Pennsylvania’s Democratic face-off
As Pennsylvania’s new congressional map begins to take shape, Democrats are preparing for an unpleasant scenario that will force them to take sides in a potentially bloody intraparty contest between Reps. Jason Altmire and Mark Critz.
Nearly all of the proposed redistricting plans in circulation point to a consolidation of their western Pennsylvania-based seats, creating the prospect of a primary election where organized labor will play a key role in determining the outcome between the two junior Democrats.
According to multiple Republican and Democratic sources close to the state’s redistricting process, senior Democrats in the congressional delegation aren’t expected to fight that design. With Pennsylvania losing one of its 19 House seats because of reapportionment and Republicans in control of all the levers of redistricting power, most Democrats are resigned to the fact they’ll lose one of their seven current seats — most likely from western Pennsylvania, where population loss has been heavier than elsewhere in the state.
|The only significant sticking point, according to those sources, is convincing bordering Republicans with safe districts to absorb small numbers of Democratic voters.
Both Altmire, who is in his third term, and Critz, who won a 2010 special election for the seat held by the late Rep. John Murtha, share similar profiles as conservative-leaning Democrats who have had success by running against their national party. Since neither is expected to back down or seek other office, Pennsylvania Democrats are gearing up for a contentious 2012 primary that some fear could leave the winner vulnerable to a Republican challenge in November.
|For Immediate Release|
Attorney General Gansler Notifies Chesapeake Energy of the State’s Intent to Sue for Endangering the Health of Citizens and the Environment
BALTIMORE, MD ( May 2, 2011) – Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler today announced that he has sent a letter to Chesapeake Energy Corporation and its affiliates, notifying the companies of the State of Maryland’s intent to sue for violating the federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) and the Clean Water Act (CWA). On April 19, thousands of gallons of fracking fluids were released from a well owned and operated by Chesapeake Energy into Towanda Creek, a tributary of the Susquehanna River, which supplies 45% of the fresh water in the Chesapeake Bay. In his letter, Attorney General Gansler notified the company that at the close of the required 90-day notice period, the State intends to file a citizen suit and seek injunctive relief and civil penalties under RCRA for solid or hazardous waste contamination of soils and ground waters, and the surface waters and sediments of Towanda Creek and the Susquehanna River. The State also intends to seek injunctive relief and civil penalties under the CWA for violation of the CWA’s prohibition on unpermitted pollution to waters of the United States.
Chesapeake Energy owns and operates numerous natural gas wells in the Marcellus Shale, including the Atgas 2H well in Leroy Township in Bradford County, Pennsylvania. At approximately 11:45 p.m. on April 19, 2011, essential components of the Atgas 2H well failed, causing tens of thousands of gallons of fracking fluids to be released. These fluids escaped Chesapeake Energy’s inadequate containment, crossed over neighboring farm fields, and entered into Towanda Creek, a tributary of the Susquehanna River, which flows into Maryland. The Susquehanna River supplies drinking water for approximately 6.2 million people and sensitive fish populations like the American shad and striped bass are moving into the Susquehanna flats at this time of year. Exposure to toxic and carcinogenic chemicals in unknown quantities creates a risk of imminent and substantial endangerment to humans using Pennsylvania and Maryland waterways for recreation and to the environment.
“Companies cannot expose citizens to dangerous chemicals that pose serious health risks to the environment and to public health,” said Attorney General Gansler. “We are using all resources available to hold Chesapeake Energy accountable for its actions.”