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Tuesday, June 3, 2014

The public trust should be a public must

Yesterday morning, I testified before the PA House Democratic Policy Committee about an idea (developed with the help of my chief counsel when we were both still at DCNR) to use royalty income from existing state forest natural gas leasing to create a Conservation Trust Fund for Pennsylvania.  I first proposed this three years ago and wrote about here. 

The other testimony is highly recommended reading, and a summary of the meeting can be found here.

The essential question that I asked the committee is this: what will Pennsylvania have to show when the shale gas era ends?  A repeat of it's sorry history of energy extraction and environmental and economic degradation?  Or conserved, improved and endowed public lands and - perhaps - endowed statewide recreation and conservation?

As I told the Committee,
How Pennsylvania uses the windfall from existing shale gas development on the people’s land will define our state for generations. Will our actions as trustees be viewed by future generations of Pennsylvanians as a time of tremendous vision - or of tremendous opportunity lost? 
That is up to all of us.


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