Phila. acts to deflect possibility of pollution from gas drilling

    Philadelphia City Council has weighed in on the controversy surrounding Pennsylvania’s natural gas boom. A Council committee wants assurances that the city’s water supply won’t be polluted by upstate drilling.

    The large Marcellus Shale gas reserve does not lie below the city. So Council couldn’t do what their counterparts in Pittsburgh did last month — ban drilling in the city. But Councilman Curtis Jones says the drilling process used upstate could taint Philadelphia’s drinking water supply. Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, uses high-pressured water, sand and chemicals to tap deeply buried natural gas.

    “This kind of toxic stew that is required to ferret out the natural gas [consists] of a lot of bad things to our water supply,” he said.

    So Jones and other members of Council’s environmental committee want all drilling halted until the EPA finishes its fracking study. Jones said he also thinks tax money collected from the industry should fund an early warning system for Philadelphia’s water department to help detect contamination.

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    He said he’s ready to use his position on the Philadelphia Gas Commission to influence industry behavior and future policy decisions.

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