The summit is an important gathering because of what's at risk. The Society for American Archaeology (SAA) has estimated that over 195,000 cultural, historic, and archaeological sites are found in the most active areas of shale gas development in the US. In the Marcellus area alone, 1,951 sites have been identified - but only about 5% of the area has been surveyed. Over 39,000 such sites may exist in the Marcellus - and are at risk of loss from the industrialization of the landscape from shale gas development.
Instead of moderating today's plenary panel, I'll be participating as a panelist. I'll be discussing various collaborative efforts that I led at Pennsylvania's Department of Conservation and Natural Resources that can inform GAPP's essential work and, I hope, help to convince the natgas industry to engage on preserving historic and cultural resources. They include collaborative efforts on wind energy and wildlife - which resulted in the nation's first siting standards for wind energy development - on state forest leasing, and on the development of best management practices to minimize the impact of natgas development of state forest (and all other forested) land.
I'll also deliver a pointed message that, when it comes to balancing natgas development and the preservation of historical/cultural resources, finding the win-win makes business sense and is the right thing to do - part of what the industry needs to do to maintain its social license to operate. But it's more than that.
Pennsylvanians have a right to that preservation.
Last December, in throwing out the overreach of a 2012 law governing natural gas drilling, Pennsylvania's Supreme Court breathed new life into Article 1, Section 27 of Pennsylvania’s Constitution, which says:
The people have a right to clean air, pure water, and to the preservation of the natural, scenic, historic and esthetic values of the environment. Pennsylvania's public natural resources are the common property of all the people, including generations yet to come. As trustee of these resources, the Commonwealth shall conserve and maintain them for the benefit of all the people.The natural gas industry not only should - but must - accept historic/cultural preservation among its responsibilities.