Appalachian Basin

Occupy Youngstown?

As the hundreds of attendees at the YOUNG Expo were learning about upcoming shale exploration in Ohio, protesters gathered outside blind to the fact that they too could be inside learning.  Instead they spent most of their day designing signs and creating catchy chants trying to end shale, as well as conventional oil and gas, development.  Renewables are now the only source of energy to be generated in America or that is what their mantras led me to believe.

I have no problem with renewable energy nor does Energy In Depth.  For that matter,  I don’t think anybody does.  According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), global energy consumption will increase by 53% by 2035.  We need all of the energy we can generate a true all of the above approach coupled with efficiency and conservation to meet future challenges.  Unfortunately for the activists, renewable energy is not a realistic approach to our country’s energy demands.  But they don’t know this.  They don’t know the capabilities of renewables given current technology, the massive land impacts that would be realized if their vision were to be adopt.  Of course their ignorance does not stop them from protesting against any and all non renewable fuel sources.

Before the protesters began their march in downtown Youngstown, a few of them actually attended the expo.  Were they there to learn?  Sadly they were not.  They were hoping to cause a disruption.  Thankfully the security at the Cavalli Centre was there to make sure that did not happen.  As a many of them dispersed, a couple stayed and took seats in the crowd.  While again you would assume they would want to learn something, sadly disrupting the event was more important to them.

During Attorney Eric Johnson’s presentation titled “What Do Property Owners Need To Know?” a not so clever activist thought he would be able to stump Mr. Johnson, asking questions that had nothing to do with his presentation.  He did make his point.  That is if his point was to prove that he had little shame when trying to make a poorly worded argument.

Did I just somehow transport myself to an Occupy Wall Street rally?  Somehow this gentleman tries to tie shale development to Chase Bank being “known” for ripping people off.  I am not sure how long it took him to come up with such an argument but I hope it was only a few seconds.  Mr. Johnson thankfully has researched shale development unlike the gentleman in the crowd.

Outside the expo the protesting was a bit more organized.  There were roughly a hundred people marching down Front Street against shale development.  Many were college students from universities in the region and others were local activists. They chanted anti-shale slogans while banging on drums and holding signs.  The chant of choice was “Green Jobs are what we need, hydraulic fracturing is a dirty deed”.

Hydraulic fracturing is not what I would call a dirty deed.   Over 15 state regulators and even EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson have said that there has never been one single confirmed case of hydraulic fracturing contaminating groundwater.  Not only have the regulators never seen a case, but countless studies have confirmed this as well.

Two recent studies conducted by Penn State and University of Texas  were released this fall.  They both came to the exact same conclusion.  Hydraulic fracturing is safe and does not impact groundwater supplies.

After about fifteen minutes the activists took their march to the public square where a handful of speakers talked about bringing the fossil fuel industry to an end.  It was the typical hodgepodge of anti-oil, anti-coal and anti-natural gas propaganda.  But their main attraction was Pittsburgh Councilman Doug Shields.

Councilman Shields and his wife addressed the crowd, ginning them up with anti-shale statements and urging them to take action while condemning our legislature and our Governor.  The same Governor and legislature who have worked tirelessly to promote job creation while creating rules and regulations to develop our shale safely and responsibly.

Councilman Shield’s wife was the one who really stole the show with her wacky antics.  She told the crowd it was because of her and her friends that Pittsburgh banned hydraulic fracturing.  She even has the and on her speed dial and calls them daily to harass them about shale development.  That sounds productive!

She urged everyone in the crowd to occupy the phone lines to our Statehouse and Governor’s office to harass them.  Mrs. Shields claims she does the same.  She then name checks both Josh Fox and Calvin Tillman as their close friends as she urged the crowd to pirate Gasland and send copies to everyone they know.  Yes, you read that right, she was openly telling people to commit an illegal act- copyright fraud- in a public venue.  Makes me wonder if she will pay their bail.

Both Josh Fox and Calvin Tillman have never worried about the truth getting in the way of their anti shale crusade.  We have already debunked Calvin Tillman during one of his recent Ohio visits.  Energy In Depth also has a very detailed debunking of Josh Fox and his fictional Gasland documentary.

Unfortunately for Councilman Shields, his wife had more to say than he did.  The only thing he added was touting his success at allowing Pittsburgh to miss out on Marcellus shale development.  I really expected more from him but it sounds like his wife is really pulling the strings on the anti-shale sentiment in the Shields household.

After full day of watching activists, I could only come to one conclusion.  I really wish they would have just taken the time to attend the YOUNG Expo to educate themselves on the topic.  But it seems the occupy mentality is the only type of mentality they are willing to utilize when it comes to shale development. Count me as not surprised.

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