Marcellus Shale

Afton Says “Yes” to Natural Gas

The Town Board of the Town of Afton
, New York, Chenango County, my home town, recently spent about a month discussing a resolution proposed by the Joint Landowners Coalition of New York in support of natural gas development.  The board entertained the resolution at its meeting last month and decided to hold a work session on it before another meeting this past Thursday.  This chain of events produced some interesting local drama, a no-show by the Great Davidski, but, in the end, Afton gave a resounding YES to natural gas development. 

The anti-energy development crowd made their presence known at the town board meeting last month, but the majority of them weren’t from Afton.  They were actually from a couple of towns over and that has been par for the course of the last few years as natural gas has become a focal point of discussion in our town and among our neighbors.  Yet, they all complained, when we attended their town board meetings, about the fact we were from a different town and supposedly invading theirs.  They have a really strong double standard.

A week later there was a special work session held in Afton to review the resolution in depth.  One anti-energy development board member, Attorney and Green Party activist Mary Jo Long, begged to have David Slottje in for a presentation. The town supervisor suggested Slottje could come in and speak for twenty minutes and just to answer one question; can the town be sued for passing the natural gas resolution? He also indicated Attorney Ed Zaengle should be able to come in and present his answer to the same question.

When other board members expressed hesitation about inviting Slottje, Long, who had not bothered to bring up this possibility up with any of them, went apoplectic.  Discussion ensued and several members of the audience who had heard Slottje speak previously warned the board there was no way he could do his standard presentation in less than an hour.  Mary Jo Long repeatedly promised she would ensure Slottje stayed under twenty minutes.  She succeeded, with this promise, in securing her fellow board members’ approval of an invitation to Slottje.  She was, obviously, thrilled, after all the drama, to know the board was going to entertain her anti-natural gas ally.

The town board met again last Thursday and awaited the presentations from Slottje and Zaengle.  Alas Slottje was a no show. His stated reason for not coming was that twenty minutes was not enough time to answer the question.  Obviously, he wanted to present the town with his entire ban/moratorium slide show presentation.  One would think Long would have been embarrassed, especially given her friend Kim Michaels of Coventry, New York, had called several people trying to get them to attend the meeting.

But, apparently being a member of the Green Party and the anti-energy gang means never having to say you’re embarrassed because Long proceeded to present Slottje’s material for him and didn’t mention the resolution once until the very last paragraph.  It was, of course, a presentation about enacting a ban or moratorium.   You can watch her presentation below.

The town supervisor pointed out to Mary Jo Long she had not really addressed the question at hand until the very end.  By spending her twenty minutes discussing issues off topic, she managed to offend not only the rest of the board but the majority of the audience as well.

Following this  push for a ban/moratorium, Attorney Ed Zaengle got up and answered the question on the table. He told the board they really won’t be putting themselves in any position by passing the resolution. He then was then harassed by Mary Jo Long, who clearly wasn’t going to accept anything he had to say.  See for yourself, especially the end of the video, who had credibility and who didn’t.

The Afton Town Board ended the discussion by voting for the resolution with a 4-1 vote. You guessed it, Long was the only one who voted against it. The overwhelming support of the audience made it clear the town board was representing the views of its constituents and she was voting her agenda.

The best part, however, came the day after the meeting.  Mike Bernhard, Mary Jo Long’s husband, sent a message over the Sustainable Otsego list-serve.  He blamed the town board and “local gassers” for “hacking” his computer.  Here’s his statement and, in it, he admits every email he sends to the town board he also forwards to several people in his address book as blind copied individuals.   This is the anti-natural gas opposition.

“This morning my computer was invaded. They took ALL of my address book, all my Outlook Express, and all my Firefox. Gone.

But I was treated to a page of pro-gas propaganda alternating with invitations from attractive local women.

I’m not tech savvy enough to know how it works, but I believe I was targeted.  Believe it was by local gassers, maybe on the town board, to whom I was sending emails blind copied to my local address books, which are now gone.  I don’t know what the implications are, but I will be slow in getting back on my feet.

Afton voted in the JLCNY resolution last night, 4-1.  It doesn’t matter what we say to them: its not about facts, its about fascism.”

