Former governor Tom Ridge sets out the guidelines by which natural-gas companies will develop the Marcellus Shale

These are the standards to which we will hold ourselves and by which we ultimately will be judged.’
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Sunday, October 03, 2010

Six years, nine months and five days.

That’s how long I had the privilege to serve as governor of Pennsylvania — the best job in America. Every day offered an opportunity and a unique, but rewarding, challenge. Every day we worked to create a new Pennsylvania.

Like most Pennsylvanians, I care deeply about our shared future. I have traveled each of our 67 counties by plane, bus and car. I’ve seen Pennsylvania on horseback, from a bicycle seat and in a canoe. Seeing our state and its wonderful people up-close has cemented forever my love for Pennsylvania.

So when I was asked to work with the Marcellus Shale Coalition, I viewed it as a chance to again serve the commonwealth as we work to fully embrace the historic and transformative opportunity offered by the responsible development of the Marcellus Shale’s abundant, clean-burning natural-gas reserves.

Pennsylvania’s history of developing our abundant natural resources runs deep. The harvesting of our hardwoods built colonial America. Col. Edwin Drake’s Titusville oil well more than 150 years ago opened the world’s eyes to the beneficial use of fossil fuels and helped raise the standard of living for millions across the globe. Our coal — soft and hard — fueled America’s industrial revolution and helped the United States win two world wars.

Now we have an unprecedented opportunity with the Marcellus Shale — one of the world’s largest energy finds in the last 50 years and likely able to supply a substantial portion of our clean-burning natural-gas needs for a generation. In fact, according to experts, America’s shale-gas reserves could fuel our nation for nearly 100 years.

Of course, we need to be smart and responsible at every step of the way as this tremendous opportunity continues to be realized. We are, and we will continue to be.

We will protect our environment while creating tens of thousands of family-sustaining jobs. We will continue to work to strengthen local communities and see to their needs while we create sustainable, long-term economic- and energy-security benefits for every Pennsylvanian. We will focus on developing new demand for natural gas while we improve our efforts to conserve energy.

To affirm this unwavering commitment, I have worked with the Marcellus Shale Coalition to develop a set of principles that the industry will use to guide its work and actions each and every day:

• We provide the safest possible workplace for our employees, contractors and the communities in which we operate;
• We implement state-of-the-art environmental protection across our operations;
• We continuously improve our practices and seek transparency in our operations;
• We strive to attract and retain a talented and engaged local workforce;
• We commit to being responsible members of the communities in which we work;
• We encourage spirited public dialogue and fact-based education about responsible shale gas development; and
• We conduct our business in a manner that will provide sustainable and broad-based economic- and energy-security benefits for all.

These principles guide our work. They are the core of our mutual mission to responsibly realize the promise of the Marcellus Shale on behalf of 12 million Pennsylvanians as we transform the commonwealth into a vibrant hub of clean-energy development and job creation.

That’s our goal. And these are the standards to which we will hold ourselves and by which we ultimately will be judged. Please join us.

Tom Ridge, former governor of Pennsylvania and U.S. secretary of homeland security, advises the Marcellus Shale Coalition (marcelluscoalition.org), which includes most of the natural-gas companies operating in Pennsylvania.

NOTE: Click HERE to view the MSC’s “Commitment to the Community” Guiding Principles on-line and HERE to watch the MSC’s new web video entitled “The Marcellus: An American Renewal.”

LINK TO OP-ED: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/10276/1091911-109.stm