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Friday, May 20, 2011

Here it is--the predatory Marcellus Shale industry is trying to put lipstick on its pig, while stroking PA Governor Tom Corbett and his piglets.

Shale panel hears industry requests
Friday, May 20, 2011
HARRISBURG -- Today's monthly Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission was a quieter affair than last month's drilling-opponent-filled session, as the panel hit its midway mark to their July report to the governor.

The group of commission members from government, industry, environmental groups and academia spent much of the morning listening to the president of the main industry trade group, the Marcellus Shale Coalition. Katie Klaber touted the economic impact that drillers have had on local communities, as well as defending the industry's water use and noting the frequency of finding methane gas in private water wells prior to drilling.

She urged the state to offer incentives to increase natural gas use and to boost pipeline inspections, along with pushing efforts to bring "clarity and consistency" to local zoning laws. Pointing to an internal review of 66 municipal zoning ordinances in southwestern Pennsylvania, Ms. Klaber said they found four that violated the state constitution, and dozens of others that singled out drilling for unique restrictions or fees.

Those local laws form "a patchwork," she said, comparing it to having to get a new driver's license as motorist drives through each new town.

Smoothing out differences among local drilling regulations is part of Senate President Pro Tem Joe Scarnati's impact fee proposal, which would prevent localities from getting any fee revenue if they adopt an "excessive" ordinance. The state's township supervisors association says they support the idea of sending that money only to communities that allow drilling, but would oppose setting up an inflexible, state-level ordinance that tells towns how to regulate natural gas activity.

Lt. Gov. Jim Cawley, who chairs the commission, asked members to send in their initial policy recommendations by May 31, so they can focus next month's meeting on discussing those ideas.

Laura Olson: lolson@post-gazette.com or 717-787-4254

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