No Fracking Way

Marcellus Shale Coalition: In the Lobby

by Dory Hippauf on September 2, 2012

The Marcellus Shale Coalition (MSC) is an industry coalition made up of 299 natural gas and related corporations and businesses.   Its function is to promote natural gas and MSC does this through public relations and lobbying at the state and federal levels.

MSC describes itself as:

The Marcellus Shale Coalition (MSC) works with exploration and production, midstream, and supply chain partners in the Appalachian Basin and across the country to address issues regarding the production of clean, job-creating, American natural gas from the Marcellus and Utica Shale plays.

We provide in-depth information to policymakers, regulators, media, and other public stakeholders on the positive impacts responsible natural gas production is having on families, businesses, and communities across the region.

Sourcewatch describes MSC as:

The Marcellus Shale Coalition is an industry coalition that fights against environmental protections sought by citizens facing the prospect of methane gas drilling near their water supplies. It is engaged in an extensive state and federal lobbying campaign to protect the financial interests of the corporate members of the coalition.

Is MSC a helpful educator which simply provides “provide in-depth information to policymakers, regulators, media, and other public stakeholders on the positive impacts responsible natural gas production is having on families, businesses, and communities across the region.”?  Or are they “an industry coalition that fights against environmental protections sought by citizens facing the prospect of methane gas drilling near their water supplies. It is engaged in an extensive state and federal lobbying campaign to protect the financial interests of the corporate members of the coalition?”

What the Marcellus Shale Coalition Says
Marcellus Shale Coalition was founded in 2008 and at that time boasted a gas industry membership of approximately 95 corporations.  It has since grown to nearly 300 members.  There are 44 corporations listed as Board Members, and 254 as Associate Members.

Leading MSC as President is Kathryn Klaber.

Kathryn Klaber serves as the Marcellus Shale Coalition’s first President. In this role, on behalf of the MSC member companies, she works closely with elected leaders, regulators and the civic community to realize the responsible development of natural gas from the Marcellus and Utica Shale geological formations and the enhancement of the region’s economy that can be realized by this clean-burning American energy source.

Prior to joining the MSC, Katie served as Executive Vice President for Competitiveness at the Allegheny Conference on Community Development and as the Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Economy League. A lifelong Pennsylvanian, she earned her undergraduate degree in environmental science from Bucknell University and her Masters in Business Administration from Carnegie Mellon University.

She received the Enterprise Award for Entrepreneurship at Carnegie Mellon for her business plan for an innovative environmental reporting and metrics company. She was elected by her peers as President in the school’s archetypical Management Game. Katie was appointed by Pa. Dept. of Environmental Protection Sec. McGinty and reconfirmed by Sec. Hanger to Pennsylvania’s Air Quality Technical Advisory Committee.

On the Executive Board there are representatives from Chesapeake Energy Corporation,  CNX Gas Company LLC (Formerly Consol), Range Resources Corporation, MarkWest Energy Partners L.P., Williams. Talisman Energy USA, EXCO Resources (PA) LLC, Pennsylvania General Energy, XTO Energy, Chief Oil & Gas, and EOG Resources.

The MSC “Helpful Resources” link page lists 22 sites  “that will help act as resources to help further your learning and understanding of what the coalition is about and some of the typical processes.”

 

 

 

 

The resources include:

• America’s Natural Gas Alliance (ANGA)
• American Gas Association (AGA)
• American Petroleum Institute (API)
• Independent Petroleum Association of America (IPAA)
• Energy In Depth (EID)
• Interstate Natural Gas Association of America (INGAA)
• Natural Gas Vehicles for America (NGVAmerica)

Recently the MSC launched the Marcellus on Main Street which is a business directory is designed to support responsible Shale Gas Development  by connecting the Natural Gas Industry to local vendors, suppliers, and services.  It features information related to WORK-LIVE-PLAY and claims to serve the Marcellus and Utica Communities.  The photos for LIVE and PLAY do not show drill rigs or compressor stations in the background which many of us are seeing as we travel across Pennsylvania.

