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Friday, January 17, 2014

Can we preserve historical/cultural resources in the shale gas era?

Shale gas development industrializes the landscape. While the focus has been on its very significant impacts to the natural world, to public health, and to industries like agriculture and tourism, there are other resources that need to be considered. Specifically, archaeological, cultural and historical resources are too often disturbed and destroyed in the process of development - and not just in Pennsylvania.  Preserving those resources, too, is – or should be - an inherent part of the industry’s social license to operate.

Can we preserve our cultural resources and still develop this resource efficiently?

Some answers to that question will be offered at a first-of-its-kind summit: “Bridging the GAPP” Summit - Honoring our History… Fueling our Future,” to be held on March 21, 2014 in Pittsburgh, PA. Leaders from the energy industry and the historic preservation field will come together to discuss strategies to identify and manage historic and cultural resources while encouraging efficient energy development.

The conference is sponsored by the Gas and Preservation Partnership.

The Summit Goals, according to GAPP, are:
  • Educate the energy industry about the importance of cultural resource preservation
  • Educate the preservation community about the importance and science of energy development and independence
  • Affirm the business case for working together voluntarily in the absence of regulation
  • Develop model voluntary practices for the protection of cultural resources informed by experiences in other extractive industries
  • Collect success stories and lessons learned from energy experts and preservationists working in the Marcellus region and beyond.

I’ll be moderating the morning plenary session.

This is an important issue. Indeed, as the PA Supreme Court recently ruled, “the preservation of the natural, scenic, historic and esthetic values of the environment” is a right for every Pennsylvanian. Current preservation regulations are at best weak. Voluntary practices are a good starting point, but the preservation of our rights may well demand more. It’s in the industry’s interest to get ahead of this issue – and to set the preservation bar high.

This is an important issue, and an important inaugural event.

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