In 2008, the Environmental Issues Committee saw a need to educate themselves about the new Marcellus Shale industry coming to Indiana County. As it became clear that the new technology affected Pennsylvania’s water, air, infrastructure, agriculture, forests, tourism, and economy, a study of the drilling process and its impacts was timely.
After identifying the issue, Indiana County League brought it to the attention of Leagues across PA. To do a formal study the local league made a proposal to the LWV PA at the state convention. the following was presented:
The state convention accepted the proposal and the Indiana County LWV Environmental Issues Committee went to work to develop a series of five study guides between 2009 and 2010. The Guides were:
In June 2009, the completed guides were distributed to all the local PA Leagues. Twenty-six leagues took up the challenge, organizing study groups, sponsoring public forums with experts representing various viewpoints, visited drilling sites, and participating in webinars and other presentations at various colleges and universities. Ultimately, over 350 people participated in the consensus process which arrived at a position to accept fracking but recommended instituting maximum precautions to protect the health of residents and workers.
Because shale gas extraction was a new technology, research was constantly developing. As a result, the Indiana County Environmental Issues Committee wrote addenda for each of the Study Guides with current and new information This was particularly true in the health field where new information emerged over time. Because of the emerging information on Health a new Guide, Shale Gas Extraction and Public Health, was written and adopted by the “Straight Scoop on Shale” and continues to be updated and reprinted.
The League of Women Voters, a nonpartisan political organization, encourages informed and active participation in government, works to increase understanding of major public policy issues, and influences public policy through education and advocacy.