Appalachian Basin

My Natural Gas Conversation

Chenango County Landowner, Victor Furman, reflects on a conversation about natural gas at the doctor’s office and what it means for the future of the debate, suggesting anti-natural gas antics are winning converts to the development side.

Many people who have traveled with me over the last 4 and 1/2 years know that if the opportunity arises I will talk to complete strangers about natural gas development at any given chance.  The subject has captured my attention because it’s so critical to the Southern Tier’s future.

A recent visit to the doctor’s office ended up with a waiting room discussion on this very subject thanks to the television that was tuned into YNN, our local cable news network.  There was a video playing of someone talking about hydraulic fracturing for natural gas. This gave me the chance to engage others in the waiting room; another opportunity to educate as well as learn.

Here is how it went.

Me:  That natural gas issue has been going on a long time.  What do you think about it?

Patient 1:  When the debate started, I was against it at first, but now I am on the fence.

Me:  Well, at first, I was against it, but I changed my mind after reading the stories in the Binghamton Press and Sun and attending a few meetings with other people who were also against it. I am all for it, now.

Patient 2:  I am for it too as long, as it can be done safely.

Me:  You say you’re on the fence now, after starting out against it.  May I ask what changed your mind?

Patient 1:  I started going to meetings held by VeRSE and NYRAD to learn what I could from their public presentations.

Me:  Getting the facts is always good.

Patient 1:  That’s true, but the meetings I attended were very one sided.  When people stood up to represent the pro side and tried to share their information the people from NYRAD and VeRSE were very rude and interrupted the speakers; not giving them a chance to speak, booing them and just being rude.  This upset me very much and because of their rudeness I felt my time was wasted by attending and I began to wonder what they had to hide?

Me:  Thank you for sharing that with me.  I have been a victim of their rudeness and, to be honest, have at times fallen to their level and acted the same, unfortunately.  Hearing your concerns about this behavior and how it has swayed your opinion is eye-opening.

Patient 2:  Why, instead of each side arguing and yelling at each other all the time, can’t you work together to make sure it is done right?

Me:  When this debate first started, that was our hope.  It became very apparent early on that there was much more involved.  As it turns, out many of those who use natural gas and oppose getting it from their back yard do so because they have watched Gasland and bought into the rhetoric and staged props that were presented as fact throughout the movie.

Patient 1:  I don’t use natural gas.

Me:  I notice you have a cell phone.  Do you have a gas grill?  Do you use Tupperware in your home?  And, when you pay the bill for today’s visit, will you be using a credit or debit card?

Patient 1:  I see what you mean.  I never thought of it that way!

The lesson I learned from this conversation is; the reason the Siena poll (see below) now shows the majority of people in New York are in favor of natural gas development is because of people like these two individuals.  They are seeing the opposition for what it’s worth when it comes to presenting both sides of the debate.  It doesn’t.  It refuses to engage and tries to win with one-sided arguments that don’t wash with reality.  Their voices are becoming shriller by the moment and ordinary people are noticing.

Sixty-three percent of voters, including 79 percent of upstaters, say they have heard or read at least some about DEC‟s expected decision on hydrofracking, down slightly from 66 percent in October. Unmoved since October, 42 percent of voters support allowing hydrofracking to move forward in New York and 36 percent oppose it.

“A majority of downstate suburban voters and a solid plurality of New York City voters support fracking moving forward, but upstaters, by a small 45-39 percent margin, oppose fracking. Democrats and independents are closely divided on the subject, with Republicans strongly supporting it. This continues to be an issue where neither supporters nor opponents have made a strong enough case to rally a majority to their side,” Greenberg said.

Siena Poll

So Chip Northrup, please continue with asking questions as you did in Sidney, New York, when a speaker who told you his last name was “Colley” generated a question from you, in a failed attempt to upset him, as to whether that was “as in the dog.”  Your condescension is helping us.

The same applies to David Slottje who told a local businessman questioning his position to “lawyer up big guy.”   Then there’s Vera Scroggin’s videos; especially the one of Craig Sautner supposedly expressing his indignation over EPA ignoring his water condition.  Yes, the one later revealed to have cropped the substance of the conversation where EPA informed him his water did not evidence contamination from natural gas development.

Finally, there’s Bill Huston, who deserves a special thanks for dropping on his back to the floor and chanting at public meetings, for the tears followed by the foul language in testimonials at pipeline hearings and for the hyped up story on how Susquehanna River pollution from natural gas was supposedly threatening Binghamton’s water supply.  No one has done more for our cause.

Keep up the good work!


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