Plymouth Protest Fizzles As Town Board Stands for Sanity
This week the Town Board of the Town of Plymouth, Chenango County, New York, held its monthly meeting. Our friends on the other side of the natural gas debate were told to show up in force, early and with cameras in hand to record, by Bill Huston. Given the serious effort by Huston to get his friends and admirers to show up and contribute to his scripted scene, it was an extremely sad turnout as we have seen so often lately from natural gas detractors. There were no more than 25 people in the audience and some were anti-natural gas but only two showed up with cameras, neither of which was Huston. He was elsewhere as it turned out!
Prior to the Plymouth meeting, Huston had exhorted his followers with this:
Request for Direct Action Support
Plymouth NY Town Meeting, Monday July 9th
Bring your Camera Day!
(meeting at 6:30, please show up by 6pm)
(OK for distribution on all lists)
What we are seeing happening all over,
1: People being hassled for attempting to record public meetings
2: Public participation being limited in various ways.
3: Reticent town boards being petitioned for a ban or moratorium
but which do nothing.
Here is a simple action I would ask for your support with.
While this should not be an arrestable action,
(because it is your right to attend and record a public hearing)
still, police may be called.
What really happened (other than Huston not showing)? Well, the board read a letter sent to Town Board members stating there was a petition with approximately 600 names against natural gas exploration. If we remember back to my previous blog, the one about Callicoon, 600 names on a petition is somewhat deceiving. As of 2010 there were just over 1,800 people in the town. We don’t know if the people petitioned were voters or any other details. We do know how inaccurately the data can be portrayed.
The letter attached to the petition mentioned the signatories didn’t feel the Department of Environmental Conservation did a good job with the Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement. This in spite the fact, DEC has studied the issue for over four years and is in the process of finalizing the strictest regulations in the country.
The Town Board mentioned considering the natural gas development resolution distributed by the Joint Landowners Coalition. They stated it would only be considered after they had a chance to speak in executive session, but the topic was never brought up following the session.
The supervisor then opened the floor to the public. Each person was allotted five minutes to speak with a thirty minute time period for public comment. Town residents were given first priority to speak and then, with the remainder of the time, the floor was opened for those attending from out of town.
The first man to speak talked about natural gas development harming animals and people. He referred to a veterinarian who told him there were several problems associated with animals that live near well sites in Pennsylvania. I recently attended a presentation in Wilkes-Barre by Dr. Michelle Bamberger and her husband Dr. Robert Oswald where they admitted they have tried to find evidence that natural gas development was harming livestock but were unable prove this assertion. In other words, the individual in Pymouth cited a study that the authors admit proved nothing.
This study was also later touted by a town supervisor from Otsego County, who even made sure to give the board members the “study” to help them see its points. Perhaps they’ll read it a little more thoroughly or sit in on a presentation by the doctors where they again have to disclose the study proved nothing. For her part, after the Otsego County Supervisor gets done trying to make a story of nothing, she tells the board cancer rates in Texas are incresaing. Sue Mickley and Uni Blake tackled that claim on another blog on Energy in Depth looking at the health impacts, or lack thereof, in Texas. They’re research found the cancer rate has actually decreased and people now have income to purchase health insurance, which is improving health statistics in the area.
Her last point was one we’ve heard often from those who have no idea of the hardships farmers today face: if natural gas development begins in New York farmers will no longer want to farm. Farmers all over New York have stated the first thing they would do with natural gas monies would be to pay their taxes and upgrade their farming equipment. What’s more, is if a person chooses to get out of this career path and lifestyle because they have worked their whole lives to keep their farm afloat who’s right is it to tell them they have to continue doing something no longer desirable to them? Any other professional is allowed to change their career at any point in their lives, why isn’t a farmer offered the same courtesy?
Sit down for this one. One man who spoke actually tried claiming the people who support natural gas exploration have no facts or studies proving natural gas is safe to develop. Yes, that’s right, we are the ones without the facts not people such as Dr. Michelle Bamberger or Josh Fox who admittedly leaves out the inconvenient truths when they don’t fit his agenda. He must be forgetting all of the studies, including those conducted by EPA, that say otherwise. Not to mention the countless statements by state and federal officials saying the same thing.
Finally, one supporter of natural gas spoke. She thanked the board and mentioned she didn’t think they were corrupt (an accusation one anti leveled earlier). She said what everyone in the room knew, people in the area need real wealth and real jobs two things the natural gas industry will provide. She made the best point of the night:
If you don’t want a well on your property, don’t sign a lease. If you don’t want your neighbors to use their property rights with a well on their property, buy their land.
Another supporter stated he believed the people against natural gas development are being hypocritical because they use the gas in everyday life but they refuse to allow it to be produced in New York.
The last anti-gas development audience member spoke saying she was raising her adopted grandson in the area. She wants her land and home to pass onto him but she doesn’t support natural gas development. I didn’t want to be the one to break the bad news to her, but there aren’t any jobs to keep him in the area anyway once he is old enough to complete higher education.
The next day we found out why Bill Huston urged everyone to go to Plymouth but wasn’t there himself. He was in the Town of Barker attending their meeting on road use law. He was apparently extremely disruptive there, first from showing up late and secondly from setting his camera up obnoxiously. He then began harassing Vic Furman and even got the police involved. Huston almost had Furman arrested for accidentally bumping into him! People in support of natural gas development are constantly harassed by the individuals who do not support it!
In the end, the Town Board in Plymouth stood their ground as they listened patiently to everyone who wanted to speak, including a few attendees from out of town! The board never mentioned the resolution again, but they also didn’t respond positively toward a moratorium or ban. We’ll see what they decide at a future meeting. At least for now it appears they are weighing all of the information given to them and plan to make an educated decision on whats best for the community. I hope for the sake of the youth of the community, natural gas will be a part of their solution to revive the economy, but we’ll just have to wait and see.