*UPDATE II* Property Rights: Where Do We Draw the Line?

Update II (6/7/12 1:30 ET): Two months later, unlike the similar circumstances in the Poconos, we are still talking about Riverdale Mobile Home Village. As a quick update, this park, located in a flood plain, was bought by Aqua America earlier this year to be turned into a water withdrawal facility for use by the natural gas industry. Because the park resides in a flood plain, it is a danger to the residents. Our last update showed how anti-natural gas activists were using the park residents to go after Aqua America, despite the owners allowing the residents to stay beyond the eviction date free of charge and giving them money to help with relocation costs. So, why is it still in the news if residents were working with the company and the relocation is for the betterment of the residents, not to mention the very clear property rights of both the previous and current owners? Why, because it fits an anti-natural gas agenda, of course.  Plainly and simply, this is a case of exploitation by agenda-driven anti-development groups who want a victim to exploit.

Now, Water Defense (actor Mark Ruffalo and friends) has promoted a blockade with seven of the residents. (Read on for more of the update after the jump).
Faced with imminent eviction by the fracking industry, seven families and their allies are blockading the entrance to the Riverdale mobile home site in Pennsylvania and demanding justice.Fracking is already causing an unprecedented public health crisis Pennsylvania. Across the state, Pennsylvania citizens are coping with contaminated water and carcinogenic air emissions. Pennsylvania’s politicians, who have taken millions from the gas industry, have done everything in their power to keep the gas flowing and keep the public in the dark—they’ve even passed a doctor gag order preventing physicians from revealing which fracking chemicals have poisoned their patients.

The Riverdale families who are refusing to be evicted to make way for this toxic nightmare are heroes—and they need your help. Click here to show your support for their brave actions.

Earth to Water Defense: You discuss the endangerment of these families because of hydraulic fracturing and natural gas development, but here’s a reality check; the park is in a flood plain! You are perpetuating the endangerment of  these individuals and asking them to risk their lives and homes to jump on your bandwagon to serve your cause and your interests. You are asking them to continue to live in a dangerous situation to fit your own agenda!  Further, are you saying a business owner had no right to sell his business?

The way Water Defense and other activists have used these families is disturbing.  If Water Defense really cared for the residents it would help them to reach a realistic solution. Why blockade the park? Why continue to encourage families to reside in an unsafe location? If Water Defense were truly there to be of assistance, it would be donating money to help them relocate. Or, it would be spending it’s time looking for new homes, instead of camping out in Lycoming County. It is sad to see how these families have been used — and that’s the real injustice.

UPDATE I (4/19/12 11:00 ET) Unlike the similar situation in the Poconos, Riverdale continues to make headlines, with an article appearing yesterday morning in the Philadelphia Inquirer. Andrew Maykuth’s article highlights a protest that occurred yesterday outside of Aqua America’s facilities in southeast PA and also provides information about how Riverdale residents view the situation that is confronting them. 

As noted the Inquirer highlights the opinions of people who actually live in the Riverdale park. It turns out the very people who are affected by this the most have a much different opinion than those who purport to represent their interests.  That is easily noticeable in a quote provided by the leader of a group representing Riverdale residents:

“I am not going to protest against Aqua America,” he said. “They were not the ones who caused all this.” – Kevin June

Another interesting fact highlighted by the article is that no one from the community attended this makeshift protest which was organized by Clean Water Action.  Even more interesting is the fact that not a single sign held by the protestors even references the plight of the residents being affected, it was indeed all about hydraulic fracturing- it seems the residents were merely an afterthought for these activists.

Activists Outside Aqua America

The Inquirer article reiterates  that the property has been for sale for years and highlights that continued operation of the park was impossible as any  new ownership is prohibited from continuing to operate the land as a mobile home park because of its location in the floodplain.

