Rachel Carson Bridge

After Pennsylvania’s Democratic Party recently approved a controversial moratorium on Marcellus Shale development, Consumer Energy Alliance is polling state lawmakers on their support of the policy.

The proposal, offered in June by Monroe County committee member Sue Lyons, riled the party’s caucuses and was met with immediate opposition from the party’s vice-chair Penny Gerber who stated:

“This bill as it currently stands says it is a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing, but it specifies that the moratorium will last until the practice can be done safely. Because no set period of time is provided it truly is a ban on fracking, and this is a thriving industry. It is for that reason I cannot support this bill.”

For this reason, and many others, prominent Democrats across the state joined Gerber in criticizing the policy.  Former Governor Ed Rendell (D-Pa.), who oversaw the growth of the state’s shale industry, called the proposal “ill-advised” as shale development has “helped create wealth in the poorest areas of Pennsylvania.”

At the same time, House Minority Leader Frank Dermody (D-Allegheny) and 17 other Democratic lawmakers recently wrote a letter to party chairman Jim Burn calling the proposal “shortsighted” because it disregards “the many positive impacts” of shale development and would “create significant adverse impacts…with no discernible gain.”

The reason for opposition among prominent Democrats is simple. Marcellus Shale development has provided significant economic growth to the Keystone State.  Specifically, shale development supports over 239,000 jobs with positions in core industries paying more than $90,000 per year.

This level of economic activity has provided benefits to every corner of the state. In Philadelphia, the once struggling Acker Shipyard is now “thriving” and the Allegheny County Airport Authority will receive over $500 million from drilling activity on airport property; in fact, it’s already received $42 million which has reduced operational costs at the airport.

As noted on The Energy Voice last week, Consumer Energy Alliance recently sent a letter to every member of the General Assembly asking whether they support or oppose the policy.  Responses are due by August 15, 2013 and will be posted on our website when they are received so be sure to check back often for updates.