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Humorless Fractivists Go Wild with Speculation

fractivists - Tom ShepstoneTom Shepstone
Natural Gas NOW


Fractivists have no sense of humor, of course, but a recent episode illustrates just how far they’ll take their neurosis; over the edge into the abyss.

I have yet to meet a fractivist or radical environmentalist with a sense of humor. The truly committed ones take themselves so, so seriously. They assume they’ve cornered the market on morality, ethics and everything else that matters. They imagine anyone who disagrees is evil and have perfected the art of condescension. They’re also prone to exaggeration. Readers who’ve dealt with any number of them know exactly what I mean.

Yet, a recent episode truly takes the cake; serving to demonstrate every characteristic of fractivists at once. It involves an innocuous comment, made in humor by a Range Resources employee at a Pennsylvania Bar Institute Environmental Law Forum that took place earlier this month in Harrisburg. The event was keynoted by Pennsylvania DEP Secretary John Quigley and attended by attorneys, academics, industry representatives, other professionals and environmental activists, among others. A casual off-hand comment made by Range’s Terry Bossert in a session titled “Environmental Issues Facing the Oil and Gas Industry” has been elevated to “Tempest in a Teapot” status by fractivists intent on creating what they would have us all imagine is a serious issue. It’s not.


Lycoming County well pad near home in area where natural gas drilling has been welcomed as economic development.

Terry Bossert is Range’s Vice-President for Legislative and Regulatory Affairs. He gave a presentation, which may be found here and included four slides regarding what, with a bit of punning, he called “Siting Unconventional Gas Wells, Citing Unconventional Gas Wells,” referring to the fact siting of any well is a matter of investigation followed by documentation, followed by more of the same ad nauseum. Along the way he offered a silly little remark of the sort any speaker might offer in such circumstances and here’s what happened from there, via the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

The Center for Coalfield Justice and the Pennsylvania Chapter of the Sierra Club raised that question after they said Terry Bossert, Range’s vice president for legislative and regulatory affairs, told a Pennsylvania Bar Institute gathering in Harrisburg earlier this month, that the company tries to avoid siting its shale gas wells near “big houses” where residents might have the financial resources to challenge the industrial-type developments.

“We heard Range Resources say it sites its shale gas wells away from large homes where wealthy people live and who might have the money to fight such drilling and fracking operations,” said Patrick Grenter, an attorney and Center for Coalfield Justice executive director, who attended the lawyers’ forum. A handful of attorneys in the audience confirmed that account

Joanne Kilgour, an attorney and director of the Pennsylvania Chapter of the Sierra Club, who attended the meeting, said Mr. Bossert’s statements “pose significant environmental justice issues, and raise the question whether the companies coming into communities are really operating in the best interests of those communities.”

Mr. Grenter said the environmental groups will send their letter today requesting that the state Department of Environmental Protection’s Office of Environmental Justice review Range’s well-siting permits to determine if drilling operations have been disproportionately located away from wealthier homes and neighborhoods.

There are none better/worse than fractivists when it comes to exaggeration, hyperbole and wild speculation, but the feigned outrage here is a case of “jumping the shark” if there ever was one.

Are we really supposed to believe a gas company would announce such a thing at a public forum in a room full of environmental justice activists? 

Are we really supposed to believe a gas company would sign leases it never intended to drill because “big houses” are there?

Are we really supposed to believe a gas company would ignore geology, topography and DEP siting criteria just to “avoid big houses” and wealthy people?

Can anyone among fractivists take a joke? Is there nothing that will move these self-righteous radical shills to crack a smile? Or, is everything to be exploited in their holy war against oil and gas?

Take a look at the four slides Bossert used to talk about siting and citing:


fractivists fractivists


See anything there suggesting anything close to what these hypersensitive fractivists suggest? No, of course not. The presentation was about just how difficult it is to site well pads under DEP regulations, which, among other things, oblige a gas driller to check the Pennsylvania Natural Diversity Index (PNDI) for the possible existence anywhere near the desired location of not only threatened and endangered species of animals and plants, but also “species of special concern,” a catch-all term for anything else regulators and special interests might fancy.

The first Bossert slide, in fact, notes that when it comes to landowner desires, “preferences often conflict with environmental concerns.” That’s the issue, of course, and one fractivists couldn’t care less about. Their “environmental justice” complaint is ridiculous on it’s face given the comprehensive nature of DEP well siting regulations. It’s a completely ginned up issue and three organizations are behind the farce: the Center for Coalfield Justice, the Clean Air Council and the Sierra Club. All three are financed by the same very wealthy special interest: the Heinz Endowments. Here’s their collective Heinz take for the shilling they’re doing on its behalf:

Center for Coalfield Justice – $1,285,000 in Heinz funding since 2007

Clean Air Council – $1,558,800 in Heinz funding since 2002

Sierra Club – $140,000 in Heinz funding since 2014

Interesting, isn’t it, what $2,983,800 will buy? Ironically, the same article in the Post-Gazette included this quote from Carl Jones Jr., a Philadelphia attorney appointed by John Quigley to head his Environmental Justice office:

“The notion behind a holistic environmental justice policy is to prevent individual groups from bearing a disproportionate share of environmental impacts.”

May I suggest that’s exactly what’s happening in this case; one very wealthy elitist family, the Heinz family, is having an extremely disproportionate impact on public discussion and policy and the way well pads are sited under state regulation? Something ought to be done about it.

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