September 19, 2017

Rendell Says He Supports a Drilling Moratorium Along the Delaware

By Susan Phillips, Sept 14, 2012

For­mer Gov. Ed Ren­dell told a group of envi­ron­men­tal­ists that he believes nat­ural gas drilling can be done safely, but he would back a con­tin­ued delay in drilling along the Delaware River.

“I would sup­port putting a mora­to­rium on the Delaware Basin right now,” Ren­dell said. “But we’ve gotta look at it and con­tinue to go for­ward. We can’t just say stop, because stop would mean more petro­leum, more coal-fired power plants.”

Ren­dell spoke at a clean energy con­fer­ence spon­sored by Pen­n­Fu­ture in down­town Philadel­phia Fri­day. He was respond­ing to a ques­tion from Ralph Kins­berg, with the Respon­si­ble Drilling Alliance. Kins­berg wants the state to slow down the drilling boom in order to study envi­ron­men­tal effects.

Ren­dell was a big sup­porter of nat­ural gas devel­op­ment while he was gov­er­nor, and he still is.

“Look, if we stop gas pro­duc­tion, we’re going to have petro­leum,” Ren­dell said. “There are no easy answers.”

As gov­er­nor, Ren­dell did not sup­port a mora­to­rium along the Delaware. But it’s not the first time his vision of shale gas devel­op­ment has seemed mer­cu­r­ial. While gov­er­nor, he leased hun­dreds of thou­sands of acres of state for­est land to drilling com­pa­nies, only to impose a mora­to­rium on drilling in state forests right before he left office. And at last year’s indus­try con­fer­ence in Philadel­phia, he sur­prised every­one by scold­ing the con­fer­ence atten­dees for not tak­ing envi­ron­men­tal issues seriously.

Still, Ren­dell warned the room full of envi­ron­men­tal­ists on Fri­day that their anti-fracking mes­sage could eas­ily alien­ate peo­ple who have ben­e­fit­ted from gas drilling.

“There are peo­ple in the North­ern Tier of Penn­syl­va­nia who were con­signed to the fact that they would die poor and have noth­ing to pass on to their chil­dren,” he said, adding that gas drilling has improved the eco­nomic lives of rural Pennsylvanians.

“When the envi­ron­men­tal com­mu­nity takes posi­tions that to the aver­age per­son seem to be anti-economic growth, we lose them.”

Ren­dell later acknowl­edged that a drilling mora­to­rium on one side of the state could also cre­ate friction.

“One thing about Penn­syl­va­nia,” he said, “you can’t do one thing in the east, one thing in the west, and then one thing in the cen­ter. That’s how the anti-Philadelphia bias occurs.”

A de facto drilling mora­to­rium already exists in the Delaware River Basin while the multi-state Basin Com­mis­sion remains at an impasse over new reg­u­la­tions. Penn­syl­va­nia Gov. Tom Cor­bett has been push­ing the Delaware River Basin Com­mis­sion to lift the mora­to­rium and allow drilling.