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Photo Courtesy of Leann Leiter

Photo credit: Leann Leiter



The Better Path Coalition is currently scheduling tours with the team in SWPA led by Lois Bjornson. The dates listed below are available dates. No tour will take place unless a reservation is made for that date. Please tell your legislators and Governor Wolf you want them to take the tour. (Check the list below to see if your legislators have yet to take the tour.) Be sure to tell them they must contact us at to reserve the date.

The available dates through June are:

January 31

February 7, 13, 21, 28

March 6, 13, 20, 27

April 1, 2, 3

May 1, 29

June 5, 12, 19

You can’t unsee them.

Witnessing shale gas development’s impacts is an unforgettable experience, yet one too few of the people who make laws and set policy have had.

This summer, the Better Path Coalition decided to change that.

We began organizing tours of fracking’s impacts in southwestern PA for elected officials. We felt it was important to concentrate our efforts on that part of the state for a few reasons. It’s the part of the state where fracking began 15 years ago.  It’s now ground zero of a second-generation fracking boom, this time centered on ethane used by the petrochemical industry to make plastics, including the single-use variety. And it’s the part of the state that has seen a spike in diagnoses of rare childhood cancers in the past decade, according to investigative reporting by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette‘s Don Hopey and David Templeton who found at least 67 cases in just 4 rural counties. Thirteen young people have died.

In part, the tour was inspired by this excerpt from an article in the Observer-Reporter in Washington County.

“Kasey Duran recalled how officials from the state Department of Environmental Protection who recently visited her home in Smith Township were astonished at the amount of shale gas infrastructure their own agency had approved for companies to build nearby.

“’They were standing around totally blank-faced, (they) couldn’t believe that they approved so many things,’ she said.

“’They don’t know, either, what they’re really approving, besides what they can see on a map,” she added. “But seeing it up close is something totally different.’”

That’s right. Your environmental regulators hadn’t witnessed firsthand the consequences of their actions. Surely our state legislators hadn’t either, we thought (correctly, as it turns out). And we know no sitting Pennsylvania governor has ever toured impacted areas.

Fortunately, we were able to connect with several speakers who have led tours for journalists and others. Among them are Lois Bjornson, Dr. Ned Ketyer, Leann Leiter, and Matthew Mehalik. Laurie Barr joined the team to educate participants on the massive legacy issue of orphaned and abandoned wells. The indefatigable Craig Stevens is in constant contact with legislators’ offices to get them signed up. Karen Feridun follows up with emailed invitations and confirmations.

During the course of the tour, elected officials meet people like Janice Blanock whose son Luke died of Ewing Sarcoma at the age of 19, meet residents who are experiencing other health impacts or problems with polluted water and air, see what shale gas operations look like when viewed through a FLIR, or Forward-Looking Infrared, camera, and much more.

We are taking reservations for tours on October 3, 10, 17 and are about to announce two new dates, November 21 and December 5. We’ve already heard from legislators interested in taking the tour in 2020, so we’ll add dates as soon as the session days are posted and we know when legislators are free.




* means a staff member has taken the tour

** means they are scheduled to take an upcoming tour

Senator Name

Argall, David G

Aument, Ryan P

Baker, Lisa

Bartolotta, Camera

Blake, John P

Boscola, Lisa M

Bradford, Matthew

Brewster, James R

Brooks, Michele

Browne, Patrick M

Collett, Maria

Corman, Jake

Costa, Jay *

Dinniman, Andrew E *

Disanto, John

Farnese Jr, Lawrence M

Fontana, Wayne D

Gordner, John R

Haywood, Art

Hughes, Vincent J

Hutchinson, Scott E

Killion, Thomas H

Langerholc Jr, Wayne

Laughlin, Daniel

Martin, Scott

Mastriano, Doug

Mensch, Bob

Phillips-Hill, Kristin

Regan, Mike

Sabatina Jr, John P

Santarsiero, Steven J.

