Congressman Jason Altmire (PA-04) will gather experts and activists versed in the debate over drilling in the Marcellus shale formation in a forum Tuesday evening in McCandless. This is going to be a community discussion said Altmire, “It’s not to advocate one side over the other, it’s certainly not a political meeting but it is to give everybody the opportunity to have a panel all in the same room, at the same time, answering the same questions so hopefully we can all learn from it.” Altmire hopes the activists on both sides will not disrupt the event.
The forum runs from 7:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the Community College of Allegheny County North Campus.
Each of the seven panel members will be given a chance to make opening remarks, “and then we are going to ask the obvious questions that always come up… the things I always hear in the public, and then we are going to open it up at the end for members of the community to directly ask the panel anything that they want,” said Altmire.
Representatives from the gas industry, the environmental movement, government regulatory agencies and academicians will sit on the panel. According to Altmire, this is the issue he hears about more often than any other issue as he travels around his district.
While the forum is to explore sides of the issue, Altmire has come out in favor of drilling in the past. “If you do it right the fracking process can be done safely without the environmental impacts that some are concerned about, but there does need to be oversight, we do need to make sure corners are not cut and that the process is carried out in an environmental way,” said Altmire. At the same time Altmire says Pennsylvania should not follow the lead of New York where all drilling has been banned pending review of the process.