Connect with PennFuture.
Go to PennFuture's Twitter site. Go to PennFuture's Facebook site.

Session Daze - February 18, 2011

Which side is your legislator on?
The drilling tax bill, House Bill 33, now has 62 House co-sponsors. Check the bill history to see which side your legislator is on – cosponsor or not.

Is your state representative on this list? If so, use our easy email center to say thanks. If not, ask why not.

The drilling tax will ensure that all Pennsylvanians benefit from the development of our natural gas; provide vital funding for environmental programs such as Growing Greener; and guarantee that taxpayers will not be left holding the bag for the damages caused by drilling. A drilling tax will also eliminate any need for more leasing of our state forests for gas drilling.

Rescinding science?
Things got a lot scarier for our state forests and other state-owned lands today when the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) announced through the Pennsylvania Bulletin that it was rescinding the policy of the previous administration for protecting the forests from damage by drilling. This policy is based on research by scientists within the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR), and calls for collaborative work with drillers who seek permits, with permitting specific requirements for protecting our streams and lands in state parks and forests.

Section 205 of Pennsylvania's Oil and Gas Act requires DEP to consider the impact of a proposed well on public resources, including publicly owned parks and forests, when making a determination on a well permit. Yet DEP is now rescinding the policy, saying it “is being rescinded as unnecessary and redundant of existing practice." DEP also cites DEP's failure to permit public comment on the proposed policy.

The answer is not to turn our state parks and forests over to drillers and hope for the best. DEP should immediately open public comment on the previous Administration's policy, which was based on sound science.

Save the Forest bill introduced in the Senate
Senator Daylin Leach (D-Montgomery and Delaware) has introduced Senate Bill 426, which would put a three-year freeze on further leasing of Pennsylvania state forests for gas drilling. The drillers already have access to more than 700,000 acres of state forest land, nearly half of the 1.5 million acres that lie above the Marcellus Shale. Enough is enough.

Is your senator ready to save the forests?
The following senators are co-sponsors of Senate Bill 426: John Blake (D-Lackawanna), Lisa Boscola (D-Northampton), Pat Browne (R-Lehigh), Jay Costa (D-Allegheny), Edwin Erickson (R-Delaware), Jim Ferlo (D-Allegheny), Wayne Fontana (D-Allegheny), Stewart Greenleaf (R-Montgomery), Daylin Leach (D-Montgomery), John Rafferty (R-Montgomery) and Mike Stack (D-Philadelphia).

Is your state senator on this list? If not, please urge him/her to co-sponsor SB 426. Remind your officials that DCNR officials predicted that we are already likely to see at least 1,000 well drilling pads and as many as 12,000 deep gas wells in our state forests, along with an extensive network of roads, pipelines, wastewater impoundments, compressor stations and other infrastructure. Drilling is already having a negative impact on recreational uses of the state forests, including fishing, hunting, hiking, camping and outdoor tourism.

Melee in D.C.
The Tea Party-driven majority in the U.S. House of Representative continues to try to repeal the rules of arithmetic by attempting to cut spending and cut taxes. This time, it's the Continuing Resolution to keep government running, which is chock full of sweetheart deals for polluters and others. But funding to enforce the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act, money to protect our national parks and other treasures, energy savings and clean energy funds, wildlife protection money, and much more are all on the chopping block.

If these cuts become law, we will strangle our economy just as it is taking off, kill jobs, and destroy our environment. You can send an email from our Action Center to your U.S. Representative and Senators asking them to protect our future by voting against these cuts.

A victory for justice
PennFuture and environmental advocates across the state are praising a decision by Judge Joel Slomsky overturning a federal jury's verdict that held four employees of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) liable for $6.5 million in damages for doing their jobs. The decision corrects a major miscarriage of justice. It means that polluters cannot intimidate environmental regulators by threatening their families' futures.

What we're reading
Did you know that wind turbine prices in the U.S. are now falling and have reached 2005 levels? Did you know that wind farms can now be built in Pennsylvania for a 20-year power purchase agreement at 5.5 cents per kilowatt-hour?

You would know these facts if you followed the Facts of the Day blog penned by John Hanger. Hanger has served as commissioner on the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission, president of PennFuture, and secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection. He is now special counsel at Eckert Seamans.

Experience is the best teacher
We (heart) our interns. And being a PennFuture intern is a great way for to learn more about our work and jumpstart your career. Apply online with your resume for fast consideration. We accept applications for internships for all our offices on a rolling basis. Our current hot search is for an Energy Outreach Intern with our Center for Energy, Enterprise and the Environment.