The Guiding Principles are repeated in a newly released MSC publication entitled: Site Planning, Development and Restoration (pdf download)

MSC states: “Through months of research, stakeholder outreach, and collaboration amongst MSC member companies, the coalition recently released its first Recommended Practice, which offers guidance on site planning, development and restoration.”

Through months of research, stakeholder outreach, and collaboration amongst MSC member companies, the coalition recently released its first Recommended Practice, which offers guidance on site planning, development and restoration.

 NOTE:

1. MSC has been in operation since 2008, and this is the FIRST it’s published.

2. This is RECOMMENDED PRACTICE, not hard rules, not regulation and not a law.

MSC states this very clearly in the Preface:

This document provides general guidance on recommended practices for the subject(s) addressed. It is offered as a reference aid and is designed to assist industry professionals in improving their effectiveness. It is not intended to establish or impose binding requirements. Nothing herein constitutes, is intended to constitute, or shall be deemed to constitute the setting or determination of legal standards of care in the performance of the subject activities. The foregoing disclaimers apply to this document notwithstanding any expressions or terms in the text that may conflict or appear to conflict with the foregoing.

The MSC is releasing a series of these documents. All of which are “RECCOMENDATIONS” and are “VOLUNTARY”.

August 2012 press release :The Marcellus Shale Coalition (MSC) released a recommended practice for surveying water supplies before drilling, marking the third in a series of MSC recommended practices aimed at reinforcing the coalition’s guiding principles to “continuously improve our practices and seek transparency.”

Pre-Drill Water Supply Surveys: The objective of a pre-drill survey is to establish a baseline for conditions that existed prior to drilling. Groundwater may contain some natural impurities or contaminants even with no human activity or pollution.

Note the qualifier:  “Groundwater may contain some natural impurities or contaminants even with no human activity or pollution”

What the MSC Isn’t Saying
Using a simple browser search, you will find the vast majority of press releases from MSC center around Jobs, Economic benefits to communities, Jobs, Income to the state, Jobs, and Jobs.    Very few press releases address the environmental and health concerns except to dismiss the concerns and divert a reader’s attention to look at all the jobs.

Just for the month of May 2012, the MSC Press Release headlines include:

  • Ridgway Record: Website Can Help Connect Area Businesses With Marcellus Shale – May 18, 2012
  • Charleston Daily Mail Op-Ed: Shale Gas Can Re-Value West Virginia – May 18, 2012
  • Erie Times-News: Shale Drilling Will Play a Role in Erie-Area Economy – May 15, 2012
  • Benefits of Natural Gas Production Realized by “Every Single Pennsylvanian” – May 7, 2012
  • Associated Press: Gas Drillers Generate About $3.5 Billion in Revenues From Marcellus Shale – May 5, 2012

A few recent events were not mentioned by MSC

MSC does not recognize any connection between drilling and drinking water contamination.

Per SOURCEWATCH:

Kathryn Klaber of the Marcellus Shale Coalition is the former Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Economy League.  In an interview with the so-called “Clean Skies TV Network,” a channel affiliated with the American Clean Skies Foundation (which is largely funded from profits from gas drilling), Klaber stated that toxins entering into peoples’ water wells was a myth, and also stated that the FRAC Act was unnecessary because other organizations like the Environmental Protection Agency already have regulations in place to serve as a watchdog, neglecting to mention that chemicals used in methane drilling are exempt from federal water protection disclosure rules, thanks to the Halliburton loophole, and the process is subject to woefully inadequate state inspection agencies.

The “DOTS”
While figures and statistics cited by MSC regarding jobs and economic benefits have been called into question, one thing is clear – there is a lot of money flowing from lobbyists and natural gas corporations to Harrisburg.

*For MSC Diagram, comparison of Act 13, and MSC Connections click here

As reported by Marcellusmoney.org:

The natural gas industry gave $7,175,234 to Pennsylvania candidates and Political Action Committees (PACs) from 2000 through the end of 2010, according to a Common Cause/Pennsylvania (CCPA) analysis released today.  $3,442,212 was donated to elected officials currently in office.

