Appalachian Basin

What the Natural Gas Opposition Is Really About

Natural gas opponents Bill Huston and Vera Scroggins reveal a contempt for job seekers and careers that lies at the heart of their natural gas opposition.  It’s got little to do with the environment, except as a tool to achieve their broader goal of reshaping society.

We received two stunningly candid comments on this blog this week revealing what so much of the natural gas opposition is really about.  The comments came back to back and and provide a window into the minds of two of the most prominent anti-gas activists with whom we deal regularly; Green Party members Bill Huston and Vera Scroggins.

Both Bill and Vera are sometimes entertaining characters with seemingly endless time on their hands, but we’re less interested in them, than what they say and do, because both, unfortunately, are often able to influence events and news coverage regarding natural gas.  One suspects, though, their true positions, if widely known, would not endear them to some of those they influence.

What caught our attention was these two comments, both in response one of Rachael’s posts entitled Natural Gas Opponent Rebecca Roter Fails to Rock Plymouth.  Here is what they said (emphasis added):

Bill Huston

Yes, Tom. It does seem that we need “jobs”, so we can get USD/FRNs in order to pay taxes.

Another way to look at it is this way: While there has always been work (farming, craftsmen, pottery, carpentry), and while work is necessary… “jobs” (meaning exchanging labor for USD/FRNs) is artificial. Money is artificial. YES money is necessary in this constructed society, but money and jobs are not necessary for life.

This is an important point. Because it is possible that the pursuit of money/jobs can work AGAINST LIFE. This is what fracking brings, Tom. DEATH. Death of birds, fish, cows, forests, and PEOPLE.

Anyone who promotes jobs at the expense of LIFE, well, in my book, that defines the true ANTI, people who are anti-life.

Vera Scroggins

yes, jobs and money are not the ultimate over life and life that is worth living and health;

pursue jobs and money that honor life and preserve the best of life worth living.

most jobs are not honoring of humans or life. Something needs to change radically.

No particular interpretation is necessary as these words speak for themselves and tell us Bill and Vera want nothing less than a wholly (and holy) new society.  Natural gas opposition is, for them, simply a vehicle for getting there.  They are entitled to their opinions, of course, and able to pursue them because our current society provides for that.  Yet, others need to know this is what lies at the core of their opposition.

Bill Huston

I have no idea what Bill or Vera do for incomes, but their comments certainly suggest they’re not worried about them, unlike so many of the landowners desperately needing natural gas development to literally save their farms.

Both devote incredible amounts of time to fighting natural gas (even though Bill lives in the Town of Union in Broome County, where 82% of homes are heated with natural gas).  Vera lives in Susquehanna County with her daughter.  She and Bill, in fact, showed up together at a recent meeting of the Susquehanna County Commissioners.  He managed to get ejected after making a scene and bizarrely claiming, on the basis of the flimsiest of anecdotes, natural gas development in that county was contaminating Binghamton’s “antiquated” water supply. Here’s the video.  Pay particular attention to Bill’s harangue beginning at 31:23 and then later at 56:30 when the Susquehanna County Commissioners decide they’ve had enough of his antics.

The city’s waters system is actually newly upgraded so Bill’s definition of “antiquated” is a bit puzzling.  Moreover, the city water is tested regularly pursuant to the Safe Drinking Water Act and the results are publicly available.  This didn’t stop Bill from making noise wherever and whenever he could, gaining the tacit support of Mayor Matt Ryan, his fellow fractivist.  Just click the picture below to get and an idea how Bill hyped the issue:



Ryan ordered additional tests based on Bill’s word there just must be a problem.  The costs of those tests are unknown as yet but the results have been released.  Unsurprisingly, they indicate no issues.  Now compare what Bill alleged with what was actually found (emphasis added):

Bill Huston

FACT: Most people in the City of Binghamton and New York in general are care-free because they think their water is SAFE because there is no fracking going on in NY due to the moratorium.

FACT: There is serious cause for concern right now, as in the last 4 years there have been 98 unconventional gas will drilled in the City of Binghamton’s water source.




Please call the press and media EVERY DAY until they report the FACT that there are 98 unconventional wells upstream of the City of Binghamton’s water intake!!

This is a potential Public Health EMERGENCY affecting ~50,000 people and people are IGNORANT OF THE CLEAR AND PRESENT DANGER OF HARM

FACT: the city of Binghamton has at least one intake directly from the Susquehanna River.
FACT: Every NY city West of Binghamton which draws directly from the river IS ALSO AT RISK.
FACT: Any surface spills or “inadvertent return to surface” of fracking chemicals or drilling muds WILL EVENTUALLY END UP IN THE RIVER.
FACT: Every one of those 98 wells is a potential source of contamination and poisons
FACT: There are many abandoned (orphaned) wells which are conduits to the surface.
FACT: Many of these poisons are biologically active in PARTS PER BILLION
FACT: There have been many reported problems in SUSQUEHANNA COUNTY at sites with Binghamton’s headwaters, e.g., Franklin Forks, and Great Bend

And about water testing,

FACT: If the contamination is not present when the testing is done, everything appears fine!

