Earlier this week I reintroduced three bills designed to protect Pennsylvanians and create Pennsylvania jobs. All of these bills relate to the natural gas rush the Commonwealth is experiencing. These bills would increase disclosure and regulation of chemicals that could enter Pennsylvania’s drinking water supply, improve safety for workers and emergency response procedures at drilling sites and promote job training to help give Pennsylvania workers the skills needed to get jobs in the natural gas industry so that workers are not shipped in from out-of-state.
Scientists estimate that the Marcellus Shale, a 350 million year old rock formation, contains about 50 trillion cubic feet of recoverable natural gas. This is enough gas to supply the energy needs of the entire Nation for roughly 15 years.
I support the development of domestic natural gas extraction and believe that it has the potential to produce significant environmental and economic benefits. I am continuing to work with all stakeholders – citizens, environmental groups, industry, and local and state officials – to ensure that we develop this resource in the right way. Learning from the lessons of the past, we must make sure that the development of the Marcellus Shale gas resource is done with the highest regard for the health and welfare of Pennsylvanians and for the protection of our environment.
My last stop on Tuesday was to Coudersport in Potter County, where I announced that funds for a pilot program to reduce prison recidivism that I had sponsored had passed through committee. This program, which I sponsored throughout the committee process, will find ways to reduce the numbers of repeat offenders that clog our local courts and drain our local governments of needed funds.
I also talked with Commissioners Kefover, Morley, and Heimel about their experiences with Marcellus Shale. We talked about their efforts to bring jobs to Potter and how I can help. As I have on other stops this recess, I explained the great job opportunity that Marcellus Shale presents while urging the need for appropriate safeguards.
Monday afternoon I visited Tionesta to meet with the Commissioners and other local representatives about The Secure Rural Schools and Communities Self-Determination Act and Marcellus Shale.
I explained that although Marcellus Shale has the potential to create many jobs for our state, our history shows that we must proceed properly and ensure that appropriate safety and environmental concerns are addressed. I currently have two bills that address these concerns, and will introduce a third this September.
The citizens of Tionesta also expressed how important Secure Rural School funding is to Forest County. Almost half of Forest County is covered by the Allegheny National Forest which means they have a very small amount of taxable land. This has created a challenge for Forest County, and rural school districts across the County, in generating the appropriate level of revenue to fund their schools. The Secure Rural Schools and Communities Self-Determination Act works to address this problem by creating county payments to offset these shortfalls. I hope to address their concerns when the act comes up for re-authorization in 2012.