Aqua’s DeBenedictis said the company had been negotiating to buy the property for a year. The land is zoned for light-industrial use and is along a deep part of the river, which allows for easier withdrawals.Richard A. “Rick” Leonard Jr., the son of the former owners, said the Riverdale park had been marked with a “for sale” sign for many years. Since the land is in a floodplain — some trailers have been damaged or lost in floods — authorities would not allow a new owner to continue to operate it as a mobile-home park.

Aqua America, the new owner, is working to support the residents during this difficult time by refusing to charge them fees while they remain on the land.  The company is also offering compensation to the residents to offset the costs of having to move their homes – which was an unavoidable circumstance regardless of the property’s end use.

–original article April 18, 2012 —

Property rights are at the center of the debate on natural gas. We see discussion of them surface in everything from leasing to water withdrawals  and now the topic is being addressed in the media, yet again, in a dispute between the residents of a mobile home park, the owner of the land and the company he has sold it to. It is an emotional situation, no doubt, but when you cast the emotion aside and look at it for what it is, it clearly becomes a case of basic property rights where the anti-natural gas contingency is asserting landowners should have none.

Riverdale Mobile Home Village

Last month, the residents of the Riverdale Mobile Home Village in Piatt Township, Pennsylvania were informed the park had been sold to Aqua PVR, LLC who plans to close the court. Under normal circumstances, this would likely get little media attention.  While unfortunate for residents, most acknowledge a situation like this as being attributable to the risk associated with renting a property.

That is exactly how a similar closing in the Poconos was viewed which occurred at about the same time. In this example, when a park owner evicts residents without giving a reason for doing so, no one bats an eye.  Head on over to Riverdale and there is quite an uproar leading some to ask why that might be the case. Well, because it provides a platform for those hoping to shut down natural gas development, of course. You see, the park is being closed because it was sold to Aqua PVR and they plan to use the facility as a water withdrawal site for the natural gas industry.

For Sale: Floodplain Property

Riverdale Mobile Home Village

Riverdale, which is nestled in a small section of the Susquehanna River floodplain in Lycoming County, has been for sale for the past few years.  This was no secret to residents, although they did not know some of the offers were from companies with interests outside of maintaining a mobile home community. We can debate the ethics behind the landowner disclosing this information to his renters until we’re blue in the face, but the fact remains that he was not obligated to inform them they might have to move.

It is within the owner’s property rights to use said property however the owner deems so long as it is within the restrictions of the county zoning plan in which Piatt Township participates. It may have been his intentions to sell to another mobile home community entrepreneur, but running such a facility in a floodplain is a risky and costly venture and was likely a pretty hard sell. The point is, though, it doesn’t matter what the owner’s intentions were, it is the owner’s right to  sell his or her land. End of story.

Floodplain Map of Riverdale

However, a larger problem is that this property is located right in the middle of the Susquehanna River’s floodplain (see map to the right)!  It has long been public policy to remove manufactured (mobile) home parks, out of the floodplain due to the likely damages and losses residents will experience from living there.  The Center for Rural Pennsylvania, in fact, has recommended the Commonwealth “Initiate programs that move mobile home residents out of floodplains.”

Occupy Well Street Occupies Riverdale

It is, without question, unfortunate these individuals were displaced from their homes and are being required to find new housing or move their homes to new locations.

However, activists aren’t helping the family find safer locations for their homes nor are they defending other residents where this is occurring. While Alex Lotorto of Occupy Well Street is busy claiming the Riverdale action as an “injustice” he is seemingly blind to the plight of mobile home residents in the Poconos, closer to his own residence, who are facing the same fate.

Why is one case clearly accepted as an exercise of property rights and the other presented as an instance of something entirely different? It’s pretty simple, actually. Riverdale fits an agenda and the plight of the other community does not.

This reflects what is truly sad and unfortunate about this situation. Rather than offering resources to all in this situation anti-natural gas activists are using this community to further their own agenda.  While the residents of the Riverdale park may think they have found supportive allies,  in actuality they found a convenient partner that will be on to their next headline grabbing effort in quick fashion likely leaving Riverdale behind when this occurs.

