Former Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge spoke to a convention of energy company representatives today, stressing the need for environmentally safe Marcellus Shale gas extraction while hailing the industry’s economic benefits.
Ridge says state government should be the regulating authority on gas drilling, not individual municipalities. The former governor says the drilling ban proposed by Pittsburgh Councilman Doug Shields should be just the “first chapter” in a longer discussion.
Ridge says there should be public information sessions on the drilling process to assuage people’s fears for the environment.
“It was explained to me how they are able to drill through the water table, how you layer in layers of steel and cement through the water table so you don’t pollute it. There’s a tremendous amount of engineering and science that goes into this, and I think part of our challenge is to better understand it,” says Ridge.
Ridge says drilling presents three revenue opportunities for the state: corporate income tax, employee income tax, and a possible extraction tax. He says natural gas prices would drop, and Pennsylvania could become a major global exporter of the resource.
Ridge is being paid by the Marcellus Shale Coalition for a year of consulting.