Penn State Extension shale-gas educator appointed to state pipeline panel

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- A Penn State Extension educator has been appointed by Gov. Tom Wolf to participate on the Pennsylvania Pipeline Infrastructure Task Force.

David Messersmith, of Honesdale, Wayne County, a shale-gas and a field and forage crops specialist, will represent agricultural interests on the panel.

The group of experts and stakeholders, which will be chaired by Department of Environmental Protection Secretary John Quigley, will recommend policies, guidelines and best practices to guide the anticipated and unprecedented build-out of pipeline infrastructure expected to take place across Pennsylvania during the next decade.

"Pipeline expansion is important to our economy and growing energy sector," Gov. Wolf said. "We will work together to make sure that this important infrastructure can be developed effectively and responsibly with consideration for the environment, residents and local communities."

The task force is made up of representatives from state agencies, the Legislature, federal and local governments, the pipeline and natural gas industries and environmental groups. Experts were drawn from across the state and country.

Messersmith was pleased to be asked to speak for agriculture on the task force. "There is an abundance of pipeline development occurring on agricultural land across the state," he said. "I want to bring the concerns of agricultural landowners to the discussion."

Quigley noted that Gov. Wolf has charged the task force with crafting an innovative, collaborative and responsible approach to pipeline development that balances environmental protection with economic opportunity. "Through smart planning, Pennsylvania can experience economic prosperity, achieve energy security, and protect the environment and communities," Quigley said.

Task force members will define a set of recommendations and best practices for: planning, siting and routing pipelines; amplifying and engaging in meaningful public participation; maximizing opportunities for predictable and efficient permitting; employing construction methods that reduce environmental and community impacts; and developing long-term operations and maintenance plans to ensure pipeline safety and integrity.

The task force will provide a report of recommendations to Gov. Wolf by February 2016.

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Last Updated July 13, 2015