The shale gas industry is like the auto business — it might hurt some people, but the jobs it brings to a struggling economy make it worthwhile, gas industry pitchman and former Gov. Tom Ridge said Thursday.
“You don’t quit building automobiles because some people are going to crash and kill themselves,” said Ridge, who spoke at Carnegie Mellon University. “You have to manage the risk. Capitalism and entrepreneurialism is risk management.”
Ridge, whose Washington-based consulting company makes $75,000 a month from a coalition of gas drillers, led a presentation on Marcellus shale gas drilling to open the university’s 21st annual Distinguished Lecture Series in Environmental Science, Technology and Policy. It’s an industry that could improve life in long-struggling rural Pennsylvania towns, he said.
The former Republican governor got a warm reception and applause from a crowd of about 250. But several drilling opponents in the audience criticized him for his relationship with the industry and for not visiting residents near the 400 well sites in Washington County.