The Marcellus Shale Coalition and Governor Ridge will call it quits after one year. And the last year was one of tremendous growth for shale gas production in Pennsylvania and one full of communications, regulatory, operational, legislative, and policy challenges for the shale gas industry and the MSC.
Governor Ridge's job was not an easy one, and he did not take the path of least resistance. To his credit he delivered some tough love messages to the industry, including on the drilling tax and the need for genuine operational and environmental excellence.
But the communications environment for the industry is always intense, with enormous interest and focus on what it is doing, but not always factual or fair. The sheer volume of reporting on the industry is creating a distortion, because the comparative impacts of coal and oil are being lost. At some level no industry could look good or perhaps even survive the examination directed at natural gas.
Yet life is not always fair. When the margin for error is slim, as it is now for the gas industry, the need to be excellent in operations and communications is high. At times some in the industry have made things worse rather than better.
For example some in the industry successfully opposed in 2010 a drilling tax, and the loss of good will for the gas industry among the public as result of no drilling tax being in place is enormous. No spokesperson can prevent or undo the damage inflicted on the industry because of that issue alone over the last year.
I wish Governor Ridge all the best in his many other endeavors.