And Now They Want to Frack Your College
Governor Tom Corbett signed Senate Bill 367, the Mineral Resource Development Act, last week. The new law will allow 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.” Or, in laymen’s terms: Your college campus can now be fracked. Congratulations.
All those cuts Gov. Corbett laid on the state college system earlier this year? Well, this is his way of giving back to the community, in a weird, sociopathic sort of way. According to the bill’s language, 50 percent of all fees and royalties generated through university fracking drills will be left for each specific host school. 35 percent will be sent through the state system and 15 percent will be allocated for tuition subsidies.
After proposing massive cuts for higher education last year, the governor told the Erie Times that schools “could ease their financial woes by tapping into Marcellus shale deposits beneath their campuses.” In 2011, the governor’s budget cut higher education funding by 18 percent—and also included a $1.7 billion tax break for Shell, because, you know, jobs.
Hey, he’s just trying to help.
The process of hydraulic-fracturing the earth to milk it of natural gas, fracking has been criticized by environmentalists as unsafe. Many believe fracking has led to tainted water and, perhaps, an uptick in earthquakes. The bill echoes similar laws in West Virginia, Ohio and Texas, where fracking on college campuses is already happening.
The new law comes on the heels of Corbett’s recent firing of Pennsylvania’s state parks director, who had recently opposed plans to mine a park in Southwestern Pennsylvania for limestone. State Rep. Mike O’Brien of Philadelphia notes in a recent statement: “Our state just might be ready for a new slogan: ‘Welcome natural resource taking corporate donors. To hell with everyone else.’”