By Tom Ridge
November 12, 2010
It’s an honor to join my fellow Pennsylvanians in welcoming Gov.-elect Tom Corbett and his team to Harrisburg in this new capacity. While we have a new administration, many challenges await them as they embark on a new beginning for Pennsylvania state government.
These challenges bring with them great opportunity for our commonwealth, but it is essential that we get “it” right. Fortunately, Gov.-elect Corbett and his team begin their days of renewal with a state that is blessed with a talented workforce, an unrivaled work ethic, and a spirit of innovation and entrepreneurship that can make us leaders in the 21st century economy.
We also are blessed with abundant natural resources that when developed responsibly, will make us a global leader in the production of clean energy. My great affection for Penn’s Woods, the 12 million Pennsylvanians I was privileged to serve, and the need for domestic energy security has called me to action.
The Marcellus Shale represents a transformational opportunity for the commonwealth; one that will use our skilled workforce, reduce energy costs for consumers and enhance our economic and environmental well-being.
I stand ready to work with our governor-elect, the newly elected state officials and all of my fellow citizens to make sure we develop this resource the right way. With the campaign ads and election season now behind us, it is time to develop a plan for the future of Pennsylvania.
On Sept. 30, I joined with the leadership of the Marcellus Shale Coalition as we made a pledge to all Pennsylvanians when we released our “Guiding Principles: Our Commitment to the Community.” It is under these principles that the shale gas industry will operate and ultimately be judged in Pennsylvania.
Environmental protection, workplace safety, developing an engaged local workforce and involvement in our local communities are commitments that we have made together. The jobs that are being created are substantial; the tax revenues significant.
The progress on regulatory modernization for this industry in Pennsylvania is already moving us forward, and the benefits for all Pennsylvanians, including the development of new markets for clean natural gas, are very exciting.
In the coming months, we plan to expand upon our “Guiding Principles” one-by-one, highlighting innovations and best practices being employed by our members. We are already re-doubling our efforts to reach out to the leaders of Pennsylvania’s workforce: our farmers and landowners, conservationists, sportsmen and community leaders to learn about their concerns in the interest of improving the industry’s performance in every respect.
As the Marcellus Shale is developed, every issue needs to be addressed, and continuous improvement in every aspect is a daily goal. We are developing this clean energy resource for the benefit of our environment, communities and the nation. No corner can be cut, and our commitment to safety and the safeguarding of our air and water is an absolute priority.
When I was governor, we were successful in achieving many of our goals. I insisted as we moved forward that we take a long-term view and execute a comprehensive plan, always in an effort to make Pennsylvania a “leader among states and a competitor among nations.”
As the plan for the development of the Marcellus Shale continues to evolve, we stand ready to work with the new team in Harrisburg not just to get something done, but to get something done right. By working together, once again, Pennsylvania has the opportunity to grow and prosper by offering our very best for the benefit of our state and our nation.
Tom Ridge is the former governor of Pennsylvania and former U.S. secretary of Homeland Security. He has been hired as a strategic adviser to the Marcellus Shale Coalition (marcelluscoalition.org).
This op-ed originally ran in the Patriot News on November 12, 2010.