The Dec. 22 editorial “Local Control: Pa. Justices Resurrect a Lost Principle on Drilling” suggests that the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s recent decision to remove portions of Act 13 from the law is a victory for our environment. In fact, it unravels some of the environmental protections created by the bipartisan regulatory modernization law and misses an opportunity to establish a standard set of rules that govern responsible shale development — resulting in weaker environmental regulations and a less competitive business climate.
Our industry has worked, and continues to work, closely toward shared goals with the communities in which we operate to be good neighbors and stewards of our environment. And the outcomes are clear. The federal Environmental Protection Agency confirmed in October that U.S. carbon emissions are at their lowest since 1994, thanks to expanded natural gas use. The independent State Review of Oil & Natural Gas Environmental Regulations again gave Pennsylvania’s oil and gas regulatory framework high marks — noting that regulations were strengthened significantly through Act 13’s enhancements.
Consumers are winning, too. A recent Boston Consulting Group analysis projects average U.S. household savings tied to shale development to reach $1,200. And in addition to more than $1.8 billion in state taxes since 2008, our industry has paid $406 million in impact fees over the last two years to communities across the commonwealth. Unfortunately, with this ruling, these shared benefits may unnecessarily be limited rather than maximized.
If we are to remain competitive and if our focus is truly an improved environment, more job creation and economic prosperity, we must continue to work together toward common-sense proposals that encourage investment in the commonwealth.
Marcellus Shale Coalition