Appalachian Basin

UPDATED!! The Mountainkeeper Doth Protest Too Much

There are certainly strange things afoot in the Catskills!  A letter appears in the New York Times this morning from Ramsay Adams, the Executive Director of the Catskill Mountainkeeper, berating the gas industry, challenging Governor Andrew Cuomo’s decision to left the New York State ban on hydraulic fracturing and proposing a permanent ban.  Here is what he had to say:

Ramsay Adams

To the Editor:

For years, the natural gas industry has misled the public into believing that we can tap vast stores of cheap energy from shale. Upon that false promise, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo now suggests that we lift the temporary state ban on hydraulic fracturing. Fracking is a dangerous, destructive and unsustainable way to extract gas from shale. Lifting the ban would expose our workers, our families and our waters to needless risk.

And for what? As The Times reported in its “Drilling Down” series, gas companies have systematically inflated production estimates and lowballed cost projections to make fracking look more attractive to investors, regulators and policy makers.

Members of Congress have asked for an investigation. The attorney general of New York has started an inquiry.

This is no time to lift the fracking ban; it’s time to make it permanent. That’s the way to protect our workers and waters and to safeguard the resources that belong to us all.

Livingston Manor, N.Y., July 1, 2011

The writer is executive director of Catskill Mountainkeeper, an environmental advocacy organization in western New York.

It seems to me this is a classic case of the “lady that doth protest too much.”  Ramsay is, as regular readers of this blog know, the son of John Adams, one of the NRDC’s founders, it’s former President and still very active board member.  We just witnessed, not one, but three current or former NRDC lawyers appointed to the Hydrofracking Advisory Panel that Joe Martens created.  Various other members of the panel, including Martens himself, have very strong NRDC connections.  Friends of Ramsay and his father are seated several times at every table on this issue, so it would seem they have little about which to complain and, yet, they are.

What does this mean?  Is Ramsay off the reservation?  That isn’t likely, given the fact he owes his position as Mountainkeeper and much more to his father and Joe Martens, the latter having been his board chairman prior to being chosen as DEC Commissioner. Or, does Ramsay feel betrayed by Martens, thinking the latter sold out?  That, too, is unlikely, given the way Martens is parroting the Mountainkeeper lines about local laws being a tool to stop drilling in selected areas (e.g., Catskill communities).

The most likely explanation is that Ramsay, like other members of the NRDC gang of bluebloods, knows gas is coming and he is simply trying to create leverage for the best possible deal at the end of the day by asking for a yard now in hopes he can gain a foot later.  This is what we often hear from these folks when they talk privately.  Delay and frustration are their friends, because it gives the gang time to make more land deals with the State while the latter dithers over gas policy for the same lands.  Ramsay is the young turk they put out front to protest while they make their plans, recognizing gas is on the way and cynically manipulating the process for their own purposes.  The promotion of the proliferating Potemkin laws are just another part of that strategy.

The NRDC/OSI/Mountainkeeper gang isn’t about environmental protection.  Rather, it’s about land and who controls it.  Ramsay’s protest is an act – a little rant to show all those donors they really mean it.  Meanwhile, behind the scenes they are simply preparing for the inevitable, trying to slow it down and figure out how to take best advantage of it.  Their goal is to continue building their playground in the Catskills at the expense of local folks looking for decent economic opportunities, using Empire State Development grants and loans to do so in OSI’s case.  Meanwhile, Ramsay acquires properties for himself from OSI’s subsidiary Open Space Conservancy.  Yes, the Mountainkeeper doth protest too much!

UPDATE: We learned today from Jim Willis and others the Food & Water Watch organization is targeting Governor Andrew Cuomo’s girlfriend in a desperate attempt to derail the Governor’s natural gas development support.  Well, guess who partners with Food and Water Watch – none other than the NRDC.  They worked together with Josh Fox and others to lobby Congress earlier this year.  The photo below says it all:

I don’t know if Governor Cuomo ever sees our blog, but, if he does, he might ask why three current or former NRDC attorneys, associates of the kind of people who would target his girlfriend in a mad effort to stop gas drilling, are doing on DEC’s Hydrofracking Advisory Panel.  These aren’t nice people, Governor.  Had enough yet?


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