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Pa. Senate environmental panel chair bemoans 'lack of leadership' on Marcellus

State Sen. Gene Yaw (R- Bradford) speaking that the Midstream PA conference in State College. Marie Cusick/ StateImpact Pennsylvania State Sen. Gene Yaw (R- Bradford) speaking that the Midstream PA conference in State College.

Marie Cusick/ StateImpact Pennsylvania

State Sen. Gene Yaw (R- Bradford) speaking at the Midstream PA conference in State College.

State Senator Gene Yaw (R- Bradford) is sharply criticizing his fellow Pennsylvania public officials, for what he calls a lack of leadership on Marcellus Shale natural gas issues.
He has an influential position in Harrisburg as majority chair of the Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee.Ā Speaking recently at Midstream PA, an industry conference in State College, Yaw hit on a number of energy and environmental topics.
Here’s some of what he had to say {edited for length and clarity}:
Governors, past and present: “GovernorĀ Corbett never really was a leader in the industry. He was not particularly an impediment, but he was not the leader he could have been. Likewise, I think Governor Wolf is the same way. He’s not a leader.”
The economic picture: “We’re sitting on one of the largest gas deposits in the world. We should be attracting all kinds of businesses here. We’re not doing it, in my opinion. I don’t know how you find a leader, but we need a cheerleader for this industry.”
Pipelines and eminent domain: “I had a conversation with another legislator. It’s a person from gas country; I won’t mention the name. I said, ‘We need more pipelines. Pipelines are the most efficient and safest way to move either oil or gas.'”
“And the comment was made, ‘Well, we have to do something with Act 13 to pay people for disturbing their land.’ and I said, ‘Sometimes there’s a greater good. That’s why the interstate pipelines have eminent domain.’ It was like I was talking a foreign language to this person. They were saying, ‘We still have to pay these people.’
“I mean, come on.Ā There’s just a lack of understanding. Here’s people from the gas country that don’t understand. To some extent, I’m not sure they care.”
Utilizing Marcellus gas in Philadelphia: “TheĀ good news is we have worked pretty closely with Philadelphia Energy Solutions. The CEO is Phil Rinaldi. That organization bought the Sunoco refinery facilities in Philadelphia. He wants to get very involved with gas. He needs gas. He’s very supportive of pipelines.”
“I told Mr. Rinaldi I’ll be the best friend Philadelphia ever had and Philadelphia Energy Solutions ever had, because I need a market for the gas out of my district.”
“What we’ve learned about the southeastern part to the state is, they love low energy costs, they love the jobs, but [they say] ‘Oh, fracking is bad. What is fracking? We’re not sure what it is, but it’s bad.’
New natural gas power plants: “Those are good signs. That’s all encouraging. Central Pennsylvania is going to be a major power generator in a very short order.”
A severance tax: “I keep hearing this. Next year at the budget time, we’re going to hear about a severance tax again.Ā I can’t understand some of my colleagues on the Environmental Resources and Energy Committee who think a severance tax is a great thing. I’m not sure where their head is, but that’s what we’re going to have to deal with.”
Expanded use of natural gas: “I’ve sponsored a couple pieces of legislation to to try to get gas toĀ under-servedĀ or un-served areas of the state. I think it’s still the case about 50 percent of households in Pennsylvania don’t even have access to natural gas. We don’t have the infrastructure and pipelines to get it there.”
State Supreme Court ruling tossing out sections of Act 13: “The state Supreme Court in Pennsylvania is not our friend. That’s for sure. My guess is we’re going to start seeing local municipalities introducing ordinances that are going to try and control drilling more and more. Some of the most vocal people I’ve ever run into are the enviros, and they’re nasty. These elected officials just cave into them.”
Leadership at the state Department of Environmental Protection: “We have a new DEP secretary coming, Patrick McDonnell. I don’t know if any of you ever dealt with [former secretary] Mr. Quigley. He was not real high on my list of favorite people. I was not on his Christmas card list, I’m sure.”
“Patrick McDonnell is a breath of fresh air. He is a longtime employee of DEP, but he seems to be a very reasonable guy to talk to. It’s probably a good move that we go ahead and confirm him.”

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