So, where do we draw the line?  Should this landowner have been required to continue to spend money to maintain a mobile home park when the landowner had no longer desire to continue the business? Especially when public policy is to move families to higher ground anyway to avoid damages and losses that come with living in a floodplain?

Most of us, if we really think about this question and are honest, would say no.

At the end of the day, it does not matter who the buyer was or what their intentions were. It doesn’t matter if the property was being turned into a shopping mall, highway or a water withdrawal facility.  The owner and the buyer were exercising their legal property rights, and we have no right to tell them what they can and cannot do with that property so long as it meets the requirements of law.



  1. Bull is an amazing animal. It can be brought into any place, anywhere, anytime and the more you pay attention to it the better your chance of heard when you call it. Just ask Alex

  2. Drill a gas well- save the Whale’s A new nimby cause




    Whales caught in oil barge and cruise shipping lanes are being chopped up into nimby stew…. Why nimby stew you ask….? because the nimby fails to protect nature from the real threats where they have proof of damage and are too busy making up things about the gas industry simply because they live in clusters and have no land.

  3. It’s unfortunate you have to recycle misinformation in order to generate hits on your website.

    Water Defense has offered little help or assistance to the movement supporting Riverdale. I’m not aware of anything besides written support for us that has come in.

    Hands Across Riverdale, which has a website http://www.saveriverdale.com has been a largely unfunded effort except for donations we have received via WePay. The only non-profit staff assistance we’ve received is from the Community Justice Project out of Pittsburgh, a lawyer from which is representing residents in negotiations with Aqua America. The residents formulated and agreed to three demands in those negotiations, 1) a new lease agreement for current residents to remain, 2) compensation for costs incurred by residents who have left, and 3) the right to return for residents who would like to, which is a common right of refugees in countries all over the world.

    Kevin June is a remarkable man who has been actively involved in pressuring Aqua America, both at their shareholders meeting and by visiting Aqua’s CEO’s mansion in Ardmore with a mother and children to leave their art project on the iron gates. Kevin was offended that he was misquoted in the media regarding your quote from him. He was instructed by his lawyer at the time to not attend any protests, which changed after Aqua repeatedly ignored the attorney’s request for mediation.

    In video after video, you can hear Kevin’s thoughts and opinions. There is no shortage of residents’ voices on this issue, and I’m not shocked you’re avoiding their other quotes because they don’t help you to frame your lies.

    This is the first time Kevin has ever done any media work, he is hard of hearing and disabled after many years working as a diesel mechanic and has welcomed and praised the faith based and outside volunteers helping to save his home which is still located in Riverdale. He has a beautiful kitchen window view of the river and a prayer altar he built and landscaped outside. The veterans, the gas industry workers, the mothers, the grandmothers, and the children of the park have attended vigils, meetings, and invited us into their homes. No resident, current or former, is angry at our presence, which has been prayerful and respectful.

    One resident, Eric, is a water hauler for Marcellus drillers. As a team of volunteers helped salvage the materials Eric used to build his mobile home from a bare frame, Eric explained to me he’s concerned that Aqua’s facility will take 6,000 truck trips a day off the road, which will displace the jobs of as many drivers, mechanics, parts suppliers, and service industry workers that depend on hauling.

    Yet another industry is planning to automate jobs and dislocate workers in Pennsylvania without plans to transition workers into other roles, provide outplacement services, or retrain them.

    As far as the other mobile home park eviction in the Poconos, I was not aware of it until EID’s last post and only reached out to Riverdale because someone forwarded me Kevin June’s plea for help. I am a grounds technician working overtime during the summer, not a full-time social worker. I do what I can to help my neighbors, most of all, because Jesus commanded us to love them. I labored all weekend moving materials, sheds, porches, debris, and trash on behalf of the residents.

