Environmental White Knights Not So White

From over in Olean, a great "guest viewpoint" in the Times Herald—the kind that makes you say, "Wish I'd written that."

By Peter Jermann
Two generations ago the discovery of retrievable gas from the Marcellus Shale would have been greeted with, “It’s there, we need it, let’s get it.”
Today, after two generations of the environmental movement, the response is, “It’s there, you don’t need it, it will hurt the earth.”
In the mid-20th century the lords of industry reigned as the only team on the playing field. Today, environmentalism has become a full-fledged belief system and has largely won the public relations war. The environmental movement now plays on the field from a dominant position as the white knights opposed to the now dark lords of industry.
But how white are the knights?
The current environmental movement fixates on improvements that are immeasurable, intangible, and unaffordable. Where earlier gains in environmental protection tangibly cleaned up dirty rivers, dirty lakes and dirty air, it now fights against remote possibilities, against threats not actually visible but hiding behind every stone and every tree in our future landscape.
For these “improvements” it will sacrifice jobs that measurably improve many lives. It will sacrifice cheap energy that cooks our food, heats our homes, drives us to work and even pumps the water whose purity it holds supreme. And it will sacrifice public funds on schemes that would never see the light of day if people were asked to invest their own personal resources.
A movement that was both necessary and highly successful has become the reformer who can’t stop reforming. It has become the mother who can’t see the goodness in her own children, but only the few faults, no matter how small, that still remain. A movement that began with rivers afire and moon views dyed brown by smothering smog has become a movement of hubris dictating the perfect climate and the perfect earth....

NYSBA article by attorney Scott Kurkoski

Scott is a partner in the Binghamton, New York law firm of Levene Gouldin & Thompson, LLP where he is chair of the firm’s oil and gas practice group. He is chair of the Broome County Bar Association Oil and Gas Committee and attorney for the Joint Landowners Coalition of New York, Inc. He also represents several landowner coalitions throughout New York, and is currently representing landowners in the Middlefield suit.

Click on the image to read the article.

h/t Tompkins Landowner Coalition


Knowledge is power

From Town of Candor resident Jerry Troeger:

The Gas Question:  Common Sense vs. Controversy

I drink the same water you do and I also have to put food on the table and provide a decent place for my family to sleep.  Day by day, this is getting harder to do. That is why I am doing all of the research I can with an open mind. I, and thousands of other people like me, literally cannot afford to get this wrong.

There has been so much controversy over the inevitable drilling for natural gas in New York State that I have never been satisfied with the media hype and hysteria touted by Environmentalists and Politicians clearly serving an agenda.  It insults my intelligence. No matter where you stand on this important issue, one fact is abundantly clear: people are not being told the whole story and as a result, are being misled.  Negative press concerning Natural Gas drilling is being exploited beyond reason, while any positive facts regarding the process are being suppressed. For example, there IS a viable and safe alternative to Hydro Fracking, yet no one who opposes drilling ever talks about it.

This cutting edge extraction system is a process called “Gas Fracking”.  Gasfrac Energy Systems of Canada (www.gasfrac.com) developed the technology and it is currently in use in Canada as well as parts of the United States. Although mass-scale production of their rigs is still in its infancy, what is currently out there performs as advertised and demand for the new technology is high.  As described by its developers, gas fracking is unique in that no chemically-laden water or potentially contaminating fluids are necessary. This virtually eliminates the possibility of spills, ground contamination and any concerns that our precious drinking water will be directly impacted by the fracking process.  GasFrac Inc. describes their fracturing process as follows:

“GASFRAC Energy Services Inc’s proprietary Vantage LPG (Liquefied Petroleum Gas) fracturing process utilizes gelled LPG in place of conventional fracturing fluids. The LPG is primarily propane, C3H8.  …the process uses NO water resulting in significant savings on material expenses and fracture clean up as well as eliminating waste water streams or inadequate recycling attempts.”

The company further states:

 “As a result, the LPG process results in less damage to formations than conventional hydraulic fracturing. And unlike conventional treatments…virtually 100% of the LPG can be recovered.”

This sounds really good on the surface and when compared to Hydro Fracking and its limitations, such an extraction system should be viewed as a promising solution to a very important problem.  But it is largely being ignored for reasons that just do not make sense to me and to be honest, we owe it to ourselves to learn more about it.  People deserve to know the facts and we should be presented with all available information before being asked to make any decisions, especially one of this magnitude.  Sadly, this does not appear to be the case and that should be a concern to any reasonable person.

