Democratic gubernatorial nominee Dan Onorato says he’d pressure natural gas drilling companies to hire Pennsylvania residents by threatening to withhold state drilling permits.
Both Onorato and Republican Tom Corbett say they want more Pennsylvanians employed at natural gas drilling sites.
Both candidates promise to commit to training commonwealth residents to do the complicated jobs, but Onorato says he’d go a step further.
"The one piece of leverage that the governor has over the industry is the permitting for drilling. The industry wants to be able to drill. I’m prepared to give them permits to drill. But I want one thing in return: the 80-thousand jobs that the study from Penn State predicted. They have to hire Pennsylvanians."
Corbett reacted to Onorato’s proposal.
"I mean that’s quite a threat that he has out there. My idea is, we get the people trained, they’re going to hire our people. And that solves the problem."
Department of Environmental Protection Secretary John Hanger says it’s “more than reasonable…for Pennsylvania officials to turn up the heat on getting Pennsylvanians hired.”
But he points out the DEP cannot reject permits due to who companies bring on board. Governor Ed Rendell concurs...
"Well it’s not what we do. And you might be able to do that, but you’d probably have to change some regulations or get some legislation. I think the shale companies are willing to hire Pennsylvanians, but the problem is when they came in so rapidly, we didn’t have Pennsylvanians trained to do that type of work."
Hanger says he worries a law mandating drillers hire Pennsylvanians could run afoul of the Constitution’s Commerce Clause.