Pa. lawmaker suggests spread of STDs ‘amongst womenfolk’ a side effect of natural gas drilling
Via the AP last week: A state lawmaker is explaining his remark that suggests the impact of Pennsylvania’s booming natural gas industry includes the spread of sexually transmitted disease “amongst the womenfolk.”
Democratic Rep. Michael Sturla of Lancaster County was expected to discuss the remark at a previously scheduled hearing Wednesday on gas drilling.
His remark was made in comments e-mailed to a reporter in which he accused a Corbett administration official of downplaying the seriousness of community impacts created by drilling.
In an email to Capitolwire ($) (must register to log in), Sturla expressed some skepticism over drilling’s value to communities.
[A]side from building roads so their trucks can get to drill sites and doing a little stream work to mitigate damage from their road building, exactly what are all those things the drillers are doing for the local communities? Patronizing the bars at night? Driving up the cost of rental housing? Spreading sexually transmitted disease amongst the womenfolk? Causing school districts to ask local governments to ban truck traffic on local roads during school bus pick up and drop off times so kids don’t get killed? Upgrading emergency preparedness equipment to handle a well blow out? Running compressor stations that have decibel levels equal to a jet engine?…really community oriented stuff.
The state Republican Party on Tuesday evening called the remark offensive and incredibly stupid, and called on Sturla to apologize. However, Sturla was apparently citing testimony by Troy Community Hospital from May that says among its experiences with the influx of drilling crews is an increase in sexually transmitted diseases.
“That’s all I said,” said Sturla. “I may have done it in a rather insensitive way, and if anyone was offended by the insensitivity, I apologize for that, but I won’t apologize for saying there’s higher STDs in those areas. That’s a fact.” Sturla paged through the report, submitted in May by the Troy Community Hospital in Bradford County.
“This is in the heart of the drilling area” said Sturla, as he read from the report. “Other issues: an increase in sexually transmitted diseases. One of the recommendations: increased Department of Health availability of services related to STDs and substance abuse.”
“I don’t make this stuff up,” said Sturla. “Should we not have drilling in the state because of that? No, but it’s one of those impacts that we need to deal with. In the Marcellus Shale Commission report, it says we should deal with it.”
Sturla defended his comments during a House Democratic Caucus meeting on Marcellus Shale. He said other industries bringing “thousands of people” into the state would also result in a rise in STDs. “It’s just you can’t whitewash it and say it doesn’t exist,” said Sturla.
Hospital administrator Staci Covey says her information was “anecdotal,” but maintains the hospital has seen a definite increase in the number of STDs it has treated in recent years. They are still working on finding specific stats for Bradford County.
So “anecdotal” information is now considered a fact? Apparently to Sturla.
Any new influx of business will bring in more people and more contact among them. Isn’t government school sexual education suppose to stop the increase of STDs to begin with? I mean, the public education system is responsible for teaching our children, at a young age, the consequences of unprotected sex.
Apparently that isn’t working too well.