Map of Marcellus Shale (graphic: chuckchuckchuck)

A blog post by Chris Lilienthal, originally published at Third and State.

Before this busy week slips by, I wanted to highlight two things of note related to drilling in the Marcellus Shale in Pennsylvania.

First, on Monday, the Citizens Marcellus Shale Commission released its final report and recommendations. It couldn’t have come soon enough, as the state Senate began moving Marcellus Shale legislation this week.

Over the last three months, more than 500 people have weighed in with the Commission on their concerns and suggestions to better protect local communities and the environment from the negative impacts of drilling. Many citizens testified that Marcellus Shale drilling has moved too quickly and that public officials entrusted to protect their constitutional right to clean air and water have let them down.

The Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center was one of the eight civic and environmental organization that came together to form the Citizens Commission. You can read more about the report at our web site.

On Tuesday, PBPC also participated in a press conference with Representatives Gene DiGirolamo, Tom Murt and Mike Sturla, along with advocates for the environment, education and working families, to call for drillers to pay their fair share.

Several speakers observed that there is strong public support for a drilling tax in Pennsylvania that protects the environment and invests in Pennsylvania’s future, including the education of our next generation.

Representative Murt put it best when he explained why he is sponsoring a Marcellus Shale tax bill in the state House with Representative DiGirolamo and a long list of co-sponsors from both parties: “I was motivated not only by a desire to make sure our gas drillers pay their fair share but to make sure this thriving industry contributes to making Pennsylvania a better place.”

“Almost every other state that is taking Marcellus Shale gas out of the ground does already have some type of tax,” said Representative DiGirolamo. “We in Pennsylvania do not as of yet. … We’re trying to figure out what’s best for Pennsylvania.”

Things will start to move fast next week as the Senate votes on its Marcellus bill. Check out the Better Choices for Pennsylvania web site to see how you can help.