Lt. Gov. Cawley: Natural Gas Is ‘Game Changer’ In Western PA

Pine Richland Patch

25th Annual St. Barnabas CEO Leadership Conference held Monday in Richland Township focused on energy.

When Lt. Gov. Jim Cawley refers to Marcellus Shale and the natural gas industry in Pennsylvania, he talks about “getting it right” and learning from Pennsylvania’s history.

Cawley was the keynote speaker Monday morning at the 25th Annual St. Barnabas CEO Leadership Conference held in Richland Township. His speech was followed by a panel discussion on the theme, “We’ve Got Energy — Earth, Wind and Fire.”

“Natural gas is indeed a game changer in Western Pennsylvania,” said Cawley, who was appointed by Gov. Tom Corbett in March to chair the Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission.

The commission brought together representatives from environmental groups; the natural gas industry; and state, county and local governments, who unanimously adopted 96 recommendations that were forwarded to the governor.

Commission members “really talked turkey” to come up with a comprehensive plan for the responsible and environmentally sound development of Marcellus Shale, as directed by the governor, Cawley said.

Tougher regulations for drilling, increased bonding for drillers, double fines for violators are recommended, as well as increasing the distance between gas well sites and streams, private wells and public water systems, according to Cawley.

“We recognize it’s only a first step,” he told the crowd of about 275 at St. Barnabas’ Kean Theatre.

Marcellus Shale drilling is bringing jobs to the state and ancillary businesses in Pennsylvania are benefitting also, he said.

“There’s something happening here. This new vitality is being felt across our state,” Cawley said. “Pennsylvanians are finding new jobs. Stagnant downtowns are thriving again.”

He also talked about government partnering with businesses and academic institutions to train people to work in Marcellus Shale, and he mentioned veterans in particular.

Gov. Corbett is in the process of distilling the 96 recommendations to create a package of bills for the Legislature’s fall session, said Cawley.

When a panel discussion followed Cawley’s speech, a theme emerged that all types of energy sources — not one — are needed. Former Allegheny County Chief Executive James C. Roddey moderated the question-and-answer session. Panelists included:

George Ellis, president of the Pennsylvania Coal Association;

Scott Perry, director of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection‘s Bureau of Oil and Gas Management;

Kathryn Klaber, president and executive director of the Marcellus Shale Coalition,

Simon J. Tripp, senior officer of the Battelle Memorial Institute’s Technoogy Partnership Practice; and

Daniel Lipman, senior vice president for Westinghouse operations support and core process innovation.

Each spoke of his or her area of expertise and then answered questions from the audience.

A luncheon followed at which Caren Glotfelty spoke. She is the director of the environment program for The Heinz Endowments.

Energy, economic development and the environment need to be considered together, she said, “or we will lose our competitive edge.”

She posed a number of questions to be considered as energy sources are developed, concerning unintended consequences and negative impacts.

“The region has had and still has air quality problems,” she said. She said pollutants come from industrial, power plant and transportation sources.

“Everyone is part of the problem and everyone can be part of the solution,” Glotfelty said.

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