The top recipient remains Governor Tom Corbett, with a total $1,634,096 in contributions from the natural gas industry. Corbett raised $1,083,315 of that total in 2009-2010 from 216 donations.  He is followed by Senate President Pro Tempore Joseph Scarnati, with $293,333.

Giving by the industry doubled from the 2008 election cycle ($1,004,757) to the 2010 election cycle ($2,608,187).

Heading into the 2012 Elections, Follow the Money.org reports Oil & Gas campaign contributions to Pennsylvania is currently $330, 670.

Keep in mind this is just the direct campaign contributions as of June 2012.  The totals will grow larger the closer we get to November 6, 2012.   It is expected the money flowing into the 2012 campaign season to be a billion or more dollars just at the national level.

Campaign contributions to candidates are often highlighted while the amount of lobbying money is sometimes ignored.

The First Amendment of the United States of America Constitution states:  Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.  What we call “lobbying” is the exercise of the right to petition the government.

A little history lesson:  The BBC holds that “lobbying” comes from the gathering of Members of Parliament and peers in the hallways (or lobbies) of Houses of Parliament before and after parliamentary debates. One story states that the term originated at the Willard Hotel in Washington, DC, where it was used by Ulysses S. Grant to describe the political wheelers and dealers who frequented the hotel’s lobby to access Grant—who was often there to enjoy a cigar and brandy.  Others have made the claim that this story of the word’s origin is erroneous.

The term “lobbying” appeared in print as early as 1820:.   Other letters from Washington affirm, that members of the Senate, when the compromise question was to be taken in the House, were not only “lobbying about the Representatives’ Chamber” but also active in endeavoring to intimidate certain weak representatives by insulting threats to dissolve the Union.  —April 1, 1820.

Lobbying the US Congress or State Legislatures has become an industry in itself.   While no firm advertises itself as Lobbying-R-Us, more often than not the “lobbying” service is offered as consultant or adviser.  A good lobbyist will have connections and be familiar with who is who in the legislature.  The most desired lobbyists are former politicians or political staffers.

Above, you will see Steve Forde, Chris Tucker, and Travis Windle are all former US House of Representative staffers.  Tucker and Windle are both employed by FTI Consulting, which also employee many others connected to Energy-In-Depth (EID).  For an “In DEPTH” look at EID see: EID Series.

Also finding their way to MSC after leaving political service is Former PA Governor Tom Ridge.  When leaving his position a Homeland Security Secretary, Tom Ridge formed the Ridge Policy Group, lobbying is one of the services it provides.

The ACT that Money Built
By January 2012 the political debate in Pennsylvania turned to the issue of an “Impact Fee”.  However, lobbyists and natural gas corporations were been busy long before ACT 13 hit the halls of Harrisburg.

Per The Morning Call – January 12, 2012:

In 2011 Range Resources decided to rub elbows with policymakers shortly after the Corbett administration took office in 2011, it invited them to a Super Bowl party at a ranch outside Fort Worth, Texas, where attendees — which also included the company’s vendors and property owners who’d leased to the company — were encouraged to cheer on the Pittsburgh Steelers over the Green Bay Packers.

Additional inducements included “classic Texas barbecue,” live entertainment and the opportunity to meet past Steelers stars. Range Resources then spent $411,414 through the first nine months of last year to get its voice heard in the Capitol.

All told, Pennsylvania’s natural gas industry and its trade groups spent $3.37 million on lobbying between January and September 2011, according to Department of State records. Environmentalists spent $178,909 during the same time period.

The Marcellus Shale Coalition, an industry trade group in Washington County, led in lobbying expenditures, laying out $1.2 million. Range Resources finished second.

Rounding out the top five spenders during the first nine months of last year were Chesapeake-Appalachia LLC, $296,596; Shell Oil Co., $277,323; and Spectra Energy Transmission LLC, $147,000, state records showed.

