But we should all be dissatisfied with the process as a whole. Although the commission opened its meeting Friday to the public, it did not release the recommendations it was voting on, which must have made the seven-hour session particularly frustrating for those who attended.
Then again, providing a vehicle for public input was never the intent of the commission; it was created by Corbett to provide recommendations for how drilling development might square with policy and with environmental concerns.
Lt. Gov Jim Cawley, who headed the panel, insisted that Corbett wanted recommendations based on science, not "emotion."
But the controversy surrounding the process of extracting natural gas from deep within the earth - which involves injecting chemicals to fracture the shale that then releases the gas - does tend to get people pretty emotional, especially those who live in, or are drinking the water of, the regions where drilling is concentrated. If Corbett is afraid of emotion, he should have put a stronger emphasis on finding answers to the public health and environmental issues that gas drilling raises before going full-bore on developing the industry.
But that wasn't the job of this commission, the makeup of which guaranteed that the emphasis would be on growing the industry. The 30-member group was top-heavy with gas-industry representatives who directly or indirectly contributed about $800,000 to Corbett. Still, the fact is, their connection to the industry is clearly identified.
More insidious, and more disturbing: The 14 government members who directly or indirectly contributed more than $500,000 to Corbett. That includes acting DEP Secretary Mike Krancer, whose family members gave $306,000, and C. Alan Walker, acting secretary of Commerce and Economic Development, who contributed $106,000.
Those contributions are perfectly legal - because we live in a state with a Wild West approach to campaign finance.
But those contributions muddy the job that these officials should be doing: Are they representing the people's interest or the governor's?
(Among the five environmentalists on the commission, one person contributed $19,000. )
Of course, Corbett appointed this commission, so he could put anyone on it he wants. And we're sure the commission spent long hours reviewing the many issues around Marcellus Shale. But
we're not sure we should consider their work product to be much more than what it is: advice to Tom from a group of his friends. *