Protest Held at Marcellus Advisory Commission Meeting
Groups Urge Balance to Industry Loaded Panel
(Harrisburg) – A coalition of 17 community, labor, and environmental organizations held a demonstration outside Gov. Corbett’s Marcellus Shale Advisory Committee meeting today at the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) offices in downtown Harrisburg. The diverse array of groups united in an effort to urge Gov. Corbett to disband the Commission if he will not bring greater balance to its membership.
Groups endorsing the rally were: Gas Truth of Central PA, Peach Bottom Concerned Citizens Group, Community Action Forum on Marcellus Shale Gas (Lancaster Co.), Clean Water Action, Protecting Our Waters, Transition Harrisburg, PA Campaign for Clean Water, Delaware Riverkeeper Network, EARTHWORKS Oil & Gas Accountability Project, End Gasocracy Now, SEIU PA State Council, Marcellus Protest, Sierra Club PA Chapter, Center for Coalfield Justice, Damascus Citizens for Sustainability, PennEnvironment, Responsible Drilling Alliance (Lycoming Co.)
Gov. Corbett established his Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission to make recommendations to him by July 22, 2011. Almost half of the members either work directly in the oil and gas industry, in related fields, or represent other business interests.
Nathan Sooy, Harrisburg Campaign Coordinator for Clean Water Action stated, “We are here because many of the Commission members are part of the problem, not part of the solution. If Governor Corbett will not propose a balanced Commission, he should disband this biased one.”
Clean Water Action released information yesterday indicating that gas drilling companies that are members of the Marcellus Commission violated environmental rules over 500 times in 2010. Two of the top three companies with the most violations in the state, Chesapeake Energy and Chief Oil and Gas, are both Commission members. Full environmental violation data can be found at http://www.cleanwateraction.org/pa.
Benjamin Ketchum with Gas Truth of Central PA stated, “This Commission is essentially serving as a rubber stamp for Corbett’s, and by extension, the industry’s priorities. They do not have our best interests in mind.”
Conrad Dan Volz DrPH, with the Graduate School of Public Health of the University of Pittsburgh addressed the lack of health expertise on the Commission, “Health complaints associated with Marcellus Shale gas extraction are not being properly investigated by the State of Pennsylvania. There is no representation from the Department of Health, the states primary disease investigation unit. How can the Commission properly assess public health outcomes of shale gas drilling without effective disease surveillance?”
Calvin Tillman, mayor of DISH, Texas, recounted his struggles to get gas drilling companies in his town to clean up their operations. He stated, “It appears that Pennsylvania officials do not want to be confused with the facts. With the possibility of a half million wells, this state better force this industry to be responsible, or there will be a mess left to future generations.”
“The free ride for oil & gas companies has to stop,” said Donald Forney, a home care worker from Harrisburg and member of the United Home Care Workers of Pennsylvania. “It’s time to end the rubber-stamp for their permits and it’s time for them to pay an extraction tax for the resources they’re taking from our land.”
Dana Dolney representing Marcellus Protest, based in Pittsburgh, stated, “Our government has spoken; their pockets have been lined and we are being told to just get used to it. This is how Harrisburg and Tom Corbett choose to operate. The time has come that we remind the politicians that they work for us and that this is our state, our gas, our water, our air, NOT Chesapeake’s, or Cabot’s, or Range Resources.”
Maria Payan, with Community Action Forum on Marcellus Shale Gas, a new community group based in Lancaster County, stated, “Many of us have concluded that if we continue down this path, with streamlined permitting, lax regulation and no severance tax, our children and grandchildren will pay for this joyride with huge environmental clean up costs and poor health.”
Dr. Arno Vosk, a retired ER physician from Williamsport representing the Responsible Drilling Alliance stated, “It’s time we stopped believing the myths that shale gas drilling brings prosperity, that it’s safe, and that it can solve our nation’s energy problems.”