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Breaking: Faculty Group Stands Up to Marcellus Shale Coalition at Community College of Philadelphia

November 28, 2012

The Community College of Philadelphia Coalition for a Sustainable Future publicly opposes shale gas industry inroads at their College. The Coalition declared today, “Instead of promising short-term jobs in a dangerous industry, the Community College of Philadelphia — and all institutions of higher education — should be preparing future workers and leaders for rewarding careers that support a resilient society.” Please sign their petition here and share the news:

CCP Coalition for a Sustainable Future
1700 Spring Garden Street, W3-10, Philadelphia, PA 19130

November 28, 2012

For Immediate Release 
Contact: Margaret Stephens, 215 751-8869,

CCP Faculty Reject Marcellus Shale Industry “Deal”

Philadelphia — Faculty of the Community College of Philadelphia were “shocked and appalled” to learn that the college was collaborating with the shale gas industry in establishing an “Energy Training Center.”

Without consulting the faculty, the CCP administration announced — via an email on November 14, just one day before an opening ceremony — that it had entered a partnership with the shale gas industry to provide “career, certificate, and academic programs in the energy field.” Many in the college community learned of the fossil fuel industry connection the following day from an article in the Philadelphia Inquirer. According to the article, the Marcellus Shale Coalition, representing the fracking industry, donated $15,000 for student scholarships.

The announcement took everyone by surprise. Faculty — even those teaching courses in related areas — had not been consulted beforehand.

“Normal college procedures for instituting new academic curricula were completely sidestepped,” said Miles Grosbard, RA, head of the Department of Architecture, Design and Construction. “There is no information available about the proposed unit’s mission, student audience, administrative structure, budget, facilities or educational objectives, apparently because none exists. Moreover, $15,000 is an impossibly tiny endowment to even begin a training center.”

Margaret Stephens, a professor of environmental conservation and geography, pointed out, “Of course we are pro-job. We want to prepare our students for safe, fulfilling work in the expanding fields of sustainability, from architecture to sustainable transportation to renewable energy R&D to food production, distribution, and service.”

But CCP faculty say they want no part of an environmentally destructive industry that continues to cause many documented health problems. Across the academic spectrum, informed faculty have come to the inescapable conclusion that there is no safe way to extract “natural” gas via fracking and that the practice makes for a boom-bust short-term economic bubble.

“Perhaps most critical,” Stephens added, “at a time that we are witnessing such catastrophic weather events related to human-induced climate change, it is short-sighted and foolhardy to promote fracking. We now know that shale gas drilling actually accelerates climate change.”

Thousands of municipalities nationwide and worldwide have banned or severely curtailed fracking and related heavy-industrial activity. A growing movement among colleges and universities is calling for complete divestment from fossil fuel industries.

CCP’s mission declares, “The College serves Philadelphia by preparing students to be informed and concerned citizens.” Our students need to think critically and understand the full life-cycle costs of fracking, including its public health, environmental and economic harms.

Deirdre Garrity-Benjamin, a professor of environmental conservation and geography and coordinator of the GIS Program, said, “At a time when CCP is hosting discussions about climate change and a sustainable campus, constructing LEED certified buildings and launching a LEED certification program, starting a venture with the Marcellus Shale Coalition is hugely contradictory. As a campus, we have been moving the college toward a path of sustainability by teaching our students the difference between short-term gains and long-term interests. Supporting this type of industry and its polluting extraction methods is completely counterproductive.”

Instead of promising short-term jobs in a dangerous industry, the Community College of Philadelphia — and all institutions of higher education — should be preparing future workers and leaders for rewarding careers that support a resilient society.

Because faculty care about the institution and students to whom they dedicate their working lives, they call upon the Community College of Philadelphia to exclude any fracking-industry related activities in its “Energy Training Center.”

“The college should make itself relevant to the promising future of the 21st century,” said Stephens, “not pay service to an industry that came of age and spent itself in the 20th century.”


1. Health Impacts of Fracking
Despite industry claims to the contrary, there have been numerous documented human and animal health problems related to fracking.

