Conservancies Are for Conservation, Not Politics

ConservanciesGeorge P. Ahearn, Phd
Co-founder and Former President and CEO
GEO Specialty Chemicals, Inc.


The Conservancy of Southwest Florida is doing politics in opposing fracking, not conservation, and it has its facts all wrong, thanks to New York’s Tony Ingraffea.

Is the Conservancy of Southwest Florida a real conservation entity or is it a political advocacy organization with only an environmental agenda? The consensus view of conservationism is that it should be a collaborative effort to ensure the economic, environmental preservation and safety of the community. Such an organization works with business, scientific, and political leaders to achieve these ends. 

Therefore, the developer, the corporate community and the local government should not be viewed as the enemy. There should be open dialogue about the agenda and all sides of the issues should be represented. Conservancy members should get a balanced exposure to the issues and the agenda should not be set by partisan politics.

On November 8th I attended an “information session” sponsored by the Conservancy on fracking, which was posed as a “critical issue” for SW Florida. We can argue whether this is true, but it is an issue that this Conservancy has on its agenda. 

The invited speaker was a retired Cornell University educator by the name of Anthony Ingraffea. He’s well known by the oil and gas industry as a hired gun at the service of environmental activists from the Northeast area.


Tony “the Tiger” Ingraffea with entertainment friends Mark Ruffalo, Sean Lennon and Yoko Ono

Ingraffea is less a fracking expert than an advocate for the elimination of fossil fuels. Other than using other researcher’s data and manipulating it to justify his arguments and opinions, he has done no original research on fracking of which either I or my contacts in the industry am aware.

Needless to say, he proceeded to deceive and delude 200 people that night with junk science and misinformation about the oil and gas industry practices. Since most of the audience was already pre-disposed to agree with the Conservancy management on the issue, they all gladly drank the Kool-aid. Here are just a few of the deceptions on which “Tony the Tiger” expounded:

  • Florida oil is of poor quality and it hardly has any. Florida oil has been accepted by refineries for years and they are also equipped to handle the heavy and high-sulphur crudes from Venezuela and Canada without a problem. Geological surveys only count “recoverable” reserves using existing technology. New technology developed in recent years and the shale revolution have changed that scenario. That’s why companies are doing exploratory drilling in Florida. North Dakota hardly produced any oil 5 years ago, now they are No. 2 in the nation as a result of the shale revolution.
  • The industry deforests the area, burns trees, strips reserves, and leaves the area” high and dry.” The only people who make money are those who “sell the shovels.” Of course, he did not count the retirees who were in the room and the millions across the nation whose retirement accounts have received billions in dividends from ExxonMobil, Chevron, Shell, etc. This is not to even mention the communities that have benefited economically by their activities.
  • The conversion to natural gas by the power companies has resulted in more CO2 and methane emissions. This is blatantly false and FPL would have blown a fuse if they were present. This conversion is the single most important reason for the reduction in CO2 emissions in recent years and that’s the Energy Information Administration reporting, not me.
  • Using debunked computer models, he stated SW Florida would be under water in 10-20 years. How’s that helping our tourism, Conservancy members? Where is the evidence these models are even close to accurate?
  • All states that banned fracking are better off. In NY, we import our gas from PA. He failed to say that New Yorkers pay 3-5X more for their power and that upstate NY, sitting atop the Marcellus shale, is an economic wasteland compared to adjacent counties in PA.

These were just a few of his outrageous contentions and, oh yes, as the audience filed out the Conservancy made sure they hustled their members and the public for donations to support their fracking ban efforts in Tallahassee. However, I never heard an offer for a debate or any other opportunity to offer an opposing view. 

In the meantime, we produce 4 million more BBL/day of oil because of fracking and now export record-breaking volumes of natural gas. We have also significantly reduced the price of gasoline, taken the control of the oil price away from OPEC, achieved energy self-sufficiency and have a geopolitical edge on Russia and OPEC in Europe and Asia. These are facts that can’t be denied, but which are, nonetheless, being totally ignored by the Conservancy.

Is this sort of demagoguery what a conservancy should be doing? I think not.

