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Saving the scenery: Activist trainings teach skills, forge connections

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By Nadia Steinzor

January 19, 2011

Don t blame me for signing a lease, and you'll never stop the drilling, the man said. There s an old saying: you can t eat the scenery.

Most days, this would have been depressing to hear and just another reason why gas development is running amok. But on this day, the speaker was part of something very positive, a role play on how to talk about the downsides of drilling with reluctant friends and neighbors.

This topic was part of Get Organized: Skills to Protect your Community in the Marcellus Shale, a training held last week in Pittsburgh and Connellsville, PA. Dozens of local residents turned out to learn how to recruit volunteers, generate media coverage, coordinate with other activists, and track problems in communities.

The events were hosted by PennEnvironment (which is planning more such events in the coming months) and co-led by EARTHWORKS, Clean Water Action, Three Rivers Waterkeeper, University of Pittsburgh's Center for Healthy Environments and Communities, and Mountain Watershed Association.

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Tagged with: drilling, natural gas, marcellus shale, community organizing, gas development


Tax-free damage: Marcellus states should make polluters pay

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By Nadia Steinzor

January 5, 2011

The turn of a year signals new plans and possibilities. But as 2011 kicks off, elected officials are wondering how in the face of steep federal and state deficits they'll ever have the funds to realize policy goals.

In the Marcellus Shale region, it s been tempting to plug budget holes with the quick bucks that come from issuing permits and leasing state land for gas drilling. But this stop-gap measure can also mean an increase in drilling, and with it the need for even more revenue to pay the steep costs of gas development (like road damage, toxic clean up, and health problems). Tackling those impacts requires steps many politicians are loath to take, like long-term planning, bold regulatory change and taxing industry.

Pennsylvania and New York are the only oil- and gas-producing states without a severance tax to make companies pay for the resources they sever from the land forever. Resource extraction taxes can offset the financial burden placed on public coffers and, when used appropriately, mitigate damage to drilled communities and the environment. Severance taxes vary widely in basis (value or volume), rate, and exemptions, but don't appear to deter industry from seeking the resources from which they so greatly profit.

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Tagged with: drilling, marcellus shale, shale gas, severance tax


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