Appalachian Basin

Choreographing Scenes for the Next Fox Farce

If you were following Carol’s updates from the bus, you know that we had quite the trip out to Washington, Pa. on Monday and Tuesday to discuss the promise and potential of the Marcellus Shale with the Department of Energy at Washington and Jefferson College. The 11 folks from New York and Pennsylvania who went on the trip had quite the adventure, both on and off the bus and others from the region met us there. Carol did an amazing job keeping all of you informed as to what went on, and I would just like to elaborate on what she and the newspapers have said to give you a few more details.

We arrived at the DOE hearing at about 4:30 p.m. to find that some people had already been allowed in to sign up, including two of the New Yorkers who accompanied us, but drove themselves. This was a little disconcerting because the doors were not supposed to open until 6:15 and we had been told there were only 50 slots available to speak. We found out later that this was done as a good will gesture because the DOE did not want people standing outside in the heat for 2 hours.

We were at the head of a line that quickly grew from the time we got there, on. Seeing the long line, DOE decided to allow individuals in groups of 5 to sign up, until they reached 90 speakers. Initially they were going to let people sign up with the option to leave and return when it was time to speak, but with a maximum capacity of 415, the security guards and police present quickly changed this and advised people not to leave the building once inside because they would have to return to the line and might not have been able to enter later because they were expecting “busloads” of people.

Of course, the only “busload” of people that showed up was the 11 who rode down with us from Binghamton and Wilkes Barre, and from what I could tell, no one who wanted to come inside was turned away. Actually, the DOE even extended sign-ups to over 90 people to include anyone who had come with something to say. It looked like maybe 20-30 additional people signed-up when the option was presented, extending the event well past the 9:00p cut-off.

Once inside the theater (about 6:15) things turned a little chaotic thanks to Josh Fox, who seemed to be more interested in staging scenes for his next movie — creatively named Gasland 2. Everyone was allowed to bring in signs and banners and the NIMBY’s quickly tried to turn the hearing into a rally.  They spread out shouting things like “No Gas” and “This land is my land” while walking around with an American flag (of all things!) and shouting down anyone they perceived to be pro-development.

In a packed room of 400 people, I’d say there was easily about 300 pro-Marcellus supporters — which presented quite a challenge to Josh Fox. He knew he couldn’t include footage in his film accurately representing the fact that anti-Marcellus folks were outnumbered at this thing 3 or 4 to one.  So instead, he had his people take most of their shots outside, capturing folks as they stood in line. No doubt he’ll try to make the case that all of those people were there to protest responsible natural gas development — but Josh, honey, we know the truth. We were there too — and, even though we don’t have a film degree from Columbia like Fox does, we found a way to shoot some video too! Interestingly, Fox attempted to corner some of our folks from NEPA and NY. Needless to say, though, that didn’t work out so well for him either.

One NIMBY, who later could be seen holding up money every time a pro-Marcellus supporter spoke and who had gotten into a near fist-fight outside the doors of the building,  engaged Kathy (Pennsylvania) in a “discussion” of “What about 2000 years from now.” Kathy responded with “what about it?” Another man began shouting at Sue (New York) about harming his land. When his words became violent, another gentleman close-by had seen enough and stepped in to support her.

These opposition folks went to the meeting with an agenda, though they claim to have the best interest of the land and people ofat heart. They were not there to be heard by the DOE panel, but to serve as props for Fox’s next film.

On a positive note, Sue did get complimented on her sign, “Drill a well, Bring a soldier home,” by some of our nation’s finest who served in Iraq and Afghanistan and have now returned home to work in the natural gas industry.

And, all this before the hearing even began…

I have said it before and I will say it again, “Being loud is not the same as being heard,” and all of you who went out to support natural gas development in your states–Pennsylvania, New York, Ohio and West Virginia were all represented–were HEARD.

Aside from being  irrational, emotional and at times bellicose, the NIMBY’s were rude. When they realized they didn’t have the numbers to match those who were giving testimony in support of natural gas, they attempted to drown them out. They booed industry representatives, citizens, and anyone who didn’t speak to their agenda.

The most shocking moment for me, though, was when they booed a veteran. This young man risked his life for our country, has returned and finally found a job in a poor economy developing these resources. And the very people who spent the first portion of the night running a flag around the room jeered and disrupted the speaking of one of our nation’s heroes, a true American patriot. Explain that one to me. I was absolutely appalled. I hope you got that on film too, Josh Fox! Maybe if it doesn’t fit into Gasland 2, you can add it into Memorial Day, the film (can you even call it that?) you did prior to Gasland mocking American servicemembers.

But of course, you won’t show that. Instead, you’ll show the woman from West Virginia who forces her children to wear gas masks –3 times a week or all the time, depending on who she was talking to.  And, the man who held up money to suggest all 300 supporters present were paid by the industry to be there. Yes, we know this is what you will show, but we were there and will stand up and attest to the true proceedings of the night.

You won’t show that the pro-Marcellus folks who brought great points to the table. They talked about safety, the environment, charitable donations to school programs the industry has made, road repairs, businesses that have been saved, farms that have been held on to, and of course the jobs that have been created. They brought the facts to the table, along with their personal stories, and were heard by the U.S. Department of Energy.

Congratulations to all of you who made the trip out, whether from far or near, and made sure that the truth was heard. I commend you for your efforts.

Stay tuned for more footage from the event.

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