The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
Faculty Speaks Out Against Fracking Training Center at Community College of Philadelphia
Faculty of the Community College of Philadelphia (CCP) were “shocked and appalled” to learn that the college was collaborating with the shale gas industry in establishing an “Energy Training Center.”
Without consulting the faculty, the CCP administration announced—via an email on Nov. 14, just one day before an opening ceremony—that it had entered a partnership with the shale gas industry to provide “career, certificate, and academic programs in the energy field.” Many in the college community learned of the fossil fuel industry connection the following day from an article in the Philadelphia Inquirer. According to the article, the Marcellus Shale Coalition, representing the fracking industry, donated $15,000 for student scholarships.
The announcement took everyone by surprise. Faculty—even those teaching courses in related areas—had not been consulted beforehand.
“Normal college procedures for instituting new academic curricula were completely sidestepped,” said Miles Grosbard, RA, head of the Department of Architecture, Design and Construction. “There is no information available about the proposed unit’s mission, student audience, administrative structure, budget, facilities or educational objectives, apparently because none exists. Moreover, $15,000 is an impossibly tiny endowment to even begin a training center.”
Margaret Stephens, a professor of environmental conservation and geography, pointed out, “Of course we are pro-job. We want to prepare our students for safe, fulfilling work in the expanding fields of sustainability, from architecture to sustainable transportation to renewable energy R&D to food production, distribution and service.”
But CCP faculty say they want no part of an environmentally destructive industry that continues to cause many documented health problems. Across the academic spectrum, informed faculty have come to the inescapable conclusion that there is no safe way to extract “natural” gas via fracking and that the practice makes for a boom-bust short-term economic bubble.
“Perhaps most critical,” Stephens added, “at a time that we are witnessing such catastrophic weather events related to human-induced climate change, it is short-sighted and foolhardy to promote fracking. We now know that shale gas drilling actually accelerates climate change.”
Thousands of municipalities nationwide and worldwide have banned or severely curtailed fracking and related heavy-industrial activity. A growing movement among colleges and universities is calling for complete divestment from fossil fuel industries.
CCP’s mission declares, “The College serves Philadelphia by preparing students to be informed and concerned citizens.” Our students need to think critically and understand the full life-cycle costs of fracking, including its public health, environmental and economic harms.
Deirdre Garrity-Benjamin, a professor of environmental conservation and geography and coordinator of the GIS Program, said, “At a time when CCP is hosting discussions about climate change and a sustainable campus, constructing LEED certified buildings and launching a LEED certification program, starting a venture with the Marcellus Shale Coalition is hugely contradictory. As a campus, we have been moving the college toward a path of sustainability by teaching our students the difference between short-term gains and long-term interests. Supporting this type of industry and its polluting extraction methods is completely counterproductive.”
Instead of promising short-term jobs in a dangerous industry, the Community College of Philadelphia—and all institutions of higher education—should be preparing future workers and leaders for rewarding careers that support a resilient society.
Because faculty care about the institution and students to whom they dedicate their working lives, they call upon the Community College of Philadelphia to exclude any fracking-industry related activities in its “Energy Training Center.”
“The college should make itself relevant to the promising future of the 21st century,” said Stephens, “not pay service to an industry that came of age and spent itself in the 20th century."
Visit EcoWatch’s FRACKING page for more related news on this topic.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Tara Lohan
It's been the wettest 12 months on record in the continental United States. Parts of the High Plains and Midwest are still reeling from deadly, destructive and expensive spring floods — some of which have lasted for three months.
Mounting bills from natural disasters like these have prompted renewed calls to reform the National Flood Insurance Program, which is managed by Federal Emergency Management Agency and is now $20 billion in debt.
By Brenda Ekwurzel
When temperatures hit the 80s Fahrenheit in May above latitude 40, sun-seekers hit the parks, lakes, and beaches, and thoughts turn to summer. By contrast, when temperatures lurk in the drizzly 40s and 50s well into flower season, northerners get impatient for summer. But when those 80-degree temperatures visit latitude 64 in Russia, as they just did, and when sleet disrupts Mother's Day weekend in May in Massachusetts, as it just did, thoughts turn to: what is going on here?
By Eoin Higgins
A bill making its way through the Texas legislature would make protesting pipelines a third-degree felony, the same as attempted murder.