Corbett's Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission: What Happens Next?
On Friday, Governor Tom Corbett’s 30-member Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission will vote on which policy recommendations it will include in the report it delivers to the governor on July 22.
The Scranton Times-Tribune’s Robert Swift takes a look at what will happen at the July 15th meeting, which we’ll liveblog on the StateImpact website:
Heading the agenda will be a series of votes on proposals offered by four working groups established when the commission began its work in March.
The proposals that garner a majority vote from the members will be included in the report, said Chad Saylor, spokesman for Lt. Gov. Jim Cawley, the commission chairman. The bulk of the proposals deal with public health and safety and environmental protection issues, he added.
The commission members are reviewing the working group proposals, therefore allowing for last-minute discussions before the meeting agenda is set, Mr. Saylor said.
One of the most closely watched issues facing the commission is levying an impact fee on drillers to offset the cost of drilling operations for municipalities, and additionally address environmental issues related to drilling.
Mr. Saylor was unable to say whether an impact fee recommendation will be voted on Friday, but he said a lot of attention was focused on impact fees in the working group that dealt with local impact and emergency preparedness issues relating to drilling.
A quick refresher on who’s in the Commission, and what it’s charged with: Corbett created the panel in his March 8th budget address, and directed it to, “oversee how we can build around this new industry and how we can make certain we do this while protecting our lands, our drinking water, our air, and our communities, all the while growing our workforce.” Lieutenant Governor Jim Cawley heads the commission, which includes other state officials, many drilling executives, and a handful of environmental advocates. (The Post-Gazette’s Pipeline website has a great interactive graphic on the panel’s members, and how much money they donated to Corbett’s gubernatorial campaign.)
Drilling opponents have criticized the panel’s makeup, and protested early meetings. Demonstrations peaked when longtime Harrisburg gadfly Gene Stilp stormed the meeting and called Cawley a “prostitute,” but since then, not many protestors have shown up for the meetings.
You can take a look at the agendas and minutes from the Commission’s previous sessions at the DEP website. And again, come back to the StateImpact site on Friday for coverage of the panel’s votes.