Major University Forces Incoming Freshmen to Read Pro-Fracking Propaganda & Give Essay Winners $100 Prize?

UPDATE: I am getting some questions from people on the fact that this book was to create a dialogue.  It should, and it should be balanced.  Here are some concerns with this though.  Terry Engelder has a financial stake in the industry as a private consultant.  He has compared himself and the work that he has done to the likes of Jonas Salk, who cured polio, and Louis Pasteur.  The University was also caught failing to disclose natural gas funders for a report on natural gas drilling.

Penn State University is once again attracting the ire of the environmental community.  This time, the university if forcing incoming freshman to read “The Boom: How Fracking Ignited the American Energy Revolution & Changed the World” by Russell Gold, an energy reporter at the Wall Street Journal.

According to a video posted on the Penn State Reads website, the program will be a student’s “first sanctioned experience with the university.”  The video is narrated by Terry Engelder, who is no stranger to fracking activists.  In 2012, I reported on a slideshow authored by Engelder that compared toxic chemicals found in a polluted aquifer to what you would find in a bowl of Wheaties.  Yes, Wheaties.

Students who read the book, will then have the opportunity to write an essay on the book and then the top two go-getters will win a $100 Amazon gift card and meet the book’s author.

The website reads:

Penn State Reads invites first-year students to participate in an essay contest in order to further engage with the themes of the 2015 Penn State Reads selection, The Boom by Russell Gold. Responses to one of the prompts will be judged based on connection to the Penn State Values, a demonstrated ability to think critically about the prompt, responsiveness to prompt, literary style and grammar. The top two submissions will be displayed on the Penn State Reads website. Winners will receive a prize of a $100 Amazon gift card as well as the opportunity to meet Gold when he is on campus October 12-14, 2015. Responses should be no longer than 1,000 words and can be submitted as an attachment to by the deadline of September 11. First year-world campus students are also invited to submit an essay to the contest.

An online petition is calling out the university for this stunt, stating:

Penn State University freshmen this year will be required to read Russell Gold’s pro-fracking book, “The Boom: How Fracking Ignited the American Energy Revolution and Changed the World”, as part of the school’s Penn State Reads program. They’ll even be able to win cash prizes for the essays they write on what they’ve learned! Then, in mid-October, Mr. Gold will spend a few days on campus to speak with students and lecture.

Penn State University is nothing if not loyal to the fracking industry!

Please sign and share our petition calling on Penn State to do a whole lot better by their students by scrapping “The Boom” from its reading program and breaking ties with the fossil fuels industry for good!




Liked it? Take a second to support us on Patreon!
About Sean Kitchen 681 Articles
Contributor and Assistant Editor for the Raging Chicken Press. Stationed in Harrisburg covering politics in the capitol. You can send tips to or reach me on twitter at @RCPress_Sean!
Contact: Twitter

1 Comment on Major University Forces Incoming Freshmen to Read Pro-Fracking Propaganda & Give Essay Winners $100 Prize?

  1. At least one person in the PSU Sustainability Institute is trying to define this issue as one of censorship and intellectual freedom. Alleging that the petition seeks to ban a book. This is not the case. The outrage (over 3000 people have signed the petition) stems from Penn State’s use of its enormous control over incoming freshmen to require them to read a biased account of fracking in PA. Dr. Engelder’s presentation video on the Penn State Reads website is unabashedly one-sided and his ending comment “we are Penn State” gives incoming Freshmen the not-so-subtle message that pro-fracking is what Penn State is about these days. Penn State refuses to Divest from Fossil Fuel investments, gets huge oil and gas donations and lots of revenue, in tuition payments, from students enrolled in its petroleum and gas engineering majors. With big money in the picture, the integrity of Pennsylvania’s largest institution of higher education is ebbing away. Please sign the petition (link above).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.