The Strange and Unexpected Friends of Gasland

atlantic sunrise - Tom ShepstoneTom Shepstone
Natural Gas NOW


Gasland II was the beginning of the end of Josh Fox’s meaningful influence on the fracking debate but it sure attracted some strange and unexpected friends .

Everything started going downhill for Josh Fox after Gasland II came out – it was that bad. Fox’s influence has dwindled in inverse proportion to his arrogance and he has, ever since, increased the intensity of his table pounding and made ever more extravagant claims i vain attempts to bring more attention to himself. I’m not sure any of us care that much what he’s up to these days, but his 15 minutes of fame served to help identify some of the enemies of rural development who flocked to him like moths to a streetlight during that period and they are a strange and eclectic bunch, if nothing else.

What brought all this to mind was stumbling upon the Gasland II credits page during an web search the other day. I’d seen it before, of course, but hadn’t focused on the names to any great degree. Now, looking at it again a couple of years later, I recognized more of them from other research during the interim.

Perhaps the most unexpected name on the list was Lucy Waletzky of Sleep Hollow, who is listed for “Special Thanks” right after members of Josh Fox’s own immediate family. Ms. Waletzky, readers will remember, is Lucy Aldrich Rockefeller Waletzky, the psychiatrist daughter of Laurance Rockefeller and brother of Larry Rockefeller, the founder of the Beaverkill enclave for the NRDC gang of which is the prominent member. Lucy is also part of the gang, of course, and the organization itself, as well Kate Sinding, one of their lawyers, are also listed in the credits. Let there be no doubt about the role of the Rockefeller family and friends in pushing the Gasland propaganda, which served their interests in keeping land prices low anywhere near the areas they’ve had their eyes upon.


Lucy Waletzky and the family’s favorite caporegime

Lucy’s name is complemented, of course, by that of a far less unexpected member of the gentry class; Adelaide Park Gomer of the infamous Park Foundation, which directly financed much of the Gasland saga. The Park and Rockefeller families, as we’ve noted many times, work closely together through the Sustainable Markets Foundation and the connecting link is Jay Halfon, the Fractivist Rasputin. He, too, appears in the list of credits along with his friend Bill McKibben and two of the other fractivist outfits with whom he’s closely associated as a board member of each: and the Oil and Gas Accountability Project (Earthworks), not to mention the NYPIRG organization he led for several years. One wonders what role he may have had in directly assembling the Gasland project.

Then, there are the local fractivists. There’s Craig Stevens who inherited the brown jug from Craig Sautner and has used it to create some sort of career as a fractivist gadfly while soliciting work for money-grubbing trial lawyers. There’s Bruce Ferguson, the hair-triggered tempered former 60 Minutes producer who runs Catskill Citizens for Sustainable Energy. There’s Vera Scroggins, of course, the trespasser. And, there’s Barbara Arrindell of the Damascus Citizens for Sustainability, that group of “Damned City Slickers” (DCS) who love pretending they’re just good old Delaware River folks scared to death of fracking. None of these surprise, either, but then I noticed Rolf Beck, who shares an address with Arrindell.

I’ve known Rolf Beck for almost 40 years and that’s long enough, of course, for him to legitimately claim he is, in fact, a Damascus resident. I knew him as a landowner when I helped negotiate the Township’s acquisition of a unique piece of open space known as the Damascus Forest from him back in the day. He was more than reasonable then but, over the years, he came a perennial protester at Damascus Township and other meetings. I was aware he had an artistic background but never knew how he had arrived in Damascus Township. Well, it turns out Rolf has quite an interesting background and it involves quite a different type of movie (depending on how you look at it).

Rolf was a production manager and “The Gravedigger” in a movie called Memories Within Miss Aggie. It’s, shall we say, a special type of cult film that centered around a place where I went to school as a young child; Conklin Hill. There’s a church there where we used to put on little Christmas concerts and a graveyard filled with Conklins after whom the place is named. The producers of the movie took the occasion to trash everything the church stood for and they were very proud of that fact, according to what lead guy Harry Reems wrote a year later:

In Aggie, there is a scene that was shot in a tiny church, few miles from Milanville.