    In addition, the Marcellus industry claims to have a good neighbor policy and the Marcellus Shale Coalition counts the largest corporations in the world as members. To offer $2,500 and pitiful assistance from Prudential Realty to proud, salt of the Earth, Pennsylvanians while asking them to abandon their community and support network is no different than Ebenezer Scrooge denying Bob Cratchit a paid holiday on Christmas.

    Sure Mr. Scrooge had every right, by law, to be a horrible business man, but that darn Ghost of Christmas Future showed him where bad business ethics leads you, to a hot place in the afterlife. It is not up to me to judge you guys at EID, but someone eventually will, and you ought to start getting right with Him.

    Rev. Leah Schade read this passage at the final vigil, May 31, at Riverdale:

    Matthew 25:31-46

    The Sheep and the Goats

    31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

    34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

    37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

    40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

    41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’

    44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’

    45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’

    46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life. ”

    • Tom Shepstone says:

      Glad to have you back, Alex. I’ll let your comments stand for themselves, as they seem sincere compared to Water Defense’s outlandish commentary, which is what sparked our interest in rebutting it. However, I notice you do not address the floodplain issue. Do you seriously think working overtime to keep mobile homes in a floodplain makes sense? I grew up in a mobile home but I wouldn’t want to be living in one when the flood waters rise.

      • Tom, regarding the flood plain, last year’s flood did not reach any homes and the flood in 2004 only reached the first two rows, according multiple accounts of residents. In 2004 some residents were able to move their homes out of the way of flood waters. Also, I’m pretty sure permanent homes in the flood plain aren’t being removed. I look at Shickshinny and West Pittston and see homes right back where the waters were. I’m not sure what policy you’re referring to that requires them to move due to being in the floodplain, but I’m sure there could be a waiver granted due to the fact that they were already living there and that they could prepare a contingency plan to move the trailers closest to the river up towards Rte 220 in case of another storm. That is, if Aqua agrees to lease them a portion of the land in order for them to remain. Looking at the site, only half of the area is survey staked for construction. The other half and the homes on it, by Aqua’s own admission, is out of the way. I don’t see why that portion of the land couldn’t be managed by a property manager paid for by the residents’ lease money or even the residents themselves in a cooperative/LLC agreement. Kevin June is already mowing all the grass himself.

        • Tom Shepstone says:

          There have been numerous mobile homes removed from floodplains after floods, including in Lycoming County. It is not safe. Also, mobile home parks are simply uneconomical to operate below a certain size, so while it’s easy to say some could be relocated to higher ground on the same property, that doesn’t account for the economic feasibility of doing so. There’s a good chance the park was losing money before this, in fact.

          • Tom Frost says:

            I could make your home unprofitable too by greasing the right palms to get the spot that it’s on re-zoned as industrial. Using the floodplain as an excuse doesn’t hold water with me, because I once had a house survive very nicely thank you not only in a floodplain but a few feet out in the ocean (off of a migrating-westward-faster-than-my-dad-and-I-had-thought, Virginia Barrier Island), through the several hurricanes of its out-in-the-surf period which was the early ’90s, until the right buyer – one who was capable of moving it AND was willing to pay my price – came along. The pile driver that I’d used to raise it sufficiently in 1978 had costed me less then $200. to build, but now I know that the more important factor that made the whole thing profitable was that I didn’t have any industrial re-zoning, like I understand Riverdale suddenly got sometime shortly before its sale, breathing down my neck to lower my price.

          • Tom Shepstone says:

            OK, then, let’s all ignore the law, throw caution and put our mobile homes in floodplains. Yeah, that makes sense. Look, it’s clear what’s going on here. Anti-gas activists have seized on a victim.

          • Tom Frost says:

            When THE FIRST ACT OF VIOLENCE gets committed by YOUR “side” (AS HAPPENED yesterday in the form of the apparently-mad-that-he’d-sold-too-cheap, former owner – just the way that I’d suspected that it would happen, as PVR is a good company – using his tractor to smash not only some of the antis’ barricates but also, in the process, some signs that were PVR and/or PennDOT property – the photos of it are all over facebook), that does make me become tempted to GO there and HELP the antis move some of the trailers that have been moved out, BACK INTO the alleged floodplain, yes.

