Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett has been pigeon holed has being pro-Marcellus Shale drilling but when he went before a group friendly to Marcellus Shale exploration today he did not necessarily tell them everything they wanted to hear.
The governor spoke to an oil and gas seminar sponsored by the K&L Gates law firm where nearly 400 drilling industry representatives and supporters had gathered. While the governor did reiterate his position that he will not sign a severance tax he also told the group gathered in a hotel ballroom in Green Tree that he would not sign a forced pooling law. “I do not believe in private eminent domain and forced pooling would be exactly that,” said Corbett.
Forced pooling laws allow companies to compel a landowner to lease their mineral rights if enough of their neighbors sign on with a driller. Some other gas and oil producing states have forced pooling legislation on the books. Corbett says trying to avoid such a law in Pennsylvania is one of the reasons why he will not support a severance tax. “When people talk to me about the tax they say, ‘Well even the companies want a tax.’ They never add the caveat that I know that many of the companies that have gone to Harrisburg have said, ‘Yeah we’ll take the tax if we get certain things and regulations including the forced pooling.’”
At the same event Corbett told the crowd that he would do everything in his power to protect the state’s environment, including pulling drilling permits if he thinks companies are not respecting water resources. “Fair warning, I will not hesitate to use it if I do not see an effort to protect the environment of Pennsylvania and the water of Pennsylvania,” said Corbett, “I know how to get your attention… I know how to get the attention of your CEO’s.”
The governor also used the forum to call on everyone involved in the debate over shale drilling to not fall back on emotion and hearsay but to rely on facts and science. He also tried to set aside efforts by those who would like to see a moratorium on drilling who argue that the gas is not going away. He agreed it was not going anywhere but then opined that the state needs the jobs today, not decades from now after the energy companies have tapped out Ohio and West Virginia’s shale resources.