George P. Ahearn was the co-founder and President, Chief Executive Officer, and Chairman of GEO Specialty Chemicals, Inc. from its inception in 1993 until he left in 2005. The company specializes in water treatment, additives, and chemical process aids.  Prior to that time, he was President and Chief Operating Officer of the Hall Chemical Company, a maker of specialty metal-based chemicals from 1988-1992.  Mr. Ahearn was employed for 28 years by Exxon Corporation and Exxon Chemical from 1960-1988, holding various executive positions in research and the business.

In 2001, he was selected Entrepreneur of the Year of Northeast Ohio, in a competition sponsored by Ernst & Young, CNN, USA Today, and the Kaufmann Institute, and was recognized by Governor Taft of Ohio for his accomplishments. Under Mr. Ahearn’s leadership GEO placed in the top five (5) Weatherhead 100 Centurions for four consecutive years from 1998-2001.This competition is sponsored by the Weatherhead School of Business of Case Western University of Cleveland, Ohio for companies that exceed $100M in revenue. 

Mr. Ahearn received his B.A. in chemistry from the City University of New York and M.S. and Ph.D. in chemistry from Rutgers University. He was appointed in 2014 to the Board of Directors of Economic Incubators, Inc., a joint venture between Collier County and Enterprise Florida a business accelerator to assist the growth of entrepreneurial companies in the area.

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5 thoughts on “Conservancies Are for Conservation, Not Politics

  1. William Huston made the statement he was a scientist…
    Perhaps we should consult with him…
    After all Cracker Jacks gives free toys and safe places are heated with hugs

  2. Excellent We need checks and balances in every area and that starts with Accuracy bipartisanship and the ability to gather information from every angle possible in order to make an informed decision. Thanks George

  3. This is another reason for the creation of a fact based land owners and mineral rights owners organization in the USA. The creation of conservancies that operate in a manner similar to the original foundation to the natural forests. Preserve land – but manage resource to make it sustainable. Regarding the article – this is one speaker on a topic. Hopefully, the organization will look for the facts.

  4. Pingback: Is Tom Wolf Just Billionaire Tom Steyer's Bobblehead?Natural Gas Now

  5. I reside in South FL and support Horizontal Drilling and Hydraulic Fracturing when conducted according to Good and Sound Engineering Practice and Principles (3) . Please see the following:

    Hydraulic fracturing or fracking has benefitted South Florida residents for the past few years. FPL’s electricity rates have been relatively low and stable for the past few years due to the usage of shale gas produced by fracking (1).

    The state of the technology of Hydraulic fracturing or fracking shows that it can be properly applied to reduce environmental risks and damages. Both the ex-Mayor of New York City and the President of the Environmental Defense Fund agree that fracking can be conducted properly by approaching the technology using “data acquisition and management problem (solving)” techniques (2). Their approach should be integrated with the application of sound engineering principles. My white paper “Environmental Perspective Hydraulic Fracturing” accepted by USEPA (4/5/14) for their Scientific Advisory Board [SAB] Hydraulic Fracturing Research Advisory Panel [I have been involved with this SAB for over one year] demonstrates that cost-effective engineering applications have improved hydraulic fracturing performance (3).

    In reviewing permit applications for fracking for shale gas or horizontal drilling for oil, FL elected and appointed officials should review other state regulatory agencies’ requirements. CA has established standards on well construction to minimize leaks. TX and WY has fast tracked permits that include recycling of flowback or production waters – eliminating deep well disposal and the concomitant effect of localized earthquakes (3). PA has raised their impact fees to oil and gas drillers to pay for additional roads and other services required to support production activities.

    FL does not have to re-invent the wheel. Just do its homework and apply the lessons-learned. In this way the benefit of shale gas, unconventional hydrocarbons and deep deposited oil can be realized while avoiding previous mistakes.

    Dr. Richard W. Goodwin PE, MBA 11/15/17 West Palm Beach FL

    (1)Goodwin, R.W; “Shale Gas – Friend of Foe”; Energy Pulse Weekly; February 1, 2012
    (2)Bloomberg, M.R. and Krupp, F.’ “The Right Way to Develop Shale Gas”; The Wall Street Journal; 4/30/14
    (3) Goodwin R.W. “COMMENTARY: EPA and Peer Review Science – Environmental Evaluation Hydraulic Fracturing [Part I]” Energy Central September 13, 2016


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