Citizens’ Marcellus Shale panel counters Corbett plan for Pa.

    A panel framing itself as the counterweight to Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett’s Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission has released its own set of concerns and recommendations for natural gas drilling policy.

    Members do not disagree with the governor’s panel on everything, a citizens’ Marcellus Shale commission insists. But the group, sponsored by several left-leaning organizations, calls for a more robust drilling tax, more transparency around permits issued to drillers, and minimum setbacks for gas wells and public water wells.

    Patrick Henderson, the Corbett administration’s energy executive, said the governor remains very confident in the plan he announced three weeks ago.

    “To the extent that their report can add to the discussion, I think that’s helpful. We need to take a look at it. But we’re working from the governor’s commission report right now,” Henderson said. “The governor outlined his plan Oct. 3 and we’re working with legislative leaders to get that through.”

    Roberta Winters, with the League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania, said policymakers should consider the legacy of the coal industry, and take the opportunity to overhaul the regulations on natural gas drillers.

    “The rules are disjointed and lack cohesion. By capitalizing on loopholes, waivers, inadequate regulations, and piecemeal processes, the industry has increased its bottom line at the commonwealth’s expense,” she said.

    The Citizens Marcellus Shale Commission approves of the governor’s plan to beef up state emergency preparation and planning for drilling-related problems.

    The citizens’ report, which contains more than 100 recommendations, represents input collected at five hearings held throughout the state.

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