OK, then … moving right along …


  • Bill desRosiers
    Posted at 14:42h, 18 July Reply

    Personally, I really enjoy the ignorance of the anti-gas movement, especially when it uses terms like fascism during a complaint. If you’re going to make such a powerful statement – or at least attempt to – make sure you truly understand such an analogy. I’m sure you would have enough time to look upFascism on Wikipedia or something. But in cause you didn’t here is the quick definition:

    Fascism is a radical authoritarian nationalist political ideology. Fascists seek elevation of their nation based on commitment to an organic national community where its individuals are united together as one people in national identity by suprapersonal connections of ancestry and culture through a totalitarian state that seeks the mass mobilization of a nation through discipline, indoctrination, physical training, and eugenics. Fascism seeks to eradicate perceived foreign influences that are deemed to be causing degeneration of the nation or of not fitting into the national culture.

    Fascism seeks to eradicate perceived foreign influences that are deemed to be causing degeneration of the nation or of not fitting into the national culture.

    From this simple definition, it appears the anti-gas community is more Fascist then it realizes; especially, the part where it looks to “eradicate perceived foreign influences.” Obviously the anti-gas agenda has made it clear that this foreign influence is the natural gas industry.

    In closing, if you are going to complain because you did not get your way in Afton – or anywhere for that matter -, do us all a favor before opening your mouth, please research your analogy so makes sense. Using a word just because it sounds “cool” doesn’t make it applicable. Is that so much to ask Mike Bernhard?

    Keep up the good work EID. The more people realize the weakness of the other side’s arguments followed by petty behavior after losing out to common sense, the quicker the United States can regain its freedom. In this case domestic (not foreign) energy!

    • Tom Shepstone
      Posted at 16:04h, 18 July Reply

      Great observations!

  • Carol Pipkin
    Posted at 16:17h, 18 July Reply

    Afton, just like in any other town that passes a pro gas resolution, does so without a public hearing, without a survey, without a petition. The town board members (who are usually either lease holders or land coalition members) pass a resolution without any attempt to find out what their constituents think about the issue.
    In contrast, bans and moratoriums on fracking are passed only after the town board has positive proof that the residents do not want fracking in their town; and this is done with petitions, surveys and public hearings.
    It doesn’t take a brain surgeon to figure out that the pro gas resolutions are the opinions of 4 to 7 people per town.

    • Victor Furman
      Posted at 22:27h, 18 July Reply

      Carol ????
      4-7 people per town…. you remind me of a knew born… you get fed your nutrients (facts)
      but you spit them out (spew) because you dont like the flavor (the majority)

      I have been to most of the town of Afton’s meetings from the time they repealed the Road Use Law maryjo wrong shoved down their throats in a meeting that wasn’t advertised (sound familiar) but got repealed when the majority of the town heard about it and showed up in favor of the repeal and of gas extraction. You BS about being a majority has been outed in town meeting after town meeting. Look at the Vote For Energy Rally in upper Lisle NY last week…. over 3,000 people showed up and thats 300 percent more than what showed up at the anti gas “Splash In The Park and Natilie Mechants Forum appearance.

  • Rach
    Posted at 17:32h, 18 July Reply

    This is how misinformation spreads. To begin, no town needs any sort of public hearing for the resolution but besides that, Afton had several comments in support of the resolution. The majority of the comments opposed were from people living outside of Afton. A survey will only yeild a 15%-20% return rate. That being said, I think the town elections (off year 2011) were enough to prove what the people in Afton want. In years prior we have only have about 225 people out to vote in the off year elections, this past election (again, off year) we had 579 people out to vote. All the people elected ran on a pro-natural gas platform and the people they ran against were openly anti-natural gas (in fact it was the only thing they mentioned their whole election). Every person running against the pro-natural gas candidates lost 70%-30% with three seats open.

    With the amount of people in the audience that were actually from Afton clapping, I would argue, I’m sure as a “brain surgeons” it was very clear the support for the resolution was overwhelming. By the way, no one on the board holds a natural gas lease. Please stop spreading misinformation/rumors and start researching before you make comments such as this.

  • Carol Pipkin
    Posted at 13:40h, 19 July Reply

    We are all aware that the resolution requires no public hearing, and that’s exactly why the pro-drillers are pushing it. Although it sounds at first like it has popular support, in reality, it is the opinion of only the board members. As to the question of surveys and petitions, the pro-drill people have never done surveys or petitions in any particular town because they know that they would get less than 10% of the people to sign in their favor.

    Now Afton, with the help of EID have no protection for their one major asset – the roads. And have put the town at risk for costly lawsuits and unnecessary expenditures. Rachel, you might better move out of the area before fracking comes to Afton.

    • Tom Shepstone
      Posted at 04:31h, 20 July Reply

      And, how is that you “know” the pro-gas position would poll less than 10%, when all the electoral evidence is to the contrary? You’re deluding yourself, Carol.

