In Pennsylvania, a rush is on to extract gas and other fossil fuels from the Marcellus and Utica Shales. Both Democratic and Republican state officials have been quick to give the green light to the oil and gas industry to drill, frack and build pipelines. But local backlash against pollution, explosions and seizure of property is firing up a new crop of state legislative challengers who vow to stay clean of industry money and put a halt to the gas rush.
Grassroots environmentalist campaign Proud Pennsylvania has collaborated with Food and Water Action PAC to endorse 15 candidates for Pennsylvania Senate and House of Representatives on the November 6 ballot who support a ban on fracking and a moratorium on all new fossil fuel infrastructure. All have pledged not to accept industry money. Twelve of the 15 are women, reflecting the wave of women running for office in 2018.
These races could serve as a test of whether residents of Pennsylvania, like many in the Appalachian region, are tired of seeing their state embrace resource extraction with a high environmental toll.
The fracking boom
Since the nation’s first oil well went up in 1859 near Titusville, Pa., dirty energy has been a driver of the Pennsylvania economy. Starting with Gov. Ed Rendell (D) in roughly 2007, Pennsylvania has given the green light to the fossil fuel industry to drain natural gas from the Marcellus and Utica Shales through fracking. The Marcellus and Utica Shales also produce the colorless, odorless, highly explosive Natural Gas Liquids (NGL) used, among other things, to make plastic. Once natural gas and NGLs are extracted, they are moved through pipelines, trains and trucks to ports where they are