Appalachian Basin

The Twilight Zone World of Natural Gas Opponents

Chenango County businesswoman Denise LaTourette debunks a silly tale that appeared in her local newspaper promoting fears about natural gas development.

A hilarious tall tale entitled the ” The ABC’s of Gas Drilling – A Cautionary Fable,” appeared on page 5 of last week’s last week’s Norwich Evening Sun.  Reading over Ms. Anderson’s lengthy fable, I wondered if I had missed the Binghamton Rod Serling Twilight Zone Festival’s call for new scripts.  Yes, I thought that I was “caught between science and superstition, and it lies between the pit of man’s fears and the summit of his knowledge. This is the dimension of imagination. It is an area which we call the Twilight Zone”.

Ms. Anderson states this is a “cautionary fable” but continues on, that “it is based on actual experiences”.

It is interesting that our opponents really believe the personal stories, without any proof of their validity; to them personal stories stand on firmer ground than studies supported by physical evidence.

Remember, the rag publication The Flowback that appeared in our mail earlier this summer, touting the horrors of natural gas development?  An organic farmer in Oxford was handing out the publication at the farmer’s market.  Several letters to the editor were written about it, as natural gas opponents used the newspaper to further their cause.  “Look!” the author of the propaganda piece said, “See for yourself!  It’s horrible!”  Headlines and pictures were offered showing the alleged damage to the countryside caused by hydraulic fracturing, including this page blaming natural gas development for mountaintop removal.

The game was up, however, as the New York Post, in a must read October 22 piece by Fred Dicker, exposed The Flowback and one particular picture for what they really were.  A prominent nature photographer by the name of J. Henry Fair, who took the picture, and a spokeswoman for National Geographic told the New York Post the photo actually portrays a coal-mining operation and not a natural-gas development site.”

Unsurprisingly, the publisher of The Flowback is still, at last account, insisting, against the word of the photographer and National Geographic, that it depicts a natural-gas development site.  Sure, National Geographic and the photographer are both wrong!  Only the user of the photograph knows what it depicts.  Yeah, right.


National Geographic picture of mountaintop mining “The Flowback” tried to pass of as natural gas development

Here is the same picture from the photographer’s website, where he explicitly states it is an example of “Mountaintop Removal Coal Mining”:

Original Photo of Appalachian Mountaintop Coal Mining from Photographer’s Website at

No wonder natural gas opponents are losing credibility with other New Yorkers.  A Siena poll, released on October 12, indicates 75% of New Yorkers are in favor of increased development of domestic energy. Now, 75% is not a close race, but the anti-natural gas contingent continue to try to gain ground by eliciting fear. Both presidential candidates support domestic natural gas production. Are we going to stand by and watch this outspoken minority spreads misinformation and half truths in attempt to take our simple deeded rights?

Here are a few points to consider:

  • Those in opposition to natural gas harvesting claim the derricks ruin the wonderful views. They do not mention these are temporary structures, there for 20 days or less, unlike permanent structures such as cell towers and windmills.
  • Contaminated water?  Well, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson testified that she was “…not aware of any proven case where the fracking process itself has affected water.” Yes, this includes Dimock, Pennsylvania.
  • Crumbling roads?  Yes, it is true that during the process, the roads can suffer damage. However, natural gas companies are not only held liable for repairing damaged roads, they also are restoring roads into better condition than when they found them.
  • A rig just 150’ from a home?  I’ll be gracious, and assume this is a typo on Ms. Anderson’s part, and not a blatant tactic to illicit fear.  But, then again, let us not forget, this was just a fable.  The setback is a matter of what is negotiated in the lease between gas company and landowner.  Moreover, Section 7.10.3 of the SGEIS provides that “the Department will review the location of multi-well pads closer than 1,000 feet to occupied structures.”
  • Compulsory integration?  We must realize that this is an existing New York State regulation.  It is also important to realize the landowner is justly compensated, which is the whole point.  I repeat, if you are forced into compulsory integration because 60% of your neighbors have agreed to allow natural gas development, you are given several options, in which the landowner is justly compensated.  However, moratoriums and bans, take a landowners rights with NO compensation.  Landowners rights are simply taken.  Moratoriums and bans by local governments allow less than 25% of the population to steal the rights of landowners with no compensation whatsoever.

Unfortunately, when the facts do not support their opinions, natural gas opponents tend to resort to distortion of facts, half-truths, and name calling. “Bully,” “shill,” “greedy” they cry!  When those opposed to natural gas development issue misinformation, they are called emotional.  Natural gas supporters present facts, and they are called bullies.  When protecting their land rights, landowners are called greedy.  Offering the truth makes one a “shill” in the eyes of natural gas opponents.

I won’t be surprised to see these opponents rallying at the Norwich Halloween Parade!  Fake and “make believe” may take on a whole new meaning.   We are certainly seeing a whole new dimension of the imagination from them – The Twilight Zone!

Harsh?  Maybe.  I consider it a reality check.  Enough is enough.  Let’s move forward.

We do agree on a very important point – raise your awareness and increase your knowledge.  However, we disagree on the methodology.  I believe in the presentation of proven scientific facts, evidence and studies, not anecdotal information that cannot be validated.  Informed dialogue is critical.

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