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Citizens Shale Commission to Issue Report to Legislature

A new civic organization is asking experts and ordinary citizens to weigh in on how natural gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale has impacted Pennsylvania and its residents.

The Citizens Marcellus Shale Commission will gather public testimony and professional opinions at five late-summer meetings across the state, with the intent of making policy suggestions to Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett and state lawmakers this October.

Commission co-chair and former State Representative Dan Surra said the testimony will supplement the July report from Corbett's Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission.

"The report by the governor's commission — it's pretty clear that a lot of the people that had the opportunity to testify felt that it was a bit slanted toward business and industry, and we wanted to go across the state and give people a chance to be heard," said Surra.

Surra said he hopes the Citizens Commission's testimony will address items the governor's panel overlooked, such as the industry's impact on tourism.

"It's hard to have tourists when you don't have any hotel rooms," said Surra. "It's hard to have tourism when you turn the public lands that people are coming to see into somewhat of an industrial site."

Created by a grant from the Pittsburgh-based Colcom Foundation, the Citizens Commission is sponsored by a coalition of eight civic and environmental groups.

Co-chair and former State Representative Carole Rubley said the group's report should be issued between October 5th and 13th. She said the first public hearing will be held on Wednesday, August 31st from 6:00-9:00 PM, at South Fayette Middle School in McDonald.