Appalachian Basin

* UPDATE* Ithaca Holds NIMBY Convention

The condescending attitude of the anti-gas movement toward anyone who disagrees with them was on display at a recent Ithaca event entitled Drilling & the DEC: Responding to New Guidelines. Although promoted as a balanced information session where experts would share thoughts on the Supplemental Generic Impact Impact Statement (SGEIS), it was little more than a long series of exaggerations, untruths and shallow demagoguery regarding natural gas.  The “experts” consisted of several biased NIMBY types who have made themselves busy as purveyors of doom regarding natural gas.  Ultimately, the meeting turned into a NIMBY convention and strategy session regarding how to flood the DEC with comments  to slow down and draw out the approval process of the SGEIS.  It was anything but a balanced discussion.  Let me offer a few examples of the speakers and what they had to say.

Louis Allstadt, Former Executive Vice President, Mobil Oil Corporation

Many assumed this fellow was a technical expert on natural gas. It quickly became apparent he wasn’t.  Indeed, he has no credentials in petroleum engineering or geology.  His presentation at another event in December, was critiqued by a real petroleum engineer, Dr. Scott Cline.  Cline found an astounding number of errors in Allstadt’s presentation and they were on parade again at this Ithaca NIMBY convention.  Allstadt attacked the draft SGEIS based on what he thought was missing, beginning with cumulative impact studies.  Clearly, he isn’t familiar with the recent activity in Pennsylvania where some 3,000 wells have been developed successfully with no ground water contamination or the fact 15 different states and the federal EPA have endorsed the safety of hydraulic fracturing.

Allstadt also claimed there wasn’’t enough data in the SGEIS on pipelines, compressors stations and metering stations, ignoring the fact it was never meant to study pipeline infrastructure, which has a long successful history in New York, but, rather, the process of hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling.  The pipeline industry has a superior track record of safe operation in large part due to the stringent regulations at the local, state, and federal levels, but to Allstadt all this apparently counts for nothing.

Likewise, Allstadt asserted DEC treats each well as a separate permit and “doesn’t consider what else is going on” ignoring the most basic fact that DEC must approve all production units before a company start developing an area and is not only fully aware of what’s “going on” but controls how production takes place within any given area.  The DEC has been monitoring and regulating the gas industry in New York for decades but you wouldn’t know it from anything Allstadt said.  There are many others things he didn’t know either.  When questioned, for example, as to whether there were any treatment plants capable of treating waste water he was forced to say he didn’t know, but a reader of the SGEIS would know there are such facilities and, more importantly, nearly all of the operators in Pennsylvania now reuse and recycle flow back water.

The more Allstadt talked, the more it became apparent he was anything but an expert but he had an opinion and he could put the word “Mobil” behind his name and that was all that mattered.   I don’t exactly know what Allstadt did for Mobil but he wasn’t there long and I can see why.

Tony Ingraffea, Ph.D., Professor of Engineering at Cornell University

We have reviewed Tony’s schtick many times here on these pages.  He essentially use the same formula over and over again, using his fracturing credentials to get in the door and then discussing global warming, truck impacts and everything else on which he is anything but an expert, all the while being careful to avoid saying there is anything inherently wrong with fracturing.  There’s not much to add even though he changes a slide or two now and then to  highlight his football days or challenge EID.  One thing that seldom changes, though, is his repeated references to his work with Schlumberger, the oil and gas services company, which, like Allstadt, he wears like a name tag to give himself credibility as an “industry” source.

We were intrigued at how Tony inserted this Schlumberger reference into many of his talks and decided to investigate.   Tony’s CV is available here.  From 1988 through 1996 he worked on a $448,000 research project for Dowell Schlumberger (now part of Schlumberger but then a separate company) and Digital Equipment Corp. to study the “Influence of Perforations Upon Subsequent Hydraulic Fracturing,” He was “Principal Investigator.”  He was obviously not an employee because his CV indicates he was a Cornell University  Professor from 1987 until now.  Significantly, over that 9-year period Tony says he was working with Schlumberger, he lists himself as a Principal Investigator or Project Director on 32 research projects valued at $21,814,531, meaning that project was but 2.1% of his project research activity during that time.  He also found time to direct 11 thesis projects and publish 96 articles, reports and studies over that period.  If Tony worked for Schlumberger, then I worked for the IRS because that’s about the same percentage of  time I put into my annual tax return.

Helen Slottje, Managing Attorney, Community Environmental Defense Council

We’ve also written here about the Slotje’s and their Park Foundation funded efforts to propagandize for Potemkin laws, in places such as the Town of Lumberland, New York.  She made it clear their goal is to manipulate towns into enacting controls that will force gas companies to sue communities to get right to develop  natural gas.  The sheer cynicism of this approach shocks the conscience, but more about that another time.  Watch her and decide for yourself – would you buy a used car from this woman?

The consistent thread running through everything I heard in Ithaca was the NIMBYism of the supposed experts.  They have little or no expertise that supports their contentions because their goal isn’t protecting the environment or supporting communities – it’s nothing more than trying to stop something in their back yard, and this was a NIMBY convention.

UPDATE: We learned Lou Allstadt, who lives in Cooperstown, owns a Cirrus Design Corp SR22 plane that consumes 18.4 gallons of fuel per hour.  Maybe he could convert that to Compressed Natural Gas and reduce his impact on the planet?


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