Many counties have already passed laws to prohibit drilling, although they may in fact be illegal.  That is for the courts to decide.  But to label other counties that have not jumped on the band wagon as “doing nothing” to protect their residents is inflammatory at best.  I personally have never been one to buy into the “be there or be square” mentality and I will wager that a good number of these ‘outcast’ legislators do not believe in extra-terrestrials either.  Does that make them bad people? Or are they looking at the big picture and wisely reserving judgment until all of the facts are in?

The entire question of whether or not to allow the issuing of drilling permits in NY State cannot reasonably be decided solely upon the one method of extraction or suppositions of impending doom. It cheats people out of their right to a fair and informed decision making process in favor of often skewed media representation and in some cases, even fear mongering.

Eventually we are all going to have to face some inconvenient realities.  New York State, as well as the Federal Government, is broke. Taxes are rising, school budgets are again being slashed and we cannot even afford to repair our roads and bridges. Unemployment is high, foreclosures are on the rise and the costs of fuel and food are skyrocketing.  Many people are already feeling the lint at the bottom of their pockets.  Looking at both sides of the equation, one cannot escape the fact that things are not going to get better by doing nothing.  That’s the cold, hard truth of it all.

Strangling an industry that, when properly and reasonably regulated by the DEC, can be conducted within the margins of reasonable safety,  produce thousands of jobs and potentially millions of dollars in revenue for us and our State, is nothing less than foolish.  We are literally standing on a God-given natural resource that will reap more benefits than most of us realize, yet we are being told to be afraid of it by an agenda-driven group of environmentalists and politicians.  There is little doubt that this is all about the money. Someone is making big bucks on importing fossil fuels at our expense.  Their profit is our loss and there is no reprieve in sight.

Knowledge is power.  It always has been.  To form conclusions based upon half-truths or missing facts is a recipe for disaster. There is a certain amount of risk in everything we do, but the more you know, the better your chances are of making the right choices.

Jerry Troeger

A history lesson and some ramblings...

...from an old gal in Dryden...

It does my heart good to see the fine work being performed by our Dryden Town Board in returning our town to its bucolic past.  Having come to Dryden 88 years ago, I have seen much change, little of it for the better.  We need to protect Dryden and the current Board and such wonderful community groups as DRAC are fulfilling my dreams, no growth, no change.  But, why stop there, why not roll back the clock and restore our wonderful past?

As a child, I remember heating our homes with fireplaces, burning local wood and occasionally using coal stoves.  Oh, the crackling fire!  There was no need for heating oil, natural gas, or electricity.  Chopping wood was good exercise.  People rose with the Sun and went to bed at a decent hour.  People knew their places.  Prohibition kept our men sober.  Our roads were unpaved and should be again for traffic calming.  People did healthy exercise walking miles.  I remember the quiet winter period, when snow closed in and we enjoyed quiet periods in our homes. For really long distance travel, we could restore the Lehigh Valley Railroad and bring back the Black Diamond.

I’m grieved by the noise and fumes of traffic as people go about their business.  Horses are a far better source of motive power and do not use fossil fuels.  They also reproduce.  And there is the fun of grooming them and taking care of these most loyal friends. Simple narrow trails would be less costly for the State and our towns to maintain that roads. And, sleighs in the winter are great fun for those semi-annual trips to the grocery!

It is not enough to simply ban gas drilling in Dryden.  Moving beyond that, let’s move into environmental harmony with the planet by banning automobiles, pulling down the power grid, and legislating the removal of furnaces and air conditioning units throughout the Town.  We can become a model of conservation, living the simple basic and healthy lifestyle of our ancestors.  Those who do not want to protect our planet are free to move elsewhere.

In my day, I attended school at the Octagon on Hanshaw Road.  The one room school house was far better than today’s school “campuses.”  We children helped each other and the younger children.  We learned or we paid the price.  Teachers were allowed to impose proper discipline.  And, by returning to the one room school with children walking there, think what we could save on school buses and energy.

