As the Democrat vying for the State Representative seat in the 152nd district, I challenge my opponent, State Rep. Tom Murt, to fight Governor Corbett’s purge of high state officials who support oversight of Marcellus Shale drillers.
Within the past week Governor Corbett has fired Pennsylvania’s award-winning director of the State Park system and obtained the resignation of the State Health Secretary. In neither instance was any explanation given for these actions. But the cause is clear.
State Park System Director Jack Norbeck had long opposed Marcellus Shale drilling on state parklands without environmental study. Despite winning an award for being the best state parks director in the nation last year, Norbeck was abruptly fired earlier this week without explanation.
Similarly, Health Secretary Dr. Eli Avila, although controversial in other respects, had hung firm in supporting a registry for physician reports on the health effects of Marcellus Shale drilling on residents and workers. With the support of Upper Dublin resident Dr. Marilyn Heine, the president of the Pennsylvania Medical Society, among many other health professionals, Dr. Avila resisted efforts by the State Legislature to defund that registry.
Last week the Corbett administration announced that, despite Marcellus Shale gas extraction fees exceeding this year’s budgetary projections, those fees would not be used by the state health department for any such registry, no matter how few pennies would be required to maintain one. The result: Dr. Avila resigned.
It is time for those who voted for the pro-driller Act 13, like my opponent, Tom Murt, to call for an immediate investigation of this purge. The citizens of this Commonwealth deserve to have their health and parks protected from the Marcellus Shale drillers and their number one friend in Pennsylvania, Governor Corbett.
Ronald Kolla is the Democratic candidate for the 152nd District in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, which includes Hatboro, Upper Moreland, Lower Moreland, Bryn Athyn, and parts of Horsham, Upper Dublin and Northeast Philadelphia.