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.
STOP THE INCINERATOR
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: