The Silent Majority Must Speak Up
I had the privilege, on August 2, 2011, of attending a meeting of the Dallas Township, Luzerne County, Board of Supervisors. As a property owner along the 33.5 mile Springville pipeline that Williams Land Services is constructing to gather natural gas from our area, this meeting was very important to my family’s future. There is also an access road that will run across our property. Some individuals in the Dallas area seem eager to characterize those lease holders, like me, as a minority. A few even accuse us of being greedy. Well, I have observed that these people like me are very clearly in the majority and I can tell you I have waited very patiently for what natural gas promises for our area.
It disturbs me that much of the opposition to natural gas development and the Williams project comes from folks who are intent on trying to intimidate those other property owners like me, who will benefit from it. They don’t seem to have a very high regard for my property rights, liberty, or pursuit of happiness.
Unfortunately, Dallas Township officials appear to be siding with the opposition and are making it very problematic for companies to construct pipelines and metering stations in their community. Yet, these lines are nothing new to Dallas. There have been pipelines and metering stations in the area for decades without incident. Moreover, as royalties start to come in, landowners reinvest that money in their properties and tax yields grow, we can be sure Dallas Township will be among the first to benefit. Every business and household benefits from economic prosperity.
I’ve seen a lot of articles and attended numerous meetings where gas drilling was blamed with ruining water in wells and bodies of water. This simply is not true. It couldn’t be more clear to me that the real issue for these folks isn’t the damage gas drilling companies may do to the water or the environment. Rather, these people are one of three types. One type is determined to impose its own idealogical agenda and sees gas as a threat to that agenda. A second group is intent on convincing others to vote them into political office. The third involves plain old NIMBY (“Not In My Back Yard”) types. All three end up giving lease holders and gas drilling companies black eyes as a way to advance their own special interests.
Recently, for example, after waiting over two years, a group of about 15 people, from the Dallas area, boarded a small bus to Bradford County. The group included several people who are running for public office. The tour only targeted people willing to talk about the negative sides of natural gas development. They did not talk to the majority of people with positive situations and success stories, only the very few with negative perceptions. One visit on this “tour” was to a farm where the owners claim they had to disperse their herd because of water quality. A new well or wells may have solved the problem and, if truly made necessary by actions of the gas company, would have been that company’s responsibility, but instead of looking for solutions, the owners have only complained to those looking for a negative story to spread, much like the situation Loren Salsman explained on these pages. There are many success stories with lease holders in Susquehanna and Bradford Counties. Where are these stories and why aren’t they too being shared?
Another area I am very concerned about is Wayne County, which is part of the Delaware River Basin Commission region. The DRBC seems determined to delay the adoption of regulations forever, based on speculative fears much like those I see in the Dallas situation. Once again, a tiny minority has pretended to be the majority and, once again, the agencies and the media react as if it were true. If these efforts to frustrate natural gas and pipeline development are successful, it will have a devastating economic impact on our whole Northeast region, despite the successes that have already been documented throughout the Marcellus region.
In conclusion, we are not in the “minority.” We, the all too often silent majority, must stand together for what we believe in and stand for, and not allow this small contingent of vocal individuals to speak on our behalf, distorting our needs and opinions any longer. I will be letting my voice be heard from now on. Will you?