The Conklin Hill Church hadn’t been ‘in service’ for years. But there were still those who remembered it well and still loved it, as we soon learned. One of them was a seventy five year old woman who had been baptized, confirmed, and married there, as had all her children. A widow for many years, she still lived in the neighborhood and still mourned the closing of the church.

This gentle lady couldn’t have been more thrilled to learn that her church figured in a scene in “a major motion picture.” When Aggie opened in nearby Monticello, she hired one of the boys from the neighboring farms to drive her there so she could see the movie.

She saw her beloved church, all right. But she saw a lot else she didn’t like one bit.

Rolf Beck is apparently still proud of his bit role in the movie and pals with Josh Fox, whose parents came to Milanville in Damascus Township about the same time he did. He even took a walk through the cemetery again for the photographer.


It’s an interesting grab bag of personalities who support Josh Fox and his Gasland exploits, isn’t? Such is the nature of fractivism, where wealthy members of the gentry class join forces with trial lawyers, artistic malcontents and has-been adult film stars to spread propaganda designed to ensure the destruction of a local economy and its heritage.

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8 thoughts on “The Strange and Unexpected Friends of Gasland

  1. There is no end it seems to Damascus folks and hhhm other strangely influential antifracking pipeline resistance movement experts like the sane energy projects influence. Whether it is the introduction of bills in ny state legislature or then the expert testimony on these bills.

    How many times do people have to provide either flat out false information to govt bodies or miseducational events for the public before either the govt officials themselves or the reporters broadcasting the misinformation from these folks far and wide recognizes that these people provide the opposite of expertise?

    How might it be that people who misinformed not just the public but reporters as well on the spectra nynj pipeline project years ago then followed that up with increasingly unbelievable tales on other proposals like the Rockaway pipeline and port Ambrose LNG import proposal could be seen by nytimes reporters like Lisa foderero this year as valid sources for information on the spectra aim pipeline?

    Well perhaps one reason is because reporters all over appear to be unwilling to convey facts to the public about the antifracking pipeline resistance folks what the validity is about many things they claim.

  2. I remember the early 70s when the hullabaloo around here was the Gerard Damiano X-rated filming at Bruce Gilchrist’s apple packing house in Milanville, probably a mile from where Josh Fox’s parents lived. Although Rolf Beck may not have been given official credit, it was widely accepted in this area that he portrayed the face of the devil in Damiano’s The Devil in Miss Jones. I had to chuckle when I recently read an article that said, “I’ve seen the devil and it ain’t Josh Fox.” It might not have been Josh Fox, but the face sure as hell looked like Josh’s buddy and Barbara Arrindell’s co-habitator, Rolf Beck! And these people claim they represent us and think they know what is best for us. I think not!


    Consultants on the original gasland not the sequel? Or production credits? Involve Damascus citizens for sustainability people as well as a filmmaker and performer with Reverend Billy and his church of stop shopping and of course Joe Levine the architect. The director? At the time certainly had more expertise in writing fiction and producing theatre than producing something which could be defined as the opposite of fiction.

    There is fiction being produced all over the antifracking pipeline resistance movement and what can best be described as fiction or myth has been in the news regularly for years now as a result.


    The NRDC has some problems. One of them currently is demonstrated via kit kennedy on this recent blog post. Kit kennedy of the NRDC has zero qualms about promoting the sane energy project even though this organization is likely lying about their numbers and most definitely regularly lies about most things. Little wonder then that sane energy might regularly make news and be regarded as both a legitimate organization and as one providing legitimate information to either govt bodies, politicians or the press.

    For many environmental people in environmental circles it appears that the ends may justify the means or anything goes in order to achieve one’s goals. That is a problem.

  5. We know our opposition is well connected and funded and many of us recognize the same usual suspects in articles like this and the ones in the drop down menu at the top of the page. One of our problems is to make it easier to show less knowledgeable member of the public the web of interconnections between the anti’s, without reading 10 or 15 articles. Think something like the brainstorming boards in police or spy movies with photographs and colored string between the suspects.

    One of our supporters probably knows how to use the right software and create some .pdf’s that can be used to tar the related groups when one of them does something stupid or egregious, like Rufalo and his sponge salesman buddy, Howarth at the Dimock trial or Scroggin’s serial trespassing.

    We need to it easier for more people to support us.

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