Corbett touts shale-gas boom, is met by protest

A small group of protesters, from Fight for Philly, protest Gov. Corbett as he leaves the Franklin Institute on Friday morning and attempt to stop his vehicle from leaving. (LUKE RAFFERTY / Staff Photographer).
A small group of protesters, from Fight for Philly, protest Gov. Corbett as he leaves the Franklin Institute on Friday morning and attempt to stop his vehicle from leaving. (LUKE RAFFERTY / Staff Photographer).
Posted: June 15, 2013

Foreign business leaders are increasingly looking to Pennsylvania as a potential location for investment because of the availability of abundant Marcellus Shale natural gas, Gov. Corbett told an industry-supported energy summit Friday.

Corbett said Pennsylvania's shale-gas boom was a frequent subject of interest on his trade missions this year to South America and last year to Germany.

"In each place, business leaders wanted to know more about our shale industry," Corbett told about 170 people attending the daylong summit sponsored by the Keystone Energy Forum. "In fact, they knew quite a bit, but wanted to know more about where we were going."

Corbett was greeted by about three dozen protesters who picketed the event at the Franklin Institute but were turned away at the door. The protesters carried placards denouncing the Republican governor's policies on education, health care, and shale gas.

"At no point did they say it was an invitation-only event," said Iris Marie Bloom, the leader of Protecting Our Waters, a Philadelphia anti-drilling group, who had registered for the free event but was declined entry.

About five demonstrators confronted the governor's vehicle as he departed. There were no arrests, a Philadelphia Police Department spokeswoman said. Corbett did not respond to questions.

The governor noted the protesters in his 15-minute address while touting his administration's record of regulating the natural gas industry.

"You may hear some people on the outside complaining that I don't believe in the environment and public health," he said. "That couldn't be any further from the truth. We do believe in it. We believe that it can be dealt with in a very safe, logical, scientific, well-thought-out way, removing emotion from the issue."

Corbett's support for the natural-gas industry has become a centerpiece of his administration's pro-business policy. He credited shale gas with creating jobs, saving troubled Philadelphia refineries, and driving down prices of natural gas and electricity for consumers.

Speakers at the summit included representatives of the American Petroleum Institute, the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce, Sunoco Logistics Partners L.P., Braskem America Inc., the Finishing Trades Institute of the Mid-Atlantic Region, and Philadelphia Gas Works.


Contact Andrew Maykuth at amaykuth@phillynews.com, 215-854-2947 or @Maykuth on Twitter.

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