In order to learn more about the process of deep drilling to obtain natural gas from the Marcellus Shale, the newly formed Schuylkill County Marcellus Shale Task Force had as their guest at their meeting, Lieutenant Governor Jim Cowley, who heads the Governor's Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission, to advise them on how to proceed.
The meeting was held in the Schuylkill Chamber of Commerce building in Pottsville. Cowley cautioned the task force to proceed with proposing recommendations on how the drilling should be undertaken if started in Schuylkill County to obtain all scientific knowledge on the operation and not on an emotional standard.
Cowley told the group the state advisory committee will be releasing its report shortly and it includes 96 policy recommendations that include tougher regulations for drilling, doubling fines for violations, creating jobs in related industries and promoting the use of natural gas vehicles.
Cowley responded to numerous questions raised by those in attendance. Ed Kleha, former Democratic Party Chairman, who was representing State Legislature Neal Goodman, questioned the drilling will leave the county landscape in similar conditions coal stripping did but was assured by Cawley that in the recommendations being made the land must be restored to its natural order. Also the recommendation is for working with the industry to develop a standard curriculum to provide proper training, devleop job-training assistance and certification programs and jobs in the industry and develop educational material on natural gas for use in schools.
Huge amounts of natural gas in the Marcellus Shale formation are now being developed in Northeastern Pennsylvania.
Susan Smith, executive director of the Schuylkill Planning Commission, told the task force that almost all of the county is in the Marcellus Shale area but in Schuylkill County it is at a greater depth than what is being drilled in other counties.
The county task force was established by the county commissioners with the job to identify key issues, conduct research, generate public awareness and review and recommend public policy regarding drilling activities.
Among the guests attending were Commissioners Mantura Gallagher and Frank Staudenmeier, State Senator David Argall and State Representative Jerry Knowles.