Invitation from The Center for Rural Pennsylvania to Bloomsburg University to Join the Ranks of Frack-U

Posted to Bloomsburg University faculty as if it were simply one more grant opportunity, The Center for Rural Pennsylvania–effectively an agent of Governor Corbett’s mission to sell off Pennsylvania to the natural gas extraction industries–offers BU professors the following:

The Center for Rural Pennsylvania(http://www.rural.palegislature.us/ ) is interested in working with faculty to study the potential for increased residential, commercial and industrial natural gas distribution infrastructure by Pennsylvania’s public utilities to un-served and underserved areas of the Commonwealth.   The Center wants to identify interested faculty and institutions whom they may have further conversations with leading to proposal submissions.  I have been asked to  help in recommending potential faculty and institutional resources.
I have been asked to identify any faculty, department chairs, extension folks, survey research institutes that would then be contacted by staff from The Center to further explore their interests. There is a specific need for  people to help design the survey instrument, to actually conduct the survey research (determine best method for response – phone, internet, mail), conduct regional focus group sessions, and some survey response analysis.
There is a need to quickly collect and analyze information to:

·       Estimate the demand for natural gas service in un-served and underserved areas of the Commonwealth

·       Estimate the price consumers are willing to pay for access or conversion to natural gas service

·       Identify any regional differences in consumer demand and willingness to pay for natural gas service

·       Identify other economic information on the costs and benefits to extend natural gas distribution infrastructure
Work must be done on a fast track with completed projects concluded by July 8, 2013 .
Please forward any interest to MaryKandray Gelenser (gelensermk@rural.palegislature.us<mailto:gelensermk@rural.palegislature.us>) or Barry Denk (denkb@rural.palegislature.us<mailto:denkb@rural.palegislature.us>) by February 28, 2013.

I posted this response to “All Faculty” at BU

The Center for Rural Pennsylvania–in the context of this “initiative request”–is a pro-fracking, Pennsylvania State government financed, industry front group that pretends–very much like the Marcellus Shale Coalition–to be an agency whose interests are in insuring the welfare, safety, and property rights of rural Pennsylvanians. This is flatly false–and we ought not as a university community have anything to do with them. This organization fronts for the gas industry as an avenue for securing leases. They are also responsible for promoting fake studies that imply that fracking is not and will never be responsible for the contamination of well water–but the facts plainly put the lie to this claim.

Such offers are a strategy of the industry to utilize university legitimacy and university faculty as effective cover and legitimation for “studies” which are in fact promotions of the fracking industry.

For examples of what happens to a university’s credibility when it goes down the path now commonly referred to as “Frack-U” we need only look to

Penn State–widely and embarrassingly discredited for their deliberate failure to disclose industry money that funded the “study” which gave effective birth to the Marcellus Shale rush via now discredited Geoscience Professor, Terry Engelder.

SUNY Buffalo: http://www.google.com/search?client=safari&rls=en&q=univeristy+studies+link+frackijng+to+drinking+water+contamination&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8#hl=en&client=safari&rls=en&q=university+studies+link+fracking+to+drinking+water+contamination&spell=1&sa=X&ei=om8tUabXGbKJ0QG364CIDQ&ved=0CC8QvwUoAA&bav=on.2,or.r_gc.r_pw.r_cp.r_qf.&bvm=bv.42965579,d.dmQ&fp=1491259a5530d5e3&biw=1283&bih=851

University of Texas–Austin: http://stateimpact.npr.org/texas/2012/12/06/review-of-ut-fracking-study-finds-failure-to-disclose-conflict-of-interest/

If we take up this offer, we will become another Frack-U.

Their the TCRP “study,” “The Impact of Marcellus Gas Drilling on Rural Drinking Water” (http://www.iogawv.com/resources/Docs/Marcellus-drinking-water-2011.pdf) was funded by a grant from TCRP whose natural gas driven board of directors is dominated by legislators whose campaigns were funded by the gas industry. This includes particularly

Gene Yaw–whose welcome of TCRP to Williamsport was sponsored by Anadarko: “On Thursday, September 29th, the Center will also be touring a natural gas drilling operation in Lycoming County sponsored by Anadarko Petroleum.” Gene Yaw also welcomed Scott Chesebro and Mary Wolf of Anadarko Petroleum to be board members of TCRP. Anadarko is currently planning to conduct fracking operations in Loyalsock State Forest, Rock Run, Old Logger’s Path: (http://www.alleghenyfront.org/story/center-boom-pennsylvania-forest-balance).