IF THEY TELL YOU “don’t worry, the City does regular water testing”.

=> FIRST remind them of the FACT that NO ONE KNOWS there are 98 unconventional wells in Binghamton’s Headwaters.
=> NEXT press for more details. What kind of test? What does it look for? Is it continuous testing? Water is always flowing. What happens if the poison cloud passes outside of the testing interval?

Binghamton Press

The results are in: Nothing indicates natural gas drilling in Pennsylvania has affected the city’s water supply.

Following a request by Binghamton Mayor Matthew T. Ryan for special testing, the city recently received laboratory data showing no discernible effects on the city’s public water supply from hydraulic fracturing for natural gas in Pennsylvania.

“Right now, there’s absolutely nothing to be concerned about,” Ryan said of the results. The city’s Water and Sewer Department will continue the tests, he added, “so they can continue to monitor and see if there’s any changes.”

The concerns stem from a W-shaped portion of the Susquehanna River that flows through northern Pennsylvania for 15 miles before re-entering New York state and continuing west to the City of Binghamton. There are more than 100 active natural gas wells in a six-township area of Susquehanna County surrounding the river, although many have not been hydraulically fractured and only one well pad is within a mile of the waterway.

Five chemical compounds associated with hydrofracking were not present at detectable levels in the city’s water supply, the test results show. A fifth was detectable, but at levels below the national average for public water supplies….

The four compounds not present at detectable levels in the city’s surface or well water sources were butane, ethane, propane and methane, according to a test report dated Oct. 11 from Benchmark Analytics, Inc., of Sayre, Pa.

Strontium, a naturally occurring element in shale deposits, was detected, although not at levels that would raise concern.

Test results at Binghamton’s surface water intake — about two-thirds of a mile east of Rock Bottom Dam on the Susquehanna River — showed strontium was present at 0.079 milligrams per liter. A test of the city’s water well detected strontium at a concentration of 0.2 milligrams per liter.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, the average strontium concentration in public water supplies is 1.1 milligrams per liter in surface water, and 0.81 milligrams per liter in groundwater.

The most recent line of testing falls in line with previous data on Binghamton’s public water supply, which is constantly monitored by a computerized system and subjected to dozens of laboratory tests each month under state requirements.

Annual water quality reports produced by the city show no notable increase in contaminants since natural gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale gained a major foothold in Susquehanna County in 2009.

One of our readers says this about the whole incident:

For two months William Huston of Shaleshock media has been running a self made “expose” on how 90 gas wells in PA have been polluting the drinking water from the Susquehanna River on public access television in a 3 part series. He interrupted town meetings in Pennsylvania yelling at local officials, accusing them of allowing and polluting by fracturing gas wells and endangering the drinking water source for 80,000 people down river.  He was on TV promoting his fear mongering accusations as well as accusing all local news outlets of hiding or refusing to report on this very important news breaking story that he put together in his own mind.

Mayor Matt Ryan bought into the fear.  I do understand that his testing the water was the right thing to do.  However, now that the tests are done I believe Bill Huston should be on TV explaining to the people he frightened and answering to his false claims and fear mongering techniques.  Bill Huston should be barred from access to public TV programming for abusing the network. He created undue fear in the minds of anyone who watched his show and believed his reporting of this false information.

The technique of High Volume Hydraulic Fracturing would not be so controversial if the public was not subjected to 5 years of misinformation by people and organizations like Bill Huston.

Being a fractivist, of course, means never having to say you’re sorry, so we can expect Bill to move on from this bit of burnt out hype to greener pastures without so much as a millisecond of hesitation or regret.  One day it’s the water storage pond in Washington County that he tries to tell us is a non-existent “super mister” and the next day it’s the “black water” threat to Binghamton’s water supply.

What’s behind it all?  Well, those comments here on our blog reveal a desire to remake society and create some kind of utopia that doesn’t and cannot exist except in the minds of adherents.  Eric Hoffer, in his famous book entitled The True Believer, addressed the nature of folks who dismiss the importance of careers:

The prospect of an individual career cannot stir them to a mighty effort, nor can it evoke in them faith and a single-minded dedication. They look on self-interest as on something tainted and evil; something unclean and unlucky. Anything undertaken under the auspices of the self seems to them foredoomed. Nothing that has its roots and reasons in the self can be noble and good. Their innermost craving is for a new life — a rebirth — or, failing this, a chance to acquire new elements of pride, confidence, hope, a sense of purpose and worth by an identification with a holy cause.

It’s not, in other words, about the gas; it’s about creating enemies to attack in hopes of bringing down the system and replacing it with something else – something much better in their eyes, something that will recognize their virtues.  It’s a holy cause that defines who they are.  Therefore, we can expect new baseless allegations, more hyperbole and taller tales next week.  Stay tuned, because we’ll be exposing this nonsense as it unfolds.


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