On Friday, I attended a Marcellus Shale Forum, which featured presentations on a variety of issues, including methane migration, water disposal, and drilling safety. Contrary to some popular belief, industry professionals were very concerned about being more accessible to landowners and the public. And many expressed their respect for Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) regulators, and recounted positive experiences with the agency.
So if one of the strictest environmental regulation agencies (DEP) and gas companies are getting along, why is there so much anti-drilling sentiment in Pennsylvania?
Tom Murphy of Penn State’s Cooperate Extension explained that most Pennsylvanians get their Marcellus Shale information from the media. Besides the media’s tendency for sensationalism, reporters are often ill-educated about the subject, as they are rarely afforded opportunities to tour drilling sites and do not possess the scientific knowledge necessary to separate legitimate concerns from unfounded suspicions.
Greg Wrightstone also addressed the problem of large and powerful donors who are simply against any industrialization of rural areas, regardless of the actual risks. Specifically, he mentioned groups like ProPublica and EarthWorks. Funded by famously extreme environmentalists including George Soros, and Herbert & Marion Sandler. These groups are capitalizing on fear of the unknown to stymie the largest economic boom in a generation.
The DEP, educational organizations like CF, and drilling companies have a long way to go to counteract much of the bad science and sensational claims distorting public opinion of natural gas drilling in the Keystone State.