The two majority commissioners released a statement of their concern on the Marcellus Shale issue, a major gas producing project in other counties as to how it can affect Schuylkill County. Minority Commissioner Frank Staudenmeier did not join in the announcement as he does not share the same views.
The statement released by Mantura Gallagher and Francis McAndrew, was as follows:
"Marcellus Shale issue is a once-in-lifetime opportunity for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. It is an opportunity to grow our economy, create local jobs, and preserve our natural resources but only if it is done correctly. Pennsylvania is the only major gas-producing state that does not tax drillers and as a result we the taxpayers pay the price. Dan Onorato supports a competitive severance tax on gas drillers and refuses to allow gas drillers to tap into the natural resources of Pennsylvania without paying their dues.
"Tom Corbett's plan will protect big oil and gas at the expense of the taxpayers in our county and furthermore, his plan puts our drinking water and roads at risk. Over the last two and one-half years, drilling companies have been cited for 1,500 environmental and safety violations in Pennsylvania.
"Many of our nearby counties are already seeing wear and tear on their roads as a result of the heavy equipment that the industry requires. It's not fair that the taxpayers of Pennsylvania be burdened with the bill to fix these infrastructures challenges. Most important to use, however, is the impact that this gas drilling will have on our drinking water. We agree with Onorato that we need proper oversight so that our drinking water is safe and that our rivers are not polluted. Our Schuylkill County citizens must be cognizant of the fact that an environmental disaster hundreds of miles away can destroy the water that our families drink.
"The oil and gas industries cannot and will not police themselves, but that is exactly what Corbett wants. Furthermore, if the oil and gas industries are not taxed the responsibility and cost to protect the environment and maintain oversight of the industry will fall upon the backs of the taxpayers. Corbett is protecting his big donors while leaving Pennsylvania taxpayers to pay for it. Onorato has the independence to get it right, creating new jobs for the state while protecting taxpayers."
(Editor's note: Dan Onorato is the Democratic candidate and Tom Corbett the Republican candidate for Governor. Gallagher and McAndrew are Democrats. The State Legislature, by a vote of 104 to 93, recently passed Senate Bill 1155 to tax big energy companies drilling for natural gas in Pennsylvania).