Today, I received some interesting observations on the Delaware River Basin Commission’s XTO hearing by one of our pro-gas friends from Wayne County. Bob Nolan is a member of the Lower Wayne Property Owners Association and here is some of what he had to say in his hard-hitting analysis:
The anti-gas folks rely on science only when it is convenient for their agenda, which is almost never. Regardless of one’s opinion on any matter, one is not entitled to one’s own set of facts. Facts/truth do not have an agenda…it is what it is and it is not fungible. Nevertheless, that is not, nor will it be the anti’s guiding light.
Repeatedly, at Wednesday’s hearing, they cited “scientific research” that has been either debunked or seriously questioned, such as the recent Duke University paper and the Cornell paper. Several anti’s cited “Gasland” as their authoritative source. Many cited the recent well accident in Leroy, PA like it was on par with Fukushima, Japan. Others decried the supposed catastrophic gas well emissions, fugitive methane, CO2, airborne carcinogens, radioactive waste, etc.
A woman from Sullivan County, NY, who claimed to have a PhD in Economics, testified her research revealed that gas/oil/mineral exploration would reduce the Delaware River Basin and the Northeast to an economically unviable and worthless wasteland devoid of property value. Apparently, she’s never been to Los Angeles. There are 1,500 to 2,000 functioning oil wells and/or derricks within the city limits/LA basin. Most are in the more affluent/upscale sections of town, including Hollywood, Brentwood and Beverly Hills. I think property values are just fine in those areas and I can’t find any reports of ecological disasters.
Almost all anti’s forecast doomsday scenarios or claim they’ve already begun where drilling is permitted. There were numerous portrayals of Bradford and Tioga counties as industrial wastelands, with denuded forests, a landscape resembling the moon. This despite a very well spoken woman from Tioga, PA who testified to the numerous benefits and almost non-existent down-side of the current shale gas play. “The Susquehanna River is now the nation’s most endangered river and bubbles with methane, like a witch’s cauldron, as it bisects the Commonwealth” was another repeated claim. I fished on the Susky near Falls three weeks ago. The only methane bubble I saw was from a huge Muskie passing gas..!!
OK…so what’s my point..?? Not fish flatulence for sure. We’re never going to stifle this type of hysterical nonsense. What’s problematic with the synthesis of this worldview which they embrace: everything that is productive, prosperous or exceptional is always wrong and bad for YOU (see 8020vision.com and check Jay Kimball. This guy is a dangerous kook who believes Josh Fox is the Second Coming). THEIR utopia is for YOU and I to survive, not prosper, in a world that is pedestrian, bicycle or rickshaw driven, solar and wind powered and nourished with a vegan diet, and eventually, one bowl of rice (organic) per day will suffice. But, by golly, from the Delaware River, you’ll have crystal clear, refreshing, cool, clear water.
So are they stupid..? No they’re not. Their modus operandi is not to get the truth to the masses, it’s getting their twisted account spread far and wide as rapidly as possible. They organize very well; they use catchy slogans that are easily remembered; they’re computer literate; they use social networking…Facebook, Twitter, etc. They are not to be under-estimated. We do so at substantial risk.
I watched Tracy Carluccio from Delaware Riverkeeper repeatedly go up and down the street in Deposit, working the crowd. Anyone who was anti-gas, or on the fence, she got their name, email, etc. These people often are full-time activists, many have the affluence and time to attend most or all of the hearings, etc. Almost all I spoke to will be in Harrisburg tomorrow for the anti-gas/anti fracing rally where Josh Fox will be the keynote speaker.
In Wayne County, we’ll scrape by with a barely survivable existence, the average $40,000 per household they allowed us to keep, before taxes. And they’ll have peace of mind, relaxing in the clubhouse at Pine Valley, Merion or Aronimink, knowing that the water for their Johnny Walker or out on the golf course is pure Delaware River water.
