The Keystone Energy Forum (KEF), an alliance of the American Petroleum Institute (API) and the Pennsylvania Independent Oil and Gas Association (PIOGA), was rolled out recently to disseminate “factual” information about Marcellus Shale drilling activities in Pennsylvania.

API and PIOGA last month announced plans to launch the alliance (see Shale Daily, Jan. 21).

“The Keystone Energy Forum is designed as a venue for concerned citizens, coalition groups and partners who are committed to improving the public’s understanding of, and support for, both the many opportunities and challenges presented by the Marcellus Shale natural gas development here in Pennsylvania,” said KEF Director Bill Stewart.

The KEF plans to focus on the state’s energy production, part of API’s coordinated nationwide program on oil and natural gas priority issues. The state forum is to serve as a resource for “making local opinions count,” it said.

“We have experts working throughout the state, speaking directly with our fellow Pennsylvanians to bring verifiable facts to the conversation on energy in the commonwealth,” Stewart said.

“Promoting informed dialogue is the only way to ensure that our elected officials can create sound policies to promote a strong economy and energy security. Part of this dialogue includes a lot of listening. We want to hear from all citizens, coalition groups and partners who are being directly and indirectly affected by the development of Marcellus Shale.”

Ted Onufrak, president of the Pennsylvania Federation of Sportsmen Clubs, said his group had been working with API and PIOGA since the end of last year. The groups, he said, had been “very responsive to our needs and our questions regarding responsible energy development and that interaction with Pennsylvania’s rich sporting heritage.”

In addition to educating sports and conservation groups, KEF is expected to help the investment community make “smarter financial decisions,” said Nick DiFrancesco, president of the Pennsylvania Association of Community Bankers.

“The development of the natural gas industry in Pennsylvania presents unique challenges to our commonwealth’s community banks,” he said, because member institutions “will finance the housing, infrastructure and business needs of this booming industry…”