Town of Spencer Wins Support for Natural Gas Development – Fight Moves to Village Part II
Editors note: This is part two of a two part series. Part I can be found here
It was interesting how the scorned anti- natural gas village-outsiders argued their right to comment on village issues where they neither reside nor pay taxes. They argued that they drive through the village, they shop in the village, and they feel as though they are enough a part of the village that their comments deserve great attention.
The meeting consisted of each audience member citing one issue which would then get placed on the board in the pro or con column. It was a circus event that had a few heated moments. On multiple issues that the anti’s had placed up on the board as a con I countered with the same issue as a pro. For example, they cited that air quality was a con for various standard industrial reasons. Upon my turn, I cited air quality as a pro as natural gas has 40+% plus fewer emissions relative to other fuels they seem to prefer to burn. They cited urbanization as a con, I cited development as a pro for those of us that have actually lived here for a reasonable period of time. They cited water usage as a con, I cited water production from the burning, or oxidation, of natural gas as a pro. They were quite disturbed and in full disbelief when I told them that more fresh water was generated by the burning of the gas harvested by one average Marcellus well then the water used to frack the same well. They cited truck traffic as a con, I cited it as a pro as the roads were built for commerce not Sunday drives and these were jobs of the traveling variety. As many of the signs state in our community – “We welcome CLEAN natural gas JOBS!” They cited road damage as a con, I cited road improvements as a plus. They cited health issues as a con, I cited health impacts from natural gas development in the NY STATE OF DEPRESSION as a plus.
We heard the usual claims from the anti-natural gas group to include breast cancer outbreaks in shale gas regions which has been thoroughly debunked. In fact, the Associated Press even called Josh Fox out on his breast cancer lies. We also get hit with this strange idea that the economic boom and the jobs with natural gas development are short lived – a boom & bust scenario. A pro natural gas attendee quickly commented that even if the claims were true, at least someone had a job for a little while and learned some valuable things to bridge them to another career. That’s a heck of a lot better than the bust & bust scenario the anti’s have to offer.
Of course they didn’t forget to recycle “yesterday’s wind” on the claim that natural gas companies won’t disclose the chemicals used even though you can go to www.fracfocus.org and look up a well of your choosing. It’s more evidence that their agenda is “kill the drill”. They have no real interest in energy independence from countries that hate us, and they really don’t care a whole lot about wars “for oil” as they say. It’s more about crushing our nation’s chance to thrive once again, killing the corporations they hate, slamming capitalism, spreading the wealth, and controlling their neighbor’s yard for their selfish desires. A little side note: the next time you are at a town board meeting where a call is made to pledge to the American flag, take a quick moment to observe the hardcore anti-natural gas crowd. It’s simply appalling.
I almost forgot, they even brought up Dimock as a credible argument regardless of the multiple PA state tests & the four or so tests from the EPA that say their water is safe. I guess they question the validity of any test result yet they want to do all this testing and studying of ‘cumulative impacts’ of natural gas development. I think they will only accept a ‘test’ result that gives the results they wish for. I must say I did not here any flaming faucet tales. Could it be they finally have accepted that truth.
I got a kick out of the SAVE SVErs instructing the board that they must be very careful in where they get their information. They claim that information from the pro-natural gas side or any industry related source is certainly flawed and not to be trusted. However, you can trust anything from the Park Foundation or the fox, Josh Fox that is. I guess you will just have to overlook the Fact that Fox said that flaming faucets prior to any drilling is irrelevant. I still love Ingraffea’s self-assessment of his own work: “I hope you don’t gather from this presentation that we think we’re right.”
I believe the very same spokesperson that told us all to beware of our sources indicated that Nationwide Insurance is clamping down on fracking and homeowner’s insurance. I explained that this was another lie, but hey I’m pro-natural gas so that can’t be true, right? Well here’s a short statement from Eric Hardgrove, Director, Corporate and Property & Casualty Media Relations Nationwide Mutual Insurance:
“Despite assertions made over the last several weeks, Nationwide has not issued any new guidelines nor taken any new positions regarding fracking.”
The same person indicated we will all have trouble with mortgages. That may be true with a bank from the people’s republic of Ithaca, but I’ve been doing just a little bit of buying and selling throughout this whole circus (banks outside Tompkins county) and I know firsthand that she’s not speaking the whole truth. Are you surprised? Is she going to tell us next that banks will not finance homes in Texas, Oklahoma, and other areas where mineral leasing is commonplace and often minerals are completely severed from the surface estate.
The village board also had an area for “issues” that needed further study. I asked a village board member if they would do a cost-benefit analysis on all energy options and not just study natural gas by itself. The board member was somewhat upset with my insistence on this as he felt it unrelated. My reply was that I thought he was an engineer and should consider that a staple element in any study. I also noted that professor Ingraffea always mentions that one must weigh the cost and benefits of each option – yet he himself never does it?
