Outgoing Pennsylvania Environmental Protection Secretary John Hanger says he hopes lawmakers will act quickly this year to tax natural gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale at a rate that is competitive with other natural gas states. The gas-rich rock deposit stretches across the state. He wants part of the proceeds dedicated to repairing any damage the drilling does, and even with the risks, he says it is cleaner and safer than other widely-used fuels.
“If we don’t use natural gas, at least for the next ten years, we’re going to use much more coal and much more oil. I say that as somebody who has pushed aggressively for the renewables and energy efficiency and we’ve made real progress there, but coal and oil are just much more dirty than natural gas. Coal puts soot into the air, coal puts mercury into the air. It’s very damaging to the environment and it’s also, unfortunately, quite unsafe for miners.”
Hanger says government programs have subsidized all kinds of energy development, from coal, oil and nuclear to wind and solar, and natural gas is part of the big picture, but drilling should be strictly regulated.