Fact-Check: Joe Sestak’s Claims on HF, Marcellus Jobs Conflict with Reality

In recent Senate debate, PA congressman rattles off debunked talking points from anti-HF fringe groups

Rep. Joe Sestak’s Claims …

… Dishonorably Discharged from Realm of Reality
CLAIM: “Seven counties have had their water supply, drinking water, contaminated already David, seven of them.” (WPXI-TV Debate, 10/22/10) FACT: DEP Confirms That Hydraulic Fracturing Has Not Impacted Groundwater

  • “It’s important to be clear about where the problems have been,” said PA Dept. of Environmental Protection Sec. John Hanger. “We have not had a single case of these [fracking] fluids coming back to the groundwater.” (CNN,10/25/10)
  • “‘So far it has not been our experience that the fracking process has caused any water-supply issues,’ Ms. [Jennifer] Means, [a representative from the state DEP’s Eastern Oil and Gas Region Office in Williamsport] said.” (Scranton Times-Tribune, 10/20/10)
  • “Thus far, the DEP says they’ve found not one instance of underground contamination of well water from fracking. ‘We haven’t had frack fluid come back from thousands of feet down and get into people’s drinking water supply,’ [DEP secretary John] Hanger said.” (KDKA-TV,10/16/10)
  • “‘It’s our experience in Pennsylvania that we have not had one case in which the fluids used to break off the gas from 5,000 to 8,000 feet (1,500-2,400 m) underground have returned to contaminate ground water,’ said John Hanger, secretary of DEP.” (Reuters, 10/1/10)
CLAIM: “The federal Environmental Protection Agency is not allowed to know what the chemicals they’re pouring into this place.” (WPXI-TV Debate,10/22/10) FACT: “Drilling companies must disclose the names of all chemicals”“Ground Water Protection Council to Develop and Implement a State-Based System Disclosing Chemicals Used in Hydraulic Fracturing, GWPC Board Supports Complete Public Disclosure of Chemical Compositions Per Well … Meeting in the heart of one of the most prolific natural gas shale plays in America, the 20-member board of directors of the Ground Water Protection Council (GWPC) unanimously passed a resolution calling for complete disclosure of chemicals used during the hydraulic fracturing process, common in the exploration of shale gas. In the resolution, the GWPC – a national nonprofit association consisting of state ground water regulatory agencies – joined together to protect ground water by implementing a web-based system to obtain, store and publish information concerning chemicals used in the hydraulic fracturing process on a per-well basis. (Release, 9/28/10)“Can drilling companies keep the names of chemicals used at drilling sites a secret? No.Drilling companies must disclose the names of all chemicals to be stored and used at a drilling site … These plans contain copies of material safety data sheets for all chemicals … This information is on file with DEP and is available to landowners, local governments and emergency responders.” (PADEP fact sheet)

  • “[Alan] Eichler [DEP environmental program manager] dispelled myths that the DEP does not know what additives a company uses in the hydraulic fracturing or ‘fracking’ process. Thecompanies must submit a list of chemicals and their effects to the DEP, he said, adding that a list can be found on the department’s website.” (Daily Courier, 9/2/10)
CLAIM: “And 85 percent of the workers are coming from outside states.” (WPXI-TV Debate, 10/22/10) FACT: “These companies do hire local people”“Job expo illustrates gas industry opportunity …
There were 20 companies there. They were offering about 1,000 jobs. They intend to hire local people. … Besides offering opportunity, the expo offered a window into the reality of employment by the gas industry. That reality, in some cases, is different from the talking points of the industry’s detractors. Yes, these companies do hire local people and will be hiring more of them as they become more entrenched.” (Williamsport Sun-Gazette Editorial,10/22/10)“New firm opens, plans to employ 140 people … Meadville-based Universal Well Services Inc., a natural gas and oil well services company, has opened a new facility on Arch Street and has plans to hire 140 people within the next 12 months. Already on staff here are 70 employees, according to Bob Garland, senior technical adviser at Universal’s corporate office. The company brought some employees from its existing facilities, but most of the individuals hired here are locals, he said. “We are attempting to hire locals as much as we can because that is important,” Garland said. (Williamsport Sun-Gazette, 10/27/10)“An Opportunity Beyond Words … Truck-driving jobs are among the first and most abundant benefits to flow to Pennsylvania workers. The gas companies are promising many more. In fact, an industry-sponsored study by Pennsylvania State University energy experts projects 200,000 new jobs in the Keystone State by 2020. … The economic boom for Pennsylvania—as its impact can be measured so far—is in the lives of people who have found a way to service the rigs and the new industry from the outside, either with their labor or their land. … “I have never seen an opportunity like this, ever,” says Larry Michael, executive director of workforce and economic development at Penn College, who oversees MSETC. “Words absolutely cannot describe what is going on.” (National Geographic, 10/14/10)“It’s been the opportunity of a lifetime,” said Jodi Edger, who runs a construction and excavating company that builds the well pads and services the rigs. “If it wasn’t for the oil and gas industry, there wouldn’t be a whole lot up here.” Edger has doubled the size of his staff in the last year or so, going from 50 employees to over 100. … “You hear the doom and gloom about what’s happening with the economy on the national news, and then you see what’s happening up here,” he said. “I can’t even find a truck driver.” (, 10/28/10)“It’s the local trucking firms that have added more trucks to haul water. There are a lot of excavators who’ve added jobs. The companies that are fixing the roads – those are all local contractors who get that work, and so it’s related to Marcellus Shale.” (Daily Item, 10/24/10)“The change is obvious to locals … “Farmers here never had any money to fix their farms,” she says. “They fixed their barns with duct tape and baler twine, but they kept at it because if that’s your way of life, that’s what you are. If you’re born a farmer, you die a farmer. “Now because of the gas companies, you should see the barns getting fixed,” Romanetti says. “It’s not going to give you money so that you can quit farming, but enough if you want to be able to keep farming.” (National Geographic, 10/14/10)“Marcellus Shale Brings Promise Of New Jobs To Region … A recent Penn State University study shows the impact of Marcellus drilling jobs in Pennsylvania. The numbers have increased every year and will reach an estimated 107,000 jobs in 2010. (WPXI-TV, 10/29/10)
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