The news from Albany this past week was unsettling, to say the least.
New York State's rascally environmentalists previously managed to get a moratorium on the hydraulic fracturing gas drilling process (usually called fracking) until an environmental impact review, begun way back in 2008, is finished.
Now, responding to a state legislator's demand for an even more comprehensive review of the potential health effects of fracking, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued a shocking statement. "We're trying to bring down the emotion and bring up the information, so we'll make a decision on the facts rather than on feelings," he said.
They want the facts first and then they'll allow fracking? What kind of silliness is that? How are Texas gas-drilling industry robber barons supposed to get rich quick that way? Who can blame them if they appeal to our emotions by saying the evil fracking foes threaten the fabulous jobs (and billions in profits for the robber barons) of Pennsylvania's gas boom?
Who can blame the robber barons for shoveling millions of dollars in so-called "political campaign contributions" into Gov. Tom Corbett's coffers, and millions more to other state politicians, so that their gas-drilling operations can be allowed to blast toxic drilling solutions all over the place willy-nilly?
Also, the robber barons' generosity has resulted in Pennsylvania being the only gas-producing state in America that does not impose a severance tax on extracted gas, resulting in rivers of profit flowing like tsunamis into Texas and Oklahoma.
What sort of commie would want to deprive robber barons of their well-earned yachts and villas on the French Riviera?
Cuomo's comments came just as other environmental rascals were planning a "Brownie Bake Sale" for Saturday in Allentown's Cedar Beach Park. (I wish I could tell you how it turned out, but the old meanies at The Morning Call make me file my Sunday column by Friday afternoon.)
Anyway, the brownie shindig was just one of 200 events across the nation and abroad in the second annual "Global Frackdown" crusade against fracking hatched by Food & Water Watch, a bunch of environmental troublemakers who think people should have access to clean water.
The Lehigh Valley's contingent cooked up the Brownie Bake Sale in honor of state Sen. Pat Browne, R-Lehigh, who, according to the group's press release, "balked at supporting recently introduced legislation to stop fracking." Organizers of the Browne brownie bash pointed out that polls show nearly two-thirds of Pennsylvanians support a fracking moratorium.
The legislation they want Browne to back is Senate Bill 1100, introduced last month. It provides for a statewide moratorium on gas drilling pending a "comprehensive report" on a study by a newly created Well Drilling Study Commission.
Oh, horrors! We'll be just like New York.
"The report," says SB 1100, "shall thoroughly investigate the impacts of well drilling in this commonwealth and make recommendations on improvements to Pennsylvania's law to ensure the protection of the public and the environment and the successful promotion of the natural gas industry."
It even provides for recommendations on "the protection of rivers, streams and groundwater from drilling activities." Can you imagine anything so subversive?
HB 1100 stipulates that the seven members of the Well Drilling Study Commission will be appointed by the governor, with the consent of the Senate.
The chairman will be the secretary of the state Department of Environmental Protection. The other six will be from Conservation and Natural Resources Department, a nonprofit environmental organization, an academic institution (with scientific expertise), the state Council of Professional Geologists, a medical expert, and just one from the oil and gas industry.
(I can confidently predict right now that Gov. Corbett will veto this thing unless it's changed so that at least four of the seven members are from the oil and gas industry.)
One of the co-sponsors of the bill, by the way, is another Lehigh Valley legislator, Sen. Lisa Boscola, D-Northampton.
I contacted Sen. Browne's office to ask if he intended to attend Saturday's brownie bash in his honor. I also submitted questions about his position on Senate Bill 1100, and whether (and how much) he has accepted in campaign contributions from gas-drilling interests.
By deadline time on Friday, neither he nor anyone else at his office had responded, but I was hopeful I'd see him at the Saturday's event in Cedar Beach Park.
"Fracking," observed the press release on the Browne Brownie Bake Sale, "is a highly controversial process of fossil fuel extraction that involves pumping vast amounts of water and toxic chemicals underground at extreme pressure to break up rocks and release oil and gas. It has been linked to environmental degradation and serious human health effects where it occurs in Pennsylvania."
That has not yet occurred in New York, but let's not get emotional over it.
In any case, I bet Saturday's event was fun and I hope Browne enjoyed it.
Paul Carpenter's commentary appears Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays