Upstate New York Landowner Shale Gas Activist
It was “gas wars no more” at Binghamton University where students engaged in a civil discussion about energy and civil engagement. Vic Furman was there.
This past week, another board member of the Joint Landowners Coalition of NY and I both received an invitation to Binghamton University to speak about our experiences in community civil engagement. We talked with approximately 40 students who attended the discussion.
Not knowing what to expect, I went unprepared; no written material and only a brown jug of water marked “Dimock, Pa.” It was a wise decision.
I can only speak for myself and not my fellow JLCNY member, but the interaction and questions by geology and environmental second year students was beautiful. Why? because it was honest and they prepared themselves with pre-written questions about Indian Point nuclear power, solar, wind and fossil fuels, all of which I attempted to answer with upmost honesty even as they fact checked me on their tablets. Here is a list of questions I was asked with my given answers:
What is your position on nuclear energy?
The student who asked this question was a Westchester County resident, where Indian Point is located.
I went on to explain that nuclear rods no longer in use, are encased in cement and buried but are still deadly with radiation for up to 100,000 years. We discussed the fact most, if not all nuclear power plants in the United States are built on natural faults and many were already past their age limits—past due for shut down. I explained that Indian Point has 2 3 story high water intake/output systems used to cool the reactors that kill hundreds of thousands of planktons and fish per year, warming waters and causing early spawning and algae plumes.
Are you for or against clean energy such as solar and wind?
This question came from a student studying Environmental Sciences and I answered that I am in favor of all energy, stating what I am against is people pushing the narrative that we are ready for it now, as if the “The leave it in the ground movement” had any credibility. I explained that if the science of clean energy made economic sense, then the market would demand it and pay for the infrastructure to switch; that, in comparison to fossil fuels, solar industry subsidies are off the charts in comparison.
I also brought up Germany, their remarkable push towards renewables and now the implosion of that program with Germans burning more coal than ever, brown coal no less. The reason for the decline is the high cost of clean energy, which is three times higher then fossil fuels, making it impossible for the factories demanding great amounts of energy, to compete in the world market. The result has been more dirty coal plants to meet their electic needs.
Why were New York landowners denied the access to their property rights? What about the state’s fracking ban?
I explained that we were not actually denied our property rights. Our crafty Governor Cuomo was ether smart or well-advised not to explicitly ban gas drilling, but to place an extended moratorium under the guise the process of well drilling and high volume hydraulic fracturing was still being studied by the state. I noted that, theoretically, he could pursue future presidential ambitions without being called anti-fossil fuel because he never actually banned drilling. He could play both sides of the fence; anti in New York and neutral elsewhere. This would be an important for a politician running in over 30 states where fracking is permitted and being anti-fossil fuel would be a detriment to getting him elected president.
How, if that’s the case, did Cuomo get away with an extended moratorium?
I answered that gas drilling, if allowed, would happen only in Upstate New York and the majority of the state’s population was in New York City where the benefits, though huge, are not appreciated because they’re indirect. I explained it was simply a matter of demographics, with votes being concentrated in the City among people largely unaware of how energy is produced.
I went on to explain that many peer reviewed studies were paid for by billion dollar anti-fossil fuel endowments such as the Park Foundation, the Rockefellers foundations and others, who have paid millions upon millions to fight against the upstate famer, already at an economic disadvantage. The anti-gas movement got many other millions from similar sources, including Hollywood actors who bragged about their Facebook followings and the power it gave them.
It was. I said, a case of farmers and landowners from Upstate New York fighting against elitists with far more money than they had, while the antis called themselves a grass roots movement. I pointed out the financial roots reached all the way to Russia in some cases. I explained how false fears and misinformation was used against us. Who wouldn’t be afraid of wide spread water pollution, low birth weights, two headed sheep and air so thick you could cut it with a knife, after all? These were the false fears—the lies—being spread to honest people who heard them in mass quantity, in concentrated cities (targeted) by the elitist funded fear machines such as NYRAD, “New York residents Against Drilling” and other well paid activist groups.
I recommended they go online and watch two films in order; first Gasland funded by the foundations against fracking and then Fracknation funded by citizens and landowners. I encouraged them to read the transcript of the Dimock family lawsuit against Cabot Oil and Gas and, especially, the testimony of ” Anthony Ingraffea” a loud Cornell University Professor entangled with the Park Foundation.
I told the students Ingraffea had taught rock fracturing for 30 years and had become an activist who now made all sorts of claims unrelated to his own expertise. I noted he had testified, under oath, that he could not back up much of what he had been telling others about hydraulic fracturing. I also informed the students a judgment of $4 million in favor of the Ely family had been set aside because it wasn’t warranted and no attempt was made to re-litigate the matter, the case having been so poor.
Now, understand that these students were 16 years old or so when all this was going on and now four years later they were second year college students who before this, had no Idea or very little at least, about this highly one-sided political debate. To me, their reaction to all this was rewarding, as they seemed to understand money and fear often dictate the direction of civic engagement. My HooYah moment came at the end of the second presentation, when a geology student said—to all of us—that fracking was a subject discussed in his class, and it was agreed it was impossible for frack fluid to flow against gravity and migrate through thousands of feet of solid rock.
What about that “Brown Water Jug” there in front of you?
“Glad you asked” I replied. In 2009, Craig Sautner of Dimock Pennsylvania, who then lived on Carter Road claimed his water well was pollted with hundreds of chemicals by Cabot Oil and Gas when they fracked a well near his property. The problem with that claim was that no fracking had yet been done.
What happened was the driller hit a shallow pocket of biogenic gas a few hundred feet below the topsoil, agitating the water table and causing the sediments in the aquifer to be stirred up. Much like the way a blender mixes a margarita, the water turned brow. It only lasted a few days and Mr Sautner couldn’t produce the brown water for the TV cameras when asked.
The Pennsylvania DEP and EPA tested his well for fracking chemicals and found none, though admitting there were high levels of the gas in his well. As it turns out this area in the Northeast has been known for centuries—long before the first gas well was drilled—for the water having high volume of gas, so high it allowed people to light their water on fire. The brown jug is nothing more the a prop used by litigants in lawsuits. It was never seized or tested by New York or any state agency, despite pleas from pro-gas landowners, for testing and chemical analysis.
Such was the discussion at Binghamton University. It was extremely rewarding; a civil discussion on the merits indicating to me the younger generation is open-minded on these issues and not so much interested in the battle as the truth. Simply put, it is “gas wars no more” for them. Bravo!
Editor’s Note: I discovered, subsequent to the posting of this article from Vic and after 10 comments from an individual supposedly named Dan Harwig, that Dan uses the same IP address as Jan Lemas, who previously pretended for the longest time to be “Hope Forpeace.” We documented her real name here back in December and told her she was welcome to continue to comment, but only under her real name.
Instead, she either decided to pretend she was now Dan Harwig or got him to run interference for her friends Ray Kemble and Vera Scroggins — our friend Vic Furman having got under her skin that much. I have informed Jan Lemas the game is up unless, using her real name, she wants to share with us Ray’s unedited latest DEP and ATSDR results, of course. Dan Harwig, assuming he exists, is also welcome to provide those results, given that he seems to quote from them. Meanwhile, Vic Furman chalks up another one!