Matthew J. Ehrhart, Pennsylvania Executive Director for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation today issued the following statement in response to Gov. Corbett’s plan for the future of natural gas drilling in the Commonwealth:
“The Governor’s plan presents an opportunity for the Commonwealth to plan for the significant environmental, economic, and community-related issues that drilling for natural gas in Pennsylvania presents. CBF is encouraged that the Governor has incorporated almost all of the recommendations of the Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission into his plan, however, much depends on the details and specific language that has yet to be released.
“The Commission’s recommendations, specifically those with environmental implications, would fundamentally improve the way the gas industry is managed, and significantly reduce the risks to human health and safety, as well as risks of environmental contamination. Enforcing ‘cradle to grave’ tracking and manifesting of wastewater, increased setbacks from wells and homes, improved management of erosion and sediment control implementation, and increased setbacks from floodplains will dramatically reduce risks. Additionally, increased enforcement tools and fines will provide greater accountability.
“However, much of today’s focus was on the details of an impact fee.”
“Perhaps most problematic to our constituencies is the very visible lack of commitment to providing for environmental funding. While the proposal allocates significant funding to PennDOT programs, no funds are allocated to the Environmental Stewardship Fund. While $25-$30 million would be the proverbial drop in the bucket for transportation funding, it would be vital to the survival of environmental funding. We ask the Governor to reconsider this stance and will continue to work with the Administration and the General Assembly on this issue.
“We look forward to seeing the detailed language necessary to implement the Commission’s recommendations in legislation, regulation, and policy and remain committed to securing the achieving health, safety, and environmental quality of our communities and natural places for the citizens of the Commonwealth.
“Some environmental issues remain to be addressed to our satisfaction, including a funding mechanism for environmental impacts, and addressing impacts to state forest lands. CBF will continue to focus on these issues, as well as the need for a cumulative impact study to better understand the long-term impacts drilling has on our natural resources.
“CBF calls on the Pennsylvania General Assembly to move quickly to enact effective legislation to safeguard our communities and our natural resources.”