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April 06, 2012

Colleges to Get Fracked Up?

PA drill site2webIs the next frontier for natural gas fracking college campuses? It’s very possible, according to a recent article from EnergyWire. Ohio is just one example of the latest college natural gas drilling attempts: 

This summer, public universities across Ohio will submit detailed land inventories to the state, letting the government know which of their properties are available for drilling.

The state-mandated inventory is an effort to open more Ohio lands to oil and gas development as drillers flock to the Buckeye State to mine gas from the Utica Shale.

But are the risks of water pollution worth it to maybe get help with tuition?

It is "not unreasonable" to think that income earned from leases could be used by the state for scholarships, for example, said Donna Goss, (Ohio University) director of engagement and real estate management.

But critics say now may not be the best time for schools to look into leasing. With natural gas prices at an all-time low, many individual landowners are holding out for better contracts and higher revenues, Sierra Club's Nardone said. As they wait for prices to rebound, potential leaseholders have time to study fracturing's impacts.

It might behoove schools to take a similar tack, (Deb) Nardone (Director of the Sierra Club Natural Gas Reform Campaign) said.

Ohio University and the Athens, Ohio, area are a definite ground zero right now in the fight over natural gas and fracking, with many in the community speaking out loudly against the development

Ohio's not alone in natural gas companies seeking out public university property for drilling – Pennsylvania and Texas are also popular places.

But as I said in the EnergyWire article - natural gas is still a dirty, dangerous fossil fuel. Instead of investing in renewable energy, these states are reverting back to an old 19th-century practice with minimal oversight.

-- Deb Nardone, Director of the Sierra Club Natural Gas Reform Campaign


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