Lt. Gov. Jim Cawley called the first meeting of the Governor's Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission to order this week saying Pennsylvania has an unprecedented opportunity to improve the economic well-being of Commonwealth residents over the next 50 to 100 years, if we develop the state's Marcellus Shale natural gas reserves in the right way economically and environmentally.
Lt. Gov. Cawley said the Executive Order creating the Commission gave the group several responsibilities to identify--
-- Additional steps necessary to protect, conserve and enhance the Commonwealth’s environment and natural resources and further mitigate impacts from development on the state’s air, land, and water resources;
-- Efforts necessary to promote the efficient, environmentally sound and cost-effective development of Marcellus Shale and other unconventional natural gas resources;
-- Policies designed to encourage the end use of natural gas and natural gas byproducts;
-- Workforce development needs and opportunities; and
-- Identifying, quantifying and recommending proposals to address the needs and impacts of natural gas development on local communities.
The Commission will have 120 days to complete these tasks. The meeting dates for the entire Commission were scheduled for: May 20, June 17 and July 15. A meeting date in April will be announced.
To accomplish its work the Commission created four working groups co-chaired by members of the Commission--
-- Economic and Workforce Development: C. Alan Walker, Acting Secretary of the Department of Community and Economic Development and Gene Barr, PA Chamber of Business and Industry;
-- Infrastructure: Barry Schoch, Acting Secretary Department of Transportation and Christopher Masciantonio, U.S. Steel;
-- Health, Safety and Environmental Protection: Michael Krancer, Acting Secretary Department of Environmental Protection and Cynthia Carrow, Western PA Conservancy;
-- Local Impacts: Glenn Cannon, PA Emergency Management Agency and Jeff Wheeland, Lycoming County Commissioner.
The work groups are expected to meet between meetings of the entire group to work on Commission assignments.
Each member of the 30-person Commission attending the meeting was given the opportunity for a five minute introduction and a common theme among all participants was the need to "get it right" in developing Marcellus Shale.Anthony Bartolomeo, Chair of the PA Environmental Council, said he and his group have several objectives for participation in the Commission--
-- We must adapt the overall regulatory and permitting process to ensure more complete information is gathered to inform decision making, allow for assessment of potential long-term impacts, instill predictability, and help assure the public that the right decisions are being made.
-- We must identify the environmental co-benefits in development of the industry, and how they can be incentivized. This is especially important in the realm of advancing best management practices above and beyond the point of regulation.
-- We must ensure that our state agencies have the resources and authority they truly need to support and regulate this industry.
-- We must follow the adaptive management principle so the Commonwealth stands ready to address issues and needs beyond the 120 day horizon of this Commission.
PEC's participation will be guided by a report prepared after the group's May 2010 conference on developing the Marcellus Shale.
Matthew Ehrhart, Pennsylvania Office Director of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, commended Gov. Corbett for creating the Commission to focus on Marcellus Shale development and added:
"For over twenty years CBF has been active in restoring and protecting water quality in the thirty-six counties making up the Bay portion of Pennsylvania. Through our advocacy efforts, on-the-ground work with farmers and landowners, and sound scientific approach to dealing with challenging environmental threats, CBF has helped to restore and protect the waters of the Commonwealth.
"Developing natural gas production in the Marcellus Shale provides a critical energy source and critical economic resources for the Commonwealth. It also poses some significant environmental concerns and some unanswered long term questions.
"While some significant improvements have been made to our management and oversight of gas development, there is still work to do. There are numerous issues such as bonding, setbacks, fines, pad siting, post construction stormwater, etc. which have been raised.
"There are questions about shallow gas migration, the long term fate of fracwater and our aquifers, and the potential for utilizing less toxic fracturing technology.
"There are also big picture concerns which include habitat fragmentation and the impact of natural gas development on the Chesapeake Bay TMDL (Total Maximum Daily Load). The cumulative load of Nitrogen, Phosphorous, and sediment from this industry sector must be accounted for in the Commonwealth's Watershed Implementation Plan, to address how the state will meet federal water quality requirements."
Here is the complete list of individuals invited to join the Commission:
-- Mike Krancer, acting Secretary of Environmental Protection, Harrisburg.
-- George Grieg, acting Secretary of Agriculture, Harrisburg.
-- C. Alan Walker, acting Secretary of Community and Economic Development, Harrisburg.
-- Barry Schoch, acting Secretary of Transportation, Harrisburg.
-- Richard Allan, acting Secretary of Conservation and Natural Resources, Harrisburg.
-- Patrick Henderson, the Governor’s Energy Executive, Harrisburg.
-- Robert Powelson, chairman of the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission, Harrisburg.
-- Glenn Cannon, executive director of Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency, Harrisburg.
-- James W. Felmlee, president of the PA State Association of Boroughs, Harrisburg.
-- Clifford “Kip’’ Allen, president of the PA League of Cities and Municipalities, Harrisburg.
-- Gene Barr, vice president, Government & Public Affairs, Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry, Harrisburg.
-- Terry R. Bossert, vice president, Government & Regulatory Affairs, Chief Oil & Gas, Harrisburg, and former Chief Counsel at DEP.
-- Jeff Wheeland, Lycoming County Commissioner, Williamsport.
-- Vincent J. Matteo, president Williamsport-Lycoming Chamber of Commerce, Williamsport.
-- Terry Engelder, professor of geosciences, Penn State University, Department of Geosciences, University Park.
-- Matthew J. Ehrhart, executive director of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s Pennsylvania office, Harrisburg.
-- Ronald L. Ramsey, senior policy advisor, the Nature Conservancy, Pennsylvania Chapter, Harrisburg.
-- David Porges, chief executive officer, EQT, Pittsburgh.
-- Christopher J. Masciantonio, general manager, State Government Affairs, U.S. Steel, Pittsburgh.
-- Cynthia Carrow, vice president of Government & Community Relations, Western Pennsylvania Conservancy, Pittsburgh.
-- David Sanko, executive director of the PA State Association of Township Supervisors, Enola.
-- Dave Spigelmyer, vice president, Government Relations, Chesapeake Energy, Canonsburg.
-- Randy Smith, U.S. Government Affairs Manager, Exxon Mobil, Fairfax, Va.
-- Ray Walker, chairman Marcellus Shale Coalition, Canonsburg.
-- Chris Helms, NiSource Gas Transmission and Storage, Houston, Texas.
-- Terry Pegula, Delray Beach, Fla. (founder of East Resources).
-- Jeff Kupfer, Chevron, Washington, D.C.
-- Gary Slagel, chairman, PA Independent Oil & Gas Association, Wexford.
-- Anthony S. Bartolomeo, chairman, Pennsylvania Environmental Council, Philadelphia.
-- Nicholas S. Haden, vice president, Reserved Environmental Services, Mt. Pleasant.