Saturday, October 22, 2011

Environmentalists divided on soon-to-be released shale commission report

Posted: October 22, 2011 5:00 am
By Freda R. Savana Staff Writer

A member of the Citizens Marcellus Shale Commission has resigned, saying the group "came up short" in its final report, scheduled for release Monday.

Delaware Riverkeeper Network member Maya van Rossum resigned her commission post late last week, citing the panel's decision not to call for a statewide moratorium on natural gas drilling until regulations can be enacted.

Van Rossum said although the commission's report contained several good recommendations for reforming gas-drilling regulations, it failed to go far enough.

"In the final analysis, the commission's leadership insisted on what they deemed a politically palatable report, rather than one which fully served to seek protections from known harms and informational deficiencies associated with shale gas development," van Rossum said.

Without a moratorium, said the Riverkeeper, the commission "undermined its mission to protect the public health and environment."

The commission is comprised of eight civic and environmental organizations, including PennEnvironment, the Sierra Club and the League of Women Voters, and was formed in late August to give Pennsylvania citizens a place to speak out and recommend action on Marcellus gas drilling, according to the organization.

The commission held five hearings across the state last month and heard testimony from residents and national drilling experts, with about 100 Pennsylvanians submitting written comments online, according to the panel.

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