Together We Have It All with Natural Gas!
“We may not have it all together, but together we have it all.” That was the theme, at a joint meeting last week held in Otego, New York and organized by the Central New York Landowners Coalition and the Unatego Land Coalition. There was a great turnout with at least 250 people in attendance and copies of TruthLand were distributed. Rod Gould gave a presentation on the ad valorem tax revenue New York would see if natural gas exploration was permitted in the state. Former Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner, Mike Zagata, also spoke on the natural gas regulations put forth by the Department of Environmental Conservation. Finally, Dick Downey wrapped up with a short question and answer segment. It was a fact-filled, truth-filled evening.
Ad Valorem Taxes
Coalition member Rod Gould opened his presentation by telling the audience he was looking for the truth. Where do you find informed opinion on which to base individual voter decisions and gain the political support required? Well, Gould went to the experts. He spoke with Greg Sovas, the former Director of Mineral Resources for the Department of Environmental Conservation, who was with DEC for 30 years. Gould also reached out to his Sovas’s boss, Dr. Michael Zagata and the Joint Landowners Coalition of New York.
Following a discussion of some of background information on natural gas development in New York State, Gould provided a detailed review of the New York State’s ad valorem tax structure, explaining the potential revenue Unadilla, as one specific example, could see from it. This presentation was put together by Bob Williams and Dale Roe of the Joint Landowners Coalition. The numbers Gould presented (e.g., one well producing $4.5 million in ad valorem tax revenue) shocked the audience – in a good way! He explained that 28 acres of land with 14 wells on it would produce enough money to meet the entire tax burden of the community. You can watch his whole presentation below.
Natural Gas Regulation
Former Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Mike Zagata spoke to the crowd next. Dr. Zagata always gives a great presentation, captivating the audience with his knowledge of the Department of Environmental Conservation and natural gas development regulation. He made some outstanding points, observing, first of all, the obvious fact the natural gas industry doesn’t want to damage anyone’s water or the environment because it is extremely expensive. A damaged water well means the company will have to compensate the owner, deliver water to the household and fix the problem. This is extremely expensive. Secondly, the gas industry, like any other wants to be able to expand and this is never going to happen if the company hasn’t created a record of safe and responsible activity.
Dr. Zagata stressed the importance of learning what is actually on people’s minds. Some of the most opinionated people haven’t taken the time to do any research on what they are protesting. He spoke on some of the hypocritical things he saw as Commissioner of the Department of Environmental Conservation and gave the audience some great laughs with his examples, including the story of a group protesting timber removal in state forests, which group was simultaneously building a log cabin lodge on their own property and explained it away by saying they were cutting trees but had purchased the logs “from a vendor.”
Zagata offered the example to prove a point – that many people opposed to development are more wedded to ideologies than facts and many who are against natural gas are not truly concerned with the environment. If they were, they would look at the history of natural gas development across the country and see the problems they speculate about have not occurred. Natural gas is a cleaner energy source than anything else of comparable capacity and burning more natural gas in place of some of the other energy sources now being used would make New York a much healthier place to live.
Zagata also discussed energy independence. He noted natural gas offers the opportunity for Americans to stand up for ourselves as a country. We can, Zagata explained, support ourselves if the Middle East decides they are “cutting us off” which is a huge step in the right direction for the United States.
Watch Dr. Zagata’s whole presentation below:
Q & A
Wrapping up a very positive night, Dick Downey moderated a question and answer session. The first question asked questioned whether or not representatives in Albany are getting good information. Kim More responded to this because she and I personally delivered 200 packets of information on TruthLand along with copies of the movie to legislators in Albany. Handouts and copies of TruthLand were also distributed at this event. Members of the Central New York Landowners and Unatega Land Coalitions gave copies to just about everyone who attended.
Lastly, the two coalitions jointly presented Jennifer Huntington with a check to help support her efforts with her Middlefield lawsuit. The money donated goes directly toward the cost of her lawsuit. Jennifer stood up when her town tried taking away her, and other landowners’ rights. It’s no longer about her land and quite frankly, never has been.
So ended a great evening of education by the Central New York Landowners Coalition and the Unatego Land Coalition!