Appalachian Basin

Anti-Gas Ideologues Try To Capture DRBC

A couple of weeks ago I attended the Delaware River Basin Commission regular meeting in Trenton, New Jersey.  Among the actions taken by the Commission was an announcement that no decision would be made until October 21, 2011 (now changed to November 21) regarding the adoption of proposed regulations to allow natural gas exploration in the basin.   This was not a public hearing and the Commission made it explicitly clear it was taking no further comment on the proposed regulations.  Moreover, it noted that no written record was being made.  Nonetheless, when the panel opened the  floor for public comment, it became a public hearing of sorts as anti-gas forces attempted to seize control of the meeting by creating chaos out of a otherwise structured event.

The room was filled with people opposed to natural gas exploration.   The signs they carried covered the floor and numerous people signed up to speak, many of whom came from New York City.  Speakers were allotted two minutes to speak.  If a speaker exceeded their time the panel muted the microphone and the speaker was ushered back to their seat.  This caused an uproar among the anti’s who were determined to turn the meeting into a ad hoc public hearing.

One woman who rose to give her opinion on natural gas wasn’t satisfied with that opportunity and actually started a chant as she was walking back to her seat, as if this was a protest march and not a public meeting.  She presented no factual information in her statement and, by creating disorder in the hall, almost certainly did her cause harm.

The main argument of the anti-gas forces seemed to be that water contamination is inevitable but this statement is contradicted by the facts.   Gas companies, for example, are now using five and even six layers of casing in their exploration process to ensure aquifers are not damaged.  The New York State SGEIS also addresses this issue in detail.

As the unscripted circus continued, the crowd began to get rowdy as you can see below:

“Our mother Earth is under attack” was the opening line of another statement, as if the natural gas industry wasn’t investing billions in environmental protection, which, of course, is precisely what it is doing.  This woman told a story about a family whose water was supposedly contaminated but then went on to admit the gas company hadn’t even began working on their land.  She stated the company only obtained a lease but hadn’t yet moved forward in the process!  There are, obviously, no standards for anecdotal evidence.  The water was contaminated before gas exploration began but that didn’t stop this woman from punishing the good deed of the gas company in providing water to the family when they had nothing to do with her well contamination.  Discovery of a problem is apparently guilt in the minds of the anti-gas ideologues.

The real problem we are seeing today, of course, is the stress of people who can’t pay their bills or find jobs.  Natural gas exploration will open doors for these people.  Jobs are being created and local economies are growing as a result, as report after report demonstrates.

What’s Next?

The anti-gas folks are trying to gather hundreds of people to protest the next DRBC meeting.

Pro-gas organizations  need to show up and speak for the too often silent majority.  Given the number of people from New York City who spoke in September, a large turnout of folks who reside, and have to earn a living, in the Delaware River Basin need to turn out and counteract these forces of negativity.   You don’t want Josh Fox setting the agenda do you? He is working overtime to bring out everyone with no stake, but with big opinions on gas exploration in the basin. If you want to help, contact the folks at the Northern Wayne Property Owners Association and the Joint Landowners Coalition of New York for details on how to become involved.



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