Appalachian Basin

Jesse White’s “Xenophobic” Remarks Ruffle Anti Natural Gas Feathers

Rep. Jesse White makes it in the papers yet again, this time for making “xenophobic” remarks against Range Resources’ employees, and this time, he’s even managed to upset his followers.

UPDATE:  Other state legislators are also now asking questions about Jesse White’s ethics.  See this story.

We’ve been talking quite a bit about Washington County, Pennsylvania Representative Jesse White because, well, he just keeps making it in the papers. First, he made accusations against the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection where he accused them of criminal activity for following state protocol in line with regulations across the country. We followed that up by taking a look at the litigants in a lawsuit where contaminants consistent with those found in a junk yard on the property of a junk yard are being blamed on Range Resources. Earlier this week, he made the papers again for emails he sent asking Range for favors to which he was denied, and now he’s back in the spotlight with racist remarks he made against their employees. Phew. I know they say “all PR is good PR”, but White may want to take a breather as his latest faux pas has even managed to upset some of his supporters.


Back in August, White posted this editorial on the Canon-McMillan Patch, a publication out of his district that he writes columns for from time to time. This particular editorial had to do with hiring local workers, or in his view, a lack of hiring locals. Unfortunately for White, not only did his observations and rant against Range not line up with Pennsylvania Department of Labor July 2012 statistics on Marcellus Shale employment, they were also very racist in nature.

From White’s editorial:

According to the police report, the vehicle, which was loaded with seismic testing equipment, was used by “five Hispanic males who all spoke broken English” employed by Dawson Geophysical Company. One of the men had just recently turned 17 years old.

The operator of the vehicle did present a U.S. passport card to the police officer…

Let me be clear—I am not implying, and I do not have any information to believe, that any laws were broken by Dawson or anyone else by the employment of the “five Hispanic males who all spoke broken English.”

and his Facebook page:

And his fears of illegal workers, as he’s wrongfully claimed Range hires, spilled over into his voting this year as well.

House Bill 1950 does nothing to promote job creation for Pennsylvania workers; in fact, it seems to be designed to allow the continued practice of an out-of-state workforce. There are no funds set aside for worker training, no tax credits for hiring Pennsylvania workers and no requirements for ensuring workers on the drill sites are drug-tested or even United States citizens. To ignore these issues and then call House Bill 1950 a “jobs bill’ would be laughable if the consequences weren’t so dire (emphasis added). Jesse White, February 17, 2012

Opponents of natural gas will likely say we’re grasping at straws here, after all White’s already made that claim…

But we’re not the only ones who saw a problem with the representative’s choice of words to prove his point. In fact, Marcellus Protest, a well-known anti-natural gas website, also wrote about the remarks being racist back in September.

Funny story about that, though. After being called earlier this week to comment to the Trib Live which ran an article on this yesterday, the post on Marcellus Protest miraculously vanished. No worries. We have the full text right here, including White’s response back to the website. Here’s a teaser of what you’ll see:

Why did Marcellus Protest remove the post on yesterday of all days? Did White’s remarks become any less racist? Did southwestern Pennsylvania become any less of “a stronghold of racism, both subtle and overt, personal and institutional” (not that it ever was)? No, the only thing that’s changed is White is now being called to the table for those remarks by those with differing opinions from Marcellus Protest on natural gas development. Seems it’s okay to question the representative when it won’t hurt their agenda, but not when the spotlight changes.

According to today’s Trib article, the number of Latinos in Washington County, which White represents, more than doubled from 2000-2010. Most representatives would embrace a growing tax base in the regions they represent, but instead White used this growing population as a scapegoat in his attack against the natural gas industry. While White often tries to distance himself from this role as a “fracktivist” cheerleader, his actions as we and the “fracktivists” have seen, do not line up with his statements of support for the development of natural gas. This latest is just one example of many of what has become an almost personal vendetta against the natural gas industry and Range Resources in particular, and even the “fracktivists” can see through his facade.

Marcellus Protest did the right thing holding him accountable for these remarks and we can only hope they will continue to do so and not just follow him blindly because he is “one of the few outspoken critics of the gas industry in Harrisburg.”


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