Skip to content
Link copied to clipboard

Happy Earth Day -- you're totally fracked

Today's Earth Day -- KYW informed me that I was supposed to have a picnic. Of course, they informed me this in the middle of a driving, sustained rainstorm, but why let that get in the way of a good story. Anyway, no one knows how to celebrate Earth Day, albeit a day late, better than Mitt Romney. He's off to South Park (pictured at top):

Mitt Romney, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee for the Republican Party, will visit Consol Energy Inc.'s research and development center in South Park Monday, according to the Romney campaign website.

Romney's visit will include remarks by former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge, who has endorsed the former Massachusetts governor.

On Saturday evening, Consol spokeswoman Lynn Seay said Romney plans to visit the facility at 8:55 a.m. Monday.

Romney, who supports a reduction of impediments to coal and natural gas development, and Ridge will speak at Consol's research facility on Brownsville Road, one of the largest private research and development facilities in the industry that is devoted exclusively to coal and energy use production.

How very presumptive of Romney. Of course, Ridge until recently was the main lobbyist for the fracking industry here in Pennsylvania. Consol Energy wants to remove impediments like the ones that didn't stop it from killing tons of fish in the Dunkard Creek, in the same corner of Pennsylvania as South Park. Maybe they'll set some tap water on fire, in honor of Earth Day plus One.

Meanwhile, you might think that water companies would be on the side of clean water in Pennsylvania. Uh, maybe not:

Two of the country's largest private water utility companies are participants in a massive lobbying effort to expand controversial shale gas drilling — a heavy industrial activity that promises to enrich the water companies but may also put drinking water resources at risk.

The situation — which some watchdogs describe as a troubling conflict of interest — underscores the complex issues raised by the nationwide push to privatize infrastructure and services like water, prisons, and roads.

The water companies – American Water and Aqua America – are leading drinking water suppliers in Pennsylvania, where drilling is booming. They also sell water to gas companies — which use a drilling technique that requires massive amounts of water — and have expressed interest in treating drilling wastewater, a potentially lucrative opportunity.

These investor-owned, publicly traded water utility companies are also dues-paying "associate members" of the gas industry's powerful Marcellus Shale Coalition, a fact confirmed by coalition spokesman Travis Windle, who says associate members pay $15,000 annually in dues. "Our associate members are really the backbone of the industry," adds Windle.

Of course, Bryn Mawr-based Aqua America is the outfit that's also rousting folks from the trailer park to accelerate fracking in rural Pa., so...there's that. Who can you trust to advocate for the environment? The Discovery Channel? Ha! Republican governors? Don't think so (remember, we started with Romney and Ridge).

Turns out the earth isn't a very effective special interest group. Maybe it should hire Tom Ridge -- he's always always available...for a price.