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Corbett Agenda- Cultivating Pennsylvania's Marcellus Shale Natural Gas Resource

As part of his campaign platform, Gov.-elect Tom Corbett laid out a series of commitments on protecting the environment, developing Pennsylvania's energy resources, enhancing agriculture and promoting sportsmen's  issues.

            PA Environment Digest is taking a look at the commitments he made on developing Pennsylvania's Marcellus Shale natural gas resource--

            Pennsylvania is home to one of the most abundant and diverse mineral resource fields in the world. The Marcellus Shale natural gas reserves in Pennsylvania represent the single largest economic development opportunity in the Commonwealth over the next several decades, and Pennsylvania still remains the fourth largest coal producing state in the country. The responsible development of these resources will make Pennsylvania a world leader in energy supply and reduce our dependence on foreign oil. 
            With proper oversight, accessing these resources can be accomplished in an environmentally safe manner that protects Pennsylvania’s rivers, streams, lands and forests. Extraction of natural gas, coal and crude oil can co-exist with environmental protection thanks to innovative technological advances in drilling, mining methods, equipment, water protection and treatment, and clean coal technology.
            As Governor, Tom Corbett will encourage the development of our natural resources and support policies that improve extraction efficiency and maximize environmental protection.

Develop Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale resources. In 2009, it is estimated that Pennsylvania received more than $400 million in state and local tax revenue from the Marcellus Shale, with the industry creating thousands of new, high-paying jobs for people of all educational backgrounds. Considering the potential economic impact from Marcellus Shale, it is imperative that we continue to encourage and foster the responsible development of the industry. It will not only create thousands of quality local jobs within the industry, but it also will continue to grow jobs in support industries such as construction, water treatment, rail, trucking and pipelines, along with lodging facilities and restaurants.
            >> Create a Marcellus Shale Work Group. As Governor, Tom Corbett will create a Marcellus Shale work group to ensure the successful development of the industry and advise the Governor and the Energy Executive on pertinent issues, including possible legislative and regulatory changes. The work group will be comprised of industry and state government leaders and environmental experts.
            >> Direct interagency coordination of the Marcellus Shale. Responsible development and promotion of energy policy in Pennsylvania is central to the economic future of Pennsylvania. Tom Corbett will direct the new Governor’s Energy Executive to ensure that energy policy is coordinated among all state agencies that have a role and expertise within this broad issue.
            >> Direct state government to lead by example. As Governor, Tom Corbett will lead by example and begin the process of transitioning some of its aging vehicle fleet to natural gas. State government can serve as a leader and demonstrate the benefits of driving vehicles that use cleaner-burning, domestic fuel sources while at the same time creating a market for the ever-growing amount of natural gas that will be available. The Commonwealth could also explore the use of electric powered vehicles.
            >> Promote responsible use of and protection of Pennsylvania’s water supplies. Pennsylvania is one of the most water rich states in the United States. The Commonwealth is blessed with an abundance of this resource and, equally important, is tasked with proper stewardship. As Governor, Tom Corbett will work to protect our water supply through the responsible development of the Marcellus Shale and will bring together all stakeholders to address related issues.
                    >> Protect the groundwater, encourage recycling and coordinate permitting. Protection of Pennsylvania’s drinking water sources is of paramount importance. Pennsylvania’s water protection statutes and regulations relating to oil and gas drilling are among the toughest and most effective in the nation. In order to further protect this precious resource, Tom Corbett will work with the General Assembly, natural gas industry leaders and environmental and community groups to enhance the Commonwealth’s water protections where science-based analysis indicates that additional protections are prudent. In addition, Tom Corbett will encourage natural gas companies to maximize the recycling of water through best available water recycling and treatment technologies. He also will forge a closer relationship with the Susquehanna and Delaware River Basin Commissions and the Ohio River Water Sanitation Commission to ensure a coordination of water withdrawal efforts.
                    >> Create a Marcellus Shale Science Advisory Board. Tom Corbett will create the Marcellus Shale Science Advisory Board within DEP to help identify the best available and practical water recycling and treatment technologies to protect ground and surface waters.
                    >> Support New Technology Development. Working in conjunction with the new Marcellus Shale Science Advisory Board, Tom Corbett will work with the General Assembly to set aside a portion of the permit fees and royalties paid by the natural gas industry to the Commonwealth to support the development of new and improved wastewater recycling technologies for use in the state.
            >> Royalty fees on natural gas production. The Commonwealth currently finds itself at a competitive advantage when compared to other states with similar gas shale plays. Capital investment to develop Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale is increasing rapidly, and, according to an economic impact study released by Penn State University in 2009, industry activity is expected to generate over $600 million in tax revenues to the Commonwealth during 2010 without a severance tax. 
            Tom Corbett believes that a punitive tax on the industry at this stage would reduce capital investment for drilling in the Commonwealth and reduce the potential for new jobs, tax revenues and other economic benefits associated with development of the Marcellus Shale. In addition, Tom Corbett supports dedicating a portion of the existing fees to communities being impacted by drilling.
            >> Encourage meaningful citizen involvement. Citizens and communities in the Marcellus Shale regions often feel left out of the process of creating public environmental and economic policies related to the development of this resource. As Governor, Tom Corbett will make sure that the voices of all stakeholders are heard through the creation of regional Marcellus Shale Stewardship Roundtables, which will enable a forum in which to exchange information between local communities, the natural gas industry and the agencies involved in overseeing Marcellus Shale activities.
            >> Protect state parks, game lands and forests. While Marcellus Shale development on state land represents 10 percent or less of development activity statewide, it occurs on land held in public trust for all Pennsylvanians. Tom Corbett will work with DCNR and the Game Commission to ensure that Pennsylvania’s state parks, game lands and forests are protected for Pennsylvanians to enjoy.

            A complete copy of the Energy Policy paper from Gov.-elect Corbett is available online.


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