Shale Play Chain Gangs?

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette recently published an article reporting on a suggestion from a joint legislative committee that the common-wealth land surrounding Pennsylvania's state prisons and state colleges should be considered for gas drilling. There are 16 prisons alone atop the resource-rich Marcellus Shale formation.

The report further asserts that the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Game Commission and Fish and Boat Commission should not only be allowed to enter into lease agreements for gas drilling, but should be allowed to retain the revenue.

While this recommendation awaits final Senate vote, the Department of General Services Secretary Sheri Phillips said her agency supports the proposal to allow more departments to lease their gas rights, but would require additional resources with specific expertise in order to assist agencies during their leasing processes.

An interesting option that was not mentioned in the report, but deserves serious consideration is a prison education program that would allow the incarcerated to actually work the play. That education might then put those prisoners that are released into a better position to not only find gainful employment upon release, but to productively contribute to the state's economy while fulfilling their sentence.

Recently in Zanesville, Ohio, local community college Zane State began offering a two-week, 80-hour shale gas exploration certification course. Zane State is among dozens of public colleges and universities staffing up for job-training courses in fields related to harvesting the vast natural gas resources that run beneath Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York and West Virginia.