Monday, March 14, 2011

Overheated Rhetoric and Shapiro's Response

An employee in Pennsylvania's Dept. of Conservation and Natural Resources used some overheated rhetoric in describing Gasland, a documentary on Marcellus Shale drilling. He compared it to Nazi propaganda. Naturally this set off a backlash; for example at the Huffington Post ("Gasland Director Josh Fox Slurred by Pennsylvania Energy Official," by Alison Rose Levy).

State Rep. Josh Shapiro has responded:

State Rep. Josh Shapiro, D-Montgomery, at a press conference today called on Gov. Tom Corbett to condemn the recent statements of a senior member of his administration that compared opposition to natural gas drilling in Pennsylvania to Joseph Goebbels and Nazi propaganda.

Last week the Intelligencer Journal and Lancaster New Era reported on comments made by Teddy Borawski, chief oil and gas geologist for the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. When asked about the documentary “Gasland,” which portrays natural gas drilling in Pennsylvania as harmful to the environment, Borawski stated, “Joseph Goebbels would have been proud…He would have given him the Nazi Award. That, in my opinion, was a beautiful piece of propaganda.”

“While I recognize there may be differing opinions of that documentary, there is absolutely no place in society--let alone in the Corbett Administration--for such insensitive and ignorant rhetoric,” said Shapiro. “There is plenty of room in the public discourse for people to disagree, but there is no room for a senior government official to compare someone to a Nazi just because they have different views. I urge the governor to immediately condemn Mr. Borawski's comments and take appropriate action against him.”

Shapiro has been a leading advocate for balancing the economic benefit of natural gas drilling with the need to protect the environment and natural resources of Pennsylvania. Last week, Shapiro joined as a lead cosponsor of H.B. 150, a bill to put a three-year moratorium on leasing any additional state forestland for Marcellus Shale natural gas drilling. Shapiro and 79 other state legislators have also sent a letter urging Corbett to honor the executive order signed by former Gov. Ed Rendell on Oct. 26, 2010, which imposed a moratorium on any further leasing of state forestland for oil and gas development in the state.

Moreover, Pennsylvania is the only major natural gas producing state that does not have a drilling tax or fee. With no excise tax in place, the Commonwealth’s taxpayers currently bear the burden to repair the local roads and bridges damaged by the heavy equipment of natural gas drillers, and the environmental impact of clearing forests and the millions of gallons of chemically treated water taken from the rivers and streams.

For more information read "Shapiro not satisfied by Corbett’s response to Nazi comparison," by Scott Detrow on State House Sound Bites

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