Fracking Your Future: Campus Drilling Extends Far Beyond Pennsylvania

Fri, 2012-11-23 13:58Steve Horn
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Fracking Your Future: Campus Drilling Extends Far Beyond Pennsylvania

The oil and gas industry plans to perform hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) on college campuses in Pennsylvania, just as it currently does in close proximity to K-12 schools nationwide

But as NPR demonstrated in a recent report, that's just the tip of the iceberg.

“More than a dozen schools in states as varied as Texas, Montana, Ohio and West Virginia are already tapping natural resources on college campuses,” the report explains. “The University of Southern Indiana recently started pumping oil.”

Like Pennsylvania - which has seen higher education budget cuts totaling over $460 million since Republican Gov. Tom Corbett took office in 2010 - nearly all of these states have faced massive cuts in their most recent budgets. 

Texas, led by Republican Gov. Rick Perry, saw a $1.7 billion funding cut in its most recent budget cycle. Indiana, led by Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels, was hit with $150 million in higher education cuts in its most recent budget.

Montana, led by Democratic Governor Brian Schweitzer, was handed $14.6 million in higher education cuts in the most recent budget. And West Virginia, led by Democratic Governor Earl Ray Tomblin, saw $34 million evaporate from its higher education war chest in its most recent budget cycle.

Fracking on Campus a New Fundraising Mechanism, But “You Can't Drink Money”

Fracking on cash-strapped college campuses in these states has become a new fundraising mechanism and a way to pad endowments.

“…[W]e can put the revenue toward encouraging gifts to the endowment,” Kristin Sullivan, a spokeswoman at University of Texas-Arlington told NPR. “This is a finite resource. You have to be very wise about how you allocate that revenue.” 

The costs associated with fracking on university grounds, though, go far above and beyond revenue it brings into vastly under-funded schools. The climate and ecological costs are also a huge part of any honest equation. 

Or put much more simply, “you can't drink money.”

Photo CreditWikimedia CommonsEMBaero

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In Texas and North Dakota, where an oil rush triggered by the development of new fracking methods has taken many towns by storm, drillers have run into a major problem.

While their shale wells extract valuable oil, natural gas also rises from the wells alongside that oil. That gas could be sold for use for electrical power plants or to heat homes, but it is harder to transport from the well to customers than oil. Oil can be shipped via truck, rail or pipe, but the only practical way to ship gas is by pipeline, and new pipelines are expensive, often costing more to construct than the...

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