The Dirty Half-Dozen: Six Ohio Fractivists Trash Economic Development

natural gas now - Tom Shepstone ReportsTom Shepstone
Shepstone Management Company, Inc.

Take six Ohio fractivists, attach a phony group name to each, call a meeting and a new Tri-County Landowners Coalition is born to fight economic development.

It’s an old tactic that works again and again for those who oppose things; create phony groups who appear to share your views, and then write letters and hold a press conference to make it falsely appear you represent thousands. Media types fall for it every time, of course. It’s no wonder, therefore, an announcement that a Tri-County Landowners Coalition had been formed in Ohio immediately got attention here and here, for example. It’s still six people, though — six Ohio fractivists opposed to the economic development of three counties where median household incomes dropped up to 21% between 1999 and 2014.

The Tri-County Landowners Coalition claims to represent the good folks of Ashland, Holmes and Richland Counties in North Central Ohio. Six people went to a lectern a few days ago to announce they had formed the thing, five of them claiming to represent some fake group of Ohio fractivists. The names are utterly predictable, the fractivist dictionary apparently being a single page:

  • Frack Free Ohio
  • Hayesville Community on Fracked Gas
  • Clear Fork Landowners Group
  • Advocates for Local Land
  • Monroe Township Landowners Coalition

And, here’s the video of the event, such as it was:

If, like me, you’re from Northeastern Pennsylvania, your first reaction was probably incredulous that these folks are still using the scaremongering lines from a decade ago. It’s as if they’re stuck in Third Grade as agenda-driven adults whisper soundbites in their ears to utter in front of reporters. It’s as if there was no history, no Susquehanna River Basin Commission water quality study indicating “no discernible impact on the quality of water resources due to natural gas development.”

The six person coalition is upset because Cabot Oil & Gas proposes to develop some of the natural gas resources of the three county region. So, the usual suspects are dredging up tall tales, asking stupid questions and giving even more ignorant answers to those stupid questions. Watch as they claim wells can be fracked as many as 18 times (absolutely false), declare property values will be destroyed against reams of evidence precisely to the contrary, and suggest water contamination from hydraulic fracturing, which has never been proven. It’s as tiresome as could be and so, so old.

What’s really bugging these people is none of this. Rather, it’s the development, the economic development so needed by these three counties. Over and over again, they talk about the “rural landscape,” the “rural character,” the “beauty of the local environment,” the “aesthetics” and the “beautiful valley.” They want, in other words, no change; what Wall Street Journal writer Dan Henninger long ago tagged “pastoral poverty.”

And, boy, have they got it, for now. Here’s a map showing what happened in Ohio between 1999 and 2014 in terms of median household incomes:

Ohio fractivists

Chart from Toledo Blade

Yes, Holmes County saw a 9.3% decline in real median income over the 15 years, while Ashland County’s income dropped 15.5% and Richland County plummeted by 20.9% — an average of a roughly 1% per year loss in income. Bill Baker, supposed “organizer” of Frack Free Ohio and the equally fake coalition claimed natural gas development would “not protect the economic boon provided by farming and tourism that brings tens of thousands of visitors to the area each year.” Pardon me, but If the best farming and tourism can do is to produce a 1% decline per year in income, perhaps it’s time try something different. That something different might well help farming and tourism, too, if facts are to trump feelings.

Feelings always trumps facts in the fractivist world and Ohio fractivists are no different. And, because fractivists are fact adverse, they resort to fake groups, fake coalitions and fake statements better described as hysterical utterances. They’re masters of such dirty tricks, which is why I’m calling them the “Dirty Half-Dozen.”

Jackie Stewart does a wonderful takedown of the groups here at Energy in Depth. Be sure to check it out and note how she exposes the attempt by these “organizers” and “advocates” to portray themselves as nothing more than local landowners who are aggrieved by the opportunity to do some real economic development. In fact, they’re serial protesters who are almost certainly benefiting by the support of such odious money-hungry outside special interests as Food & Water Watch.

Food & Water Watch has, in fact, ridden the fracking issue to huge financial growth that enables it to pay its staff exceedingly well and its fund-raising contractors even better. Check it out here and here.  Wenonah Hauter, its snobby leader, wrote this in her Frackopoly book:

Ohio fractivists

Is Food & Water Watch helping these Ohio fractivists along with this campaign? I don’t know but the tactics are surely of the same mold as these special interests. The local “groups,” moreover, are simply jokes. Frack Free Ohio, for instance, is a Facebook page and Bill Baker says he’s a “Human Rights Activist at Planet Earth.” Visit that Facebook page and you’ll find its address is “Milky Way Galaxy, Dhaka, Bangladesh.” Bill also “Studies Societal Change at Positive People – Making a difference” where one can find images such as this:

Ohio fractivists

Isn’t that just delightful? But, I’m puzzled. Why would a guy who says he studies (and presumably desires to practice) such positive attitudes resort to calling economic development the three counties so desperately need “an unconscionable, greed driven scheme that would benefit a few far-off unknown persons” and worse? Is that any way to make positive change? I suggest not. That’s why he’s a member of the Dirty Half-Dozen in my book.

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5 thoughts on “The Dirty Half-Dozen: Six Ohio Fractivists Trash Economic Development

  1. Friends For Environmental Justice is a formal 501 (3)(c) working with organizers in Kentucky, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia and Illinois. The Ohio organizer is a resident if Ashland County. The truth is people need farmland to grow your food. Economic stabality is what we need not a false hope that things will be okay when our water is contaminated and our rural landscape has changed. Hayesville Community on Fracked Gas is how we roll our community outreach. The Tri County Coalition is here and growing. Thank You for this attention. Do get it right next time. Elaine Tanner, Friends For Environmental Justice, Founding now Program Director. We are are registered non profit… Google it!

      • Since you asked. Important people know I have always lived in Ohio. We call Letcher County home, not residence. Press does not always get it right. Last month I was in Tyler Co WV and my quotes were labeled Elaine Taylor Least they got the Friends right. My Appalachian roots run deep, back generations, Indian deep. Seems you failed to mention FFEJ in your report. You Failing to list our 501(3)(c) status seemed a bit missleading. So with that said, and I must say again Hayesville Community on Fracked Gas is a community outreach project under our Over With Oil and Gas Campaign.
        For the record FFEJ will be here long after Cabot is gone. As for me soon as the coal company (Consol) cleans up my Appalachian Spring Water I will go home, down home..

  2. Tom, The link above leads nowhere. Assuming you may have checked your facts. Yes, I was a FB page administrator with Friends Of Water, then started Friends Of Water Ohio to deal with fracking issues and Friends Of Water Kentucky little latet more on social justice and water quality issues. The original FOW page started when the Elk River chemical spill took place in Charleston in January 9th 2014. The same river my native gggrandmothers traveled down to in the late 1800’s. The main FOW page had over25k “Friends.” FFEJ formed a couple years later a registered non profit.

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