"Former Governor Tom Ridge Signs Lucrative Marcellus Contract"

"Former Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge, along with two of his former gubernatorial campaign managers, signed a $900,000 contract on July 30 to go to bat for the heavily polluting Marcellus Shale gas drilling industry. Ridge’s contract follows on the heels of an exodus from the Rendell administration to the cash-rich industry. Three top Rendell staff members have jumped ship to work in governmental relations jobs for the industry over the past year.

Fracturing shale to release gas requires deep drilling "unconventional" technology, new since 2005 when it won Bush-era exemptions from most federal environmental laws. The process uses about 20,000 pounds of toxic chemicals per gas well to drill the Marcellus Shale, a formation which lies under 63% of Pennsylvania.

The industry has an image problem. Over 1000 instances of water contamination have been documented across the country due to shale gas drilling. In Pennsylvania, the Department of Environmental Protection found 565 violations at Marcellus Shale gas drilling sites between Jan. 1 and June 18 this year alone, with only 1,458 wells drilled. According to an analysis by Clean Water Action released last week, these violations include particularly disturbing instances, including improper cementing/casing of wells (11) and "illegal disposal of industrial waste" (80)."

Iris Marie Bloom reports for the Philadelphia Weekly Press August 3, 2010.

Source: Philadelphia Weekly Press, 08/05/2010