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Pennsylvania Fracking Law Opens Up Drilling On College Campuses 208

Posted by Soulskill
from the freshman-hazing-just-got-entertaining dept.
PolygamousRanchKid writes with this news from MotherJones: "Last year, when Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett suggested offsetting college tuition fees by leasing parts of state-owned college campuses to natural gas drillers, more than a few Pennsylvanians were left blinking and rubbing their eyes. But it was no idle threat: After quietly moving through the state Senate and House, this week the governor signed into law a bill that opens up 14 of the state's public universities to fracking, oil drilling, and coal mining on campus. Environmentalists and educators are concerned that fracking and other resource exploitation on campus could leave students directly exposed to harms like explosions, water contamination, and air pollution."
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Pennsylvania Fracking Law Opens Up Drilling On College Campuses

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 14, 2012 @05:25AM (#41647987)

    We're not opening up the college campuses to resource exploitation. We're expanding our engineering program and our geology program. New fields of study to include Mine Safety Engineer, Gas Well Engineer, Resource Geology, Mining and Mineral Engineering, and more! Internships right on campus! Sorry for the coal dust on the windows.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 14, 2012 @05:40AM (#41648039)

      Medical pathology students could also benefit from this.

    • I can just see it now:
      "Classes canceled due to mine fire. All fraternity members are to report to campus police for questioning."

  • Or possibly Saved by the Bell.
    • Or Beverly Hills 90210,

      the BH high school has 19 wells on it, earning the school $300K a year since the 70s.

  • by Arancaytar (966377) <arancaytar.ilyaran@gmail.com> on Sunday October 14, 2012 @05:37AM (#41648023) Homepage

    I can imagine how this conversation went.

    "So, does anyone have any suggestions how we can fuck over the country's college students some more?"

    "I don't know, we're already indebting them for most of their adult lives. How do you top that?"

    "Hey, I have an idea, but it's kinda far-fetched..."

    • by PopeRatzo (965947)

      "So, does anyone have any suggestions how we can fuck over the country's college students some more?"

      Here's the deal:

      "Where do you think those so-called "climate scientists" come from? They come from "college campuses"! Before they can turn into lab-coat wearing eggheads who are going to bust the balls of the patriotic energy industry, they have to start out right there on those campuses. If we can take care of those so-called "college campuses", which after all are nothing but a socialistic idea anyway

    • Yes, because this countries college students are by far, the worst off among us. God forbid they have to see first hand what has been going on in rural America for over 100 years. It's one thing to drill near poor people, it's another to force our future doctors and lawyers to endure it.
      • by JWW (79176)

        Huh? The first time I saw any active wells when driving across Wyoming, I was surprised at how unobtrusive and innocuous they were.

        But, that said its also surprising how innocuous missle silos are.

        • A production well isn't a big deal. Making the production well is a bit bigger mess. Besides, what you're probably seeing are stripper wells [stripperwells.com] (amazing that there is an entire web site devoted to these things). You see them next to houses, schools, pretty much everywhere.

          • by wmbetts (1306001)

            My grand father has them all over his land. I was staying out there when they were building out a new site and holy shit did I want to kill someone. There was noise 24/7. At least he gets compensated for it.

    • by tomhath (637240)

      Any drilling would be far away from a campus, and there's never been any evidence that the water is harmful.

      The biggest problem PA has with gas leasing is that former Gov. Rendell spent most of the lease money in one year trying to balance his budget.

  • Drilling is one thing, but actual coal mining on campus? How would that even work?

    • Re:Coal mining? (Score:5, Informative)

      by scum-e-bag (211846) on Sunday October 14, 2012 @05:58AM (#41648097) Homepage Journal

      Coal mining is completely different to seam gas extraction.
      Coal mining removes the coal.
      Seam gas extraction leaves the coal seam in-situ.
      Seam gas extraction extracts water that is within the seam, this water contains gas, the gas is separated from the water.

      The size of an exploration pad is nothing more than 30x30m, including all the equipment.
      The size of a production drill pad for CSG extraction is nothing more than 2 basketball courts.

      At least, this is how it works in my part of the world... and seriously, in Central Queensland (Australia) we have boat loads of the stuff.

      • by mellon (7048) on Sunday October 14, 2012 @09:21AM (#41648841) Homepage

        The best part is, once the extraction is done, you have two new basketball courts!

