Casey meets with Kagan

Pennsylvania’s soon-to-be senior Senator sat down with Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan today. Here’s the press release his office just put out:

“My meeting today with Solicitor General Elena Kagan was very positive.  I was impressed by her knowledge of the law and her personal warmth.  I was also impressed by her honesty in answering questions and her understanding of the role of the judiciary in our federal system in ensuring the promise of ‘equal justice under law.’

“I look forward to continuing to monitor the confirmation process, which is designed to provide information and insight into the nominee’s academic background, judicial temperament and knowledge of the law.  I believe that her compelling personal story and diverse background and experience would serve her well in understanding and explaining the impact of the Court’s decisions.”


Casey wants more federal drilling oversight

Democrat Bob Casey is calling on the EPA to take a larger role in investigations of water contamination caused by natural gas drilling in Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale formation.  The release is below.

SCRANTON, PA—U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) today was joined by residents in the Dimock area whose wells were contaminated by drilling conducted by Texas-based Cabot Oil and Gas Corp. as he called for additional oversight of natural gas drilling.  Senator Casey today sent a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) urging them to examine its current authority to determine whether it can take additional steps in Pennsylvania to investigate and respond to groundwater contamination and other potentially harmful consequences of drilling.

“Natural gas drilling can provide an economic boost to Pennsylvania but we must protect ground water,” said Senator Casey.  “We will not allow an out-of-state company to come to Pennsylvania and contaminate the groundwater of our residents.  Three million Pennsylvanians rely on wells for their drinking water.  We must ensure adequate safeguards are in place to protect this most basic necessity for Pennsylvanians.”

In the letter, Senator Casey wrote: “I urge EPA to examine its authority to determine whether it can take additional steps in Pennsylvania to investigate and respond to groundwater contamination and other potentially harmful consequences of drilling. I request a meeting with you and appropriate EPA officials to discuss natural gas drilling and whether EPA could launch an investigation into water and environmental contamination.”

In 2009, Senator Casey introduced the Fracturing Responsibility and Awareness of Chemicals Act.  The legislation would repeal a Bush administration exemption provided for the oil and gas industry and would require them to disclose the chemicals they use in their hydraulic fracturing processes.  Currently, the oil and gas industry is the only industry granted an exemption from complying with the Safe Drinking Water Act.

Hydraulic fracturing – also known as “fracking”, which is used in almost all oil and gas wells, is a process whereby fluids are injected at high pressure into underground rock formations to blast them open and increase the flow of fossil fuels.  Fracking is used in areas of Pennsylvania where natural gas is being drilled from Marcellus Shale.

This injection of unknown and potentially toxic chemicals often occurs near drinking water wells.  Three million Pennsylvanians are dependent on private wells for water.  Troubling incidents have occurred around the country where people became ill after fracking operations began in their communities. Some chemicals that are known to have been used in fracking include diesel fuel, benzene, industrial solvents and other carcinogens and endocrine disrupters.

Abortion protesters disrupt Casey event

Democratic Senator Bob Casey appeared at the state Capitol this afternoon to promote a photo exhibit documenting hunger and poverty in Pennsylvania. Many reporters showed up to find out  his take on Majority Leader Harry Reid’s comments about President Obama. Neither subject ended up as the event’s focal point.

Shortly after Senator Casey began to speak, a man stood up and called him a liar.

Three other protesters then took turns berating Casey, calling him, among other things, a baby killer and a phony pro-lifer. After being escorted out of the rotunda, they identified themselves as representing Insurrecta Nex, a hard-line anti-abortion group that picketed Casey’s Scranton home in December.

Casey was calm during the protest. Afterward, he defended his pro-life record and took credit for strengthening anti-abortion provisions in the Senate’s health care bill.

Casey said he’s a pragmatist about stopping abortion. “Now some are not interested in reducing the number abortions, they just want to fight about the issue,” he argued. “I’m interested in reducing the number.”

Protester Suzanne Doller  disagreed. “You’re a liar and hypocrite,” she yelled during the event.

Health care bill clears Senate

After months of debate, a major health care overhaul  passed the Senate on a 60-39 vote this morning. Pennsylvania Democrat Bob Casey says it’s “a historic step,” claiming the measure will expand coverage to 31 million more Americans, as well as lop 132 billion dollars off the federal deficit over the next decade.

Here’s more of Casey’s statement:

“This bill also makes improvements for children’s health care and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).  I have been a strong advocate for protecting and improving CHIP in this bill.  We prevented the dismantling of the program and were able to secure a two-year funding extension in addition to other improvements such as strengthening enrollment and outreach mechanisms and immediately implementing provisions to prevent denial of care because of preexisting conditions.

“More power is given to consumers and we end many of the worst practices by insurance companies.  Discrimination because of pre-existing conditions would be prohibited.  Insurance companies wouldn’t be able to drop coverage if you become sick.  Arbitrary limits on coverage would be eliminated.”

PA Republicans disagree. State chairman Rob Gleason calls it “an awful piece of legislation that will raise taxes, kill jobs and drive a government-sized wedge between patients and their doctors.” He says it doesn’t address the country’s health care needs, and that the party looks forward to waiving the bill around during this year’s Senate campaign. “Pennsylvanians will not forget that Senator Specter gave the Democrats their 60th vote and assured the passage of this awful legislation.”