Last week Tom and I made a trip to Spencer, New York about 15 miles south of “Planet Ithaca” for an educational program on shale gas development. The program was put on by some individuals associated with the Dryden Safe Energy Coalition, together with residents of the Town of Newfield. The session was designed to equip area residents of with the “other side” of the debate happening in surrounding communities. It was quite an evening of education, as local experts explained their perspectives on some of the supposed big issues connected with natural gas. The theme of the evening could have been “Get Your Shale Gas Facts Right, Please!” as a number of myths regarding the industry were exploded.
Tom Reynolds, former banker and retired businessman, served as emcee for the meeting, which was attended by roughly 60 people. Noting he had assigned himself all the “fun” duties for the event, Reynolds started off by observing the tactics of anti-natural gas advocates, which he described as uncompromising and intended to confuse. Here’s some of what he had to say:
Other “fun” duties for Reynolds included a debunking of the facts surrounding the “documentary” Gasland, produced by that same avant-garde filmmaker from New York City who recently threw together The Sky Is Pink. Reynolds didn’t want to waste too much time talking about it, but he wanted to make sure the people in his community understood the degree of propaganda within Gasland.
Next up was blogger Tracy Marissa who spoke to the issues of chemical contamination of groundwater from hydraulic fracturing (there being none of course) and the amount of water used (miniscule). She quickly and effectively dispensed with both charges:
Another speaker at the meeting was local attorney, Henry Kramer. Kramer spoke about the various laws surrounding natural gas development. He helped the public understand exactly what a moratorium and ban were and addressed some of the ongoing lawsuits. Kramer helped to explain the rights landowners have and how bans and moratoriums have begun to strip away these rights. His presentation demonstrated how important coming to meetings like this one are to members of the community who need to “arm” themselves with knowledge rebut anti-natural gas propaganda.
Our own Tom Shepstone also had the opportunity to address the Newfield community. He spoke about how members of the anti-natural gas crowd constantly do “scientific studies,” which tend to amount to nothing more then pseudo-scientific propaganda.
He noted how many of these studies are agenda driven and that many were authored by NIMBY types who “Parade around and masquerade as scientists.”
He also suggested the anti-natural gas movement has begun to lose the battle over “contaminated water” as the truth has come out about places such as Dimock, so these activists have switched gears to now claim natural gas development will have an overall negative effect on the health communities where it will occur. Tom related several statistics from the Barnett Shale region to demonstrate how health had significantly improved even as shale gas wells had increased by over 2,200 percent.
Tom also explained how natural gas development also leads to improved health and water quality.
Its not a great revelation, its common sense; the statistics are there and the data is revealing. The statistics show that when you have a better economy like the Marcellus Shale has brought to Pennsylvania and will bring to New York, you have better overall health – not only better health, but also better water quality.
Before a company proceeds with any natural gas development on the properties it has leased, it does extensive baseline water testing on those properties and as far as 4,500 feet away to identify existing conditions. This process typically uncovers problems and brings them to the attention of the landowner to address if they so choose. These are problems that, of course, existed pre-development in the area and correcting them inevitably raises water quality.
This meeting was a great opportunity for residents of greater Ithaca area who do not share the views of their Planet Ithaca anti-natural gas neighbors (most of whom use natural gas) help their more sensible neighbors gain the real facts and equip themselves to debate the propagandists. It is our hope that more people will stand up to speak their mind regarding this issue.