More Crickets (and Skeletons?) Than People
Yesterday, in Norwich, N.Y., there was a panel discussion on local regulation of natural gas development. It was put together for the benefit of legislators and town officials and was attended by about 85 folks. Following this session, a group of NIMBYs tried to stage a rally across the street to protest Marcellus Shale drilling in New York State, “tried” being the operative word. What we saw, and you can see in the following video and pictures, was that there just wasn’t much local interest in hearing what these individuals had to say, although Tom reports he had a friendly conversation with Catskill Mountainkeeper workhorse and Open Space Institute lobbyist Wes Gillingham and they were able to have an honest exchange of views.
Otherwise, there seemed to be more skeletons than people, although the die-hard radicals stuck with it for about 90 minutes of preaching and a seeming eternity of boredom. Only 15 or so people went outside to be a part of the rally. While the NIMBYs had lots of props to show the cars passing by, the efforts seemed pretty fruitless when you looked at the number who actually showed up.
It’s just one more example of how their numbers are fizzling out as citizens educate themselves on the natural gas industry and realize the NIMBYs are engaged in what can only be described as irrational hysteria. The facts support that drilling has been done and will continue to be done in a way that is safe for the environment and economically beneficial for the local communities.
These aging flower children were there because they opposed a meeting going on inside the County Office Building that was intended to educate local officials. That meeting, well-attended and thoroughly professional, was sponsored by the Chenango County Natural Gas Advisory Committee, and featured four excellent speakers addressing different facets of local regulation of natural gas development.
Greg Sovas, a former DEC official who is responsible for the original GEIS forming the foundation of DEC’s current oil and gas regulatory regime, gave a superb talk on the history of this regulation, the pre-emption provisions of state law and why they exist. He provided numerous insights on the industry that I had not previously heard discussed. You can view his excellent presentation here.
Following Greg’s presentation, Bob Williams, an environmental analyst, member of the Joint Landowners Coalition and Windsor area resident discussed his group’s negotiations to accomodate the Laser Pipeline project, providing a great overview of all the measures landowners and localities can take on their own and through the Public Service Commission Article 7 process to address pipeline issues. It was extremely enlightening and can be viewed here.
Finally, Delta Engineers representatives gave a very good overview of the road issues connected with natural gas development, noting the importance of good road use agreements based not on weight limits but, rather, a combination of weights and frequency of road use not specific to gas but not likely to impact occasional road users either. It is a very rational approach. If their presentation should become available it will be shared here as well.
More pictures of what can only be descrined as an early Halloween rally follow for your enjoyment: