Pitt’s Institute of Politics released its Gas Shale Roundtable Report
, a plan that suggests ways to embrace the economic promise of the gas industry while, at the same time, address environmental concerns.
The 26-member panel—gas industry, environmental organizations, legislators, educators, foundations and civic leaders—outlined several recommendations. Among them is conducting good research that protects the environment, updating outdated state laws and building relationships across the sectors.
The Roundtable began meeting two years ago, organized by Pitt’s Institute of Politics, which guided the group in reviewing laws, scientific studies, regulations and other areas relating to the gas industry, says Jim Roddey, co-chair of the group, principal at ParenteBeard and a former Allegheny County Executive.
Roddey was joined by fellow co-chair Carnegie Mellon University President Emeritus Jared Cohon.
The first thing we did was agree that the single most important resources in the region are fresh water and clean air, says Roddey.
“While our air and water still need a lot of work, we have one of the best natural supplies of water anywhere in America. We didn’t agree on a lot of issues, but we agreed on those two points."
The biggest takeaway was the need to protect our resources while we grow the economy. Natural gas should be the catalyst to achieve these goals, Roddey says.
Roddey agreed the Roundtable’s work echoes another local attempt at bringing together a broad coalition to address shale concerns. Earlier this year the Heinz Endowments created the Center for Sustainable Shale Development (CSSD).
While the two groups are comprised of many of the same organizations—Chevron, EQT, Consol, Shell, CMU, Pennsylvania Environmental Council, PennFuture and Heinz Endowments—they have very different goals, says Roddey.
“The Heinz’s CSSD is about best practices in the industry, a house-keeping seal of approval,” he says. “They hope to monitor the best practices in the industry, develop a certification process and ask others to adopt them.”
The CSSD is an ongoing process. The Roundtable group has disbanded now that the report is done.
It will be up to the governor, state legislators and the three participating foundations—Heinz Endowments, Richard King Mellon Foundation and The Pittsburgh Foundation—to implement and fund the strategies, Roddey says.
Among the Roundtable’s key recommendations:
· Establishing an independent research model, one not funded by a special interest group, to ensure the research is a best practice.
· Updating the 1961 Pennsylvania Oil and Gas Conservation Law to include the latest fracking technologies; limit surface disturbance and avoid wasted oil and gas resources.
· Protecting water resources in the state by improving management and regulation across several areas including water sourcing, groundwater protection and wastewater treatment and disposal.
· Developing recommendations to minimize the environmental and surface footprints of midstream construction, improve pipeline safety and enhance the planning and coordination of decisions regarding the location of pipelines.
Writer: Deb Smit
Source: Jim Roddey