On January 12, 2012 a letter was sent to Representatives Sam Smith, Mike Turzai, and Brian Ellis from Kathryn Z. Klaber, President – Marcellus Shale Coalition, and Stephanie Catarino Wissman, Executive Director – Associated Petroleum Industries of Pennsylvania.  Letter was also cc’d to Governor Tom Corbett and all House Members.

The letter contained a list entitled Suggestions for Final Marcellus Shale Legislation”.  There were 27 “suggestions”.   All but 3 of suggestions found their way into the bill.

Klaber and Wissman are aware of the less than favorable public image the Natural Gas industry and how words and terms used do influence public perceptions.   In the aforementioned letter, Klaber and Wissmen suggested the words “hazardous and other chemicals” in (§3222(b)(4)(i) to be changed.   Act 13 did not use the “chemical additive” term,  instead the term “hydraulic fracturing additive” was used.

However, further down in the suggestion list, §3215 (well location restrictions), the letter took no exception to the use of the term “hazardous chemicals”, and apparently neither did Smith, Turzai and Ellis. (See chart below)

Total campaign contributions from the Natural Gas Corporations for Representatives Smith, Turzi and Ellis:
To ensure the legislation would be written to benefit the Natural Gas Industry interests, the lobbyists were sent to Harrisburg.  Whether working directly or through surrogates (such as the MSC), the lobbyists spent $1,300,000 just on the “impact fee bill”.    This is approximately 1/3 of the amount spent for the entire previous year.

The Blowback
On February 14, 2012, Governor Tom Corbett signed an amended version of HB1950 and it officially became ACT 13.

Act 13 has been characterized as a “Gift to Gassers” and called the “Worst New Environmental Law in the Nation.”   However, it was not the lack of environmental protections which has riled up many Pennsylvanians and communities.

The first is the issue of Zoning  Act 13 included a statute which allows state rules on zoning for oil and gas drilling to supersede or override local zoning laws.

§ 3302.  Oil and gas operations regulated pursuant to Chapter 32.

Except with respect to local ordinances adopted pursuant to the MPC and the act of October 4, 1978 (P.L.851, No.166), known as the Flood Plain Management Act, all local ordinances purporting to regulate oil and gas operations regulated by Chapter 32 (relating to development) are hereby superseded. No local ordinance adopted pursuant to the MPC or the Flood Plain Management Act shall contain provisions which impose conditions, requirements or limitations on the same features of oil and gas operations regulated by Chapter 32 or that accomplish the same purposes as set forth in Chapter 32. The Commonwealth, by this section, preempts and supersedes the regulation of oil and gas operations as provided in this chapter.

Several municipalities have joined together and filed a lawsuit to have Act 13 overturned.  The courts ordered a temporary halt to the Zoning Provisions and a June court date has been scheduled.

Per Observer-Reporter.com – May 10, 2012:

… according to an order issued Wednesday, a representative from natural gas trade organizations and companies will be allowed five minutes to state their objections to the suit, which asks that portions of Act 13 be overturned on constitutional grounds.

The industry previously was denied the ability to intervene by Commonwealth Court Judge Keith Quigley.

The companies and advocacy groups set to make arguments against it collectively include MarkWest Liberty Midstream and Resources, Penneco Oil Co., Chesapeake Appalachia, the Pennsylvania Independent Oil and Gas Association and the Marcellus Shale Coalition.

 The Frack-anywhere zoning provision was struck down by Pennsylvania courts in July 2012.  The Corbett administrations filed an appeal.

August 2012: The court held oral argument on the question of whether its order declaring Act 13 unconstitutional and unenforceable should be stayed pending the Commonwealth’s appeal to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. Under Pennsylvania’s appellate court rules, when the Commonwealth appeals from an injunction order, that underlying injunction order is automatically stayed during the course of the appeal.

Jordan Yeager, Esq., representing Delaware Riverkeeper Network, Nockamixon Township and Yardley Borough said, “This ruling prevents the chaos that would have ensued if the Corbett administration and gas companies got their way. We are pleased that the Court has once again reaffirmed gas company profits do not trump the constitutional rights of Pennsylvania residents and property owners.”