          • Tom Shepstone says:

            WEll, that provides some essential insight, doesn’t it?

  4. Deirdre says:

    Water Defense had nothing to do with Hands Across Riverdale. Check your facts, EID. Once again, you’re spreading misinformation.

  5. Tom, I personally contacted Claire Sandberg on June 1st about the blockade, which was the first time she had heard of it, and asked her to send out an announcement to her lists. She had nothing to do with it. In fact, I’m concerned that so much money is being spent on anti-fracking work in NY that never seems to make its way down to PA where volunteers with full time jobs and busy lives are running out of money and time to do this work, unlike our opponents who are well-funded with corporate PR teams at the ready to respond to the latest developments. For example, now, you’re likely to respond to me in the next 24 hours, but I won’t see a computer screen to respond to you until after my shift tomorrow, a shower, and dinner.

    David used five small stones to slay Goliath and I have five short weekday evenings to take on the oil and gas industry, state and federal politicians, and in the case of the Throop Keystone Landfill taking drill cuttings then leaching into the Lackawanna river.

    • Tom Shepstone says:

      Well, actually, there’s plenty of money on your side, Alex. You have the Rockefellers, the Parks, the Heinz family and every other wealthy elitist who is bankrolling the effort to keep my county and New York State from ever having any real job opportunities through natural gas development, their myopic agenda being to maintain their backyard playground as an island of pastoral poverty.

      • Alex is a lost cause

      • Dave Crea says:

        Tom, as one of the ‘upstate victims’ of the Albany/NYC bunch who are sucking the financial-blood from anyone who dares to work in NYS, I admire your catchy and insightful prose “…their myopic agenda being to maintain their backyard playground as an island of pastoral poverty.”

        That same myopic bunch chased most of the manufacturing out of NYS that was the foundation of the ‘Empire State’, and now wants to keep upstate in poverty so that they remain politically ‘weak’ and unable to upset the apple-cart — to make the changes that NYS needs to survive and even prosper. NYS: $70 billion in the red and growing!

  6. Fred says:

    Try building something or putting a trailer park in the flood plain on the Delaware River and watch the environmentalists go ballistic, I’ve seen it with my own eyes, but because this park is owned by Aqua and they are associated with the gas industry private property rights and common sense don’t apply.

  7. I speak for myself, that I am personally involved in the battle to save Riverdale because one of the residents who was displaced is a Korean War veteran who reminds me of my grandfather and who I watched choke on tears the first time I met him when speaking about his love for Riverdale residents. I didn’t latch onto the cause because it had to do with fracking, although it was through an anti-fracking channel that I found out about it. This is a man-made tragedy, as devastating for Riverdale residents as any flood before it.

    On the contrary, I wonder why Energy In Depth isn’t offering assistance with all the corporate money that funds you, this could have been a perfect way to exercise that “good neighbor policy” the industry touts. I wonder why it’s volunteers who had to take up the charge (as much as I wonder why none of the Big Greens helped in this case with all their lawyers, media lists, and funds).

    • Tom Shepstone says:

      I believe you are acting out of emotion rather than logic, Alex. We can debate this endlessly and there’s little point taking it futher. As i state earlier, I do not question your sincerity, just your conclusions.

      • Tom

        Don’t buy into the passion pleas and testimony’s, They lost the war and all they have left is the sympathy plea hoping that all will be forgiven so that like Pat R. of VeRSE they might also get 300,000.00 in sign on bonuses.

