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Gas Drilling Opponents Shift Causes?

landowners and laborers - Vic FurmanVictor Furman
Upstate New York Landowner Shale Gas Activist at NYRAD-R


Gas drilling opponents are apparently shifting causes as the opportunities arise if Vic Furman’s recent concert/festival experience is any guide.

This past weekend I went to a music festival at Salt Springs State Park with a friend of 55 years. I was apprehensive to say yes and reminded her of my involvement over the years with nearby Dimock and calling out the professional gas drilling protestors (Vera S, Craig S, the other Craig S and that whole gang, I didn’t want to drag her into my battles. It was a beautiful day and I didn’t want to ruin it by running into them but, after a little more conversation, in which I told her (wrongly, as it turned out) that my old friends were likely to be there, she talked me into going.

So, it was off the Salt Springs, where you can light the water on fire due to natural methane and could do so long before gas drilling (see video below of Nick Grealy of ReimagineGas.com lighting the natural methane bubbling up there). It turned out to be quite the revealing day.

We got there at one o’clock, with not a cloud in the sky. The park had hundreds of visitors, and we walked around looking at the exhibits. It was like a return to the 1960’s. There were jewelry and quilt makers and their goods on display. There were foot massagers, touch therapy booths and bands playing on the office porch with their groupies slapping spoons on their thighs, swinging their long grey hair in the wind to the beat of the bongos.

My friend and I set up our chairs right next to the music and in the shade but with the strong smell of Patchouli in the air I was still a little worried a confrontation might arise and ruin a perfect day with my lady. Every once and awhile the bongo player would stop and the guitarist would speak, “I play to the trees,” he stated, “often going to the woods, my church, and play and sing to the trees.”

Being a fisherman I understood his relationship to nature but at the same time I wouldn’t stand up on a stage and proclaim that the trees like my music because;  a) it wasn’t all that good and b) I would be a stranger amongst people (which, is how he made me feel as he and his partner beat on their wooden instruments proclaiming they wanted to save the forest). That’s pretty much how the day went overall, but it was, nevertheless, a good time.

But, then, as we were leaving I saw a tent set up on the return path to the parking area. I recognized immediately the red circle with the line going through it over bold black words.


I couldn’t help myself, I stopped at their table seeking information. A petition was on the table and the first thing said to me was “would you please sign this petition to stop the proposed incinerator which is going to poison our community?”

Having heard this sort of argument before, I decided to engage the fellow. I don’t really have an opinion on the incinerator but I do like to test the knowledge and sincerity of those people who try to engage me in their causes.

I asked if it wasn’t better to have one location where burning trash could be regulated instead of burn barrels all over the state where people burn whatever they want?

No, came the quick reply. “People can still burn trash in their yards. We don’t want to stop that,” he said explaining that this would be an industrial sized incinerator burning “industrial waste.”

“Industrial waste?” I asked. “Like what?” I was handed a flyer stating everyone within a 50 mile radius was in danger including not only New Milford, the proposed site, but also the Southern Tier of NY, the Susquehanna and Delaware Rivers, Binghamton, Scranton, many towns in-between, game lands, state parks, colleges, schools, farms, hospitals, and historic sites and tourist attractions.

Here is how they defined an Industrial waste incinerator: “a huge oven that burns many things” from hazardous to industrial waste, tires, trees, trash from construction and demolition. It is, the handout continued, the most polluting way to manage waste. There might even be pharmaceutical waste and paint including ultra toxins and dioxins, heavy metals, etc.. It was anything and everything.

Well, I said, “What is it, exactly, they will be burning here if this is built? The answer was “We don’t know?

“How can you be protesting something you know nothing about? I asked

“If they build this incinerator it will pollute our water, drive our land values down, create illnesses like nose bleeds and asthma and low birth weight”… etc. etc. etc.

Wait a minute I said, “I recognize you! Are you not the same people who were opposing natural gas with the same argument?”

“Why, yes, we were but that turned out good for the community,” he said. It created jobs and helped farmers in trouble and it made our roads better. “We were wrong to fight it, we didn’t understand it.”

“Tell you what,” I said, “give my your flyer and I will read it and, if I agree, I will sign the petition, but do me a favor and write your name on the back and where I can get ahold of you.” This information was important to me in case anyone asked who I spoke with, as this story was just too good not to write up. His name was Wayne C but my point isn’t to embarrass him but, rather, to point out the hysteria that always tends to surround causes such as this. I don’t know enough about the incinerator to offer any opinion worth sharing but I do know how there are a whole lot of people who are willing to join causes without knowing the facts and it’s only later they learn and acknowledge the truth. What the truth is about the incinerator, I cannot say, but I know gas drilling and what it’s done for communities in Susquehanna County and it’s great to see former opponents acknowledge it, even belatedly.

All of this brings to mind a little cartoon I came across a while ago that, perhaps, with a little modification of the original, sums up the situation:

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16 thoughts on “Gas Drilling Opponents Shift Causes?

  1. Thank you Karen. I was shocked that those anti gas folks from Citizens Action of NY, AND Dimock castouts were no shows. Now that I spend 3 out of 7 days in PA come to think of it… I never see these paid protestors supporting any community event

  2. This is a good read. What I’m actually shocked about is the admission by the well meaning zealot that gas drilling is ok and they shouldn’t have opposed it! Here is an individual who injected some thought into this typically emotion driven topic, and was actually able to change his mind! Amazing. I wonder if he is now ostracized by the crazies!