      • Coal mining is completely different to seam gas extraction.

        Did I miss a memo?

        When did it change from "different from" to "different to"?

    • by Maow (620678)

      Drilling is one thing, but actual coal mining on campus? How would that even work?

      1) Compress the students until they're charcoal briquette sized chunks of mostly carbon
      2) Profit

    • Drilling is one thing, but actual coal mining on campus? How would that even work?

      You know that film The Great Escape...

  • by nuclearhazzard327 (1422947) on Sunday October 14, 2012 @05:39AM (#41648033)

    If I recall correctly isn't PA the state with the ever burning coal mine fire? I think it was called Centrailia or something. Let's open up college campuses to mining as well. I'm sure putting a mine on the same property as drunk frat boys is a brilliant plan.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      If I recall correctly isn't PA the state with the ever burning coal mine fire? I think it was called Centrailia or something

      It's Centralia [wikipedia.org] (and there's a whole bunch of Centralias in other states. So much states, so few city names to go around...)

    • by Cheviot (248921)

      I never understood why they haven't built a geothermal power plant at Centralia. It's got a seemingly never ending supply of fuel and thus heat.

      We can't put it out, we might as well take advantage of it.

    • by the eric conspiracy (20178) on Sunday October 14, 2012 @10:10AM (#41649097)

      Interestingly the start of the Centralia coal fire had nothing to do with mining activities. The local town managers had the brainstorm that setting the local landfill on fire would be a positive clean-up step. Unfortunately there was a natural coal outcropping in the landfill which caught and spread underground, eventually making it into the mines.

    • by Shavano (2541114)
      It's one of several. We have one in Colorado, too.
  • seriously, How big of an area is the campus in any city, county ? why the fuck would the mining companies even be interested? this sounds like something a mining lobbyist mentioned as a joke and the politician took seriously.

    • by skine (1524819)

      From Wikipedia, The Penn State system has 18,370 acres spread over 24 campuses across the state (including Special-mission campuses), or about 1.2 square miles per campus.

      Mining companies would be interested because it could make them money.

      Also, according to TFA, this isn't a new idea. There are already colleges in Ohio, Indiana, and Texas that are or are considering allowing mining on campus.

    • Because when you think "campus" you're thinking of all the dorms downtown and such.... when actually it includes a metric shit-ton of land. A lot of old rich people like to donate to whichever school they graduated from. I can drive out in the countryside here, in just about any direction, and run into some random university research lab... or observatory... or whatever... which is usually a relatively small building sitting on 30 or more acres of land with a parking lot. Usually there's a big sign that say
    • I don't quite see why people are too worried at the moment. College campuses, at least on the local level, are tax exempt. So I'm betting colleges tried classifying all their land as "campus" decades back and are now kicking themselves for doing so. Drilling ideally takes an acre of land. So most campuses won't need to worry about a drill placed in their central commons or in their student housing flower gardens.

      Now, you can get that acre down to something smaller. An acre is preferred as it means you

  • by scum-e-bag (211846) on Sunday October 14, 2012 @05:52AM (#41648075) Homepage Journal

    Battlestar Galactica has a lot to answer for.
    Referring to the "fracturing" of seams beneath the earth sounds much worse than it actually is when it is called "fracking".

    The real question we should all be asking is: WHERE THE FRACK ARE YOU GOING TO GET ENERGY TO POWER YOUR NEW DIGITAL ECONOMY FROM?

  • by matunos (1587263) on Sunday October 14, 2012 @05:53AM (#41648077)

    This isn't the worst thing to happen on Pennsyvalnia college grounds.

  • This is nothing new (Score:5, Informative)

    by Mononoke (88668) on Sunday October 14, 2012 @05:53AM (#41648079) Homepage Journal
    State University systems can own thousands of acres of land not actually being used as campus land. A large portion of the University of Texas's income comes from leases operated on UT-owned land. In fact, there is an entire entity solely dedicated to handing this for UT: University Lands [utsystem.edu]. It's unlikely that Pennsylvania is looking to lease Campus Commons areas. More likely they are simply making it possible for unused land owned by the system to bring in funds for the State University System.
  • I doubt this would be happening in the middle of the dorms. More likely it would be on land that the universities aren't currently using.

