Penn State Prof Hits Back at Philadelphia City Council Over Shale Drilling

Natural_Gas_FrackingPenn State Professor of Geosciences Michael A. Arthur has released a statement titled “Philadelphia City Council Misses Mark on Natural Gas” which is in direct response to last Thursday’s unanimous-but-non-binding City Council vote which looked toward imposing a moratorium on gas drilling in the Delaware River Basin.

It was seen as a bipartisan issue downtown. Or, at least as bipartisan as City Council can be, since, well, let’s not get into that right now. The bill looked toward holding off on drilling “until both the EPA (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency) hydraulic fracturing risks study and the cumulative impact studies specific to the Delaware River Basin are completed.”

As we reported here, the resolution soon became tri-partisan, as the Green Party of Philadelphia was all about it, too.

Belinda Davis, acting GPOP treasurer, who attended Council’s hearing in September, hailed the moratorium on fracking. She urged Council “to reinforce their important ban in their vote on additional recommendations. My children’s health and that of millions of others is in their hands.”

But Arthur isn’t joining the stroke brigade. The professor, in addition to his development of young minds from across the Keystone State and beyond, is both a geochemist and sedimentary geologist and has won several awards for his work. He therefore probably knows a little more about the issue than, say, Jack Kelly. Excerpts from Arthur’s press release are below [Emphasis mine]:

Practically all U.S. natural gas development involves hydraulic fracturing, so it would be very difficult for consumers to discriminate specific natural gas sources because many are melded into gas storage fields or in transmission pipelines immediately following production.

“Natural gas has been developed in Pennsylvania for more than 100 years, and there have been more than 350,000 oil and gas wells drilled here—but Philadelphia has never previously considered a ban.

“People need to know that natural gas is a critical resource in a greener energy portfolio that reduces our carbon footprint and promotes energy independence. The hundreds of trillion cubic feet of extractable natural gas in our state alone are sufficient to provide more than 20 years supply at the United States’ current rate of consumption. Moreover, recent advances in technology enable us to reach these deep shale gas resources with a smaller environmental footprint.

[...]

The Philadelphia City Council needs to understand how integral natural gas is to the Commonwealth and how a significant portion of the city’s homes, businesses and industries are powered by natural gas. Given the importance of natural gas, I hope the city council will reconsider and support the further development of this important domestic resource.”

It was known by everyone, including City Council, that City Council’s position meant nothing. And we assume Governor Tom Corbett’s now got a nice scientific mind to quote when the time comes. All he needs is a Friedmanian economist somewhere in Pennsylvania so he can make the argument through someone else that taxing profits made on the Shale is also a bad thing.

Gruesome image: Cleantechnica

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