Acting EPA Administrator Visits Western Pa., Credits Shale Industry’s “Innovation”

Commonsense policies and smart regulations that encourage natural gas development will help ensure further environmental and public health improvement, acting EPA administrator Andrew Wheeler discussed during a visit to Washington County this week.

Just a week after assuming his new position, acting administrator Wheeler met with MSC member Range Resources and sat down with the Washington County Chamber of Commerce to discuss his vision for the environmental regulatory agency.

MSC’s Dave Spigelmyer, a participant in the round-table discussion, noted his appreciation that acting administrator Wheeler saw firsthand the “industry’s commitment to employing the latest environmental technologies that ensure the safe production of American natural gas.”

The Marcellus and Utica Shale formations represent enormous opportunity for our nation’s economic and national security, particularly as it relates to rebuilding our domestic manufacturing base for generations to come, and we are deeply committed to environmental sustainability.

Acting administrator Wheeler’s agenda – focused on commonsense policies and smart regulations that encourage the responsible natural gas development – will help ensure that the United States continues to emerge as a dominant global energy leader.

During an interview with KDKA-AM’s Robert Mangino, Wheeler touted the clean air progress we’re making thanks largely to the greater production and use of clean, domestic natural gas.

One of the reasons I wanted to come [to Western Pa.] was that I had never visited a shale play well site, and with all the innovation that your industry is doing here in the eastern energy capital of the country, I thought it was important to get out here to visit the facilities, the sites, and see what you’re all doing…

Air pollution is down 74% since the 1970s. We can get cleaner air, cleaner water, and deregulate…

The shale gas industry is innovating constantly and we need to make sure as a regulatory agency that we stay up to date with the innovations going on in the industry so that we can make sure that we also are not standing in the way of innovation.

That is why it’s important for me to get out and meet with some of people creating jobs in the region and in the country.

A key takeaway from the acting administrator’s visit? Policies matter. And comparing Pennsylvania to New York provides a stark contrast of how deeply misguided, baseless policies not grounded in science can have devastating impacts.

As E&E News reports, natural gas development has been a boon for Pennsylvania residents, delivering energy savings, local jobs, tax revenue, and environmental progress. But in New York, where safe, responsible shale gas development is banned, communities across the Southern Tier are struggling.

When Kevin “Cub” Frisbie wants to see what shale can do for a place, all he has to do is get in his pickup and drive 15 miles south to Bradford County, Pa.

There, the pavement on the road smooths out. There are new hotels and a new Dunkin’ Donuts. In front of the family farms, Frisbie, a farmer himself, will notice the new silos and equipment. “All this, there’s just nothing but commerce going on, commerce going on,” he said.

Crossing back into Tioga County, N.Y., Frisbie will pass the retired feed mill and the shuttered storefronts of Broad Street. He’ll pass farms that he knows are right on the edge of survival, and he might pass the home of an old friend, a dairy farmer, who ignored a hernia for too long — and didn’t have health insurance anyway — and died of surgery complications last year.

“Fifteen years ago, these two counties were very similar,” said Frisbie, a grain and crop farmer who’s president of the Tioga County Farm Bureau.

What changed, to him, is obvious: Pennsylvania allows fracking, and New York, under Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo, banned it. “It’s a desolate area, we could use some jobs, we could use some income. And he turned his back on us.”

The counties that border Tioga County (New York) to the south, Bradford and Susquehanna, rank in the top three gas-producing counties in Pennsylvania. But gas is providing no shelter in New York’s Southern Tier, where the dairy industry has been wrecked by a four-year price slump

The Southern Tier has been in economic decline for decades. But a decade ago, a promising opportunity seemed to come along: shale gas

When the first winds of the shale gale began to blow around 2008, it struck many as the best economic news they’d heard in a long time. It sounded as if there’d be jobs; taxes could ease up; new businesses would open.

[But] Cuomo took New York’s energy policy on an anti-gas shift that’s continuing todayAfter his 2014 re-election, he cemented the state’s moratorium on shale gas production

New York dairy farmers see friends in Pennsylvania who, in the same market conditions, are pulling through with the help of shale. … “We always knew the land was worth something. We’d struggled in our family to keep this farm for years,” Dan Fitzsimmons, who lives on a former beef farm in Conklin NY said. “Turns out, it was worth millions, but we just can’t touch it.”

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