Heinz and Park Feed the Cornell Dragon

We are, these days, awash with sophistry coming from anti-gas zealots and funded by the wealthiest of the wealthy.  No better example exists than a recently released working paper from Cornell University entitled “A Comprehensive Economic Impact Analysis of Natural Gas Extractions in the Marcellus Shale.”  This 34-page document, financed by the Park Foundation and the  Heinz Endowments, two millionaire socialist outfits dedicated to using the fruits of capitalism to stop natural gas development, includes but one original data set and that a trivial one.  It is largely a compendium of specious questions, speculation and spurious assertions based on anecdotal evidence.  It is anything but scholarship and demonstrates what an incredibly weak hand our opponents have.  Let’s count the ways:

  1. Reliance on other sham studies.  This study essentially packages and repeats the conclusions from other shoody pieces of work.  Among them are two reports by Headwaters Economics, a leftist think-tank from out west that is dedicated to fighting fossil fuels and development of all kinds.  It also attacks homebuilding on the basis that it increases firefighting costs.  Another source is Arthur Berman, a peak oil true believer, who recently said, in a speech at Cornell Law School (03:44:50),  “The idea of private transport needs to go away” by which he means “the idea that you can just drive yourself anywhere you want to, whenever you want to”.  Berman also happens to have been wrong about pretty much everything to do with shale gas, as our EID associates have noted.  Finally, we cannot help but notice “art economist” Jannette Barth is cited as a source.  We debunked her here and here.
  2. Conflicting assertions.  The study is replete with contradictions.  It is stated on page 13, for example, that “where these new workers move to the region with their families, they will want to put their kids in school” and then also quotes on page 12 that most of these workers will be “a sudden influx of young me, some with families, many without.” It also talks about “population flowing into the region” on page 22 but then, on pages 23-24 suddenly shifts to offering evidence that population declines in counties with gas drilling.  Which is it?  Obviously, the intent is to suggest a boom and bust cycle but no evidence is offered for this.  There are just two sets of conflicting assertions wrapped in an uproven theory.  Moreover, on page 7, it is suggested the boom will last last than 10 years, but then, on page 9, it says “extraction of these total recoverable reserves could take decades.”  Which is it?  Finally, the report says, on page 28, that “land speculation is occurring” but earlier on page 25 suggested counties with natural resource extraction exhbited “less ability to attract investment” and page 17 language suggests a negative effect on adjacent property values from “environmental stressors.”  Which is it?
  3. Use of anecdotal material. Where the report even attempts to use citations, it twice acknowledges relying on anecdotal material.  The reality to anyone reading the report is that it is largely a collection of anecdotes.  Not what we expect from a college with a reputation like Cornell but so be it. Page 14, for example includes the following excerpt from an unidentified “post”:“I say good for the people who finally have a decent paying job, good for the people who are seeing an influx in business, and good for those who saw the opportunity of a move if so desired.  Just remember, there are still those of us remaining who had nothing to do with any of this. We deal with the traffic, destruction, fear of contamination everyday.” This is evidence?  Heck, we get comments like this every day on this blog by anti-gas obstructionists.  They offer them as their views, and theses are countered by other views.  They don’t remotely prove anything with us but, apparently, at Cornell they do count, if your objective is halting natural gas development in your own backyard.
  4. Substitution of speculation for facts.  The shallowness of this working paper is revealed not only in the subsitution of questions for answers, perhaps forgiveable as a prelude to more in-depth followup studies, but, much more importantly, in the unsubstantiated speculation that is rampant throughout it.  It is speculated on page 6, for instance, that natural gas development “changes might include increased competition for labor across industries or decreased ability to retain or attract other industries because of the noise and pollution.”  Where is the evidence for the last part of this, in particular?  This speculation is put forward to imply it is true, although the authors don’t bother citing any basis for it.  Likewise, on page 7, one finds statements that “we can expect that, while there are local industries that could provide inputs to the drillers, a high proportion of expenditures associated with drilling will be made outside of New York or Pennsylvania” and that “if land or mineral rights owners live outside the drilling region, it is unlikely that they will spend their payments in the areas where drilling is occurring.”  This is pure speculation, unsupported by any facts and, indeed, contradicted by the fact Bradford County has the lowest unemployment rate in Pennsylvania.
  5. Heavy Reliance on Proving Inadequacy of Industy by Job Creation Estimates. This brings us to another point.  Nearly the first 11 pages of the paper (which accounts for 1/3 of its length) attempt to call into question the economic impacts of natural gas production by questioning job estimates surrounding the activity.  Essentially the researchers say (over and over) that these estimates are just that “only estimates” and that they are hamstrung by limitations and therefore should be viewed “skeptically”.  That’s fine except for the fact that in the Marcellus the jobs being created aren’t being reported by estimates, but rather actual jobs that have been created.  Take a look at the Pennsylvania’s Department of Labor statistics here and you will see the reports of all the jobs that are currently being produced.  One example of actual jobs from this report: “2010 Q4 Marcellus Shale related industries total employment was 218,200.”  Another good quotation.  From 2009 to 2011 the Marcellus has been responsible for the creation of 72,000 new hires.  These are “actual” jobs that would have not existed if not for the Marcellus.  Cornell’s report was debunked before it was even released due to their shoddy information and arguments that are refuted by actual data, in this case produced from the PA Department of Labor.
  6. Inaccuracies, mistatements and fudging.  This working paper is also filled with what can only be  described as nonsense by anyone with an elementary knowledge of natural gas development in the Marcellus Shale.  It is said, on page 17, for example, that injection wells will be involved in development inbut every indication from geologists is that Pennsylvania and New York are unsuitable for these.   Then, there is the statement that dairy farmers in our region “are being further squeezed because of rising costs for transporting their milk to the dairies,” followed by a suggestion these businesses might go under during the drilling phase because of added trucking costs due to labor competition from gas.  This, of course, is nothing less than ludicrous and ignores the obvious point that additional lease and royalty revenues from their land are precisely what will help farmers stay in business.  If you don’t believe us, check out this piece in the Philadelphia Inquirer (not exactly the bastion of pro gas information). And of course, in classic fashion (for this report anyway) it doesn’t provide a citation for this fairly serious claim.  Of course, why would such an esteemed university like Cornell have any need for citations in their research work?

