Flint Fumbles Marcellus Shale Ball
Some 25 people gathered in Binghamton, New York to hear Adam Flint of the Binghamton Regional Sustainability Coalition (and Adjunct Professor of Environmental Studies at Binghamton University) speak on banning natural gas exploration in towns throughout upstate. The event was promoted as a public meeting, but more on that in a moment. Flint has a vision of turning New York into a vast solar energy collection field, which was one of the subjects of his talk, although he never addressed such practical questions as what to do with all those batteries. He also offered some very misinformed views on the economic impacts of natural gas development and then suggested (incorrectly) how such development would effect local farms, all of it speculation, without a thought toward how income from natural gas helps sustain family farms. Overall, the session was much like a poorly played football game as Flint kept fumbling the Marcellus Shale ball every time it was handed to him.
“Public Meeting” Still Baffles Antis
Anti natural gas groups demanding transparency from the natural gas industry are becoming ever more reluctant to practice what they preach so to speak. When I was setting up my camera I was approached by Flint who proceeded to ask me to speak with him in the hall outside of the meeting. He then proceeded to tell me I wasn’t allowed to record the meeting because I hadn’t called him beforehand. I reminded him it was a public meeting, being held in a public building, and recording was perfectly legal. He agreed but requested I send him an email once my blog was published. One would think video documentation would be useful in protecting the record but making a public meeting as private as possible seems to be the modus operandi of anti natural gas organizers.
Solar Hope vs. Marcellus Shale Reality
In his presentation it was clear that Flint envisions a green revolution, with solar power leading the way. He believes New Yorkers should mimic New Jersey and the Federal government in using government subsidies to stimulate solar development. Unfortunately, this proposal falls a bit short for a state needing to improve its economy and reduce budget gaps over the next year. Moreover, solar power, as it stands today, is a costly endeavor for the average individual. That said it is something that natural gas can support as a bridge fuel. Check out the video below.
Remember short lived Solyndra? Flint’s plan sounds a lot more like it than natural gas exploration.
Job creation from any industry that can help get Upstate New York back on its feet is certainly desired. Right now natural gas is providing thousands of jobs with no direct government financing. Why work to stop this job creation? Wouldn’t a better strategy be to work alongside an industry, like natural gas, that is already creating thousands of jobs in multiple professional disciplines? The development of the Marcellus Shale employs scores of professionals among hundreds of professions and that is just in the direct development of natural gas. There are also needs for additional employees throughout the economy supporting these operations. How many jobs solar power will create and at what cost to the taxpayer remains to be soon?
Further, solar power is an energy resource that takes a significant investment to launch and maintain, a luxury unaffordable to most living in upstate New York. When many folks here struggle just to cover the taxes on their properties its doubtful most could afford such an investment.
Flint discussed briefly how he feels New York could lead a green economic renaissance, but says in the next breath that the concept is not growing fast enough to satisfy what we need in America. Does he plan to buy everyone the materials to accomplish this?
Shooting the Golden Goose
Flint also indirectly attacked businesses already benefiting from natural gas exploration. He attempted to discredit hotel growth by arguing their hospitality toward industry workers deprived others of rooms- even though they weren’t being utilized by local residents in the first place. A simple Google search of “hotels in Binghamton, New York” results in well over 30 hotels. This does not include the greater Binghamton area (Vestal, Johnson City, Chenango Bridge, Endwell, Endicott, Owego, etc.). It’s hard to foresee all of these rooms being sold out every night but more to the point, why would it a bad thing if they filled their rooms on a regular basis? Doesn’t this create prosperity? Wouldn’t others than build additional rooms? Isn’t this how a free market works?
Flint also talked about the Vestal farmer’s market and worried that farmers don’t have the resources to produce locally grown food in large quantities, seemingly oblivious to the funds Marcellus Shale development would put in farmers’ pockets. They would be able to purchase new equipment and keep their farms running for future generations. New Yorkers can look just south of the border to Pennsylvania to see this happening already there. Farmers have been able to pay their taxes, improve equipment, buy more livestock, and make a profit in a time of economic struggle for many in the agricultural business.
Home Rule Head Fake
Flint was all over the field, fumbling the ball numerous times but threw an interception when he recommended David and Helen Slottje. He discussed how the Slottje’s assisted Dryden in banning gas exploration but he failed to mention they will not represent anyone in court because they are not litigating attorneys. He says the Slottjes are sure the Dryden case will hold up in court because “the law is written unclear.”
Yet, if one takes a moment to read the New York Oil and Gas law, they will see that it is actually pretty clear in what it supersedes at the local level – everything but roads and taxes.
The provisions of this article shall supersede all local laws or ordinances relating to the regulation of the oil, gas and solution mining industries; but shall not supersede local government jurisdiction over local roads or the rights of local governments under the real property tax law. (NYSDEC, ECL23-0303-2)
Only someone with a mission would think this is too complicated or the least bit unclear, but, of course, the Slottje’s are funded by the Park Foundation, which does have a mission, doesn’t it?