Pennsylvania

Energy. Environment. Economy.

Sturla Stands By STD Comment

General Assembly Website

House Democrat Mike Sturla

Capitolwire’s Pete DeCoursey made quite the impact yesterday, when he published a story quoting DCED Secretary Alan Walker endorsing the idea of expanded drilling in state forests.

Much of the early reaction centered on Walker’s comments. But as the day wore on, Republicans began focusing on House Democratic Chairman Mike Sturla’s angry response to Walker, which was quoted in the article.

In an email to Capitolwire ($), Sturla expressed some skepticism – to put it mildly – over drilling’s value to communities.

[A]side 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.

The “womenfolk” line caught the attention of Republicans. Labeling him a “D, 19th Century,” the state party issued a statement labeling Sturla’s comments offensive and out-of-touch. “First of all, I understand that Democrats are shocked and awed that jobs are being created during President Obama’s tenure, but Rep. Sturla’s comments have no place in political discourse and he should be ashamed of himself,” said GOP Chair Rob Gleason. “The truth remains, Pennsylvania industries continue to grow because of business friendly, fiscally responsible policies like those that Governor Corbett has championed.   Considering the Marcellus Shale industry, it’s a simple, inarguable fact that natural gas drilling has generated billions in revenue and supports nearly 140,000 jobs in our Commonwealth.“

Terminology aside, Sturla’s STD comment was grounded in fact:  a report presented to Governor Corbett’s Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission by a Bradford County hospital found “an increase in sexually transmitted diseases” in the drilling-heavy county, compared to pre-boom data. Update: here’s the report, with the STD references highlighted. Speaking in Harrisburg today, Sturla stood by his comment. “That’s all I said,” he argued. “I may have done it in a rather insensitive way, and if anyone was offended by the insensitivity, I apologize for that, but I won’t apologize for saying there’s higher STDs in those areas.  That’s a fact.”

“I don’t make this stuff up,” he continued. “Should we not have drilling in the state because of that?  No, but it’s one of those impacts that we need to deal with.  In the Marcellus Shale Commission report, it says we should deal with it.”

House Republican spokesman Steve Miskin didn’t dispute several rural communities have dealt with increased crime levels and higher rent, since drillers have moved in. But, he objected to Sturla’s message and tone. “What he’s doing is painting Pennsylvania workers as sex-starved, disease-riddled drunks.”

Comments

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_JBOOA3MKC6GVE7GUFSLWPUZIII Bram Reichbaum

    “But, [Miskin] objected to Sturla’s message and tone. “What he’s doing is painting Pennsylvania workers as sex-starved, disease-riddled drunks.””

    That’s precisely what he’s NOT doing. Implicit in letting that silly anachronism “womenfolk” slip out, was the idea of these being “our” women, and the drillers being alien invaders. Which gets to the heart of a very important issue: what lies behind these so-called employment numbers? Sturla was actually painting Marcellus drilling workers as transient, indifferent Texans who are not invested in and don’t care about the Pennsylvania communities to which they get shuttled around. Recognizing that, Sturla raises an interesting point (in about the clumsiest possible way).

  • Anonymous

    Sturla is to Harrisburg what Anthony Weiner was to D.C. – an embarrassment.

  • Anonymous

    More to the point, Sturla is painting the women of the rural northern reaches of the State as sluts. My Mother and sisters live(ed) in that area and I don’t take kindly to his suggestions. I don’t care about what he says about Texans, but it takes two to spread STDs — something he forgot.

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