PA Citizens: Officials Have Let Us Down, Need Better Drilling Protections

Citizens Marcellus Shale Commission ReportPennsylvanians believe that gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale has moved too quickly and that public officials need to do a better job protecting their communities and the environment, according to the final report of the Citizens Marcellus Shale Commission.

The report is the culmination of a two-month effort to give citizens a voice on improving drilling policies and protections. The recommendations made by the Governor’s Marcellus Advisory Commission were a first step but did not recognize how severely inadequate Pennsylvania’s regulatory landscape is for shale drilling. The Citizens Commission recommendations would further protect the environment and local communities.

At hearings across the state, citizens testified to a variety of concerns, but many common themes emerged. Chief among them, citizens take their right to clean air and water very seriously. Again and again, citizens invoked the state constitution’s guarantee to clean air, pure water and environmental preservation, and voiced serious concerns that Pennsylvania wasn’t prepared to responsibly address the impacts of gas drilling.

Citizens also expressed concerns that policy and regulatory processes are disjointed and lack the cohesion needed to address the cumulative impact of drilling on air, water, open spaces, forests, and human and social infrastructure, according to the Commission’s report.

Several citizens testified that elected officials have been unable, or at times unwilling, to balance the interests of industry with those of people and local communities. They think there is a much too high tolerance for industry mistakes and that drilling companies are not being held sufficiently accountable.

The Commission heard from 116 testifiers at hearings in Harrisburg, Philadelphia, Southwestern Pennsylvania, Towanda and Williamsport. More than 400 people from 48 counties attended the hearings, while another 110 concerned citizens submitted comments online.

The Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center is one of the sponsoring organizations. Click here to access the full report, a press release or to read recent media coverage.

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