Allegheny College has been approached by a leasing company to consider deep shale gas extraction, also known as hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” on or under our Bousson Research Forest.
Allegheny’s Commitments and Values
The college has received national recognition for its commitment to sustainability and carbon neutrality through the creation of the Environmental Guiding Principles, the signage of the American College & University Presidents Climate Commitment, and the development of a Climate Action Plan. The consideration of leasing land for hydraulic fracturing threatens the college’s reputation as an environmental leader in higher education, affecting the students, alumni, future students, and faculty. Therefore, Allegheny should not consider hydraulic fracturing on the basis that the college cannot become a net producer of natural gas without compromising its core values of environmental stability and climate neutrality.
Openness of Conversation and Decision-Making
The college’s current tactic of using The Bousson Advisory Group, a closed and selected group of individuals, to communicate suggestions to the board of trustees does not represent an openness of conversation or a commitment to honoring student and faculty opinion, as it claims to. In order to make this a more inclusive conversation, we demand that the trustees and college administration share all open letters, industry proposals and communications with the entire campus community and provide truly democratic forums as well as respect the voice of the whole college community on the future of the school.
Environmental and Health Concerns:
Hydraulic fracturing involves injecting water and harmful chemicals in deep bedrock at high pressure in order to fracture the layers of shale and extract natural gas. This process has been linked to a number of environmental hazards and even earthquakes. Hydraulic fracturing uses millions of gallons per well, which is pumped back out as toxic wastewater. Disposal of this wastewater can contaminate drinking water and other water sources. Air pollution comes from condensate tanks, gas flaring, venting, dehydration, and increased truck traffic. About 10% of the natural gas is leaked into the atmosphere from this process, and last year Chesapeake Gas noted that 45% of wells had containment problems. These natural gas emissions are comprised of 90% methane, a powerful greenhouse gas, 26 times more effective at trapping heat than carbon dioxide. Natural gas, like all fossil fuels, has a negative impact on the environment and we believe it is not currently being used as a bridge fuel toward renewable alternative energy.