Jewish summer camp in the U.S. Jewish Journal
Jewish children at a summer camp in the U.S. (Photo courtesy of the Jewish Journal)
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Fracking, the controversial technique for extracting natural gas that energy companies are promoting as America’s path to energy independence, has come to the sunny, idyllic world of Jewish camping.

Four Jewish summer camps have signed leases with gas exploration companies which could allow the deep bore drilling technique — criticized by many experts as damaging to the environment — at their campgrounds by this fall.

Although the leases were signed in 2008 and 2009, an interstate regulatory body has put a hold on natural gas drilling in Wayne County, Pa., where the four camps are located. But that hold could be lifted in September.

The leases, all of which are held by the Hess Corporation, highlight tension between environmental concerns over the new drilling technique, which has drawn opposition from most Jewish environmental groups, and the significant paydays that gas companies can offer the not-for-profit camps.

“This thing is so much bigger than we are,” said Leonard Robinson, executive director of the New Jersey YMHA-YWHA Camps. His organization received $400,000 upon signing an oil and gas lease with Hess in 2009 on a property that houses two summer camps. “We realized this is way beyond us,” Robinson said.

Read more on the Forward.