    • by celle (906675)

      "More likely it would be on land that the universities aren't currently using."

          Then why keep the land at all?

      • That land stuff...tends to increase in value over time. Should probably hold on to it, as I heard they stopped making more.
  • I'm trying to imagine what a derrick draped in TP would look like.

    I think the answer is "awesome, dude!".

  • by thej1nx (763573)
    ...unless money and greed is involved! Way to go US politicians.
  • The question is, why WOULDN'T a state do this?

    It's state land.

    And it's not like it's some sort of inviolable sacred ground, is it? And they are CERTAINLY not entitled to any special consideration beyond that of any other citizen when it comes to 'exposure to pollutants, etc.'

    No, I don't think they should plant the machinery right outside the door of classrooms, but to be legally able to slant-drill and access the minerals beneath any public property is just good common sense.

  • Ignitable Tap Water (Score:4, Informative)

    by mathimus1863 (1120437) on Sunday October 14, 2012 @10:04AM (#41649071)
    FYI, "fracking" has been verifiably linked [propublica.org] to flammable tap water. It's no surprise that this had to be pushed quietly through system, because there's a lot of very good reasons fracking shouldn't be done at all, especially near populated areas.

    And just for fun: here's a fun video showing what can happen when you live too close to it. [youtube.com]
    • by tomhath (637240)

      FYI, "fracking" has been verifiably linked [propublica.org] to flammable tap water.

      No, it hasn't. The study found (in a very small number of samples, not really statistically significant) a measurable increase in methane above the baseline near a few wells, which they attribute to leaking well casings, not hydraulic fracturing. Sorry, no flaming tap water.

  • I think the closest thing I have seen close to this is the "Commitee to Nuke the Whales" - a troll operation set-up in one of late Robert Anton Wilson's novels.

  • Will they offer a TRADES based learning plan on drilling if they put this in?

    With teachers with real job skills and not just years of teaching in class room with little to no job experience.

    Will they also make it a 2 year or less plan?? 4 years of mostly theory with the full load of fluff and filler classes is overkill.

  • by Stormy Dragon (800799) on Sunday October 14, 2012 @11:17AM (#41649491) Homepage

    If you read the acutal law, SB 367 [state.pa.us], it does not authorize natural gas drilling on college campuses. In fact it specifically exempts them, as well as all state nature preserves:

    "State-owned land." Land owned by the Commonwealth. The term does not include State system land or land owned and
    administered by the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission or the
    Pennsylvania Game Commission
    .

    It does, however, permit the state to make a right of way through a state college to reach natural gas wells located some place else, but I guess "Pennsylvania Fracking Law Opens Up Roads on College Campuses" doesn't sound nearly as sentational.

  • by Shavano (2541114) on Sunday October 14, 2012 @12:53PM (#41650105)

    Environmentalists and educators are concerned that fracking and other resource exploitation on campus could leave students directly exposed to harms like explosions, water contamination, and air pollution.

    Not to mention it permanently degrades public land and the mining companies will never undo the damage they did because it's not cost-effective (for them).

  • by Montezumaa (1674080) on Sunday October 14, 2012 @06:54PM (#41652629)

    Ask Berry College(located in Rome, GA http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Berry_College [wikipedia.org] ) how their college campus ended up when Florida Rock dug a huge hole on campus property. Though the site was out of site to people on campus, one of the lakes on campus(Victory Lake) almost completely dried up(sink hole) and buildings, some very old(Ford Buildings, paid for by Henry Ford and given continued assistance by the Ford Corporation), started having problems from sink holes, the watertable started to be displaced, and it hurt the college far more than the help Berry College got from Florida Rock.

    The rock quarry is now a large lake, which is also extremely deep. Would you fall in(which you should survive the fall), and cannot get out, you will drown and never have your body retrieved. Sadly, this place is well known to be an excellent place(one of a few in the area) to dump a body, or other items you do not want found, or ever retrieved by anyone(including the person that dump the body or item). Yes, Martha Berry would be proud.

    https://gsa.confex.com/gsa/2011SE/finalprogram/abstract_183994.htm [confex.com]

    There are other buildings that have had problems from the bad decision of Berry Colege's administration. These colleges may end up in a similar situation.

  • I'm against this. There is entirely too much drilling on campus already. And furthermore, I was not invited.

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