The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA


July 2, 2013

Public trust means little

Article 1, Section 27 of the Pennsylvania State Constitution states "the people have a right to clean air, pure water and to the preservation of the natural, scenic, historic and esthetic values of the environment. Pennsylvania's public natural resources are the common property of all the people, including generations yet to come. As trustee of these resources, the Commonwealth shale conserve and maintain them for the benefit of all the people."

The Pennsylvania Environmental Defense Foundation has petitioned the Commonwealth Court to intervene in legislation approved by Governor Tom Corbett in 2009 and 2010 that ordered the leasing of state forest lands to the natural gas industry in order to raise money to balance the state budget. The legal action was taken because this leasing of the state's land threatens to have a huge impact on these lands that are protected by the Pennsylvania state constitution.

The Republican caucuses of both the Senate and House have petitioned the Commonwealth court to intervene in the action brought against the governor. Public trust it seems means little to these caucuses. They wish to continue to fleece our public lands as a continuing source of revenue. It is almost beyond belief that in their petition they argue that Article 1, Section 21 of the state constitution can and should be ignored whenever it is decided by the legislature to lease more land.

Hypocrisy again rules the day for these caucuses. This party always argues for the strict interpretation of the U.S. Constitution, but now thinks we should ignore our state's constitution when they find it convenient. Don't they know that no Pennsylvania law can be in violation of the Pennsylvania state constitution? The simple fact is that these elected officials are not conservatives. They are more concerned with the profits of the gas corporations than with the rights of the citizens of this state. They again have demonstrated that they are first and foremost corporatists. Whether you approve of the gas exploitation of our state, I hope you take issue with this attempt to circumvent Pennsylvania's constitution.

Jack D. Miller, Middleburg

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