Marcellus Shale

Signing Off – My Last Post for EID

After fourteen months and sixteen days (roughly), I am signing off as Energy in Depth’s original Field Director tonight at midnight. Life’s journey is taking me down a slightly different path but don’t reflect on my absence from this group (or website) for too long. Instead, keep an eye out for me on the ground in Pennsylvania, as I will continue to promote this great industry from my new position with Cabot Oil & Gas. That’s right, I have decided to focus my attention and efforts, assisting Cabot Oil & Gas in Susquehanna County as well as the neighboring counties surrounding it.

Farewell, But Certainly Not Good-Bye

I had to think hard about what should be included in my final post. To be honest, I am not one for good-byes, especially since I will still be seeing everyone on a regular basis, just with a different role.  So, I decided to share the top five memories about my tenure here. Picking just five memories out of a year was hard, but I hope I have put together a worthwhile list, as each of these moments have certainly made an impact on me.  So without further delay and counting down…

5) Chip Northrup – The Man with the Chip on His Shoulder

What can I say about this guy? Chip is self-impressed and, seemingly, clueless about much of what is going on with Marcellus shale development, yet, the anti-natural gas community continues to flock to him as an expert. Why? Maybe because he used to work in the natural gas industry.  But, even this can be misleading. Chip, as was uncovered in Jim Willis’ guest post, The Ordinary Opinions of James “Chip” Northrup, never actually drilled or hydraulically fractured a well in his life:

the sum total of Chip’s many years of so-called experience in the oil and gas industry was first as a planning manager of alternative (non-oil and gas) energy, and later as an investor in oil and gas drilling operations. He never actually ran an active drilling operation. One can invest in uranium mining, but uranium investing does not make you a nuclear technology expert.

My fondest memories of Chip are him yelling at an audience member for asking a question (video 1) and after asserting there is no taxing structure in New York for oil & gas – which is a stunning oversight for someone with an MBA – mumbles before running out of the room when asked about the New York State ad valorem tax. Enjoy.

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4) The Harrisburg Rally That Wasn’t

Last year, the anti-natural gas community planned a HUGE rally on the steps leading to the State Capitol in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Seriously, it was hyped for months and our anti-friends anticipated a crowd in the thousands (or, so they told the world). However, after a two-hour drive from Harveys Lake, I was amazed by how small the attendance turned out to be. My write up of the event, Anti-Drilling event Fizzles like a wet firecracker, tells the whole story if your interested. For now, here are the juicy parts.

The steps leading up to the Capitol Building – which were set up for a rally with podium and speakers – were empty.  All that was there to even remotely suggest a protest was occurring was a sign written on cardboard, which said the rally had moved to the rotunda.  It was like entering a movie theater to see what was billed as Titanic to find yourself alone – very weird. Next, as the first video will show, the crowd barely filled the first flight of stairs; even though the activists present continued to tell the media the whole hall was filled. Also present at this rally were Craig and Julie Sautner, Crystal Stroud, and the infamous Josh Fox.  He was, undoubtedly filming some of this for his next feature film, I mean “documentary”, Josh pushed an analogy comparing this rally to the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s.  This wasn’t just farfetched – it was bizarre, on the order of comparing Pee Wee Herman to George Washington.  Give the world a break, Josh, you’re no civil rights crusader.  Rather, you’re a hustler.

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3) Bill Huston’s Meltdown

Bill Huston at Public Meeting Doing Yoga (or Something)

If you are familiar with the natural gas opposition in New York, chances are you know or have seen some of Bill Huston’s creative work.  Shale Shock Media, Bill’s pseudo media company funded by the Park Foundation through the Community Environmental Defense Council (home of the Slottjes), is responsible for much of the coverage of the anti-natural gas community. You can also see him at DEC hearings and local town board meetings doing yoga and other fascinating things on the floor as demonstrated by the pictures on right.

Anyways, after seeing Bill Huston and his antics dozens of times, everything came to a head recently at a JLCNY sponsored educational forum. As usual, the JLCNY events draw much bigger crowds then that of anti-natural gas events. After two films by natural gas supporters were shown to the audience Bill Huston, by all accounts, has a meltdown and starts disrupting the meeting. As the video will show Bill is upset at what he says are industry “propaganda” films being shown on the University of Binghamton Campus without counter material like Gasland being provided. One of the student organizers of the event, politely informs Bill all of the panelists were allowed to show films and those representing the anti-natural gas community chose not to do so.  This, of course, was not sufficient for Bill, who continued to make a scene in the lobby.

As the video will show, during Bill’s ranting he truly believes natural gas development is genocide even though the United States has a very long history of doing it safely and responsibly. The other video is of Bill humming at the podium during a DRBC meeting where people usually give testimony and Bill taking part in obstructing a similar meeting. So much for objectivity in the media.

2) Matt Ryan Visits Dimock to Offer Unneeded Aid and Is Shown the Door

This guy absolutely leaves me speechless when it comes to going over the top. The Mayor of Binghamton, as he loves being addressed, envisions himself as one powerful fellow always on the hunt for any excuse to get involved with the anti-natural gas “ban” wagon. He is responsible for pushing through a citywide ban on natural gas development in an area more than likely never to see a single gas well.  Instead, it stands today as a warning to the natural gas industry that Binghamton does not want your business, Binghamton business owners and workers have a different opinion.  Hundreds of local workers already cross the border every day to work in Pennsylvania to provide services for the natural gas industry. All this ban has done, and will continue to do, is choke an already diminishing city economy.  But, none of this compares to Matt Ryan’s decision to offer unrequested mutual aid to the town of Dimock after the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection determined the water was safe to drink.

Matt Ryan wanted to use Binghamton taxpayer money and services, to deliver water to a town that already had clean water.  Why, you might ask? Because, the town of Dimock is so important to the anti-natural gas community in New York.  Absent Dimock, no activist trying to block the industry from coming to the state has any ground upon which to stand.

Of course, Dimock residents knew their water was safe and didn’t appreciate this disingenuous “help”. Resulting in numerous residents loudly telling Mayor Matt to go home, the Township Board of Supervisors saying  “no thank you” to the mutual aid. Following this,  Matt Ryan lost his cool, began yelling at the audience, and at one point implied the township’s decision would ultimately leave them vulnerable to a lawsuit from the litigants on Carter Road.  What a lack of class!  And, doesn’t this guy look pretty silly now that EPA says the water is safe?

1) Tracy; From the Mouth of a Child, A Voice of Reason in the Natural Gas Debate

This might not be exactly what you expected among my top five moments, but it was truly a special one.  It was, in fact, the most special. During a Vestal Gas Coalition informational meeting, I had the opportunity to speak with a young girl named Tracy about her science project.  This bright and charming girl made a quilt to represent Marcellus Shale natural gas development. Not only did this quilt demonstrate the numerous geologic layers of rock separating fresh water aquifers over a mile deep, it also exhibited the many protective layers of casing–something many who oppose natural gas development do not understand.

So I ask, how is it possible that someone so young can understand this, but the well-educated and very wealthy members of the Park Foundation cannot?

Signing Off

I hope you enjoyed this collection of memories from the last year. It has been a wild ride with many ups and downs. I want to thank all of the landowners and individuals I have met throughout my travels in New York and Pennsylvania. Their passion and dedication in supporting this industry is simply unquantifiable. I also want to thank my colleagues in the industry and especially at Energy in Depth for the opportunity and experience.


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