The fatal flaw in this working paper, moreover, is the condescension of the authors in supposing others are so gullible as to take it seriously.  It’s so bad, in fact, I encourage everyone to read it.  There is no better example of sophistry than this one.  The best part is the Park Foundation has reportedly paid $100,000 toward this shallow piece of work and who knows how much profit from Heinz food sales found its way to this dubious end (hope they’re blushing).

The authors are Susan Christopher, a planner, and Ned Rightor, a headhunter, who previously collaborated on a study of states lure the film industry, although to be fair, it’s not clear this is all there will be to this project.  I am tempted to think this is a great way for the Park Foundation bluebloods to spend their fortune but, with assets of $245,985,452 at the end of 2009, they would have to fund another 2,459 such studies before they exhausted what’s available to them for their NIMBY battle against natural gas development.  Still, every dime helps!


  1. SideShowBob says:


    Another excellent blog. The anti -gas camp, indeed, liberals in general, rely on anecdotal info, deception/misinformation/outright lies to convey their sophistry. They enjoy limited success among their ilk mainly due to their followers pathetic ignorance, their overall inability to think for themselves and their innate need to live life as if they were mushrooms…i.e., living in the dark, feasting on a bunch of s___. That’s why this following quote from your blog summarizes the anti’s, both the leaders and the lemmings, quite accurately and succinctly………”The fatal flaw in this working paper, moreover, is the condescension of the authors in supposing others are so gullible as to take it seriously.” Actually, that seems to be a shibboleth for those matriculating at Cornell. Bill “I Hate The USA” Maher and Keith “The Misogynist” Olbermann have made careers spouting their self-aggrandizing, elitist,
    “I’m smarter than you” liberal blabber/hatred to their minuscule, sycophant audiences. And Professor Tony Ingraffea has been exposed for his shoddy, deceiving study of hydro-fracing. Why should this new Park/Heinz financed “paper” break new ground?

