Nothing like charges of sexism and STDs to stir up the summer doldrums in Harrisburg.
A House Democratic leader today apologized for the use of the word "womenfolk" in an email where he blamed Marcellus Shale gas drilling industry for the spread of sexually-transmitted disease in drilling regions.
The Morning Call of Allentown reports Rep. Mike Sturla, policy chairman for the House Democrats said "my parlance of the term womenfolk was more in reference to how I think the out of state drillers view women in the state of Pennsylvania."
"If anyone was offended by that term, I apologize. And I will do so publicly," Sturla said during a break in a hearing on gas issues.
But Sturla told the newspaper that he sticks by his comments about the spread of STDs in the state's northern tier region. He cited testimony provided by officials with Troy Community Hospital in Bradford County in May that concluded the increase in drilling crews had led to an higher rate of STD transmission in their area.
Sturla told the Call it's part of a "Wild West" atmosphere prevalent in the drilling boom towns. "Maybe these guys are gentleman that just spread sexually transmitted diseases. I dont' know."
Sturla made his comments in a recent interview with the online news service Capitolwire. He was responding to comments made by C. Alan Walker, secretary of the Department of Community of Economic Development, who said if more state forest land was leased the state could reap as much as $60 billion.
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