By rejecting effete development, we can encourage people to return to Jefferson’s dream of a farming nation.  Small rural farmers, that’s what this country needs.  No big corporations building jet airplanes or space vehicles.  My late husband, Benjamin Franklin Dogood, built buggies in our barn.  If we are to venture into space, why not return space ship building to small individual entrepreneurs?  Big corporations are evil. But, I’m so proud of foundations using hundreds of millions in inherited money to support those who, like me, would have us all remain of modest means, living the simple, plain, life as we know it and all must live it.

So, I urge the town board to honor the wishes of the community and to protect us from change, while mandating a return to simple earlier values.  We love our land, our air, and our water and only by dismantling the trappings of a technological and electronic society can we bring back the peace and tranquility of the past.  Those who do not wish to go along should be either compelled to do so, have their property confiscated, be forced to move elsewhere, or have their anti-social conduct criminalized.  A ban on all forms of economic development and a totally embracive zoning code reaching every use of land in the town is a good first step. I just know with officials like ours, there is no need to worry about “freedoms” getting in the way of the social good.

Dora Dogood
Town of Dryden

Book retort

This comes under the heading of "not-new-but-worth-a-view"...interesting premise. At Global Warming.org:

In Green Hell: How Environmentalists Plan to Control Your Life and What You Can Do to Stop Them, Steve Milloy argues that environmentalists don’t want U.S. energy production to be clean or safe–they just don’t want energy production. They oppose it of all kinds, including renewable sources. In this passage, he shows how they obstruct traditional sources:

For the first time, applications to build new coal-fired power plants are being rejected based on their emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2)—and not just a few plants. Of more than 150 coal plant proposals submitted to regulators for approval in recent years, by the end of 2007 just thirty-five had either been built or were under construction. An astounding fifty-nine of the proposed plants were cancelled, abandoned, or put on hold because of concerns over CO2 emissions. Many coal plants are falling victim to aggressive legal challenges by the Sierra Club, whose “Stopping the Coal Rush” website sports a database and map proudly showing the various plants being attacked by green groups.Just over half our electricity is produced by coal. For decades, greens have tried in vain to reduce the use of coal, lobbying for regulations on how it is mined and the chemical compounds it emits when burned. But the global warming scare seems to have finally given them some traction.

And lawsuits aren’t the greens’ only weapon in this campaign, as they now insert themselves directly into big business deals. Incredibly, greens played a key role in the $45 billion buyout of the electric utility TXU Corp by a group of led by the private equity firm Kohlberg, Kravis, and Roberts in 2007. Prior to the buyout, TXU had angered greens by planning to build eleven new coal-fired power plants. So the KKR group reached out to the activists, who agreed to end their campaign against TXU and to support the buyout in exchange for KKR’s capitulation to two green demands: not building eight of the eleven plants, and having TXU support federal carbon-reduction legislation.

Burning natural gas, which accounts for 19 percent of our electricity, emits less carbon dioxide than burning coal, but that hasn’t earned it much support from the greens...

Read the rest.

Shale game

At City Journal:

From Australia and China to South Africa and Eastern Europe, the global economy is being transformed by the extraction of huge amounts of natural gas from shale rock. The United States has played a major part in this revolution; new “plays,” as fields of shale gas are known, are now producing in Texas, Louisiana, Illinois, Arkansas, Colorado, West Virginia, and other states. In the last three years, more than 3,000 gas wells have been drilled in western Pennsylvania’s share of the huge Marcellus shale formation. With more and more producers in the business, the price of natural gas has dropped steadily, and the U.S. has become the world’s leading producer of natural gas. A new age of clean, cheap shale-gas energy is about to begin—except, perhaps, in New York State, where influential environmental groups seem to be winning their struggle against shale.
One might expect a no-drill agenda to find few friends in New York, which desperately needs the revenue and economic growth that shale gas has brought to other states. The Empire State faces a $3 billion budget gap for fiscal year 2013. According to State Budget Solutions, a nonpartisan think tank, New York’s deficits, long-term debt, and pension obligations total $305 billion. High taxes, unemployment, and a burdensome cost of living make New York Number One in emigration to other states. Governor Andrew Cuomo has described the state’s financial outlook as “grim.”
Shale gas development would help turn things around, especially in rural areas where jobs are scarce. Much of upstate New York sits directly on top of geological features that hold the promise of an economic bonanza—including the Marcellus, one of the largest shale-gas formations in the world, and the Utica, an even larger formation beneath the Marcellus that extends from Kentucky to Ontario. The Marcellus and Utica formations represent an extraordinary opportunity for New York. Various studies agree that for decades to come, shale-gas development in the state could create billions of dollars in new economic activity and tens of thousands of jobs....

