The Associated Press reports on an effort by Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati (R -Jefferson) to create a 13-member advisory panel to examine the health impacts of natural gas drilling.
According to the AP, the bill is in committee, and its future is uncertain:
Patrick Henderson, Gov. Tom Corbett’s energy executive, wrote in an email that the administration looks forward to working with Scarnati on the legislation, and shares “his interest in ensuring that drilling activities are conducted in a manner that protects public health.”
Scarnati said that comment is open to interpretation.
“I don’t think that they have signaled clear support at this time,” he said of Corbett’s administration, adding that it wants to make sure the legislation is “done right.”
Last year, legislators eliminated $2 million in funding to create a statewide registry for concerns related to shale gas extraction.
Dr. Bernard Goldstein, a professor emeritus with the University of Pittsburgh School of Public Health supports the measure to create an advisory panel.
He testified before a House Democratic Policy Committee hearing last week on the environmental and health impacts of gas drilling and criticized legislators for not giving the state Department of Health a bigger role in regulating the industry.
“There is basically nothing happening at the Department of Health related to the Marcellus Shale,” he said, “There’s no funding in Act 13. Not one penny. That’s wrong.”
A spokeswoman for the Health department said the agency is currently exploring partnerships with academic institutions to create a health registry.