In response to a recent Keystone Politics article, Bradford County Commissioner and Lieutenant Governor candidate Mark Smith sent Keystone Politics a detailed explanation of his positions and policies with regard to Marcellus Shale.
Smith’s comments are below, in their entirety:
I wanted to take this opportunity to address an editorial recently written by Jake Sternberger on Keystone Politics. There seems to be some concern because my fiancé works for a natural gas company. This is true; however it has no bearing on my campaign for Lt. Governor. My record on natural gas development speaks for itself.
Let’s get one of Jake’s concerns about Jane out of the way. When Jane and I met we were definitely at odds with each other because of our jobs. But after we got to know each other, we realized we liked each other because of who we are as people, not because of politics or natural gas. She’s a Republican who voted for Mitt Romney, and I’m a Democrat who voted for Barack Obama. Love can be a funny thing sometimes. But, I don’t think this type of criticism directed at a candidate’s family member adds anything of value to the Democratic primary or speaks to my positions or record on these issues. If we, as Democrats, can’t stick to the issues in the primary, I don’t think it bodes well for our chances in November of 2014.
I’ve been an outspoken, progressive leader on natural gas issues for years. I have taken on the Corbett/Cawley administration, the DEP, and more recently I stood up to the local Republican majority when they opposed any tax or fee on natural gas. I helped organize local communities to make sure Bradford County didn’t have to face industry impacts without the resources to do so. I stood by Governor Rendell, in three separate press conferences, as we both fought for a severance tax to help Pennsylvania deal with the impacts of natural gas development.
I’ve worked closely with Bradford County homeowners who have been wrongly impacted by the industry. One of them, Mike Phillips wrote a letter in support of my candidacy. His letter can be found on my website at:
I didn’t go on “drilling junkets.” I traveled to Texas and New Mexico to learn about the effects of drilling on local communities, so that as a Bradford County Commissioner, I could make smart decisions based on the experiences of others. As a progressive, I believe educated decision making is in all of our best interests.
I came back from Texas and we started educating our citizens. I created Bradford County’s Natural Gas Advisory Committee to gather input from our local community and to share what we had learned from the communities that had already been experiencing natural gas development. Our county benefited greatly from our Barnett Shale learning experience. For instance, we made sure our planning department mapped everything in regard to natural gas: pipelines, water lines, wells, production, etc. Our planning department probably has the best natural gas mapping in the state. It’s all open and available to the public on Bradford County’s website. We made sure each well site was given a 911 address for first responders. These are just a few examples of the work we’ve done as result of learning from the experiences of others. I look forward to discussing these issues further as the campaign moves forward.
Many government officials and citizens now visit Bradford County to learn from our experiences. We have hosted officials from around the world. Legislators from North Carolina, including North Carolina Governor Bev Purdue, have come to the Northern Tier to learn about the Marcellus Shale. New York State officials have frequently called upon us to gain a better understanding of the impacts of the natural gas industry.
I also took part in a series of workshops in North Carolina held by the Environmental Health Collaborative. There, I joined professors from Duke University and North Carolina State University, and government officials from, North Carolina, Texas and West Virginia in focus groups designed to address the impacts of natural gas development.
I hope that Jake and others feel free to reach out to me and my campaign if you have any questions about my candidacy or record at firstname.lastname@example.org or on my website at www.marksmithforpa.com.
Bradford County Commissioner
Democrat for Lt. Governor
For more information, here are some additional background links on some of the issues and actions I mention above.
Working with Governor Rendell:
Taking on Corbett’s administration and DEP: