2009-05-23 / Viewpoints

Letters to the Editor

DEP Action Wrong

Dear Senator Scarnati,

God's Country Chapter of Trout Unlimited is both dismayed and concerned by directives issued by DEP on March 18, relating to the review of permits associated with Marcellus shale gas activities.

This initiative calls for the transfer of all responsibility related to oil and gas from local Conservation Districts to DEP.

We believe these actions to suddenly strip the districts of their previously delegated duties -- without notice and public comment -- and to institute a permitting process that does not allow for public participation or meaningful agency review of permit applications to be illegal, irresponsible, and a violation of DEP's public duties.

Over the past 30 years, our chapter has partnered with the Potter County Conservation District personnel and completed numerous stream habitat improvement projects. We have found the staff to be very knowledgeable and professional, always keeping the welfare of the environment its highest priority.

By removing these highly qualifi ed and well trained staff members of the Conservation District from the permitting, inspection and complaint process, DEP will be opening the door for potential deleterious impacts to the environment, similar to what the state experienced as a result of coal mining in the 1900s.

The possibility of having our headwater streams and water supplies decimated by Marcellus gas exploration and extraction is not something to be ignored. None of us can live without clean water and no one cares more about our local watersheds than those of us who live here.

It makes no sense for DEP to curtail local district review of Marcellus shale gas permits and land development plans and to assign new responsibilities to already shorthanded regional offices.

We question how staff from the Williamsport Regional Office, with minimal knowledge of local landscapes, wetlands and watersheds, can "maximize the effective delivery of these programs" in Potter County.

Before March 18, a complaint called into the district office was looked into immediately while the regional office has no such capability.

God's Country Chapter of Trout Unlimited urges you to thoughtfully consider the aforementioned misguided decisions and to take whatever legislative action necessary to have these decisions reviewed and reversed. Thank you.

Peter C. Ryan DMD

Trout Unilimited

Coudersport .

Save 'Science In Motion'

To the editor:

Science in Motion at the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford brings high-tech science equipment and science educators to 35 schools in the region, including Austin and Cameron County, as well as alternative education and homeschooled children.

It's an extraordinary program that takes high-tech science equipment and knowledgeable staff to underserved schools. However, Science in Motion has not been funded in the governor's proposed budget.

The program gives students the opportunity to participate in labs they otherwise wouldn't be able to experience because their schools can't afford it. Our program eliminates the need for multiple school districts to purchase the same expensive equipment.

Teachers choose from a list of more than 200 experiments, so they can align laboratory activities with their current curricula.

Operating on a shoestring budget, Pitt-Bradford's program reached more than 37,500 students this year. The labs and materials would have cost the districts $750,000. Instead, it cost them nothing, and instructors received valuable support from a Science in Motion educator.

How can we inspire students to want to be the next generation of doctors, engineers, inventors, scientists, science teachers, and other critical professionals if they never have the chance to use laboratory tools? Science, technology, innovation, and invention have the greatest potential to affect the economic development and health of our region.

Our legislators are fighting for many worthwhile programs this budget cycle, but we hope that they and the governor's office in Harrisburg are forward-minded enough to understand how much Science in Motion will help Pennsylvania's economy for years to come.

James Baldwin, Director

Science in Motion

Pitt-Bradford

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