responsibly take advantage of the numerous economic opportunities the industry offers, but that should not come at the expense of local authorities acting reasonably to protect the health, safety, and property of their citizens.
I believe that the decision by the Supreme Court is a victory for local municipalities that want to exercise their rights to impose reasonable zoning requirements to protect schools, places of worship, fragile natural areas and other special places from oil and gas drilling.
This is the right decision for communities and for an industry that says it’s committed to working
with residents to develop this resource safely and responsibly. Shale gas development is an industrial activity. And while it can be done safely and responsibly, still some places are not well suited for industrial development.
In the Fall of 2013, I outlined a jobs plan to grow Pennsylvania’s economy by making the state a
leader in natural gas development --- all while ensuring commonsense regulations that protect the environment. Among the initiatives is a proposal to allow communities to impose these reasonable zoning requirements on oil and gas operations just as they already do with other types of industrial activity.
The Supreme Court ruling leaves much uncertainty. After finding some parts of Act 13 unconstitutional, the court remanded other issues to a lower court. Regardless of what judges decide, as governor I will rewrite rules and regulations covering gas drilling in Pennsylvania. Among other things, I will: -- Give zoning control to local communities. Drilling should not be exempt from zoning. -- Lift the Act 13 gag order that prohibits physicians from disclosing information given to them while treating patients pertaining to fracking chemicals. -- Enact the strongest possible protections, based on the best science, to reduce air pollution, limit methane leakage, and protect drinking water. To ensure these protections are enforced, I will restore funding to the Department of Environmental Protection, increase the size of the oversight staff, and close the revolving door between industry and regulators. I was the first Democratic candidate for governor to propose a 5 percent severance tax on shale drilling similar to West Virginia's. The tax would generate an estimated $737 million this budget year alone and increase to $2 billion annually by 2022-23. The revenue will give Pennsylvania the funds to transform education, relieve pressure on property taxes, and rebuild roads and bridges. I will use a portion of the shale tax revenue to create the Gifford Pinchot Land Conservation Fund, a private-public partnership to protect open space, reduce carbon emissions by improving natural carbon sinks, and fund land reclamation projects.
We have to strike a balance between environmental protection, local rights, and economic development. With Act 13, Governor Corbett clearly got this balance wrong. Instead of standing
up for Pennsylvania’s hardworking families, Governor Corbett gave his biggest donors and