  3. I believe once this article is brought to his attention he will be schooled and then deny. It is why I had him write down his name and contact simply to show we did have the conversation. I do rather hope his honesty doesn’t cause him to be a castout amongst his peers

  4. You know that the jealous wannabe-fracers are having a slow day when they have to spin the comments of one person that they met during a carpetbagging trip to my county to represent the attitude of people, or any group of people, in my county.

  5. I am the person you talked to at Salt Springs. It is amazing how many errors of fact you could pack into such a short article. You even imagined the folding tables we had were a tent. The first thing I said to you and everyone else that I talked to was “Have you heard about the incinerator they want to build in our county?” I did not start out asking you to sign the petition as you state. Almost everything you put in quotes as if from my mouth was not something I said.
    The proposed incinerator is designed for industrial waste, not to replace the burn barrels all over the state. The people planning the incinerator said they will be bringing in trash by train from other states to burn, not replacing any local burn barrels. It would be good if nobody used a burn barrel. I said the group effort was to get ordinances in effect that would help the people proposing the incinerator to change their mind and cancel the plan.
    When you asked how we can protest something we know nothing about, I did not say any of the things you put in quotes as my answer. What I did was explained that a similar incinerator in East Liverpool Ohio near the PA line puts many toxins into the air and devastated the local economy.
    You claim in the article you said you recognized me. You did not say that and we had never met before. Also the Susquehanna Clean Air Network group has only existed for a few weeks and was organized to oppose the incinerator and never had anything to do with gas. I have never opposed responsible development by the gas industry. The gas industry developed a very bad image because of the blunders by the gas development done in 2007 in Dimock PA. I am not aware of any other drilling in the county that caused so many problems since the gas industry people became more careful. They even drilled without significant problems on my father’s property in 2009. The quotes you put in my mouth about us fighting against gas are entirely a figment of your imagination, just like the tent you imagined.
    Wayne C

  6. Wayne, I did not exaggerate anything. I wrote down what you said on the flyer you gave me. Yes, you did ask me to sign and that’s what started the conversation along with my question of “what is this about.” There were many tents. That’s neither here nor there and not even revelant. Are you denying that you stated protesting the drilling was wrong…. boy you must have had your head handed to you in a basket by William and Vera… question Wayne? Have you ever been on this site before?.

    • If you wrote anything down on the flyer, it was by memory sometime after you left the table. You did not write anything during the conversation. I did ask if you wanted to sign the petition, but not the beginning sentence of the conversation as you claim. I absolutely never said gas drilling was wrong when we were talking or any other time in the past. You are making that up out of the whole cloth. I signed a lease for gas drilling when one was offered years ago and encouraged other people to join me in doing so. However, the gas companies working our area bailed out after we signed the leases and never drilled here in Herrick Twp. I have not been on your blog before. Someone told me about your article last Saturday. You have a very vivid imagination, as evidenced by the completely false account you gave of what I said. Only 3 sentences you put in my mouth with quotes were even partially correct. All the others were 100% fabricated. I don’t know what you expect to accomplish by making up all the lies you had in your account.

  7. Thanks for your honesty, without it is would not have written the blog I did. Yes I wrote notes after I left and while fresh in my mind. Perhaps you should have too.

    • Those of us who are actually from Susquehanna County and who know how to have actually GOTTEN money from gas companies unlike you, won the thread. Get over it.

  8. Well Vic, I see your interviewee already has corrected your many reporting inaccuracies, so I’ll just add this. If he actually did say that people could still use their burn barrels, you should have stopped him right there and reminded him that burn barrels and burning trash is illegal in NYS (for some of the same reasons fracking is- it’s not so much we mind you breathing the toxins, it’s that we don’t want you forcing your neighbors to). And though you took enough literary license to turn what could have been a factual piece into a work of fiction, I did enjoy reading it. I urge you to keep looking for what people have in common rather than their differences. http://www.dec.ny.gov/chemical/58519.html

    • Hello Glenn – This is Wayne. I am opposed to burn barrels. Reports indicate the smoldering fires in burn barrels create dioxin at the maximum rate. For years I have tried to convince my next door neighbor to stop using one. I do not appreciate working in the garden and breathing in toxic fumes. I would consider it a good thing if PA would follow NY in their burn barrel law.

  9. Hi Glen this is Vic. yo know, one of the landowners your partnership with the United Arab Emirates and Hollywood actors who use more fossil fuels in one month then most will use in a lifetime. You celebrated at a pizza party in Albany the theft of their land rights yet are continuing your addiction of those very fossil fuels. Just a reminder.. NY will drill Cuomo and his judges will be gone.

    • Your comments are almost unintelligible. Please use complete sentences so people can understand what you are trying to say. From what I can make out, you think the fractivists had a pizza party in Albany? Nope- that was the rally I spoke with you at, and it was the pro-frackers who were given the free pizza, t-shirts, etc to come to the rally. Despite that, we outnumbered you by at least 20 to 1. And no, I’m breaking my addiction to fossil fuels. My house is about 99% powered by renewables and is superinsulated so it uses very little energy. We all need to do this asap. Meanwhile, I see you have zero to offer in evidence or other content to refute what I stated earlier. Have anything?

  10. Nice to see you put Wayne in place though as predicted above someone would. Again it’s been 10 years. Where are all the rooftop solar arrays? Propagandizing leftist liars enjoying fossil fuels to the fullest extent like the hypocrites you are.

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