Earlier this year, the Pennsylvania Democratic State Committee voted 115 to 81 to support a moratorium on shale gas development. Yes, a major state party actually voted to put an end to shale development – and all the prosperity it brings – for the entire Commonwealth. But take heart: this was clearly a mistake, and wiser party leaders now weighed in.
In a recent letter to state party leader Jim Burn, eight Democratic State Senators wrote:
“The recent vote of 115 to 81 by the Democratic Party of Pennsylvania to support a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing in the Commonwealth has left us a bit dumfounded [sic] as to why members of the Democratic State Committee would base such a strong stance on myth and misperception.”
The inspiration for such a moratorium was always dubious, based on the misinformation and scare tactics that accompany activist films like Gasland. But it seems that the public reaction to the party’s embrace of banning shale development was so swift and fierce that Democratic leaders saw fit to make a very public push to distance themselves from such nonsense.
In a separate letter dated July 15, 2013, and addressed to Chairman Burn, 18 Democratic members of the Pennsylvania General Assembly also expressed concerns over the vote to approve a moratorium on shale development:
“This position adopted by the Democratic State Committee on behalf of Pennsylvania Democratic Party is short-sighted and ignored the many positive impacts Pennsylvania is experiencing due to the growth of the natural gas industry in this state. The resolution disregards the recent advances in best practices by the industry and the modernized statutory and regulatory framework not in place to ensure the safe, responsible development of the invaluable natural resource. To implement a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing at this time would create immense burdens and significant adverse impacts on the Commonwealth and the citizens of Pennsylvania with no discernible gain.”
Consumer Energy Alliance has been polling all of Pennsylvania’s State Legislators to understand where they stand on the moratorium. Virtually all of the Democrats who have answered thus far say they oppose it. Former Gov. Ed Rendell (D) also weighed in on the moratorium vote, calling it “very ill-advised.” And at least two of the seven declared Democratic candidates for governor in 2014 have criticized the moratorium.
Most recent criticism of the Pennsylvania moratorium came from U.S. Sen. Bob Casey. A Natural gas supporter and author of the FRAC Act Sen. Casey has stepped forward and condemned the democratic vote, stating:
“There’s no reason why we have to make the old false choices between jobs and the extraction of natural gas, between economic growth and protecting our environment. I think we can do all three.”
Clearly, many Pennsylvania Democrats are not so easily swayed by misinformation and fear tactics. These 18 representatives (from areas that have witnessed development) and former Gov. Rendell all understand the vast economic benefits of shale development, and they recognize any moratorium would be exceedingly foolish. Pennsylvania Democratic Party members who were fooled should be looking at all the facts, not just the ones provided by activists and backyard filmmakers like Josh Fox.