Appalachian Basin

Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner (In Steuben Co.)

Last night, I traveled with members of the Steuben County Landowners Coalition(SCLOC), Joint Landowners Coalition of NY (JLCNY), and the Enough Already group from Pennsylvania to Painted Post, NY, for a presentation by Dr. Ingraffea and arguably some of the most famous people in Dimock, PA: Victoria Switzer, Craig and Julie Sautner, and Craig Stevens.  Most of you are familiar with the props these folks utilize in their presentations, including the infamous jug of discolored water labeled “Dimock, PA.”

The event, sponsored by a grab-bag of usual suspects from the opposition side, was slated to be an anti-natural gas rally from start to finish– and at least in that regard, it didn’t disappoint. The Steuben Courier quoted the forum’s organizer Dave Walczak as saying“we’re trying to make the forums more personal, having people who have been victimized by the industry.”  Of course, the best they seem able to do on that is air-drop in the same three people from Dimock over and over and over again — shouldn’t that tell us something?  Click here for the full article.

The presentations were certainly one-sided, but EID was on the scene and provided some much-needed context and perspective to the press (see the article in the Corning Leader, and excerpts from that piece after the jump).

It wasn’t just concerned locals on hand for Thursday’s forum.

A representative of Energy In Depth – an organization that promotes the benefits of drilling in the Marcellus Shale – was on hand taking videos of the speakers, handing out business cards to media and doing interviews outside.

Several supporters of gas drilling in New York were there, too, such as Neil Vitale of Woodhull, a member of the Steuben County Landowners Coalition.

Vitale said the problems in Dimock were isolated incidents compared with the number of gas wells being drilled across Pennsylvania, and said he thought the folks who spoke Thursday weren’t lying, but “weren’t telling the full story of what’s going on there.”

A gas industry worker who said he lives about 20 miles south of Dimock agreed. He said the gas industry had brought prosperity to one of the poorest areas of Pennsylvania and saved family farms.

“They turned their little town into the poster child for a toxic waste dump, with all the media appearances and everything else,” he said. “And it’s not.”

Of course, while Ingraffea and the Dimock stars put on their “show” inside the auditorium, I had the pleasure of introducing the local media to members of our group — folks whose important and candid perspectives on how the Marcellus has positively impacted their lives (or the potential to, if just given the chance) claimed a much greater share of the night’s coverage than pep-rally’s organizers could’ve ever imagined.

It was an exciting night from my perspective.  This is the first of what we hope will be many opportunities to confront purveyors of doom and demagoguery with some of facts.  Interestingly, “Tony the Tiger” Ingraffea, last seen flacking for Josh Fox in an absurdly over-the-top Rolling Stone article, got almost no attention whatsoever (one sentence in the press coverage).  Is his routine getting old? Or are the rest of us just getting smarter?


Post A Comment