Dear Editor:

Mark Linkhorst's recent letter to the editor made a number of outrageous claims attacking me with little understanding of the state's new Marcellus Shale impact fee law. He even attacked my record as an Eagle Scout from way back in 1974. Go figure!

Here are the facts:

As the debate on House Bill 1950 continued, many local government and conservation organizations, such as the County Commissioners Association (CCAP), State Association of Township Supervisors (PSATS), Renew Growing Greener Coalition and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation asked me to support the final version of House Bill 1950. Specifically, the PSATS stated, "We believe the Conference Committee report on House Bill 1950 hits the mark on these important criteria and represents the best document yet to make sure that Pennsylvania gets it right this time." CCAP supports the final passage of House Bill 1950 which "meets the needs our members have expressed for funding to address local impacts resulting from exploration and development of Marcellus Shale and other natural gas reserves." The Chesapeake Bay Foundation said, "HB 1950 represents a tremendous step forward for the Commonwealth in managing current and future drilling operations in the Marcellus Shale formation. This bill combines the best of the environmental protection provisions from both SB 1100 and HB 1950, and improved upon them."

As someone who grew up 200 yards from an abandoned coal mine, I have seen firsthand the problem an old, unregulated industry can have on our land, and we are still left picking up the pieces throughout our area. This law is designed so that Pennsylvania does not make the same mistake twice, while creating new jobs throughout the state. Rural Bradford County, for example, is at the heart of the Marcellus Shale drilling and currently has the lowest unemployment rate in the state – creating many more new jobs there than our largest counties.

In previous letters, Mark has asked me to legalize marijuana, and I have disagreed with him on that issue as well. In both cases – voting for increased environmental protection and fees on the gas industry and against legalizing marijuana, I realize that I have angered Mark – but there is no doubt in my mind that both votes were cast with the strong backing of a large majority of the people I represent in the State Senate, from Pine Grove to the Poconos.

The facts are the facts and no juvenile name calling or false statements can change that. Just think: I actually did learn that lesson in the Boy Scouts!

Senator David G. Argall (R-29)