Pennsylvanians support governor's plans for Marcellus shale

Eric Watkins
OGJ Oil Diplomacy Editor

LOS ANGELES, Feb. 11 -- Pennsylvania Gov. Edward G. Rendell said his state will strengthen its enforcement capabilities to protect residents and environment from the impact of increased exploration for natural gas in the Marcellus shale.

“Interest in Pennsylvania's Marcellus shale formation is greater than ever before and as natural gas prices continue to rise, that interest will only increase,” said Rendell.

“As I've said all along, we want to encourage the development of this resource because it's a tremendous economic opportunity for the state, but we will not allow that to happen at the expense of our environment,” said Rendell.

In an effort to maintain environmental standards, Rendell said the state’s Department of Environmental Protection will hire 68 new personnel to ensure drilling companies obey state laws and act responsibly to protect water supplies.

The 68 additional personnel will be funded entirely from money generated by new, higher permitting fees that were instituted by Pennsylvania in 2009—the first such increase since 1984.

Citizens for Pennsylvania’s Future (PennFuture) praised Rendell’s proposal to tax Marcellus Shale drilling.

“It’s time to pass a tax on the drillers for natural gas in the Marcellus shale,” said Jan Jarrett, PennFuture’s president and chief executive officer. “Without the tax, the people of Pennsylvania will continue to pay the price for the drilling with no compensation for the loss of our natural assets.”

The Marcellus Shale Coalition (MSC) also expressed its support for Rendell’s plan to hire inspectors under the DEP's oil and gas program, and it urged the state to continue developing a “predictable structure” for its Marcellus shale regulations.

“[MSC] has consistently supported the hiring of additional DEP staff to monitor natural gas wells in the commonwealth, as reflected in its proactive endorsement of permit fee increases in 2009 to add and train new inspectors," said MSC Pres. and Executive Director Kathryn Klaber.

“Our support continues with the announcement of an additional 68 DEP staff dedicated to the oil and gas program. This sustainable approach is working and will help to ensure the continued responsible development of the Marcellus shale in Pennsylvania,” Klaber said.

In January, companies drilling in the Pennsylvania’s Marcellus shale established the MSC as an independent nonprofit organization and selected Klaber to head it (OGJ Online, Jan. 13, 2010).

Contact Eric Watkins at hippalus@yahoo.com.

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