Marcellus Shale

Pocono Record Falls Off the Mountain

David Pierce of the Pocono Record published an article this weekend focusing on an anti-natural gas meeting where attendees were discussing ways to impede natural gas development in the Commonwealth. The article was diffuse covering many areas and  statements including the fact that “Renard Cohen entertained 30 attendees with his acoustic guitar version of “Fracking Shame”.  While it provided an interesting narrative of the deliberations of the anti community, the article failed to provide any perspective, context or insight from the vast majority of Pennsylvanians who support responsible development of the Marcellus Shale.

Biased reporting seems to be an especially acute problem when dealing with Marcellus Shale development in Pennsylvania. Whether Mr. Pierce intended to further this problem is unknown, but the result speaks for themselves.  Here is our analysis of the article for those readers interested in the facts as they exist to world outside of a handful of activists who spend every waking moment trying to curtail a process that is providing jobs to over 200,000 Pennsylvanians.

Renard Cohen

Renard Cohen Self Portrait

Vintage Picture of Renard Cohen

Based on the article, Renard Cohen appears to have been the organizer of this particular event. To be honest, there isn’t much to know about Mr. Cohen. If you go to his website, most of the pages (bio, news, etc..) are blank. Only the store and index of his songs seem to be working. Nevertheless, we get a pretty good glimpse of what the man is about from the music he sang at the event. He performed his song “Fracking Shame,” and showed part of his “mockumentary” Groundswell. Below are a few lyrics from the song:

Its just the ground that we walk on
Its just the air that we breath
But  this insanity goes on
What stronger warnings we need
And what do we tell our children
When their cool water just burns
How will we tell them were sorry
That we were so slow to learn
Its a Frackin’ Shame

Brilliant, isn’t it?  The Pocono Record writer also quoted Mr. Cohen as saying, “trucks connected to the drilling industry are ruining local roads.” Really?  I don’t think so.  Some basic research on road conditions, which the reporter appears not to have done,  contradicts Mr. Cohen’s anecdotal statement.  The natural gas industry has spent nearly $500 million over the last three years maintaining and rebuilding roads throughout the Marcellus Shale region.  A comparison with Pennsylvania Department of Transportation expenditures quickly demonstrates the industry is voluntarily doing more than PennDOT could ever do otherwise.It is just literally one of the many examples of the natural gas industry going the extra mile!

Alex Lotorto

If you are not familiar with Alex Lotorto please read: Who is Alex Lotorto and Alex Lotorto, The Occupy Kid Goes All Wobbly.  Lotorto is responsible for various protests and disturbances across the northeast; most recently at an SRBC meeting.  His NYU protest, while a student at Muhlenberg, suggests he attaches himself to random causes where he can create a name for himself, then bolts at the first sign of trouble.   He can often be found training volunteers for “Occupy Well Street,” a less than creative name that attempts to capitalize on the notoriety of his other passion – protesting capitalism.  Through Occupy Well Street, Lotorto is training people to barricade themselves at well site entrances. He goes so far as to suggest individuals attach themselves to each other with metal chains and use PVC pipe to cover their wrists and prevent cutting.

Craig Sautner

While the Pocono Record’s reporter clearly dropped the ball on Renard and Alex, his biggest error was taking Craig Sautner’s dialogue at face value. Sautner is quoted as claiming:

the gas company intimidated them into signing a lease by saying they would drill sideways under their property in any case.

First, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection requires natural gas companies to establish production units that respect property rights before receiving permission to develop  leased resources. If you don’t have a lease, your minerals can’t be taken in Pennsylvania as that’s against the law.  Also, the idea that Craig and Julie Sautner were swindled into a natural gas lease is hard to believe as they had signed a natural gas lease in another county with another natural gas company.  That lease was executed in 2007, well before the Sautners sold their property and relocated to Dimock.

Next, the reporter quotes Craig Sautner saying:

Cabot delivered replacement water for two years before convincing the state Department of Environmental Protection that their well water was clean… Then the company released long-withheld test results showing contamination remained.

Where are those test results?  The reader never learns.  The truth is that Cabot Oil & Gas has released all data regarding the Sautner’s water on its website. This publicly available refutes what Craig Sautner asserts and are reflective of Pennsylvania DEP findings as well.  Moreover, the Sautner’s have refused any and all assistance from Cabot, including the installation of water treatment systems which have eliminated other homeowners water issues.  Finally, the Sautner’s stopped Cabot from testing their water after results showed methane levels were dropping and, recently, they refused to allow Cabot or Pennsylvania DEP to test their water while EPA was conducting its tests at their home.

The reporter also asserts, based on Craig Sautner’s statements,  that Cabot’s test results forced the federal Environmental Protection Agency to intervene. The EPA’s rationalization for investigating Dimock has nothing to do with methane or any of Sautner’s claims “about 600 different chemicals in his water.”  No, the EPA is testing for a handful of naturally occurring compounds found throughout northeastern Pennsylvania, including sodium and managanese, for which there aren’t even any primary drinking water standards!

So many mistakes in such a short article – how does this happen?  Well, it’s nearly guaranteed when the only sources of information are well known activists who have an agenda in plain view for all to see – blocking the safe and responsible development of a practice that is reviving entire industries, regions  and is employing over 200,000 people statewide.

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