  2. Bryant says:

    Adjective: Showing no prejudice for or against something; impartial.

    So what is the significance in the two links bellow
    Here is proof something is Fishy along the Susquehanna but its not Fish!

    Thursday July 28th
    Press and Sun Bulletin
    Crime in Broome Goes Up
    But the population has gone down unemployment has gone up?

    Friday 29th
    WBNG TV 12
    Crime Rates Rise In Bradford County
    But the population has gone up and unemployment has gone down?

    1) The Press and Sun our local paper to New York’s Southern Tier.
    2) WBNG Binghamton NY. Our local TV news station.

    Very confusing reports?
    Press & Sun;
    A story breaks on Crime going up in Broome County NY.
    Broome County an area that is losing population an rising unemployment at a rapid rate.
    Reported by the Press & Sun Makes sense Press& Sun covers Broome County NY.

    WBNG ”Binghamton NY”; Our Local TV station covering News from the Southern Tier of NY

    But in this case instead of covering the Southern Tiers Crime Rate Concern it covers Pa, Bradford county? Bradford county growing population and lowest un- employment.
    Why not cover our own back yard?
    Its about demonizing an industry!
    Here it is folks see read and watch for your self. Don’t just take my word.

    If you ever had to wonder if there is an agenda this should make it crystal clear!

    • landrefugee says:

      well said Bryant, The Binghamton press & sun is a poor excuse for a newspaper, they often repeat stories after wiping out comments that were informational and on the pro-gas side. If your an anti gas eco-terroist you get away with abusive post <——-(much worse then what I just wrote) but if your pro-gas TOS (Terms of service) will knock you off in a heart beat, all this while the anti socialist get away with personal attacts, name calling, using the real names of people who thought their privacy was protected on the pressconnects site… Anyway… great writing

      • OurLand says:

        The endangered list.

        The following is a list of a dozen items in the northeast that are in serious threat of extinction.

        A list of species and habitat that supports them.

        1) Students
        2) Teachers
        3) Families
        4) Local Landowners
        5) The local Tax Payers
        6) Private sector employment
        7) Businesses
        8) Farms
        9) Town and Village budgets
        10) Civic duty
        11) Land Rights
        12) Press & Sun News paper PLASTIC boxes.

  3. mgold says:

    not sure where heinz gets their tomatoes but could see if its in a potential gasland their economic interest in wanting to protect their ketchup. gassers don’t get that local agriculture and HVHF are incompatible. we are in a food crisis ultimately more essential than the energy crisis and a clean watershed and foodshed are key.
    glad to see the Koch bros defeating that coporate welfare boonedoggle pickens plan.
    whoda thunk heinz and koch could be on the same side of an issue …
    the gas scam becoming obvious on so many levels.
    insightful report from cornell. thanks for posting.

    • Tom says:

      Natural gas development is the only thing that will save the farms you love because it is the only thing that will cover high cost of the economic rent associated with farmland in the Northeast. Nothing that you propose will preserve even a fraction what natural gas will. As for your Koch brothers paranoia – we’ll let that stand on its own credibility, along with this sad report.

      • mgold says:

        i guess bloomberg news and politico suffer a similar paranoia

        Pickens Losing to Koch in Natural-Gas Feud
        T. Boone Pickens-Koch brothers feud tests Republican principles

        as for your ridiculous notion that gas development will save farms,
        that is like burning your furniture to heat to your house.

        • Tom says:

          You can say “ridiculous” over and over again, but it doesn’t change the facts – the revenue from natural gas development will save farmers and save farmland. I know you hate that fact and want to deny it but it isn’t going away. It’s real, it’s good and you’ll feel much better when you grow up and accept it.

    • Bryant says:

      Its a beautiful day go outside get some sunlight.
      Smile and the whole world smiles!