The second item is what has become known as the Doctors Gag Rule.

Excerpt from § 3222.1.  Hydraulic fracturing chemical disclosure requirements.

If a health professional determines that a medical  emergency exists and the specific identity and amount of any chemicals claimed to be a trade secret or confidential proprietary information are necessary for emergency treatment, the vendor, service provider or operator shall immediately disclose the information to the health professional upon a verbal acknowledgment by the health professional that the information may not be used for purposes other than the health needs asserted and that the health professional shall maintain the information as confidential. The vendor, service provider or operator may request, and the health professional shall provide upon request, a written statement of need and a confidentiality agreement from the health professional as soon as circumstances permit, in conformance with regulations promulgated under this chapter.

Governor Corbett, who promoted, endorsed and signed Act 13 is at a loss how the Doctor Gag Rule got in there.

Governor Corbett says he’s not sure how the rule governing a healthcare worker’s access to trade secret information got into the state’s new drilling law. He also says the controversial local zoning provisions of Act 13 re-establish a Pennsylvania law that existed before a Supreme Court ruling in the 1980’s. WHYY’s Radio Times host Marty Moss-Coane interviewed Corbett Tuesday night at an annual event sponsored by the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce and WHYY. The local zoning restrictions within Act 13 are being challenged in court by several municipalities. Corbett defended the provision.

Marty Moss-Coane also asked Corbett about the so-called “gag rule” for doctors. Act 13 has a provision that requires doctors to sign a confidentiality agreement should they need information on trade secret chemicals used by drillers, in order to treat patients. Corbett says that provision may be amended.

“We gotta take a look at that,” said Corbett.  “I’m not sure how that got put in there.  I don’t recall how that got in there. There are certainly confidentiality issues. We have to see what happens with the federal government because they’re getting ready to issue regulations on the formula so that might become moot down the road.”

Is it unreasonable to expect Governor Corbett to at least KNOW what is in a bill before signing it?

Pennsylvania officials, legislators and representatives of the Natural Gas industry are denying the existence of the “gag order”. Additionally,  money for health studies in the original drafts of the bill was removed from the final version.

Doctors critical of Pa. drilling bill that strips health study money

Apr. 12, 2012 – Pressconnets.com:  (Excerpt- Emphasis added) Yet when legislative leaders and the governor’s office negotiated the most sweeping update of the state’s oil and gas law in a quarter century, they stripped $2 million a year that included funding for a statewide health registry to track respiratory problems, skin conditions, stomach ailments and a host of other illnesses potentially related to gas drilling

Excerpt: Patrick Henderson, Gov. Tom Corbett’s top energy official, said doctors will be permitted to inform their patients and other members of the patient’s treatment team. But he declined to address other circumstances in which a doctor might feel there’s a legitimate need to share information outside a tight circle, saying he wouldn’t discuss “potentially endless scenarios.”

He said fears about the new law are unwarranted.

“There is no gag order,” Henderson wrote in an email. “Quite the contrary, the law seeks to foster health professional access to the information, and implicit in that is the free exchange of information with their patient so they can, together, make informed decisions.”

Christine M. Sanchez, a spokeswoman for the Society of Chemical Manufacturers and Affiliates, an industry group based in Washington, D.C., says the confidentiality provision “seems to be working well for all stakeholders.”

“It strikes an important balance between protecting proprietary information about a company’s intellectual property while making it available to specific persons for specific reasons,” she said.

Travis Windle, a spokesman for the Marcellus Shale Coalition, an industry group, says it’s “very telling” and “sad” that fracking opponents blame gas drillers for a law that’s been used nationally since the mid-1980s.

While some doctors are upset over the confidentiality provision, experts say the behind-the-scenes funding cut could hurt public health even more.

Corbett’s own Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission recommended last summer that the Health Department create a first-of-its-kind population-based health registry that would follow residents who live within a mile of gas drilling and production sites.

