8th District Democratic candidates split on permanent fracking ban

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By Ted Bordelon

Wire Managing Editor

One of the first big policy divisions between 8th District Democratic congressional candidates Shaughnessy Naughton and Kevin Strouse emerged yesterday when Naughton released a white paper and press release detailing her position on the natural gas drilling process hydraulic fracturing, more commonly known as fracking.

“As a scientist, I’m trained to form opinions using evidence-based research,” Naughton, who has a background in cancer research, said. “Unfortunately, there is still too much we don’t know about fracking.”

If elected, she said that she would work to keep the fracking moratorium in Bucks and Montgomery counties in place, citing concerns about the unknown levels of radon in the Marcellus Shale and the potential damage to the Delaware River’s quality. She also detailed plans to work with state legislators to encourage financing clean energy in Pennsylvania, and to introduce legislation that would ban fracking on the Delaware River Basin.

“There are ways to bring jobs to our district without destroying our water,” Naughton said in a phone interview, adding that she felt it was important to balance “short-term losses with long-term gains.” Specifically, she noted jobs in industries such as clean energy, transportation and research.

Naughton’s opponent, former Army Ranger and CIA operative Kevin Strouse, recently told the Midweek Wire that he supported natural gas drilling, particularly as an “opportunity to create good-paying local jobs so long as we do it the right way and doesn’t risk the the safety of our community in the process.”

In a statement, Strouse said that he supports the current moratorium in place, however he stopped short of endorsing a permanent ban.

“Talk of a permanent ban is premature and ignores the vast potential for economic growth and new jobs if this can be done the right way, protecting the environment and our water supply,” Strouse said. “We must diversify our energy resources to help create jobs and relieve our dependence on foreign oil.”

Strouse is no stranger to fracking or energy policy.

The thesis for his master’s degree in security studies from Georgetown University centered around Russia’s energy policy and the need for Europe to “generate a common energy policy and achieve greater energy independence.”

One of the policy recommendations in the thesis encourages European countries to “promote new technologies that will enable it to extract gas from currently inaccessible areas.”

Within that section, Strouse cites a 2009 New York Times article that describes the then-less well-known process of “extract[ing] gas from layers of a black rock called shale” — -fracking.

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