Shale Commission Unanimously Approves Recommendations, Final Report to Come on Friday

By: Chris Bowman, Staff Writer

Governor Corbett’s Marcellus Shale Commission unanimously approved a series of recommendations last Friday.

These recommendations include broad policy initiatives regarding zoning, modernizing the regulatory structure, and most notably, suggestions on impact fees and forced pooling.  The exact details of these recommendations have not yet been disclosed, though the Commission will issue a detailed report to Gov. Corbett by Friday.  Members highlighted that these policy proposals are mere suggestions and do not have any binding force.

The thirty-member Commission, which has been criticized for its strong ties to the business and oil industry, suggested a policy shift to allow for pooling – effectively forcing property owners, under certain conditions, to lease their land for drilling. Industry proponents insist the process makes the drilling more effective and potentially reduces the amount of wells that need to be drilled.

Another contentious topic covered by the Commission are impact fees. Though Ronald Ramsey of the Nature Conservancy introduced impact free proposals that would include compensation for long-term issues and statewide impact, local government and industry representatives quickly dismantled his suggestion.

Though all acknowledge that these recommendations are not binding, many environmentalists are worried that the Commission’s suggestions will influence and shape policy proposals and initiatives in the future.

Jan Jarrett, president of environmental group PennFuture, tweeted: “Enviros just being rolled.”

Last week, PoliticsPA gave the Commission a big thumbs-down for bad policy, and even worse PR following this lambasting from Patriot news writer Donald Gilliand.  We also suggested that their proposals may be put on political stay for quite some time, but be sure to stick with PoliticsPA for the emerging details coming this week.

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