SCRANTON — President Barack Obama has yet to set foot in The Electric City, but state Republicans already are reacting to the message he intends to deliver — as well as to the demands of anti-fracking protesters also expected to greet the president.
Congressman Tom Marino, R-Lycoming Township, criticized what he sees as a “lame duck bus tour,” and urged the president against taking any action that would stymie drilling in the state.
“Now, Pennsylvania Democrats are even pushing for a ban on natural gas drilling in Pennsylvania, which would be disastrous for the 10th District,” Marino said. “The President should show some leadership and admonish the Pennsylvania Democratic Party for their job-killing stance that only would further hurt the struggling national economy.”
Gas drilling activists plan to rally outside Lackawanna College this afternoon prior to Obama’s arrival, as reported by the Times Leader this morning (see http://timesleader.com/news/local-news/774037/Fracking-foes-seek-Obamas-ear for more). They hope to encourage the president to put pressure on the federal Environmental Protection Agency to reopen its investigation into natural gas drilling and drinking water contamination around Dimock, in Susquehanna County.
Among the protesters will be Dimock Township resident and activist Ray Kemble, who wrote to Obama inviting the President to visit the Susquehanna County community as he travels from Binghamton, N.Y. to Scranton, in order to see fracking contamination first-hand and meet affected local residents.
Obama has generally been seen in support of drilling, although his stance has raised the ire of anti-fracking critics within his own party — including Binghamton, N.Y. Mayor Matt Ryan, who plans to present the president with a letter outlining his concerns about fracking during a town hall meeting at SUNY Binghamton prior to Obama’s stop at Lackawanna College — and Republicans who don’t believe the president has gone far enough in support of gas drilling.
“The Pennsylvania Democratic Party is trying to kill Marcellus Shale, and the fact that they’d be willing to destroy the thousands of jobs created by the industry to cater to the left-wing extremists is alarming,” state Republican Chairman Rob Gleason said in a statement released this morning.
“Which side of this debate is the President on — the Democratic Party’s war on shale or will he support Governor (Tom) Corbett’s outstanding leadership on helping the industry grow?” Gleason asked.
Ryan, meanwhile, planned to present Obama with letters from Kemble and others as part of his anti-fracking message.