I asked them if they were to pass some kind of moratorium, if they simply intended to pull some kind of “activist” stunt as no natural gas drilling would likely occur in the village. One replied that subsurface water knows no boundary. To that I replied that the village residents should be far more concerned about drinking both their own sewage and that of the neighbors as many of the wells are less than 20 feet deep and may be less than 20 feet from their septic tank or their neighbors’ septic tank. Any baseline water tests within the village should include the flushing of some substance safe for human consumption with an easily detected signature so the impact of communication between private septic systems and water wells can be measured. With such a communication path, the water quality will likely test quite differently from time to time depending on what chemicals people are flushing down their waste pipes and when. With tracer testing, some time lag may be necessary to detect in well water.
I also asked if they intended to fact-check every ridiculous claim from the cult. I told them this was going to be a circus with no end. They would need to fill every wall in the place with boards to fully capture all the factual benefits of natural gas along with the legitimate concerns and the host of lies they stubbornly stick with. I mean think about it. The DEC received some 60,000 pro & con comments during the public comment period. Can a village of several hundred residents handle such a task of taking that volume of input and then fact checking and determine the science behind it? That’s one reason the Spencer Town Board elected to allow the DEC to handle it so they can get on with the business of the town without wasting their time & our tax dollars. The best reason was cited by Alan Fulkerson. He indicated that for him it wasn’t about the whole gas leasing/development issue, however it was about a ‘taking’ of landowners’ rights and he would have no part of that kind of injustice.
One of the anti-natural gas village board members remained quite silent through the entire meeting without comment. Later in the meeting and again at the end of the meeting, I witnessed a village resident questioning this board member how it was that he could be so against natural gas development, have a no-fracking sign in his yard, and yet just recently have had natural gas piped into his home? The village resident was quite agitated with the board member and understandably so. The word “hypocrite” was loudly proclaimed. The board member appeared to quietly leave the building. Many have reported that this same board member and/or immediate family member are receiving royalty checks from Pennsylvania natural gas wells as well. Maybe this board member can confirm or deny this claim at the next show.
Another person in the audience requested that all those opposed to natural gas development throw their keys on the table and walk home! I think my reply was, AMEN TO THAT!
I must say that the mayor conducted herself in a very professional manner and appears to be truly neutral in the matter along with two other members. She was also quick to say that she appreciates the benefits of natural gas for cooking and heating applications. She is truly searching for the truth and appears quite interested in learning the facts that she admits are unknowns for her personally.
What’s in it for me? This seems to be the question from so many that choose the anti-side for the simple reason that they do not realize the benefits that all will see on a national, local, and personal level. Of course, the personal impacts always seem to trump.
Many products we all use are made with natural gas. It’s not just cooking & heating. Many people have no clue the impact natural gas has on the products they purchase and consume. They have no idea how it impacts the cost of producing those same goods. In a recent article, Rachel Colley points out that “Americans consume petroleum products at a rate of three-and-a-half gallons of oil and more than 250 cubic feet of natural gas per day each!” But, as shown here petroleum is not just used for fuel.” Her article goes on to say that “today there are over 6,000 products refined from natural gas and crude oil”.
The anti-natural gas crowd is either ignorant of or they completely disregard the positive impacts of the tax revenues generated for local municipalities and schools as a result of local gas production. The wellbore on the local TBR well named Winter 1 located on Tyler Hollow Road in Spencer was assessed for about $10 million in 2011. Current production puts the assessment at about $2.5 million. That’s just one low producing TBR well. Imagine a dozen decent Marcellus wells! I’m not going to waste time here spelling out the benefit of tax dollars coming into the communities. If others can’t deduce that on their own, we’ve got bigger concerns.
An audience member complained that the anti-natural gas protesters seem to be the same people eager to raise our school taxes holding signs claiming “do it for the kids”, of course. He insinuated that they need to take a look at the tax revenues and embrace it for the kids’ sake. I’m sure there will be some that laugh and say something crazy about some fabricated impact on kids. I say to them, look no farther than what their white knight windmills, shining solar panels, and hybrid cars are doing to children near the Baotou, China strip mines or the Sudbury mines in Ontario.
Then the idea of natural gas not gathered with fracturing concept came up. This idea is crazy. So many say that they like un-fracked gas as though it is somehow separated in the pipelines. They can’t accept that this is the direction of affordable, efficient gas extraction with a high probability of success and a great track record of safety.
It occurred to me that the alleged royalty collecting, gas-burning, anti-natural gas, village board member wants to personally enjoy the benefits of natural gas yet prevent others from doing so. How so? If the board prevents development, they will essentially prevent infrastructure build-out keeping those without access to natural gas from ever getting it. Now it’s not just a taking of rights, it’s much more than that!
STAY TUNED. The next village board meeting is coming up next week. Bring your popcorn