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Penn. Governor Greenlights Fracking on College Campuses

Environment  (tags: animals, climate-change, CO2emissions, destruction, ecosystems, endangered, environment, globalwarming, greenhousegases, habitatdestruction, healthconditions, politics, pollution, science )

- 1088 days ago -
Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett thinks state colleges should be tapping in to one of their greatest assets. Youthful energy? No. Great minds? No. Shale gas!

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Kit B. (276)
Friday October 12, 2012, 7:28 pm
(Photo by: Charlotte Bodak/ Central Michigan Life)

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett thinks state colleges should be tapping in to one of their greatest assets. Youthful energy? No. Great minds? No. Shale gas!

This week the governor signed into law the Indigenous Mineral Resource Development Act, which allows the state to make and execute contracts for the "mining or removal of coal, oil, natural gas, coal bed methane and limestone found in or beneath land owned by the state or state system of higher education." As the governor of a state that has wholeheartedly embraced shale oil and gas production, his hope is that this bill will have coeds cheering 'bring on the fracking!'

Corbett first suggested campus exploitation as a means of revenue last year when he said that schools "could ease their financial woes by tapping into Marcellus shale deposits beneath their campuses," reported the Erie Times News. This brainstorm came after Corbett's 2011 budget slashed funding for the 14 schools under Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) by 18 percent. (The same budget included a $1.7 billion tax break for Shell in an attempt to beguile them to build a new refinery in Western Penn.)

Though the law applies to all the schools within the PSSHE, the six that that sit atop the Marcellus Shale are likely the most economically viable. The act (PDF) is certainly lucrative, with "50 percent of all fees and royalties from the mineral leases [] retained by the university where those minerals are mined, 35 percent [] distributed across the state system, and another 15 percent [] towards subsidizing student tuition."

However, that windfall disregards the great environmental and health risks associated with shale gas production. Environmentalists and educators are already clamoring about student risk, exposing them to known carcinogens and harms that include explosions, water contamination and air pollution.

The concern is compounded because of Pennsylvania's lousy regulation record. According to the PennEnvironment Research and Policy Center, between 2008 and 2011 drilling companies racked up a total of 2,392 violations of environmental law that pose a direct threat to the environment and safety of communities in Pennsylvania. Meanwhile, in 2010, the state let 82,602 active wells go uninspected.

The sliver of silver lining is that, under the Indigenous Mineral Resources Development Act, presidents of the state universities must provide written authorization to allow drilling on campus. This leaves open the opportunity for students and community members to rally and petition their university heads.

Mother Jones writes:
"Professor Bob Myers, who runs the Environmental Studies program at Lock Haven University, one of the schools at the edge of the Marcellus, says he understands the school system's economic concerns. Still, he's horrified at the prospect that PASSHE might install rigs near students. "I've become extremely concerned, disturbed, and disgusted by the environmental consequences of fracking," Myers says. "They've had explosions, tens of thousands of gallons of chemicals spilled. And we're going to put this on campus?"

Pennsylvania campuses are not the only ones under duress. A number of schools in West Virginia have already leased their land to fracking companies and Ohio has passed similar laws. The University of Texas also collects revenue from natural gas well pads on campus.

"We gave [the fossil fuel industry] carte blanche to the state," Professor Myers lamented to Mother Jones. "And it's just because Pennsylvania needed the money."

Common Dreams Staff | Common Dreams


Bill K. (14)
Friday October 12, 2012, 7:34 pm
hopefully next election we'll do to corbett what we did to santorum

Dave C. (235)
Friday October 12, 2012, 7:37 pm
Please Pennsylvania put health of students before $$$$, put the correct purpose of college into being and get rid of Corbett!!!!!

JL A. (287)
Friday October 12, 2012, 9:20 pm
You cannot currently send a star to Bill because you have done so within the last week. You cannot currently send a star to Dave because you have done so within the last week.

And I have this weird vision of a sinkhole swallowing up entire campuses...could be metaphoric or could be physical reality--only time will tell if any president chooses to place the money over the lives, health and futures of the students and faculty and staff/

Vallee R. (270)
Saturday October 13, 2012, 7:00 am
Dave - the globalist's don't care about our health - actually the opposite - I know they are fracking around where I live in Colorado but say nothing. I have to get my water from Walmart (Culligan) - can't drink tap water any more - and then we get water reports yearly saying that the amount of barium is OK - NO amount of barium is OK - then all the chem-trailing the same - could go on and on ....

TomCat S. (215)
Saturday October 13, 2012, 8:06 am
Talk about InsaniTEA!!!

Barbara K. (67)
Saturday October 13, 2012, 11:07 am
What a stupid idea. Hope they can get rid of their moronic governor soon.

Taylor Bob (0)
Saturday October 13, 2012, 12:30 pm

Anna Undebeck (256)
Saturday October 13, 2012, 1:24 pm
Grrrrr........ Thanks for sharing.

ewoud k. (71)
Saturday October 13, 2012, 1:52 pm
"Money makes the world go 'round" they say, but the day will come that (Big) Money will stop this world as we know it. Still going around maybe, but dead.

Thanks Kit!

Janet R. (37)
Saturday October 13, 2012, 2:28 pm
What an idiot. I hope the voters of PA get rid of this short-sighting loser. I do hope the college kids stand up for their rights.

Nimue Pendragon (321)
Saturday October 13, 2012, 3:54 pm
What a Richard Cranium.

. (0)
Saturday October 13, 2012, 5:20 pm
This is such a crazy idea, I do hope he gets voted out before he can implement his plans, beacuse they would be disastrous. Thanks Kit

Lois Jordan (61)
Saturday October 13, 2012, 7:15 pm
Terrible! Bankrupt the cities and towns by gambling their money away on Wall St. Steal the pensions and retirement funds in the same way while crashing the housing market. Then, show up on people's doorstep and offer them desperately needed money while poisoning their land and water, causing their early death so they don't collect Social Security. Sounds like an evil plan to me. I hope somebody gets to the bottom of it and the people running this Medieval show are guillotined.

Pamela C. (75)
Saturday October 13, 2012, 10:21 pm
I hope the students are able to stop this.

Susanne R. (249)
Saturday October 13, 2012, 11:37 pm
That's one helluva governor they've got in Pennsylvania! He "slashed funding for 14 schools under the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education by 18%" and, in that same budget, "provided a $1.7 billion tax break for Shell in an attempt to beguile them to build a new refinery in Western Pennsylvania."

He knew exactly what he was doing. He's not serving his constituency; he's a shill for Big Energy! The students, teachers and staff who will be exposed to the potentially life-threatening effects of hydraulic fracturing have every right to call Corbett a fracking idiot. He sold them out.

Frans Badenhorst (573)
Monday October 15, 2012, 5:28 am
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