Caroline Residents Weigh in on Proposed Natural Gas Development Ban
Last week the Town of Caroline, located just outside of Ithaca (heart of the anti-natural gas opposition), had a public hearing regarding a possible ban on natural gas development. The hearing was held in the Brooktondale Community Center and residents were allowed to speak for 3 minutes on the potential ban. A majority of residents attending the meeting were for the ban, of course, given the location but, while those opposing it were outnumbered, they seemed to be the only ones who had researched any of the facts on hydraulic fracturing.
One resident even took the time to visit a development site and see the process for himself. One hopes the town board members, after hearing these constituents, will also take the time to get the facts and see natural gas development firsthand. Based on what I heard, it would be an eye-opening experience for some of them who, sadly, seem to be greatly misinformed.
The town hearing brought out over 100 people and roughly 50 spoke. It was readily apparent, after listening to all the speakers, that only a handful had the facts and correct information regarding natural gas development. The rest seemed to be merely engaged in an exercise of local political correctness, where individuals who are determined in their own minds to demonstrate how non-conformist they are, eagerly conform to the mind of the mob. Perhaps we’re naive to think some of these folks want any facts, but, in the interest of education, we have inserted some regarding the hydraulic fracturing process in the two charts to be found in the text following.
Below you will find videos from people who are for the ban on hydraulic fracturing:
Take a look at the first video, where one women implausibly argues the money from natural gas development will somehow never make into the local community. Apparently, she’s never visited the Subway shop in Wysox, Pennsylvania where one has to wait in line for sandwiches and the parking lot is always full. She obviously has never heard of Williamsport, either, even though it’s the 7th fastest growing metro economy in the nation. Any suggestion the money doesn’t go back to the community is profoundly ignorant of facts that may be ascertained by no more than looking around with one’s own eyes.
This woman also clearly doesn’t know a thing about Act 13 in Pennsylvania, which funnels tens of millions of dollars of natural gas impact fees back to communities. New York State’s taxing approach takes that concept even further with an ad valorem tax on production that ensures money will flow directly into local communities. This tax, akin to other taxes on real property, assesses the value of the natural gas wells themselves.
The women in video 2 of the playlist asserts things so many on the other side love to bring up, but which she couldn’t be more wrong about. First, for instance, she says there is an industry “exemption” from the Safe Drinking Water Act that has been created. The process of hydraulic fracturing has never been regulated under this act in the 60 years its been around. Instead, it has been regulated aggressively by the states, which have compiled an impressive record of enforcement and oversight in the many decades they have been engaged in the practice. All that provision did was clarify a court ruling that attempted to overturn 60 years of established history, which we might add, was also affirmed by Carol Browner when she served as EPA Administrator for President Clinton.
This same woman also claimed “If you sign a lease you have to sign a disclaimer so that you can’t talk to anybody if you are poisoned.” This is absolutely false. There are no non-disclosure agreements associated with leases. Are there disputes that are settled where all parties consent to non-disclosure of the terms? Yes, of course, just as there are in thousands of other civil court cases regarding any subject imaginable. These non-disclosure agreements only come into play when there is a lawsuit and they are anything but unique to the natural gas industry. This is the kind of misinformation “true believers” jump on, of course, to sell their beliefs to others, but saying it’s so doesn’t make it so. Reality has to intrude somewhere, doesn’t it?
The last video deals with a man who has concerns about water well contamination he supposes is caused by hydraulic fracturing. It was evident, after speaking with him following the hearing, he has no education in geology and is not an expert in this field. Brian Oram is a licensed professional geologist, professional soil scientist, and licensed Sewage Enforcement Officer in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania with over 20 years experience. Oram was present during the EPA water testing in Dimock and has done multiple studies on his own regarding the water quality in Pennsylvania. Here’s what he says:
I have baseline tested areas with no gas development at all. 49% of the people had water you couldn’t drink because of bacteria. 20% of these had e-coli and arsenic above the drinking water limit. We are also finding elevated levels of barium. Again, this is in an area of NO natural gas development.
The same speaker at Caroline also decried the global warming effects from natural gas development. I wonder if he’s seen the latest report from the U.S Energy Information Administration, which shows just the opposite. Perhaps he’s a friend of Bob Howarth, the discredited Cornell professor who has been peddling the nonsense about methane emissions, now panned by virtually everyone.
Below you will find public comments from residents who are opposed to the hydraulic fracturing ban:
The first man is someone to truly admire. When the controversy over this issue started he did not want to accept what everyone was saying on blind faith and so he went out and did his own research.
I’m embarrassed to say that I am from Caroline and Tompkins County. Here we are, we live in the shadows of two institutions of higher education whose sole purpose is to educate, to find solutions to problems and to move forward, and yet here we are. We have a town board that has chosen to select the facts that they look at and live in fear. I choose not to live in fear.
Prior to his remarks at the town hearing this resident chose to visit Pennsylvania and get the facts himself by taking a rig tour and seeing it all firsthand. Good for him! It’s a shame more people don’t do this.
Video 4 offers an interesting comment from a local landowner in Caroline. He was there to defend his land rights from a town board who’s about to tell him he can’t harvest something that’s under his own land.
Never really had much, don’t want much. I have a brand new tractor ordered. It doesn’t have a seat or steering wheel. If this ban goes in effect I’ve lost my ass and I don’t know which way to turn.
His comments illustrate a fundamental truth about the natural gas debate – it’s a battle over who controls the land. These bans and moratoriums are about landowners rights and the natural gas issue is just one small part of it, intertwined with all the struggles over who gets to decide what happens with a piece of land.
A Caroline resident, in Video 5, points out there is a gas well located in Caroline, which is true. There are gas wells throughout the Finger Lakes region of New York State. Here you can find a list of the wells throughout New York. The antis are so busy jumping on the anti-gas bandwagon they didn’t even seem to realize this development has been going on for years.
The Caroline Town Board is set to meet again in September to make a decision on the proposed ban. Will Caroline sell out its landowners? That really is the question isn’t it? Stay tuned for the answer.