To be or not to be

EPA Promises Water for Dimock PA, Reneges 24 Hours Later


The news out of Dimock, PA is coming so fast and furious, it’s hard to keep track of it all. First, a brief background on the situation in Dimock, the context you almost never read in the mainstream media:
In 2008, Cabot Oil & Gas drilled a number of Marcellus Shale gas wells in Dimock Township in Pennsylvania, a rural area in the northeastern part of the state, in Susquehanna County. Homeowners located along the Carter Road area noticed high levels of methane in their drinking water. After an investigation by the PA Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), the DEP fined Cabot in 2009 stating that Cabot’s operations in the area caused methane to migrate into a local water aquifer serving anywhere from 13 to 19 houses, depending on the changing storyline.
The PA DEP worked out a deal whereby Cabot would deliver fresh water via tanker to each of the homes, and while doing so, would be required to install filtration systems that would remove methane from their water. Drinking water that has methane (natural gas) does not harm humans. But methane can lead to explosions if it concentrates and comes into contact with a spark or flame. The DEP also ordered Cabot to compensate affected families twice the value of their property, so those affected could buy new homes should they chose to.
Here’s where the issue gets murky, and what you don’t read in press accounts most of the time: 11 of the 19 families receiving water from Cabot refused to let Cabot install filtration systems and refused compensation for their properties. In fact, many (all 11?) have denied Cabot the right to test their water. Instead, they are suing Cabot, hoping for a huge payout. The PA DEP grew tired of their refusals to allow more testing, and after two years finally told Cabot they could stop water deliveries to the families who refuse to settle and will not allow testing. So Cabot stopped delivering water Nov. 30, 2011, and of course anti-drillers and the complicit media have had a field day demagoguing the issue....
But then this followed...and then this.
As it says above, it's hard to keep track of it all.

A Big Frack Attack

Well, this WSJ article doesn't have to do with a craving for burgers but it does have to do with an appetitie for risk, aka "How to Play the Next American Oil Boom":


Energy profits are booming and Big Oil shares look inexpensive. But investors with an appetite for risk might want to drill deeper into the sector to find smaller companies sitting on U.S. oil-shale riches—which make tempting takeover targets, analysts say.
Large oil companies are riding a 25% fourth-quarter surge in Nymex crude prices. Analysts estimate that energy companies in the Standard & Poor's 500-stock index saw earnings growth of 34% in the fourth quarter—more than twice that of any other sector, according to S&P.
The market has bid up these shares only cautiously—worried, no doubt, that oil prices could dip if world economic growth slows. S&P 500 energy companies trade at 10 times projected 2012 earnings, versus 12 times for the broader index.
Investors underestimate the strength of current oil demand, says Subash Chandra, who covers energy stocks for Jefferies, a New York investment bank...

Shale gas: a renaissance in US manufacturing?

Not All Cornell Scientists Agree

Our Frack-enstein piece, which is linked over there to your left, contains a section about the Howarth/Santoro/Ingraffea study published last spring which asserted that natural gas has a severe impact on greenhouse gasses (GHGs).  This study has been rebutted several times (full disclosure—sometimes supported as well, at least according to Dr. Don Siegel of Syracuse University), most recently by Cornell colleagues Lawrence M. Cathles III, Larry Brown, Milton Taam, and Andrew Hunter:

...in their recent publication in Climatic Change Letters, Howarth et al. (2011) report that their life-cycle evaluation of shale gas drilling suggests that shale gas has a larger GHG footprint than coal and that this larger footprint “undercuts the logic of its use as a bridging fuel over the coming decades”. We argue here that their analysis is seriously flawed in that they significantly overestimate the fugitive emissions associated with unconventional gas extraction, undervalue the contribution of “green technologies” to reducing those emissions to a level approaching that of conventional gas, base their comparison between gas and coal on heat rather than electricity generation (almost the sole use of coal), and assume a time interval over which to compute the relative climate impact of gas compared to coal that does not capture the contrast between the long residence time of CO2 and the short residence time of methane in the atmosphere...

Read the whole thing.


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