Petition Being Circulated in State College, PA Would Outlaw “Non-Sustainable Energy Production”

As MDN has pointed out before, much of the opposition to drilling in the Marcellus (and now Utica) Shale is motivated by a philosophical worldview by the environmental left—a worldview that opposes natural gas simply because it’s a carbon-based fuel. The latest example is an “environmental bill of rights” being pushed in State College, PA:

A movement to incorporate environmental rights — and a local hydraulic-fracturing ban — into State College borough’s home-rule charter celebrated an official kick-off Saturday, drawing at least several dozen supporters to Sidney Friedman Park.

The movement is led by Groundswell PA, a new advocacy group founded by 2011 Penn State landscape-architecture graduate Braden Crooks, 23. He said its most immediate goal is to place, on State College’s November general-election ballot, a voter referendum on an environmental bill of rights.

That proposed document, intended as a revision to the borough home-rule charter, asserts that all borough residents have a right to clean water, a right to clean air and a right to sustainable energy.

It also underscores the community’s right to self-governance and would ban any future gas drilling within borough limits. It would give rights to ecosystems — including the rights to clean water and air — and would ban any "non-sustainable energy production" in the borough, the document shows.*

In a world gone crazy, people are finding “rights” under every stone. Notice in the petition (see a copy embedded below) that young Mr. Crooks starts off on the petition by endorsing “rights” that are a given and that no one would object to: clean water (section a) and clean air (section b). Who would be against that?! But then he follows it up with a “right” to sustainable energy (section e), and in fact bans any “non-sustainable energy production” within the borough of State College (section i part 3). The fear is that while Marcellus Shale drilling is not planned for the State College area, drillers and pipeline companies and trucking companies may one day target the Utica Shale that sits beneath the area.

Once again, fear of a little-understood technology, hydraulic fracturing, is used to intimidate people into signing such petitions:

…the language in the group’s proposed ballot referendum was drafted by the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund, an advocacy group with legal expertise in the field.

One of CELDF’s community organizers, Shireen Parsons, spoke at the Groundswell kick-off on Saturday.

"We need to build democracy, and the only place to do that is at the local level," said Parsons, of Carbon County.

She said government at the federal and state levels has been bought and paid for by corporations. But as natural-gas drilling — particularly hydraulic fracturing — expands across the country, she went on, "it’s getting to the point where people are justifiably terrified" of its environmental impacts.

"This is a catastrophe that’s coming at us. This requires unusual responses," she said, asserting that hydraulic fracturing — the deep-underground gas-drilling process — is routinely connected to groundwater contamination.*

Ms. Parsons assertions are simply wrong. Hydraulic fracturing is not routinely connected to groundwater contamination. But such are the arguments used to promote the real reason that enviro-extremists object to shale gas drilling—natural gas is a “fossil fuel” that is carbon-based, and that just isn’t acceptable in their “sustainable energy” worldview.

* (Jul 3, 2011) – ‘Groundswell’ Environmental-Rights Push Kicks off in State College