Pennsylvania

Energy. Environment. Economy.

Plans for shale gas ‘energy hub’ draw investors and protestors to Philadelphia

Dozens of protestors carried signs and chanted “no fracking hub” outside Drexel University’s Creese Student Center where business leaders met to discuss plans for expanding Philadelphia’s role in the Marcellus Shale natural gas boom.

Katie Colaneri/StateImpact Pennsylvania

Dozens of protestors carried signs and chanted “no fracking hub” outside Drexel University’s Creese Student Center where business leaders met to discuss plans for expanding Philadelphia’s role in the Marcellus Shale natural gas boom.

Business leaders gathered in Philadelphia on Friday to pitch investors on plans to turn the region into an “energy hub” based on booming Marcellus Shale gas production.

It’s hard to say exactly how it went, though, because most members of the news media were barred from the event. They hung around outside Drexel University’s Creese Student Center, along with protestors who came to decry those plans to hinge the region’s economy on fossil fuels.

The only journalists allowed inside were a Philadelphia Inquirer reporter and a freelancer representing the New York Times, according to a spokeswoman for the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce.

“It’s by invitation-only because we think it’s extremely important to have individuals that are empowered to make buying decisions meet each other here in Greater Philadelphia,” said the chamber’s CEO Rob Wonderling in a phone interview. “It is not a broad public policy event.”

Wonderling is co-chair of the Greater Philadelphia Energy Action Team, along with South Philadelphia refinery CEO Phil Rinaldi. The group – made up of regional business leaders, Marcellus Shale Coalition President David Spigelmyer and U.S. Rep. Patrick Meehan (R., Pa.) – formed more than a year ago with the goal of expanding Philadelphia’s role in the shale gas boom.

The “energy hub” vision includes plans for new pipelines to carry natural gas from wells in Northeast Pennsylvania to fuel new processing plants and refineries in this area that would turn that gas into building blocks for new products.

“We’re hopeful that a year from now, introductions that were met today will bear fruit into commercial transactions,” Wonderling said.

As event participants sat down to a networking breakfast Friday, dozens of protestors marched and chanted “no fracking hub,” hoping their message could be heard inside.

“These companies cannot be trusted,” said South Philadelphia resident Maria Kretschmann, who carried a sign reading, “Philadelphia is not for sale.”

South Philadelphia resident Maria Kretschmann joined dozens of protestors outside Drexel University’s Creese Student Center where business leaders met to discuss plans for a regional “energy hub.” Kretschmann said she is concerned about the impact of burning fossil fuels on public health and a warming planet.

Katie Colaneri/StateImpact Pennsylvania

South Philadelphia resident Maria Kretschmann said she is concerned about the impact of burning fossil fuels on public health and a warming planet.

Kretschmann echoed others at the rally in her suspicion of the oil and gas industry, citing concerns about the impact of burning fossil fuels on public health and a warming planet.

“We don’t want Philadelphia to go the old-fashioned, 19th and 20th century route of developing fossil fuels,” said Tracy Carluccio with the Delaware Riverkeeper Network. “We want a green economy and we want stable jobs for the future.”

Carluccio said environmental groups are carefully planning their next steps and will likely target individual projects such as pipelines when they come up for state and federal permits.

Philadelphia will not become an energy hub overnight and the timeline is unclear. However, discussion of the idea has accelerated in recent weeks as Philadelphia debated an ultimately unsuccessful proposal to sell its gas utility to a private company and the Energy Action Team prepared for Friday’s summit.

In an event packet provided by the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce, the Energy Action Team describes one of its goals to “identify barriers and work to mitigate them.”

Comments

  • AlSever

    Protect “Filty-delphia”! Get real. The city is an environmental and social disaster. We should just nuke it and use the debris to fill the Chesapeake Bay.

    • JimBarth

      Al, you receive a pension after working at PA DEP for thirty years? I imagine you collect social security as well?
      You say “nuke Filty (sic)-delphia, and “use the debris to fill the Chesapeake Bay”?
      A major portion of Chesapeake Bay is already a “dead zone”, due, most likely, to the utter lack of effort by PA DEP employees such as yourself.
      A major portion of Chesapeake Bay is already a “dead zone”, due, most likely, to the beliefs and efforts of politicians that you support.
      The complete “dead zone”, Al, is you.

    • Philly all day

      AlSever take a dump in your mouth and shut it

  • Julieann Wozniak

    Why should Western Pennsylvania bear the brunt of increased deaths from cancer and lung disease? I say drill on the front lawn of the governor’s mansion.

    • JimBarth

      I would expand your geographical PA definition to include all the areas that are being drilled. As to drilling the governor’s front lawn, I say yes, even if there’s no profitable gas there (unless, of course, he changes his mind and bans shale gas extraction from our Commonwealth)!

  • http://3cCoalition.org 3cCoalition.org

    If their goals are for the future “positive” impact on this region, then why the secret no-access meeting? And why are a few people with money and political connections deciding the fate of our children’s future without input from these stakeholders? I agree with Ms. Kretschmann that they should not be trusted; not because we may disagree with their agenda but because the industry has done everything it can to hide the truth from the very stakeholders they claim to be helping. Marlboro man anyone?

  • KeepTapWaterSafe

    Let’s “identify barriers” to safe, renewable energy and “work to mitigate them.” Clearly these shale gas promoters are comfortable with the idea of Philadelphia becoming one giant evacuation zone. Many thanks to those who spoke up for our right to clean air and safe neighborhoods — Philadelphia is not for shale!

  • littlebuddy1

    What a bunch of rubes!

  • Maria Schicklgruber

    Any natural gas that is exported should have to be shipped from the well
    head to the export terminal in separate pipelines.

    Eminent domain law
    is for the public good not private profit !

  • Jack Wolf

    No media allowed except for a select two reporters? Isn’t that taking their efforts to control the message too far? After all, the public has the right to hear all sides, and different reporters provide different analysis. Something’s rotten in Philadelphia.

  • Dan

    its funny to hear how all the lazy non working yuppies complain about good jobs that could possibly come to the area. Always ruining the chance for people to go work. Losers! Go have your parents give you some more money.

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