Excerpt: The funding was killed because GOP senators from the Marcellus region felt the department didn’t have a good grasp of what it would do with the money — especially given the sensitivity of collecting private health information, said the lead Senate negotiator.

“What we heard about how the money would be used did not put our minds at ease. The primary concern from the folks that I represent was that there wasn’t a plan, a detailed plan in place for how the money was going to be utilized,” said Drew Crompton, chief counsel for Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati, R-Jefferson.

“Rather, we heard that, ‘Well, we’ll use the money for a study.’ OK, a study of what?” Crompton said.

The governor’s office didn’t fight for it, either, he said.

“It was clear to me that it wasn’t their highest priority. I’m not going to say they laid down on it, but no side gets everything they wanted, and we had true reservations about endorsing such a plan,” Crompton said.

Perhaps the governor’s office didn’t fight for it because the Governor didn’t read the bill?

Pennsylvania officials are saying concerned doctors are “making a mountain out of a molehill”..

Excerpt (Emphasis Added) – “It’s not to discredit those who are sincerely looking out for the health of others, but I think a mountain has been made out of a molehill,” says Drew Crompton, a legislative staffer and one of the primary drafters of the law. “It’s important to have disclosure, and that’s what we tried to do. And I think this is coming from people who oppose the industry.”

The law was modeled after a Colorado initiative, which was modeled after a federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration regulation. At a recent talk for local officials, Michael Krancer, the head of Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection, defended what some are calling the “doctor gag rule.”

“The ‘gag order on physicians’ — nothing could be further from the truth or more nonsensical than this,” Krancer said. “The provisions of Act 13 are exactly like what we have already and had had in the federal system since the ’70s. There’s nothing new there.”

But there are some differences. The federal law was designed for workers, while the new state laws cover everyone. And critics say some important parts of the federal law are missing in these state laws.

Removal of funding for Health Research

When legislative leaders and the governor’s office negotiated the state’s oil and gas law,  $2 million a year was stripped from the bill.   It included funding for a statewide health registry to track respiratory problems, skin conditions, stomach ailments and a host of other illnesses potentially related to gas drilling

Drew Crompton, Senate President Pro Tem Joe Scarnati’s chief of staff, and one of the main authors of Act 13, stated one of the main authors of the bill, says funding such a study would be “dangerous.”

He says funding a baseline study in heavily drilled areas could cause unnecessary panic among the residents.

“Imagine living near a well, and everything’s fine, and you get a letter in the mail asking to take part in medical tests,” says Crompton. “And then those people are like: ‘Why do I have to get tests? What could be wrong with me?’”

Crompton stated funding health studies with impact fee money is not out of the question. But he says it would have to be handled “very carefully.”

Gov. Corbett’s own Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission recommended last summer that the Health Department create a first-of-its-kind population-based health registry that would follow residents who live within a mile of gas drilling and production sites.

Several public health officials have raised questions about why no one from their field of expertise was at the table while the law was being drafted. But Crompton says everything was vetted through the state’s Department of Public Health.

“No one with a medical degree was at the table, that’s true,” said Crompton. “But to somehow think that this language wasn’t getting vetted through public health officials, I think is mistaken.

Pennsylvania Doctor Objects to Being Gagged
One Pennsylvania doctor has filed a federal lawsuit against the Medical Gag Rule.

Excerpt: But some doc­tors say it would com­pro­mise their med­ical ethics, and jeop­ar­dize pub­lic health.

A panel of Com­mon­wealth court judges recently ruled in a sep­a­rate case that another doc­tor chal­leng­ing the law did not have stand­ing to bring such a suit. But a lawyer for Luzerne County nephrol­o­gist Alfonso Rodriquez says his client is in a dif­fer­ent position.

“He’s on the front­line of treat­ing peo­ple who have been exposed to frack­ing fluid,” said Paul Rossi, who filed the suit on behalf of Dr. Rodriquez. “He has actu­ally treated some­one who was exposed to frack­ing fluid.”

