State House Sound Bites

Capitol reporter Mary Wilson covers Pennsylvania politics and issues at the Pennsylvania state capitol.

Links: Drilling sites safety & DCNR citizens board member scoffs at firing explanation

Written by Mary Wilson, Capitol Bureau Chief | Jan 17, 2012 2:21 PM

Here’s one Marcellus Shale bill that’s moving swiftly toward final passage: no, it’s not an impact fee on drillers, but a bill to make drilling sites a bit safer.  The Times-Tribune reports:

 

The measure requires operators to post signs at the well site bearing their GPS coordinates, give the coordinates to local, county and state emergency officials and develop response plans. The bill specifies this information is to be posted on reflective signs at both the access road entrance and well pad.

 

[Republican sponsor, Sen. Lisa Baker, of Luzerne County], who leads the Senate Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee, developed the bill to ensure firefighters, ambulance crews and hazmat teams know where wells are being planned and where access roads are…

 

This safety measure has been approved by both the Senate and House once. A vote scheduled today in the Senate Rules Committee should move the bill to a final vote on the Senate floor so it can be sent to Gov. Tom Corbett for signing.

 

The Post-Gazette can catch you up on where things stand with impact fee negotiations, as well as what’s topping the legislative agenda now that state lawmakers are back from break.

 

It remains unclear how soon those policy discussions will turn into legislative votes, although those involved expressed cautious optimism on Monday.

 

"I think there's a goal by all of us to have it done before the budget, and before the budget address if we can get it done that quickly," Mr. Corbett said. "I don't know that it will, but it would be nice if it did."

 

Spokesmen for top House and Senate Republicans agreed that divisions have grown smaller. But those could grow again if a measure is not completed before the governor's Feb. 7 budget address, which is expected to outline another round of deep cuts to state programs.

 

The head of a citizens advisory panel for the state’s parks and forests has been canned, purportedly to cut down on costs.  But one member of the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources committee says that’s baloney, reports the Associated Press:

 

Eric Martin, one of two remaining original council members, accused the administration of trying to pre-empt public oversight of the department amid Marcellus Shale gas drilling on forest land.

 

"Aside from what we the council feel was an illegal firing, this is a clear message from the executive suite regarding citizen involvement and transparency," he told the paper in an e-mail. "Funny that one of our hot topics is Marcellus Shale."

 

Pennsylvania has leased one-third of its 2.1 million-acre forest system for oil and gas drilling, including more than 130,000 acres for Marcellus Shale deep wells. The department during the previous administration warned that more oil and gas development would damage the ecology and wild character of the forests.

 

At last check, number of Republican candidates running for state Sen. Jeff Piccola’s seat in Dauphin County: three.  Steve Johnson, a York County businessman and 2010 candidate for lieutenant governor, has announced his bid.  As the Patriot-News reports, Johnson joins York County Clerk of Courts Don O’Shell and former Dauphin County GOP chairman John McNally III.   

 

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