Scarnati III, Joseph B

Scavello, Mario M

Stefano, Patrick J

Street, Sharif

Tartaglione, Christine M

Tomlinson, Robert M

Vogel Jr, Elder A

Ward, Judy

Ward, Kim L

Williams, Anthony H

Yaw, Gene

Yudichak, John T

Representative Name

Barrar, Stephen

Benninghoff, Kerry A

Bernstine, Aaron

Bizzarro, Ryan A

Boback, Karen

Borowicz, Stephanie

Boyle, Kevin J

Bradford, Matthew D 

Briggs, Tim

Brooks, Bob

Brown, Rosemary M

Bullock, Donna

Burgos, Danilo

Burns, Frank

Caltagirone, Thomas R

Carroll, Mike

Causer, Martin T

Cephas, Morgan

Ciresi, Joe 

Comitta, Carolyn

Conklin, Scott

Cook, Bud

Cox, Jim

Cruz, Angel

Culver, Lynda Schlegel

Cutler, Bryan

Daley, Mary Jo

Davidson, Margo L

Davis, Austin A

Davis, Tina M

Dawkins, Jason

Day, Gary

Deasy, Daniel J

DeLissio, Pamela A

Delloso, Dave

Delozier, Sheryl M

DeLuca, Anthony M

Dermody, Frank

Diamond, Russ

DiGirolamo, Gene

Donatucci, Maria P

Dowling, Matthew D

Driscoll, Michael J

Dunbar, George

Dush, Cris

Ecker, Torren C

Emrick, Joe

Everett, Garth D

Farry, Frank A

Fee, Mindy

Fiedler, Elizabeth

Fitzgerald, Isabella V

Flynn, Marty

Frankel, Dan

Freeman, Robert

Friel-Otten, Danielle **

Fritz, Jonathan

Gabler, Matt

Gainey, Ed

Galloway, John T

Gaydos, Valerie S

Gillen, Mark M

Gillespie, Keith

Gleim, Barbara

Goodman, Neal P

Gregory, Jim

Greiner, Keith J

Grove, Seth M

Hahn, Marcia M

Hanbidge, Liz

Harkins, Patrick J

Harris, Jordan A

Heffley, Doyle

Helm, Susan C

Hennessey, Tim

Hershey, Johnathan D

Hickernell, David S

Hill-Evans, Carol

Hohenstein, Joseph C

Howard, Kristine

Irvin, Rich

Isaacson, Mary

James, R. Lee J

Johnson-Harrell, Movita

Jones, Mike

Jozwiak, Barry J

Kail, Joshua D

Kaufer, Aaron D

Kauffman, Rob W

Keefer, Dawn W

Keller, Fred

Keller, Mark K

Kenyatta, Malcolm

Kim, Patty

Kinsey, Stephen

Kirkland, Brian

Klunk, Kate A

Knowles, Jerry

Kortz II, William C

Kosierowski, Bridget

Krueger, Leanne

Kulik, Anita Astorino

Lawrence, John A

Lee, Summer

Lewis, Andrew

Longietti, Mark

Mackenzie, Ryan E

Madden, Maureen

Mako, Zachary

Malagari, Steven R

Maloney Sr, David M

Markosek, Brandon J.

Marshall, Jim

Masser, Kurt A

Matzie, Robert F

McCarter, Stephen

McClinton, Joanna E

McNeill, Jeanne

Mehaffie III, Thomas L

Mentzer, Steven C

Merski, Robert E

Metcalfe, Daryl D

Metzgar, Carl Walker

Mihalek, Natalie

Millard, David R

Miller, Brett R

Miller, Dan L

Mizgorski, Lori A

Moul, Dan

Mullery, Gerald J

Mullins, Kyle J

Mustello, Marci

Murt, Thomas P

Neilson, Ed

Nelson, Eric R

Nesbit, Tedd C

Oberlander, Donna

O’Mara, Jennifer

O’Neal, Timothy J

Ortitay, Jason

Owlett, Clint

Pashinski, Eddie Day

Peifer, Michael

Petrarca, Joseph A

Pickett, Tina

Polinchock, F. Todd

Puskaric, Michael J

Pyle, Jeffrey P

Quinn, Christopher B

Rader Jr, Jack

Rabb, Christopher

Rapp, Kathy L

Ravenstahl, Adam

Readshaw, Harry

Reese, Mike

Rigby, Jim

Roae, Brad

Roebuck Jr, James R

Rothman, Greg

Rowe, David

Rozzi, Mark

Ryan, Francis X

Sainato, Chris

Samuelson, Steve

Sanchez, Benjamin V

Sankey, Tommy

Sappey, Christina D

Saylor, Stan

Schemel, Paul

Schlossberg, Michael H

Schmitt, Louis C

Schroeder, Meghan

Schweyer, Peter

Shusterman, Melissa L

Simmons, Justin J

Sims, Brian

Snyder, Pam

Solomon, Jared G

Sonney, Curtis G

Staats, Craig T

Stephens, Todd

Struzzi, James B

Sturla, P. Michael

Thomas, Wendi

Tobash, Mike

Toepel, Marcy

Toohil, Tarah

Topper, Jesse

Turzai, Mike

Ullman, Wendy

Vitali, Greg

Walsh, Justin M

Warner, Ryan

Warren, Perry S

Wentling, Parke

Wheatley Jr, Jake

Wheeland, Jeff C

White, Martina A

Williams, Dan K

Youngblood, Rosita C

Zabel, Michael

Zimmerman, David H

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