Appalachian Basin

Another Circus on the Natural Gas Circuit

The Town of Covert in Seneca County, NY has already passed a resolution saying they will not make any decisions on natural gas development until the DEC releases the SGEIS, but a small group keeps pressing the issue. This past week’s town meeting was no exception.

There was a meeting in the Town of Covert, New York, Seneca County last week where a small group called Covert Concerned Citizens (CCC) pushed natural gas development as an issue. This came despite the fact the town already passed a resolution indicating it would not make any decisions concerning natural gas until the Department of Environmental Conservation releases the SGEIS.

The meeting room was relatively full with approximately 40 people in attendance. Of those, roughly 40 percent were opposed to natural gas development while 60 percent were supportive of development in Covert.

Some people said they didn’t necessarily support natural gas yet, but agreed the board made a wise decision by passing the resolution stating they will wait for the DEC to move forward. That was the tenor of the Covert Town Board’s discussion as well, as it handled the matter with common sense and refused to be intimidated by the minority there in an attempt to impose their opinions on all property owners.

A handful of petitioners spoke, the first of whom were against developing natural gas in Covert.

One man told the board he would support natural gas if he could be confident natural gas companies could get the gas out safely, and the water would be protected.  The natural gas industry is, of course, already implementing as best management practices many of the requirements of the SGEIS and draft regulations, such as closed-loop systems, recycling of water, increased casing and many layers of containment to name a few. These practices will not be suggested in New York or voluntary, they will be required and, as we’ve seen in Pennsylvania, as technology improves, the environmental impacts of development decrease and safety for communities and workers increases.  If those were this man’s concerns, he could have, with a little more research, found  complete peace of mind.

Another individual, who admitted she wasn’t an attorney, told the board they shouldn’t worry about being sued because she had looked at the Dryden and Middlefield cases.  She told them they should just adopt a ban and if the appellate court decides towns can’t ban natural gas then they can just throw their ban out.  Oh, really?  One has to wonder why this would be a better solution than simply waiting for the DEC and/or the court to make a decision. Why waste the town’s money and time implementing an unnecessary ban and potentially having to defend it?

A supporter of natural gas development argued with this woman.  He told the audience it’s time to look at the facts and he doesn’t feel the conversation about natural gas development in the town is actually about development.  He thinks it is, rather, about a small group of Covert residents trying to impose their own personal agenda.  During his statement, several opponents of natural gas development rudely interrupted him, but he continued by telling the audience no one loves their land any more than he does.

He also suggested the CCC was targeting farmers, and not just regarding natural gas.  The same group of people who have now formed the CCC tried, two years ago, he said, to limit the number of hours a farmer could work and charge them for creating dust on their own land.

He finished his comments by calling out the opponents and asking them if they realized how much natural gas or petroleum they use personally.  The woman with whom he had argued said she didn’t use natural gas for anything.  But, of course, she wore clothes and as we noted in an earlier post, the production of printed clothing often involves drying with natural gas heated equipment.

The big surprise of the night was when Jordan DePue spoke.  DePue lives in Pennsylvania, has natural gas wells on his family’s farm, and has managed to secure a good job because of the natural gas industry.  He set the town straight using his personal experience.  He talked about his family farm and how he feels about natural gas after experiencing it himself, as well as the exportation of natural gas.

There was, suddenly, an outburst from the audience with one individual screaming at DePue that he had “won the lottery” because of development in Pennsylvania.  The individual then alleged DePue wouldn’t be able to farm without natural gas, thinking this was a negative, but DePue confirmed it was true and reflected the value of natural gas development to preserving agriculture.


The action peaked at this point.  One man was escorted out by the police after screaming at DePue, “you are on welfare, because you accept money from the natural gas industry!”

A farmer who has toiled the land he or she owns from before the sun rises until long after it sets, often for generations, to supply food and other necessities for the very people screaming at them, is taking welfare money if they develop their mineral rights?  In what world does that make any sense?

These sorts of degrading statements from individuals who have no appreciation for the work of others speaks volumes about the character of some natural gas opponents.

One woman then went on to imply Pennsylvania water is poisonous, challenging DePue.  She lives in New York.  A man also stood up and handed DePue a list of additives he said went into a natural gas well claiming the list was hard to find. Of course, it’s not hard to find at all.  The constituents in fluids used in over 30,000 natural gas wells are all publicly available at

Another man stood up and described how he went to a meeting a while back and none of the farmers were rude. He said the small group from CCC wants to control what the farmers do and tell them how to use their land.  He then told the audience Covert is not Ithaca.  One woman took offense at this and then rudely yelled at him for mentioning it.

Still another natural gas opponent managed to be even more rude to farmers in attendance.  He actually claimed farmers were somehow whining because they supported natural gas.  The questioner said he had to work hard for his business to succeed, implying farmers didn’t, as incredible as that may be to believe.

This Town of Covert meeting demonstrated the true colors of many individuals who are trying to stop natural gas development and strip away landowner rights.  They showed no restraint and the outbursts of the group were rude and inconsiderate.  The town has decided to take a cautious approach and not to move forward with a moratorium, if at all, until the Department of Environmental Conservation publishes the SGEIS.  Regardless what they eventually decide, this town board is clearly not giving into childish temper-tantrums and will continue to make thoughtful decisions.  No one can ask for more.


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