Marcellus Shale

There Ought To Be A (Natural Gas) Law – Part I

Many years ago there was a cartoon that appeared regularly in some newspapers, called “There Ought To Be A Law.”  It was a comical look at the frustrations we all have with other human beings doing inexplicable things, the stuff that makes us say “there ought to be a law against that.”  I get those feelings every now and then, like all of us, particularly when I see natural gas users and beneficiaries make a living or gain prominence attacking the production of the product.

It’s surely permissible to advocate for an alternative to something you have no choice but to use, but when it comes to heating a home, we all have choices and, with tongue in cheek, let me say there ought to be a law against using natural gas if you’re planning on being an attack dog against the industry.  Unfortunately, such a law is neither constitutional nor practical as it would limit free speech but I can dream.

There are several leaders (and I use that term loosely) among our anti-natural gas activist friends who heat their homes with natural gas.  Here are three examples (for now):

Dr. Anthony (“Tony the Tiger”) Ingraffea

Ingraffea Home in Cayuga Heights

Tony is always a gentleman and we have enjoyed the back and forth with him, but we were still surprised to find he is a natural gas user.  Perhaps, just perhaps, deep down, he sees the benefits of developing this great natural resource after all!  Here’s a picture of the Ingraffea’s 2,500+ square foot colonial home in the Village of Cayuga Heights.

A local realtor says, “This neighborhood came into being in about 1920, when developers Newman and Blood recognized that by constructing a bridge over the gorge that separated Cornell and the land to the North there would be the opportunity for a lovely suburban neighborhood. Cayuga Heights was laid out to reflect a European tradition in meandering streets and is very charming.  There are many classic Stone Tudor and Brick Victorian homes in this area….Home prices tend to be in the $400,000 to over $1 million range.”

Sounds like a nice neighborhood, doesn’t it?  The best part is that it’s served by New York State Electric and Gas (NYSEG), which ensures the Ingraffea household lives in the comfort of a natural gas heated home.  Meanwhile, he’s on the road telling other communities and countries, “They’re putting their communities at too high a risk that’s currently unjustifiable.”  Perhaps Tony should start reducing the risk by converting to some other heating source?  There ought to be a law …

Binghamton Mayor Matthew T. Ryan

Matt Ryan, Mayor of Binghamton, has become quite the natural gas opponent, as readers of this blog are well aware.  He not only engineered a City of Binghamton natural gas ban that we reported on back in December, but he also injected himself into the Dimock controversy, to the annoyance of local residents.  We knew an estimated 86% of Binghamton households used natural gas to heat their homes but imagine our own chagrin at learning the Binghamton City Hall, located at 38 Hawley Street, where Mayor Matt has his offices, is served by natural gas (see Figure 12 of this report).

Binghamton City Hall

Binghamton City Hall

Ryan has made numerous statements attacking the natural gas industry, claiming development of this resource will produce “the most radical change in land use since settlers cleared the forests to establish farms.”  He also complains “this involves literally flattening three to five acres,” weeks of development activity, “with stadium lighting 24 hours a day, noise levels comparable to airports and 24/7 traffic by heavy tank trucks.”  Finally, he states “the process climaxes with the fracturing of shale under the extremely high-pressure injection of millions of gallons of water contaminated by dozens of chemicals, including carcinogens and endocrine disruptors.”

Needless to say, there’s an awful lot of hyperbole in those statements, but what catches our attention is the fact he probably wrote those words from behind a desk on the fourth floor of City Hall where his offices are located – in a building comfortably heated by natural gas.  Is he is willing to continue receiving this comfort or is he pandering to special interests knowing well natural gas can and is being developed safely and responsibly?  It doesn’t matter much, I suppose, but there ought to be a law …

Josh Fox a/k/a Sweet Jane Productions, Inc. (International Wow Company)

Everyone in the natural gas industry knows Josh Fox, don’t they?  He’s the guy about whom the Playgoer blog notes; “what does a downtown director have to do to get on national TV?  Make an HBO muckraking documentary, of course!”

He’s the charlatan film producer who made up a story about getting a $100,000 gas lease offer that we earlier exposed as a fraud, but which, to this day, is still part of the narrative put forward by gullible media types who are inclined to attack natural gas just because … well, just because.  He has made one outlandish statement after another, of course, and moves swiftly from one to the other so fast, sympathetic reporters often don’t even bother to check.  When they occasionally do check, the results can be quite stunning.  Our readers, for example, will recall his infamous admission he knew the Colorado flaming faucet scene in his movie was not caused by hydraulic fracturing but, rather, pre-existing conditions.  He was surprised by the challenge on this point when confronted and had to resort to claiming it was simply “not relevant.”

37 Grand Avenue

Josh Fox Headquarters at 37 Grand Avenue, Brooklyn, NY

Not relevant?  Even a kindergartener could spot the deceitful nature of that answer, but there’s something else you need to know about Josh Fox that’s even more disingenuous – he operates his business from the natural gas heated third floor of an industrial building at 37 Grand Avenue in Brooklyn, New York.

Yes.  Incredible as it may seem, it’s true. The anti-gas wizard who pretends Milanville, Pennsylvania is his home (it’s actually his father’s second home) owns a company called Sweet Jane Productions, Inc., which does business as the International Wow Company.  That business lists its address as the third floor of this building, which is pictured to the right.

There are multiple heating systems in the building but the second and third floors are heated with natural gas as reports from the New York City Department of Buildings clearly indicate.  This violation notice clearly indicates the third floor is served with natural gas, for instance, while the following building permit provides further details on the nature of improvements made along this line in 2002.  There were also violations listed for apartment conversions made on the third floor without getting permits.  Is this where Josh Fox really lives?

Building Permit Issued for Improvements to 3rd Floor

So, the Grand Pooh-Bah of the anti-natural gas, anti-fossil fuels and anti-energy movement also works out of a location where his comfort is ensured by the availability of natural gas he wants no one to develop.  He’s not only a NIMBY, but also a NOPE (Not on Planet Earth), yet is quite willing to take advantage of the resource when it suits his purpose.  One has to ask whether he couldn’t just as easily follow his principles and camp out in Milanville.

There’s surely enough land on his father’s 19.5 acre parcel to install some solar devices and windmills.  He could always throw on an extra blanket or two, walk the half-mile or so to downtown to get a sandwich at the Milanville Store or paddle  a canoe downriver to Narrowsburg if he needed other goods and services.  Who needs fossil fuels anyway?  Yet, he doesn’t move.  Instead, he makes movies attacking the industry that brings him warmth in the winter.  There ought to be a law …

It’s all so fascinating isn’t it?  Three of the biggest names in anti-natural gas propaganda have no compunction about relying upon it when their own interests are stake.  They are more than content to tell everyone to do as they say, not as they do.  It’s a nice gig, if you can get it.

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