The following is a guest post written by Gillian Graber and the Protect PT team:
Why do we need to protect our waters?
Water is life. We depend on water for so many aspects of our lives. Yet our waters are some of the least protected entities in our state. While oil and gas companies contaminate our waters with their irresponsible practices, our state has refused to step in and protect our rights.
The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection has refused to protect our rights to “clean air, pure water, and the preservation of the natural, scenic, historic and aesthetic values of the environment”, as guaranteed in our Pennsylvania Constitution. Instead, the PA DEP has prioritized gas developers over residents. Protect PT tried expressing our concerns to the PA DEP through letters and meetings, but the DEP continues to issue permits as if nothing is wrong.
This huge industry can break the law over and over again and not face the consequences, so what power do we have as residents to stop it? We are supposed to have an institution to enforce the law, but what happens when they don’t do their job?
We refuse to accept the Department’s refusal to protect your rights. We stand together and use our power which exists in our numbers and our knowledge. We spent over a year researching the actions of the PA DEP and identifying instances where they could have stepped in to protect our waters and didn’t. The PA DEP says they have the “discretion” to take enforcement action as they see fit. Do we, as residents have the discretion to not pay our taxes? Or break the law and not face consequences? No! Justice must be served. We felt the Attorney General of our state was the one to give us that justice.
So, we wrote to Attorney General Josh Shapiro, asking him to investigate the PA DEP’s irresponsible permitting and to enforce our Clean Streams Laws. But we didn’t stop there. We also wrote to Governor Tom Wolf.
And, we asked residents like you to join us in voicing your concerns by sending letters to the Attorney General and Governor. So far, almost 300 people have sent letters through Protect PT’s Action Network page.
Join your neighbors in voicing your concerns to the Attorney General and Governor. Together, we can make enough noise that they won’t be able to ignore us anymore. It’s time for us to stand together to protect our rights.
The stage is set for change. Right now, Attorney General Shapiro is bringing charges against the Pittsburgh Water and Sewage Authority for failing to notify residents of unsafe water and lead in the lines. Shapiro said we have rights to clean air and pure water and he is “here to defend that”.
It’s time we ask our Attorney General to make good on his promise to defend our rights! It’s time we demand change.