      • SideShowBob says:

        The intent of my prior post had been to illustrate the intellectually shallow grasp of issues in general, and the Marcellus play in particular, of the anti-gas and the renewable, sustainable, green crowd. See mgold’s post for the practical application.

  4. Anne Furman says:

    At the top of the paper from Susan Christopherson and Ned Rightor, they state that it was supported by the Park and Heinz corporations. Who supports you and this site? You should be as forthcoming about your paycheck is coming from.


    • Tom says:

      We are industry funded and proud of it. See http://www.energyindepth.org/about/.

    • landrefugee says:

      Ann Furman, were you born at night…..say as in lastnight? Who cares who funds who lets talk facts after all isn’t that what its all about, I suggest that you understand that emotions are worthless and empty shells when it comes to the drill no drill battle. It’s time for the anti drilling community to quit reading their own pamphlets and start researching
      We pro gassers have been reading and learning both sides of the coin for 3.5 years in NY and some of us that were on the fence, or even against fracking in the start, are all for it now. Why….? because of movies like Gaslies by Hugo Chavez a dictator from Venezuella & his assistant Josh Fox, and the many hyperbull pamphlets made available with so much mis information and debunked facts from cover to cover, we were push to the science and reality. Are we related….. ? If so love ya anyway
      Vic Furman

  5. mgold says:

    just a week ago re: the big oil and gas industry funding of the penn state study you stated:
    “The funding source is irrelevant. Does your accountant give you different advice because you pay him or her, or is a credit still a credit and debit a debit?”

    this despite the dean of Penn State’s College of Earth and Mineral Sciences, William E. Easterling criticizing the study’s authors because they “may well have crossed the line between policy analysis and policy advocacy.” http://mediamatters.org/blog/201107250008

    yet now the cornell reports funding is headline EID news…
    and this even without the funders even having a clear fiduciary interest in the results, unlike the marcellus shale committes interests in an overinflated hyped report bearing the name “penn” …

    i’m smelling hypocrisy.

    • mgold this is merely an illustration of applying the same standards

      if it ok for the critics of Penn State to point to funding sources
      it should be ok for critics of Cornell to do likewise

      since the Penn State critics introduced the argument to the discourse it is only
      logical that they not object when the same logic is used against them

    • landrefugee says:

      look within mgold, look within and if you really search your soul for the smell of hypocrisy, It may just take your breath away, If you get it back, please turn off your lights you air conditioning, and park your car for surley all that you rely on has come from sombodies back yard….. Why not yours ….?

  6. Bryant says:

    The people are working with industry to better serve ALL. We know where our money comes from. I speak for the working class and landowner whose checks are from businesses that are mostly non government related. Like Tom ask and we can tell you. You don’t even know who is backing you!
    Money from industry you make it sound like it is a new concept?
    Your money is hidden under the cover of bogus reports and grants to forward liberal agendas I sometimes think you would be happy to see this country fail.


  1. […] here and here as well as numerous other times on this blog.  We have also repeatedly explained the role of the Park Foundation in funding the Community Environmental Defense Council and the Commu…, the two entities hawking these untested theories throughout the Marcellus Shale region, noting the […]

  2. […] another comparison worth making – the one between Williamsport and Ithaca, NY, where the Park Foundation keeps that huge treasure that funds so much of the anti-gas opposition and where tigers like Tony Ingraffea snarl epithets at the industry responsible for so much […]

  3. […] digress; Park also funds Earth Justice (see page 17 of the Park 990 return attachments), Josh Fox, CELDF, CEDC, NRDC and virtually every other group opposing natural gas development.  The ties don’t end there. Interestingly, as is noticeable in their tax filings, Wade Green and […]

  4. […] that each of these entities raises from other sources such as the Heinz Endowments(which gave $150,000 to Cornell University for its trash economic study of Marcellus Shale impacts and over $500,000 of other anti-gas funding to different recipients).  NRDC, for example, has $181 […]

  5. […] Park Foundation. The report was essentially another piece of junk science along the same lines as the Cornell report the two foundations funded a couple of years ago. Yet, it predictably got media attention courtesy of editors and reporters who somehow never think […]

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