Then one day, you’ll look at your home or your 100 acre farm; maybe it’s been in the family for 100 or more years, and you can no longer pay the mortgage; you can’t pay $4.00 or more for gas and heating oil; you can’t afford the hybrid, electric or new flex fuel car they insist you buy; you can’t pay your ever-rising taxes; when you’re hopelessly in over your head with no conceivable way out, one of them will pull up in their BMW or Mercedes and offer you pennies on the dollar for your homestead and YOUR MINERAL/HYDROCARBON RIGHTS, too. Or, maybe one of the banks will already have your place. Locally, that’s really what’s at stake here, but to our great benefit, the positives of this gas play are far beyond a local grub stake for it has massive nationwide ramifications.
We should recognize the opposition for what it is…extremely formidable and motivated, but also very frightened by the XTO water withdrawal request. I felt their constant thread throughout the Deposit hearing was, if this request is approved, it will be “Katie bar the door,” the gas exploration floodgates will open in the Delaware River Basin. They said as much. I believe this panic among the anti’s will lead to even more widespread calls for moratoriums and cumulative studies. They are, and they will continue to bombard the DRBC with petitions and demands for the same.
Bottom line, to them, that’s their perceived trump card…to fight an ongoing war of attrition; to drag the process on and on until the gas companies abandon the area, until we give up, or until we run out of funds. To that end, there will also be an increase in misinformation, outright lies and finger pointing. That can be an issue/problem for us because they have the capability for their propaganda to be viral with the internet and with Fox’s high profile. Remember Winston Churchill…”A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on.”
We really need to continue to emphasize and state the facts and the science in all the public forums, all hearings, all windows for written comment, and in the media. We must continue to oppose moratoriums and studies. We need to continue to turn people out in ever increasing numbers, every single time, to offset the bused in activists. We need to get better at social networkingon line. We need to continue to believe in our property rights as unalienable, as Thomas Jefferson stated 235 years ago, and that they cannot be usurped by a bunch of Philadelphia or New Jersey self perceived and proclaimed, intellectual blue-bloods. We need to vigorously enlist the help of our state representatives and officials.
We need to broaden the scope and appeal of our initiative and adopt a strategy that presents our case in a more altruistic light. We’ve almost been on our knees, begging for an economic boost for Wayne County. While that’s certainly desirable and a huge factor, it allows the opposition to point to us and say “They’re only in this to rape the land for a quick buck at the expense of our water supply.” It’s not true and we know so, but that is a powerful negative statement and it’s ubiquitous in anti-gas rhetoric and print info and it’s hurtful to our cause.
So, more than ever, we must present ourselves as the stalwart stewards of this land that we and our ancestors have always been. We need to make the case that Wayne County is unspoiled, rural and beautiful and the Delaware River is pristine because we live here, not because bureaucrats, regulators or supposedly much more erudite outsiders have guided us or mandated so. And, we need to stress that this Marcellus play would provide enormous benefits, exponentially larger than local financial gain, to the Northeast and to the entire nation. Shale gas has the potential to send the Hibbert Curve to the scrap pile, where it belongs.
Abundant, affordable energy is absolutely critical to the welfare of a developed nation and its security. The US is a large country with a very mobile population, many living in rural areas not amenable to mass transit. Our Marcellus is virtually beneath existing pipelines adjacent to 25% of the nation’s population. Our Marcellus can be developed safely and void of deleterious impact to the Delaware Basin because we who reside here will settle for no less. Our Marcellus can help interdict the constant flow of oil dollars to Mid East and South American thugs, despots, religious bigots and drug cartels and hopefully preclude our uniformed sons and daughters from serving in distant, hostile regions. Our Marcellus is such a no-brainer: positive, clean energy play and such a win-win for Wayne County and the USA.
Finally, I perused the DRBC Compact today just to refresh my memory. If I was a betting man, which I am, I’d bet they will approve the XTO permit request. There’s nothing in the Compact that would prohibit their approval. It’s what they were created and mandated to do 50 years ago. Keep the faith…destiny will smile on us.