A group of non profit institutions across Pennsylvania has formed a Citizens Marcellus Shale Commission to, as they say, “try to bring some balance to the discussion.” Gov. Corbett appointed an inudstry centered Marcellus Shale Commission which delivered its report earlier this summer. Little direct citizen input was contributed to that discussion and all of their hearings were held during business hours in Harrisburg.
The organizations involved in this effort are Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center, Clean Water Action, Keystone Progress, League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania, Housing Alliance of Pennsylvania, Penn Environment, Sierra Club Pennsylvania Chapter, and the CLEAR Coalition. They each nominated individuals to serve on the Commission and former State Representatives Dan Surra (D) and Carole Rubley (R) are the Co-Chairs. They will conduct five regional hearings around the Commonwealth during evening hours so people can attend and will also accept written comments and testimony through their website.
The scheduled meetings are:
Aug. 31, 2011, 6-9 pm: South Fayette Middle School, 3640 Old Oakdale Rd., McDonald, Pa
Sept. 6, 2011, 6-9 pm: The Free Library of Philadelphia, 1901 Vine St., Philadelphia, Pa.
Sept. 13, 2011, 6-9 pm: Lycoming College, Academic Center on Mulberry Street, Room D001, Lower Level, Williamsport, Pa.
Sept. 14, 2011, 6-9 pm: Wysox Volunteer Fire Company, P.O. Box 2, Lake Rd., Wysox, Pa.
Week of Sept. 18, 2011, Harrisburg, Pa. (Details TBA)
The Citizens Commission hopes to send a report by mid October to the Governor, state legislators and the people of Pennsylvania designed “to supplement and add to” the Governor’s Commission. Most of the testimony taken by that body was from industry people and/or experts hired and paid for by the energy industry. As one participant said in a conference call this morning, this is too important long term to the state to not be done properly. While profits are privatized the long term environmental costs will be socialized, a bill delivered to taxpayers down the road.
Broader focus of the Citizens Commission will include the social costs of drilling, impacts on hunters and fishermen, the impact of potential extraction taxes or fees, and the impact on Pennsylvania”s animals. Some hunters have found themselves confronted by armed security guards while using state lands.
Anyone unable to attend a hearing can contribute comments or testimony to the Commission via its website.