As a nephrol­o­gist, Rodriguez is a kid­ney spe­cial­ist who treats patients on dial­y­sis, as well as peo­ple who may be suf­fer­ing from blad­der can­cer. He did treat a worker exposed to frack fluid dur­ing a blowout.

“It was a com­plex med­ical case,” says attor­ney Paul Rossi. “It is not hypo­thet­i­cal that [Rodriquez] will be impacted by this law.”

Read Dr. Rodriquez filing.

EID responded to the lawsuit with a Letter to the Editor which compared the Gag Rule to Patient confidentiality.  I’m not sure why a Letter to the Editor instead of its usual blog hit piece.   Perhaps they felt a letter would receive a wider read than the blog?   See: Energy-In-Depth Hits Doctor

EZ-Frack Pass

The Ez-Frack Pass bill (HB1659) takes up the issue for permit approval.  The Natural Gas corporations have complained it takes to long for permits to be approved. Originally the EZ-Frack Pass was to be taken up by the Pennsylvania Legislation in June 2012.   HB 1659 – the Department of Environmental Protection Permit Review and Issuance Act – introduced by Rep. Jeff  Pyle, R-60 of Armstrong and Indiana counties.

The Pennsylvania Legislature adjourned without voting on HB1659.  At that time it was expected the EZ-Frack bill would be taken up again when the legislature would be back in session.

Governor Corbett, heeding complaints from the natural gas industry, did not wait for the legislature.

In a press release issued Tuesday, Corbett says he’s responding to complaints about how long DEP takes to issue permits.

“One of the biggest complaints I have received over and over again is the time it takes for businesses, non-profit organizations and local governments to work through the permitting process,” Corbett said. “I promised to correct this, and today we are setting the wheels in motion to deliver on that promise. At the same time, DEP will continue its longstanding mission to protect our environment.”

Corbett  issued an executive order which GURANTEES permit approval.   The executive order is even titled as “PERMIT DECISION GUARANTEE FOR THE DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION

PA Department of Environmental Protection Secretary, Michael Krancer, was somewhat silent on the EZ-Frack Pass in the beginning.   At the end of August 2012, Krancer spoke.

DEP Secretary Defends Expedited Permit Reviews : (Excerpts)

“In an opinion piece posted on the Pennsylvania Environmental Daily blog, DEP Secretary Michael Krancer says the current system of permit reviews is encumbered by bureaucracy and needs reform. Krancer defends his Department’s plan to change the review process, as directed by Gov. Corbett through an executive order issued in July.”

Krancer per Pennsylvania Environmental Daily blog: (Excerpt)

Krancer also stated: It is an important point that much commentary on the [decision guarantee] executive order has missed. Our study of applications and permit procedures revealed that about 40 percent of permit applications submitted to DEP are deficient, meaning information important to making a decision was missing.

An Associated Press investigation originally found the PA-DEP spent as little as 35 minutes reviewing permit applications.

Public concerns about health risks and environmental impact are increasing as people become more aware and informed.   As 2012 is a big election year, many local, state and federal candidates will be facing questions about the Natural Gas industry and their activities.

The MSC, related organizations and the Natural Gas industry will busy with re-spinning, and re-framing the standard talking points.  Do expect health and environmental concerns to be downplayed, while jobs and the economy will take center stage.

The MSC and its partners have deep pockets.   In 2010, Pennsylvania candidates received $2,608,187 in campaign donations, expect that number to double or triple for 2012.

The industry spent $3,370,000 between January – September 2011 on lobbying Pennsylvania legislators, and $1,300,000 just on Act 13.  Those numbers are sure to increase in the coming months.

What is next for the Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale with regards to legislation?   One thing we can be sure of it will be the best legislation that money can buy.
 

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Chip Northrup September 3, 2012 at 8:37 am

Great work. Gas industry lobbyists were certainly successful in colonizing Pennsylvania – and getting concessions they never had in their home states = a gag order on doctors, no zoning for gas wells, and no state production tax. All basically 3rd world work conditions. . .

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