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Citizens Marcellus Shale Commission Weighs In

A panel billing itself as the counterweight to the governor's Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission has released its own set of concerns and recommendations for natural gas drilling policy in Pennsylvania.

"The rules are disjointed and lack cohesion. By capitalizing on loopholes, waivers, inadequate regulations, and piecemeal processes, the industry has increased its bottom line at the commonwealth's expense," said Citizens Marcellus Shale Commission member Roberta Wilson. Wilson is also a member of the League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania.

The group, sponsored by several left-leaning organizations, calls for a more robust drilling tax, more transparency around permits issued to drillers, and minimum setbacks for gas wells and public water wells. In all the commission made more than 100 recommendations.

The Citizens Commission does not disagree with everything that came out of the governor's panel. Commission member Thomas Au said the group approves of the governor's plan to beef up state emergency preparation and planning for drilling-related problems.

"I think the governor's commission did a good job looking at that and training of police forces, EMTS, emergency responder. We did not make additional recommendations in that area," said Au who is also the conservation chair of the Pennsylvania Sierra Club.

The recommendations were formed after the group held five hearings throughout the state.

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett's energy executive, Patrick Henderson, said the governor is very confident in the plan announced three weeks ago by his Marcellus Shale advisory panel. The governor plans to use those recommendations moving forward. However, Henderson does not dismiss the recommendations from the new panel.

"To the extent that their report can add to the discussion, I think that's helpful," said Henderson.