Garth Everett–Also supports Anadarko plans for drilling in Loyalsock state forest: http://responsibledrillingalliance.org/index.php/education/forest-fragmentation/391-proprietary-plans-on-public-land

Both receive substantial campaign contributions from the natural gas industry. Please see:

http://citizensvoice.com/news/site-tracks-shale-industry-campaign-spending-1.1021359
http://www.marcellus-shale.us/political-contributions.htm#2010

They also voted for Act 13 that trades an at least modestly meaningful severance tax for the far less economically remunerative impact fee offered to municipalities in exchange for their giving up ALL say on drilling activities within their borders–Act 13 which gags physicians preventing them from telling their patients the quantity and the mix of fracking toxins exposure to which made them sick.

TCRP is routinely sited by Energy in Depth–one of the most notoriously dirty propaganda machines in the shale fields–as an authoritative source for pro-fracking industry groups: http://www.energyindepth.org/impact-of-marcellus-gas-drilling-on-rural-drinking-water-supplies/.
TCRP is lauded by Chesapeake: http://www.lngworldnews.com/chesapeake-pennsylvania-state-agency-report-finds-no-major-influence-from-gas-well-drilling-on-drinking-water-usa/
And Cabot: http://www.cabotog.com/pdfs/MethaneUnrelatedtoFracturing.pdf

The facts are that fracking poses a serious threat to drinking water, and that this is well-established by responsible science:

http://www.desmogblog.com/2012/09/29/usgs-fracking-study-confirms-methane-contamination-drinking-water-pavillion-wyoming
http://www.npr.org/2011/12/08/143386908/epa-connects-fracking-with-water-contamination
http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-10-02/cabot-s-methodology-links-tainted-water-wells-to-gas-fracking.html
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/04/us/04natgas.html?pagewanted=all
http://www.propublica.org/article/scientific-study-links-flammable-drinking-water-to-fracking
http://www.naturalgaswatch.org/?p=381
http://www.timesonline.com/news/local_news/heavy-metals-study-links-water-contamination-to-fracking/article_7231c57e-7aa5-5d27-af53-1e9d5d2cff82.html
http://cleantechnica.com/2012/08/09/new-reports-link-fracking-to-earthquakes-and-water-pollution-riisks/

And that is just the tip of the iceberg for a state confronted by the prospect of 200,000 fracked wells–and all of the necessary infrastructure–by 2016.

Now to the offer itself. The language is a betrayal of TCRP’s motives: “is interested in working with faculty to study the potential for increased residential, commercial and industrial natural gas distribution infrastructure by Pennsylvania’s public utilities to un-served and underserved areas of the Commonwealth.”

Translation: TCRP is interested in using state university faculty to develop ways of increasing the profitability of natural gas production and use among rural Pennsylvanians. We want to sell more natural gas to more rural Pennsylvanian residents and businesses, and thereby have increased justification for more fracking.” The only thing surprising about this language is how bald it is. This is nothing but Frack-U–and every bit of it, as the language makes patently clear–presupposes the continuation of a method of fossil fuel extraction that on compelling evidence poses serious hazards to the health, environment, and communities of the Commonwealth.
I don’t oppose fracking to be controversial. I oppose fracking because from cradle to grave–from frack pad to water withdrawal (4-12 millions gallons of permanent damage per frack) to dehydrator to compressor station to waste pit to waste processing plant (like the one proposed for inner city Sunbury), fracking contributes massively to climate change, undermines communities, property rights, and municipalities, and threatens to convert Pennsylvania into an industrial wasteland.

Let us say NO to The Center for Rural Pennsylvania–no to becoming the next Frack-U.

Wendy Lynne Lee

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