PennEnvironment Research & Policy Center
Pittsburgh City Paper
Ashley Murray

Two miles. One mile. A half mile. A local watchdog organization counted the number of fracking wells within these distances of schools, day-care centers, nursing homes and hospitals in Pennsylvania. The final tally: hundreds. Now parents are speaking out, and lawsuits are pending.

“Drilling is an extremely industrial process,” says Stephen Riccardi, of PennEnvironment, the organization that released the report, entitled “Dangerous and Close,” last week. “Having all of this going on so close to a school seems practically crazy.”

Within a two-mile radius, the number of schools and day cares reaches nearly 500 each. PennEnvironment, along with several other environmental groups, community members and parents are calling on the state to enact stricter laws.

Statewide, PennEnvironment found more than 220 violations at wells within one mile of a school, 180 violations within one mile of day cares, 28 within one mile of nursing homes and 13 within one mile of hospitals.

The report cites studies regarding proximity to fracking activities and impacts on air, water and quality of life.

As to stronger limits on fracking, PennEnvironment and other advocacy organizations say that although a one-mile setback is not ideal, it’s a starting point. 

“It offers a reasonable degree of protection,” Riccardi says. “It’s still not perfect. Obviously, PennEnvironment would love to see an infinite setback. A mile is what we would call the baseline of safe.”