A diverse panel has agreed to participate in the upcoming Town Hall meeting on natural gas exploration in central Pennsylvania being planned by the Pennsylvania Cable Network, Pennsylvania Newspaper Association Foundation, Williamsport Sun-Gazette and The Express of Lock Haven.
The meeting, which will be broadcast live on PCN, will be from 7 to 9 p.m. July 29 at the Community Theater, 100 W. Third St. The event is free and open to the public.
The meeting will be moderated by PCN president and CEO Bryan Lockman and will feature a panel discussion on gas exploration in Pennsylvania.
The panel will be comprised of Thomas Murphy, an educator with the Penn State Cooperative Extension; Dr. Timothy Kelsey, a professor of agricultural sciences at the extension; Ronald Gilius, director of the state Department of Environmental Protection's Bureau of Oil and Gas Management; Louis D'Amico, executive director of Independent Oil and Gas Association; Ted Barbour, a local landowner who has leased his property for gas exploration; and a yet-to-be confirmed representative of a regional conservation organization.
The diversity of the panel should ensure a wide range of issues and concerns regarding natural gas exploration are discussed during the meeting, said Robert O. Rolley Jr., interim publisher of the Sun-Gazette and publisher of The Express.
"This issue is of vast importance, not only to this region, but the entire state," Rolley said. "It is just as important, then, that it be examined and discussed from every possible viewpoint."
Williamsport Sun-Gazette adds gas
exploration section to its Web site
The Williamsport Sun-Gazette has developed a special section for its Web site to help its readers make educated decisions regarding gas leases and gas drilling.
The site may be accessed at http://extras.sungazette.com/naturalgas/ or by clicking the "gas drilling information" link in the left-hand column of the Sun-Gazette's homepage at www.sungazette.com.
The link provides access articles about gas exploration that have been published in the Sun-Gazette, frequently asked questions, links to other Web sites related to the issue and photos. Plans are to update the site regularly to reflect changes in the natural gas industry.
Murphy and Kelsey have been part of a gas exploration education initiative that began about two years ago in Lycoming County and has branched out to other areas of the state where there is interest in gas exploration.
During a recent forum in Williamsport, both men said gas exploration, particularly the type focusing on the Marcellus Shale formation that runs from southern New York to West Virginia, Maryland and Virginia, could produce significant income for gas companies, local residents and businesses.
They also warned that with potential economic benefits come challenges to the region's infrastructure and environment.
Gilius heads the DEP bureau involved in regulating the natural gas industry, particularly as it relates to water quality.
D'Amico has been executive director of the Independent Oil and Gas Association since 1995. Before that, he worked in the natural gas industry for 25 years in engineering, gas marketing and operations management.
The theater will seat about 155 people. Seating will be on a first-come, first-served basis.
Doors will open at 6:15 p.m. Staff will monitor attendance. If capacity is reached, people not seated will be turned away.
The PCN broadcast can be viewed on Channel 21 on the Comcast Cable network service area, Channel 38 in Eagles Mere, Channel 55 for Blue Ridge subscribers and Channel 42 for Williamson Road Cable TV subscribers.