The Department of Environmental Protection this week announced who will fill the seats on its newly created advisory board for conventional drilling — since the original TAB will focus solely on shale drilling.
The Conventional Oil and Gas Advisory Committee (COGAC, which hopefully will be pronounced like the Telly Savalas character) will consider a separate book of regulations for legacy drilling that DEP must write.
The voting members, from DEP’s news release:
• Mark L. Cline Sr., production supervisory & on-site manager, Cline Oil Inc.
• David Ochs, senior geologist/geology and operations manager, Kriebel Resources Co.
• A. Bruce Grindle, president, Oil & Gas Management Inc.
• Dave Yingling, engineer, Rosebud Mining
• Burt A. Waite, senior geologist, Moody and Associates
If that last name sounds familiar, it means you pay way too much attention to the membership of DEP advisory boards. Mr. Waite was on the old TAB until the DEP and Gov. Tom Wolf replaced that board recently.
If the board appears to be full of industry people, some say that’s the point. It advises regulators on technical industry issues.
But like the new TAB, Wolf and the DEP appointed four non-voting members to add non-industry perspective. For the COGAC (Who loves ya, baby?), those members are:
• Jim Morrison, chief administrator, Murrysville
• Doug D’Amore, DCNR Sproul State District Forester
• R. Keith Hite, vice President of public relations, Blackford Ventures; former executive director, PA State Association of Township Supervisors
• Sherry Tune, forest supervisor, Allegheny National Forest Service
The addition of non-voting members to the TAB brought protests from industry groups that believe those environmental and community voices don’t have a place in the board’s proceedings.
The environmental group PennFuture took to Twitter to question whether the industry was trying to “quash public input” in the rule-making process.
John Walliser, vice president of the Pennsylvania Environmental Council and a new non-voting member of the TAB, today posted on his group’s website a well-reasoned defense of his presence at the new table. It included:
The TAB is an advisory board with no formal authority respective to the department. It does not have the ability to approve or reject any regulatory or policy proposal. Its purpose is solely to provide input to the department, and that purpose is certainly not harmed by the presence of new or additional members.
Like the industry, groups such as the PEC contributed to the 24,000 public comments the state got on new drilling rules, and not all of its comments were reflected in the latest draft, Walliser noted.
COGAC gets its first public airing at 10 a.m. Thursday. For those who insist on paying too much attention to DEP advisory boards, the meeting will be telecast.