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Top Dem: Shale boom spreading STDs

Published by Tim McNulty on .

We hesitate to think what the coloring book would look like for this one.

The state's economic development head is saying drilling for natural gas under state forests would fix the state's budget problems, a claim (first written about by Capitolwire) that is better recounted here by Don Hopey in the P-G's breaking news section. But what we'd rather talk about are other claims in Pete DeCoursey's original story, namely those by one state legislator sort of equating the natural gas industry with the behavior of a raping and pillaging army.Sturla

Rep. Mike Sturla, D-Lancaster, (at right) said cheerleaders for shale exploration are whitewashing the negative impacts of the industry, and not only the environmental ones, but the venereal diseases too. From a Sturla email to Capitolwire:

“Also, aside from building roads so their trucks can get to drill sites and doing a little stream work to mitigate damage from their road building, exactly what are all those things the drillers are doing for the local communities? Patronizing the bars at night? Driving up the cost of rental housing? Spreading sexually transmitted disease amongst the womenfolk? Causing school districts to ask local governments to ban truck traffic on local roads during school bus pick up and drop off times so kids don't get killed? Upgrading emergency preparedness equipment to handle a well blow out? Running compressor stations that have decibel levels equal to a jet engine?...Really community oriented stuff...”

To be fair, Sturla's office notes that a  May 2011 community impacts study from Troy Community Hospital in Bradford County mentions a rise in STDs -- see page 12 of this pdf sent to the governor's Marcellus commission -- as did this PSU study on Marcellus impacts (see page 34). More generally, there are worries out there about the gas boom being tied to an uptick in crime (discussed in this Legal Intelligencer story, which mentions DUIs).

So that's that. At the very least, Sturla has returned the term "womenfolk" to usage for the first time we can remember since "Gunsmoke" went off the air.

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