Changing Priorities: Science Funding Slashed Under Corbett AdministrationMembers of Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett’s administration routinely insist their Marcellus Shale drilling policy is based on science.
But documents obtained by StateImpact Pennsylvania, as well as interviews with more than a dozen people who work both inside and out of state government, highlight top-level decisions to diminish or defund drilling-related scientific research in the commonwealth. Scientists say the decline in government-funded research during the first year of the Corbett Administration leaves open questions about how animals, wildlife and the climate are affected by Pennsylvania’s drilling boom.
Emails and interviews show Corbett appointee Richard Allan, who serves as Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Secretary, oversaw significant changes to a state scientific research program and removed projects examining the impact of natural gas drilling and climate change from a recommended funding list.
Last month, Allan slashed the budget of the agency’s wildlife research program by nearly 70 percent. He did this without consulting the four-person staff responsible for vetting submitted proposals and recommending them for funding.