  • Victor Furman
    Posted at 10:57h, 20 July Reply


    In a recent poll of Afton, done by Kim Micheals, in which every resident received a 4 page propaganda filled, anti American, grammer lacking rant on radioactive waste and gas drilling, postage paid and wasted for by the Park Foundation in their mail…. that made the whoever wrote this document look dumber then a rat on a fly wheel, 99 out of 100 people used the survey/petition to start the fire in their burn barrels. Talk about a political backfire even the members of NYRAD were laughing openly in Guilford the night they passed the resolution as a pro gas environmentalist read from Kim’s petition. The petition brought more lauphs then Gasland at a roughneck convention in Texas.

  • 5125276000
    Posted at 12:33h, 20 July Reply

    Natural gas suppliers pay five times more in state and local taxes on a job-level basis compared to the average U.S. company. These taxes help fund essential community necessities such as education, health care and public safety operations.

    Local tax contributions from the natural gas industry are the primary source of revenue for most school districts. Roughly 75 percent of each independent school district in Texas benefits from an average of $1.35 million each year in property taxes collected from natural gas producers.

    Natural gas production is responsible for the immense economic growth more recently achieved in South Texas. According to the San Antonio Express News, city sales tax figures are up 20 percent compared to the previous year. This stark increase is largely due to the Eagle Ford Shale activity. Production from this valuable shale formation is enabling San Antonio city officials to re-invest capital gains into the development of roads, bridges, and is increasing county salaries.

    Despite the economic benefits that unconventional oil and natural gas productions have provided these communities, adversity in the form of increased regulations and litigation costs threaten continued growth. Nevertheless, the shale boom, in conjunction with hydraulic fracturing, has and will continue to provide more favorable living conditions for communities that embrace this technology.

    TAP Management and other domestic energy suppliers are anticipating a more favorable, long-term energy solution that will provide Americans with more affordable energy and create thousands of jobs. A realistic approach to our growing energy demands, combined with a shared vision from our political officials, will make the United States one step closer to achieving energy independence.

  • Fred Peckham
    Posted at 16:17h, 20 July Reply

    If you don’t like what the elected officials did vote them out, pretty simple. Most of the towns that are passing resolutions had elections last year, where were the anties when these pro ng officials were elected? I Guess the majority of anties aren’t the majority after all!

  • Vic Furman
    Posted at 08:22h, 21 July Reply

    Thanks to Kim Micheals and Peter H. speaking in Coventry NY last night the Board voted 4-1 to pass the JLCNY resolution to let the DEC do it’s job on regulations

  • Gretchen mcFee
    Posted at 09:53h, 22 July Reply

    While not an Afton resident, I do live in a near-by community and was happy to see the outcome of vote. I too received the ill-written “end of the world as we know it” fictional “fact” sheet. Regardless of the issue, clear simple concise FACTS create allies and supporters. Regardless of one’s stance on any given subject, one should seek the truth, both pro and con, in order to come to an intelligent decision. This country was founded on the belief that a democratic society serves all, and is a practic all should fight to conserve. Made up “facts” and scare tactics play NO part in logical and ethical social or environmental decisions. They only serve to discredit the cause.

  • Victor Furman
    Posted at 22:27h, 24 July Reply

    Coventry signed the JLC resolution as well this week…. kim helped us get that one pushed through along with Peter H. Good Job guys

  • Tom G
    Posted at 21:38h, 25 July Reply

    When you state that a Fact is fictional, you are expressing YOUR opinion. This is not about Opinion. It is about Facts. If in your opinion you choose to be blind about facts and and declare them fiction, then you have an agenda.
    Why only 5 people vote on a pro-gas resolution is pretty un-American. In a democracy all the voices are heard. I dare Afton to let every resident and land owner vote on hydraulic fracturing.

    • Tom Shepstone
      Posted at 22:05h, 25 July Reply

      if you think our facts are fictional, please be specific, so we can respond.

    • Earl W. Colley
      Posted at 10:00h, 26 July Reply

      Tom G
      Are facts strange to you? To know facts require research not your opinion. Fact, the Town of Afton has voted on Pro-Gas support with the November 2011 elections. The Town Supervisor and two Town Council seat were up for election and contested. The anti-gas, anti economic development, anti everything except there opinion and agenda were soundly defeated by a seventy to thirty margin. Fact, that’s democracy at work.
      Fact, America is not a democracy, America is a Republic check with the “Pledge of Allegiance “. Fact Tom G. you don’t have clue do you?

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