Thursday, March 24, 2011

Surprise! Marcellus Shale commission to meet Friday

An announcement came out of Harrisburg today that the first meeting of the Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission will be held tomorrow.

I only know about it because I get Facebook news alerts from both of the local newspapers, and one of them published the following article at 3:44 PM today:

Marcellus Shale commission to meet Friday The Times Leader, Wilkes-Barre & Scranton PA

I followed the instructions for finding this information online on the official Pennsylvania government site, and they certainly didn't make it easy. After a few false trails I found the press announcement itself as a pdf file - with a notation that it was last modified at 3:46 PM, two minutes after the Times Leader story was published:

Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission to Hold Inaugural Meeting
Meeting Is Open to the Public

Harrisburg – The Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission, created to address the
needs and impacts of natural gas development on local communities, as well as
promote the efficient, environmentally sound and cost-effect development of
Marcellus shale and other natural gas resources, will hold its first meeting on
Friday, March 25.

The panel, chaired by Lt. Governor Jim Cawley, will meet from 10:30 a.m. to 3:30
p.m. in Room 105 of the Rachel Carson State Office Building, 400 Market Street,

In announcing the commission’s creation on March 8, Governor Tom Corbett said
the panel’s purpose is “to oversee how we can build around this new industry and
how we can make certain we do this while protecting our lands, our drinking water,
our air – all the time growing our workforce.’’

The commission, comprised of state and local government leaders, industry, and
environmental experts, has been established to insure the successful development
of the natural gas industry and advise the governor on pertinent issues, including
possible legislative and regulatory changes.

The meeting agenda and related materials are available through the Public
Participation Center on the Department of Environmental Protection’s web site at Enter “Marcellus shale advisory” in the search bar
and the first result will be the commission’s page.

Seating in the conference room is limited, so individuals planning to attend are
requested to contact Christopher Gray at 717-783-8727 or to
help organizers in planning. Reserved seating is not available.

In addition, public comment can be directed to the following:
Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission
Office of the Governor
225 Main Capitol Building
Harrisburg, PA

Note that the meeting begins at 10:30 in the morning, meaning that this announcement came out less than nineteen hours before the actual start of the meeting! Does this sound like a reasonable amount of time for participants, the public, or the press to prepare for such an important meeting? If I were the suspicious type, the sort who believes that Governor Tom Corbett is completely in bed with the Marcellus Shale drilling industry and completely opposed to any regulation of it for any reason, I would think that this announcement was timed to stymie both public participation and coverage of the event by the media. I'm hoping at least a few concerned citizens and a few representatives from local news outlets will be able to drop whatever plans they had for tomorrow and get down to Harrisburg. Just be sure to contact Christopher Gray at 717-783-8727 or to "help organizers in planning."

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