In response to the letter I received from you dated December 22, 2011 regarding the proposed Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) regulations, I wish to address certain issues regarding development of the Marcellus Shale.
Your letter stated, “Pennsylvania’s citizens have been extraordinarily patient. We have worked in good faith with our commission partners to address their concerns and it is disappointing that our good faith efforts have not been reciprocated. I believe this regulatory package ensures that natural gas is developed in a manner that protects our water resources and holds operators to the highest standards in the nation. This decision will further delay the creation of much-needed jobs, delay securing our energy independence and infringes upon the property rights of thousands of Pennsylvanians.”
First of all, you are the one that is being impatient. The fact that you accepted over $1 million from the gas industry for your political campaign makes us all suspect of your intentions for our state. From what I can see, you are pushing for legislation that will unfairly benefit the gas industry by imposing an inadequate impact fee instead of a real severance tax, and will take away our towns’ zoning rights. You are systematically giving the gas companies free rein. I strongly urge you and the legislature to stop debating HB1950 and SB1100 and start all over when the legislature resumes on January 17.
Secondly, I do not know how you can in good conscience say that you have “worked in good faith” to protect our water resources, when you and Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Secretary Krancer have done everything in your powers to diminish the DEP’s regulatory authority in favor of the gas industry. You both are falling miserably when it comes to protecting us and “holding operators to the highest standards in the nation.”
For example, I recently read in the Scranton Times-Tribune that the DEP has submitted a request for permitting the spreading of salt brine from drilling wastewater to be applied on our roads for de-icing. This is a prime example of the absurdity at the DEP. Another black eye for the DEP is the discontinuing of drinking water to the people in Dimock. A legal agreement was made between the DEP and Cabot, which has now been disregarded. Hopefully, the EPA will step in and do the right thing. It is obvious that the DEP is grossly underfunded and undermanned and cannot do the job it is obligated to do. We are in jeopardy of a losing our pristine surroundings and being deprived of our rights under the Pennsylvania Constitution of “clean air and clean water.”
Last but not least, I would like to address the issue of “securing our energy independence.” Do you really think that all this gas will set us free from foreign oil and we will have abundant, cheap energy? The fact is that almost 50% of all the Marcellus gas leases are currently owned by France, China, Japan and other countries. Isn’t it ironic that foreign countries will then control the flow of gas and the prices we have to pay? Once this gas is refined and put in tankers and shipped overseas, there goes our “energy independence” right out the window, which is where I think you should put your policies.
So, Governor Corbett, until you and the DEP get your priorities straight, we the citizens of Pennsylvania demand that you place a moratorium on gas drilling and vote “no” on drilling in the Delaware River Basin. There is just too much at stake in fast-tracking gas drilling in our state. Slow down; the gas has been there millions of years and it is not going anywhere soon. Be a good steward of our land. Our neighbors in New York are being very cautious, and we also need to be.
[John Hahn is a resident of Shohola, PA.]