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Petition advocates fracking moratorium; Candidate releases plan

By - Last modified: April 30, 2013 at 9:46 AM

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A coalition of public health and environmental advocacy groups will gather at the Capitol this afternoon to present to Gov. Tom Corbett what they are calling the largest petition on fracking in state history.

Organizers are staging a rally at 12:30 p.m. at the Capitol Rotunda, followed by the "in-person delivery" of the petition, according to a statement from PennEnvironment, a nonprofit with offices in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia.

The text of the petition calls for a moratorium on shale gas drilling "until it is proven safe for our environment and the public's health." Roughly 100,000 people have signed it, organizers said.

Drilling's "disastrous impacts ... have resulted in enormous public backlash," PennEnvironment said. The organization is one of a dozen backing the rally.

Meanwhile, Democratic gubernatorial candidate John Hanger last week released a policy statement calling for tighter regulation and greater taxation of the Marcellus Shale industry.

"The public has rightly lost confidence in the willingness of the Corbett administration to adequately regulate gas drilling," Hanger, who headed the Department of Environmental Protection under Corbett predecessor Gov. Ed Rendell, said in a statement.

Hanger has proposed an 18-point plan for overhauling Pennsylvania's natural-gas policy. It includes "a reasonable severance tax on natural gas extraction" and other fees, restoration of local municipal zoning rights and implementation of various environmental safeguards, including reducing air emissions from drilling by 90 percent.

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