Sunday, March 11, 2012

Drilling industry paying Penn State to train regulators

Chesapeake Energy drilling site above  Susquehanna River - Patriot News

The natural gas industry has valuable technological knowledge to share, but should it be entrusted with training Pennsylvania environmental regulators who oversee drilling operations?

Between 2000 and 2010, industry participants donated more than $3.4 million to influence elected Pennsylvania officials. Now it is paying to train policy makers and regulators who oversee industry operations in the state's Marcellus Shale region.

The (Harrisburg) Patriot-News
reports that
ExxonMobil and GE will be investing $1 million each to establish new training programs at Penn State and two other universities--
the University of Texas at Austin and the Colorado School of Mines

A Penn State press release says that the new training programs will “ensure that regulators and policymakers have access to the latest technological and operational expertise to assist in their oversight of shale development.” 

Penn State’s Marcellus Center for Outreach and Research will offer a new “Shale Gas Regulators Training Program” to provide “best-practices training” to people who oversee the drilling industry.

Is this good news for the environment?

The center’s co-director, Tom Murphy, said in a press release the program will “offer new regulators the chance to learn the latest science-based concepts related to geology, petroleum technology and environmental quality.” 

While acknowledging that the program was sponsored with industry cash, Murphy insists that the Marcellus Center “is definitely not funded by industry.” 

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