fluid disclosure rules, said Mike Paque, executive director of the Groundwater Protection Council, an association of state water agencies.
Colorado Tuesday adopted the nation's toughest rule, requiring oil and gas drillers to disclose all the chemicals used in the fracking fluids they pump down wells.
The Colorado rule requires greater detail than other states on the ingredients and their concentrations in the frack fluid, said Mike Freeman, an attorney for the environmental law group Earthjustice.
- Reach Andrew Shaw at 505-5431 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @ydblogwork.com. The Denver Post, via The Associated Press, contributed to this report.