Governor Corbett “Proposes” Fracking To Cover State University Funding Shortfalls

Governor Tom Corbett’s 2012 budget includes steep cuts to education and a 50 percent reduction in aid to colleges and universities. Corbett suggests our state schools alleviate their fiscal shortfalls by fracking for gas on their campuses. Mansfield University, Lock Haven University, Indiana University of Pennsylvania, and California University of Pennsylvania all sit atop the gas-producing Marcellus Shale. Two others, Clarion University and Slippery Rock are “within range.”

On May 13, 2011, Penn State University President Graham Spanier announced tentative plans to create a new Center for Natural Gas Engineering, one that would “strengthen our capabilities to support the development of the Marcellus Shale.”

The following article appeared in The Philadelphia Inquirer on May 1, 2011.

SOURCE: philly.com

Out West, campus gas wells not new

In Texas and Okla., Gov. Corbett’s idea for Pa. state colleges in the Marcellus Shale wouldn’t shock.

May 01, 2011|By Amy Worden and Angela Couloumbis, Inquirer Harrisburg Bureau

HARRISBURG – The reactions ranged from startled to silly. Was Gov. Corbett serious when he said Thursday that Pennsylvania college campuses situated over the Marcellus Shale could be opened to natural gas drilling?

Environmentalists conjured images of dirty, dangerous drill rigs sprawling across campus quadrangles. In newspaper website comment fields, readers asked, “Is he joking?”

Corbett was not joking.

An upstate legislator has already crafted a bill that would allow campus drilling. Preliminary talks with school officials have begun. And there is a model to work from: Oil and gas wells are nothing new on campuses and other public spaces out West.

Natural gas wells drilled in 2009 are generating millions in royalties for the University of Texas in Arlington. Multistory oil derricks sit just outside the front door of the state capitol in Oklahoma City. Even in the western end of Pennsylvania, where the modern oil industry was born, Indiana University of Pennsylvania once powered its campus with natural gas from four wells.

Now Corbett, who wants to lift a moratorium on expanded gas drilling in state forests and open prison property to drilling, says the Marcellus Shale natural gas reserve could be a boon to state-supported colleges.

Those are the same schools whose funding he proposes to cut 50 percent to help offset the state’s $4 billion deficit.

On Thursday, near Erie, in a speech to trustees from the 14 universities in the state system, Corbett said it was time to consider opening land to drilling on the six campuses within the shale reserve.

He reiterated the point Friday during a visit to the other end of the state.

Corbett, speaking to reporters after a tour of Chester Community Charter School, called drilling on campuses a “commonsense” move for a college if it had adequate room.

“I will tell you, we are looking at the prisons of Pennsylvania and the land that they have,” he added.

Kenn Marshall, spokesman for the State System of Higher Education, said preliminary discussions had been taking place about using gas drilling to generate revenue for the system’s universities.

Four of those schools are directly atop the shale: Mansfield, Lock Haven, Indiana University of Pennsylvania, and California. Two others, Clarion and Slippery Rock, are on the edges of the reserve.


  •   Natural gas drilling operations, such as this one in Chartiers Township, Washington County, have proliferated in the Marcellus Shale formation in Pennsylvania. Gov. Corbett wants to expand them to state forests, prisons, and colleges.
Natural gas drilling operations, such as this one in Chartiers Township, Washington County, have…
  •   Natural gas drilling operations, such as this one in Chartiers Township, Washington County, have proliferated in the Marcellus Shale formation in Pennsylvania. Gov. Corbett wants to expand them to state forests, prisons, and colleges.
  •   Gov. Corbett wants to open more state lands to drilling.
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