Cash-Strapped School District in PA Turns to Dangerous Shale Gas Drilling for Money

Next week on September 7 activist will descend on Philadelphia, for the Shale Gas Outrage demonstration in order to "show a broad-based popular movement that will not tolerate contamination of our air, water, and earth by dirty drilling, or the corruption of our politicians by industry money. We will demand that not one more family be poisoned by fracking and shale gas extraction."

Unfortunately the folks in Blackhawk School District near Pittsburg didn't get the memo. According to UPI, "The district board voted in July to lease 160 acres of the district's land to Chesapeake Energy for $300,000. If Chesapeake successfully extracts gas from the district's property, the schools would get an additional 15 percent royalty on the profits."

And the worst part is that Blackhawk is not alone in their fundraising tactics:

Blackhawk joins dozens of school districts across the country that have made similar arrangements with natural gas companies.

Many of the leases have come in Pennsylvania and Texas, two states where an energy boom has coincided with cuts in state aid for education.

Now, there's a nice right-wing fantasy playing out: An industry that has escaped environmental regulation gets an economic boost thanks to cuts in education.

Oh and Chesapeake Energy, by the way, the company this school district is teaming up with — is directly contributing to our educational funding crisis by paying zero corporate income taxes. Hugh MacMillan from Food and Water Watch reports:

The company made a whopping pre-tax profit of $2.8 billion in 2010, but it paid $0 in corporate income tax to the U.S. Treasury. At the same time, the company’s CEO, Aubrey McClendon, was given $21 million in compensation. I emphasize given because how does one actually earn over $57,000 a day?
 

AlterNet / By Tara Lohan

Posted at September 2, 2011, 9:48am

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