The Balancing Act & the Art of Eating Cake  

Come Tuesday, our journey will continue with the next (third) administration; advocating to reach the delicate balance – public health and safety, environment, and community with the needs of unconventional shale gas industry where all can thrive.  It is important that we reach that balance; important for our health and safety especially for those whose homes, schools and hospitals are near well pads and facilities, important for our environment as it affects not just us but future generations, and important for our communities, whether it is jobs, planning, or economic development and finally, important for an industry that is here to make money and at times needs a regulatory nudge to operate with better practices.

Some were taken aback a few weeks ago when Governor-elect Wolf proclaimed he wants his cake and he wants to eat it too.     For years we’ve been advocating that the delicate balance be reached.  I recall December 2010, an air quality rulemaking package was published for comment period which I was very excited about.  Come February 2011, the package was rescinded and a three new rulemakings replaced it.  While those moved forward, I’m not so sure we got to eat cake.  Many years we’ve been advocating for mandated PA One Call for gathering lines, and the regulation of Class 1 Area gathering lines, and we don’t even seem to have the ingredients there to make cake.  The oil and gas rulemaking has been delayed due to a requirement last year that a bifurcation of regulations create two books, one for conventional and the other for unconventional, again, no cake.  I don’t want to continue with a list, but one point I would make is that while we’ve had many regulations adopted and legislation passed with fervent participation in the process not to impede industry but rather create more respectful operations near our homes, schools and hospitals  – more could have been done.  We are not eating cake.

We aim to have dialogue with all administrations, regulators, legislators and operators as that is what it takes to achieve the delicate balance where we all thrive.  Our plans are to continue to advocate for what are reasonable and adequate regulatory measures necessary for industry activity near our homes, schools and hospitals.  With that in mind, we are encouraged by Governor-elect Wolf’s nominees as DEP Secretary John Quigley and DCNR Secretary Cindy Dunn.   Both of these individuals have the experience and perspective that is a key to continue further walking the path towards reaching that delicate balance where all stakeholders thrive.

Today, as I was in my regular drive, I noticed this new sign near one that has been on this road for years now.

Old sign in place for years is joined by a new sign in 2015

The family apparently felt the need to erect a new additional sign.  This is not the only family crafted road sign in the Northern Tier, I’ve seen many.  Some are really clever and delightful while others demonstrate the frustration of living on a dirt and gravel road traveled frequently by industry.  While this may be just another sign, up close and personal it is easy to see that these folks aren’t eating cake.  They are not experiencing that delicate balance.   There are folks with front row, center seats, in many places that are not always eating cake.  So, when Governor-elect Wolf makes such a statement and provides a seat at the table for folks like John and Cindy, well, all I can think of is let’s all sit down at the table, have the dialogue to reach that delicate balance and get the job done.  I think many of us in the Northern Tier will welcome a slice of that cake.

You can read more about John Quigley and Cindy Dunn here. 

Emily Krafjack, President