Anti-Drilling PennFuture’s To-Do List for 2011

Jan JarrettThose opposed to natural gas drilling in Pennsylvania have an uphill battle with a new governor (Tom Corbett) who is pro-drilling, and with pro-drilling majorities in both the Senate and House. So they pick and chose their battles. Some groups want an outright ban or moratorium (a moratorium being nothing more than a prelude to an outright ban). Others opposed to drilling, like Jan Jarrett, the president and CEO of statewide environmental group PennFuture, are concentrating on small victories now, hoping for bigger ones later when the political climate changes. And the political climate will one day change again—that much is certain. So what is on Ms. Jarrett’s to-do list for 2011?

  • Increase the manpower and authority of the State Department of Environmental Protection so they can more vigorously enforce regulations;
  • Increase fines for drillers who violate regulations;
  • Increase the bond price drillers now pay that ensures land will be restored after they are done drilling (the current bond is $2,500 per well);
  • Get drilling prohibited in flood plains;
  • Create a “buffer zone” of  no-drilling around water supplies;
  • Continue Gov. Ed Rendell’s moratorium on further drilling in state game lands.

For more details on the apparent “disarray” of anti-drilling efforts in Pennsylvania, see this article:

The Patriot-News (Jan 29) – Gas-drilling opponents see different goals for Pennsylvania

  • Jan Jarrett

    PennFuture does not oppose drilling but insists on responsible, world class drilling. There are more than 80 drillers in Pennsylvania and they are not all excellent or all terrible. Drilling must be thoroughly regulated, in part to make sure that the drillers doing it well are not undercut by those who do it poorly and take shortcuts. PennFuture knows that all energy sources have impacts on the environment, though those impacts differ greatly, with renewable energy the cleanest and coal and oil the dirtiest. Gas is a far preferable fuel for generating electricity than burning coal. It has half the carbon emissions, no mercury emissions, no particulate emissions, and would reduce nitrogen oxide and sulfur dioxide emissions as long as the drilling companies are required to use the cleanest engines and infrastructure to move the gas from the gas well to the marketplace. Converting coal-fired power plants to run on natural gas and converting large diesel truck and bus fleets to run on natural gas would make substantial and quick improvements in Pennsylvania’s air and drastically cut our carbon emissions. One-third of America’s coal fired power plants are more than 40 years old and have few or no environmental controls on them. Pennsylvania has 11,000 megawatts of coal plants in this category. They are clunkers or jalopies on the streets of Havana. They should be cleaned up and refuel with gas or closed down. It makes no sense to run them when we have huge amounts of cleaner gas. We should also be using gas to run trucks, buses, and other vehicles. It is cleaner than oil and we don’t need to import any of it. Our addiction to oil must end and the fact that we import 70% of our oil is an enormous environmental, economic, and national security mistake.

    We also welcome the economic development and in-state job creation that will come as a result of the development of the gas resource.

    But not every Pennsylvanian is going to be helped by natural gas drilling. Some have already been harmed. To make sure that every Pennsylvanian receives a direct benefit from gas, PennFuture supports enacting a tax like that already in place in West Virginia. One-third of the proceeds should go to local communities impacted by drilling. One third should go to pay for making Pennsylvania’s environment better by preserving farms, cleaning streams, improving parks, repairing sewer infrastructure where raw sewage goes into our waters, and much more. And one-third should go to pay for the vital services provided by state government like education, nursing home care, and locking up violent criminals.

    If we accomplished the items on our to-do list, we would consider them major victories that would provide the regulatory framework and agency oversight that would ensure Pennsylvania has the tools to manage the substantial environmental impacts of gas drilling. Preserving the moratorium on FURTHER leasing of state forest land would ensure that Pennsylvanians now and in the future could continue to enjoy other uses of their public resource such as hunting, fishing, hiking, camping. It would also help preserve the certification that the forest is sustainably managed which gives forest products harvested from out public land a market advantage.

  • Thanks for your comments Jan. MDN appreciates you stopping by to further explain your positions.

  • Pingback: PA Gov. Responds to PennFuture Criticism of Marcellus Bills |