See Pennsylvania Alliance for Clean Water and Air “List of the Harmed”:

See Physicians Scientists and Engineers for Healthy Energy
Statement on the Public Health Considerations of the [NYS] Draft Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement:

Health Impacts; Numerous Peer-Reviewed Documents List:

See Clean Air Council, “Air Quality Degradation: Health and Climate Impacts.” (PDF may be downloaded at this link: )

2. Greenhouse Gas Emissions/Climate Change Implications
Scientists now understand that the life-cycle impacts of shale gas extraction include enormous greenhouse gas emissions, both methane and CO2. These emissions, in all stages from drilling and fracking through venting, flaring, compressing, processing and distribution, are significantly worse for climate than oil and even coal, especially in the crucial 20-year time frame.

Climate Impacts of Shale Gas Development including the April 2011 paper by Robert Howarth et al., “Greenhouse Gas Footprint of Shale Gas Obtained by High-Volume Slick-Water Hydraulic Fracturing,”

Methane is 105 times as potent as CO2 in 20-year time frame. This figure is used by NASA scientist Drew Shindell, climate scientist Robert Howarth, fracturing expert Anthony Ingraffea, et al. in “Methane Emissions from Natural Gas Systems,” February 25, 2012, paper,–%20National%20Climate%20Assessment.pdf

Howarth and Ingraffea: “Gas Industry Fracking Study So Flawed As to Be Almost Useless”:

“Clean Air Council Threatens Suit Against DEP for Failure to Set Methane Standards for Fracking”:

“Clean Air Council Seeks Federal Intervention with Marcellus Air Complaints”:

3. Pennsylvania Constitution and the Environment
The Pennsylvania Constitution states, “The people have a right to clean air, pure water, and the preservation of the natural, scenic, historic and esthetic values of the environment. . . . As trustee of these resources, the Commonwealth shall conserve and maintain them for the benefit of all the people.”

For further information or to arrange an interview with a CCP faculty member, please contact Margaret Stephens, 215 751-8869,


  1. November 28, 2012 9:07 pm

    I just want to applaud the Community College of Philadelphia. Would that Chancellor Cavanaugh of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education arrive at this insight. Instead, we are bracing for the fracking of PASSHE campuses, and at some–California, for example–this has already become the reality. Folks here might be interested in two related articles which concern fracking on college campuses (these can be found at Raging Chicken Press and at Shaleshock):

    The Industrialization of PASSHE: Where the Public Good, its Students, and its Faculty are Auctioned Off to the Extraction Profiteers (Or: Extortion by Extraction):

    And: Letter to Bloomsburg University President Soltz: A Contract with Stantec is a Contract with Genocidal Profiteering:

    Wendy Lynne Lee, Professor
    Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania

  2. November 28, 2012 9:51 pm

    I am so glad to see a college faculty standing up against this. Yes! Academics with integrity and commitment to healthy energy. Thank you!

  3. November 29, 2012 5:06 am

    I am thrilled to see an institue of higher learning stand up for principles, rather than politics and funding. I am proud to be an alumni of CCP. More power to them, and may they set an example for other collehes and universities throughout PA, and other shale regions. Kudos to CCP!

    • Iris Marie Bloom permalink
      November 29, 2012 3:11 pm

      Yes, all praise to the faculty and their integrity. They need support from all corners. But, John, actually, the President of CCP has — so far, anyway — stood shoulder to shoulder with the Marcellus Shale Coalition in opening up this so-called Energy Training Center and giving positive PR to the shale gas industry. It is not the College itself (so far), but the faculty, who are opposing the Marcellus Shale Coalition involvement and the shale jobs promotion.

      The faculty group has started a Stop Fracking with Community College petition, directed towards the College President, and Board of Trustees (including Mayor Nutter) here: — They are interested in support from everywhere, certainly from alums and and especially from colleagues in the academic world.

  4. C.A.Donohoe permalink
    November 29, 2012 3:17 pm

    I heard about the proposed CCP program on NPR and was appalled that CCP was taking such a short-sighted measure. I highly commend the faculty members of CCP for taking a stance against the glorification of the fracking industry. Job growth will be in sustainability and renewable resources. CCP should invest in its programs, and its students, accordingly.


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