At the risk of calling attention to something that I don’t think deserves much, this blog post by Jorge Aguilar of Food and Water Watch – whom I’ve never met or spoken to -takes a skewed look at both me and my work consulting (mentioned here, for example) to Maryland’s Department of Natural Resources on shale gas development.
Mr. Aguilar notes that I “served as secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources during the state’s rapid expansion of fracking” – suggesting that correlation implies causation. He doesn't say - and may not even know - that I was not a regulator but a public lands manager – one who was ordered by the General Assembly to lease state forest land for gas exploration to help balance the state budget, and who voiced concern about it at my professional peril. I worked with the women and men of the agency to minimize the impact of the mandated leasing, and to understand its potential impacts. I worked with my former colleague John Hanger to enact (for a time) additional protections for state forest land that would be drilled. I ordered the development of best management practices and a comprehensive monitoring program for gas development on state forest lands. And I wrote and helped convince my boss Governor Ed Rendell to sign a moratorium on further state forest leasing.
Aguilar goes on to unfold his indictment:
Now a consultant, Quigley has written this report for the DNR, shared anonymously with Food & Water Watch by administration officials, that shows O’Malley tapping into Quigley’s expertise to push controversial “comprehensive drilling plans,” a new type of regulation that aims to cluster fracking drill pads in small sacrifice zones within the state.
Read my report - which will be posted on Maryland Department of the Environment's website and presented at a public meeting on Monday - for yourself to see if you can detect any hint of controversy over CDP’s. Except, perhaps, from opponents of drilling who see any contemplated regulation – regardless of how strict – as allowing drilling, and therefore unacceptable.
But it gets better.
We shouldn’t be surprised though. Quigley, after all, has been a main consultant for , an environmental group who was a strategic partner in creating the . This center is a marriage of pro-business environmental organizations like PennFuture and the Environmental Defense Fund and major oil and gas companies such as Chevron and Shell to develop voluntary performance standards for fracking. In other words, these groups are promoting voluntary rules agreed to by the industry. Former PennFuture CEO John Hanger also went on to become Pennsylvania’s secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection and failed to protect the state’s environment from the inevitable pollution from fracking.
I was a consultant to PennFuture from February, 2011 until April 2012 (and - shudder - worked for the organization back in 2003-2005). I was not involved in their work with the Center for Sustainable Shale Development, though I support it. The gratuitous swipe at my friend and former colleague John Hanger is about as wrong as it can be.
In a ridiculous gesture of public relations prowess, Quigley says in his report that Maryland has a chance to create environmental and business “win—wins” by moving forward with the “responsible” drilling of natural gas. What Quigley views as the first “win” is really just “less loss” from an environmental perspective. This is coming from a guy who might not have been setting the bar very high for safety when he said, “; you’re never going to bat 1.000.
Putting aside Aguilar’s snideness, read the rest of the report and the linked article and judge my level of concern for the environment for yourself. And if you’re interested in more, peruse this blog, or this one, and again judge for yourself.
Aguilar quotes Paul Roberts.