Pennsylvania has a complicated history regarding natural resource use. On the one hand, we have these incredible state park systems, forests, and game lands. But then we have the legacies of timbering, iron and steel, strip mines, and now the looming rush into shale gas. How has and is the legislature dealing with these issues? [See below.]
Over the last few decades, programs like Growing Greener have been helping us preserve our open and green spaces. The program has been very popular among a large segment of Pennsylvanians, but funding has been on the chopping block. And hearkening back to last week's show with Mike Hermann of Purple Lizard Maps and Frank Maguire of the International Mountain Bike Association, there's a lot of concern that Governor Tom Corbett is going to undercut the integrity of state forests and state parks by further opening them to gas drilling.
At the community level, people in the borough of State College overwhelmingly voted for a Community and Environmental Bill of Rights and a Fracking Ban in November. It was a landslide 72% "yays" to 28% "nays." But the recently passed Act 13 of the Oil and Gas Act might undercut home rule and the referendum State College passed. And pretty clearly, there are a lot of rumblings about shale gas development in the Marcellus Shale. Will Pennsylvania end up in another boom and bust like we did with oil and coal?
Our first guest on today's show, Senator Jake Corman (R - 34th district) grew up in Central Pennsylvania. His father was a senator before him and was my first acquaintance with a state politician. Jake Corman was elected in 1998 and is currently serving his fourth term. He chairs the Appropriations Committee and sits on several other committees. Because he sits at the helm of the Appropriations Committee, he has an intimate understanding of how the budget works whether that's money going into Going Greener or being dispersed from Act 13.
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UPDATE: Senator Corman's office called this morning to inform us that a schedule change prevents him from coming on the show.