  8. It’s actually just sort of stunning to see both the “flood plain” argument and the equally impoverished “you’re relying on emotion” argument trotted out as if they could be promoted with any sincerity. The flood plain argument is absurd for several reasons:

    Mobile home courts are commonly built on flood plains because the land is so inexpensive to buy–and so profitable to rent. THAT Leonard’s land had become particularly troublesome according to the local zoning board was less to do with any actual flooding, and far more to do with the prospect of future flooding. And the irony here is that this future flooding is attributable to climate change–itself a product of, among other things, the pollution produced by fossil fuels and their processes of extraction. The truth is the Energy In Depth would like us to believe that Leonard and Aqua America were doing a good thing by evicting these residents from a flood plain–when nothing could be further from the truth. The residents moved from one mobile home court to another–and the move was every bit as likely to involve a flood plain–as we ALL know.Why? Because such is a common site for a mobile home court! The very idea that Aqua America cares at ALL for these residents is completely falsified by the facts of the evictions themselves.

    FACT: Aqua America cares so little for the welfare of the park residents and their children that they began demolition an pipeline construction well before the remaining residents were out of the park–and weeks before the formal eviction date of 7.12.12.

    FACT: Aqua America did NOT alter the eviction date for one resident despite the fact that he had undergone a life-threatening surgical procedure one week before July 12th.

    FACT: Aqua America did NOT conduct the survey for asbestos required by law prior to demolition on 6.13–the morning after the police raid on the invited encampment.

    FACT: Aqua America continued demolitions in the park even after a formal complaint to DEP had been made concerning the potential presence of asbestos–and an investigation was underway.

    FACT: Aqua America’s representative Donna Alston has failed to respond to requests for information about Aqua America’s failure to complete the asbestos survey a full 6 days after the complaint was made in writing to her.

    These are not speculations. They are facts. The implications are very clear–and clearly not grounded in “emotion.” Aqua America cares not one wit for the welfare of the Riverdale residents. The residents are simply in the way, and Aqua America will utilize any faux “reasoning” it can to insure they are out as efficiently as possible. But even if they’re not–demolition will go ahead anyways.

    Please examine my series at Raging Chicken press for a far more truthful account of the events at Riverdale–right up to July 12th, the day Aqua America was in such a hurry to continue demolishing people’s homes that although he had moved out earlier in the day, one resident came back to retrieve a last few things (well before the 5PM deadline) only to find that his home had already been demolished. He was treated by this corporation so full of compassion for his having lived in a flood plain that the gave him the unparalleled opportunity to pick through the rubble of his home under the cheery surveillance of a “crisis response” security guard. Don’t believe me? Look at the last set of pictures for yourselves–7.13.12.

    That’s how much Aqua America cares for economically vulnerable people. As for Mr. Shepstone and company, you should examine all of the pictures from my Riverdale series–you should look into the faces of the people whose lives were so thoroughly disrupted by this injustice–and you should then be ashamed.

    Wendy Lynne Lee

    • Tom Shepstone says:

      I have the distinct feeling you are exploiting these people to make an ideological point about natural gas. Raging chicken? Yes, I think so.

  9. Wendy Lynne Lee says:

    Hahaha! Mr. Shepstone, I have the distinct feeling you are unable to address the facts I have just laid out. Hence, your only recourse is to ad hominem attack. But what a laughable ad hominem since it is Nicole, et al who exploits poor people in her ridiculous effort to make it seem as though aqua America did these folks a favor by evicting them. Far from any favor, the gas industry exploits us all by promising something on which they will not deliver–cheap gas–and then poisoning us to get it.

    • Tom Shepstone says:

      You offered no facts – that’s the point. You simply issue assertions.

  10. Wendy Lynne Lee says:

    Again…HAHAHAAHAHAHAHAHA! These are FACTS, Mr. Shepstone. Aqua America DID begin demolition on 6.13, 7AM–the morning directly after the police raid that brought the INVITED occupation to an end. It is a FACT that people–seven families and their children–were still living in the park. It is a FACT that DEP is conducting an investigation into possible asbestos survey and abatement violations. It is a FACT that we are now on day seven and I have not received a response from Aqua’s spokesperson Donna Alston. Don’t believe me? call AQUA AMERICA and then call DEP.

    There’s just no way to scurry around these facts. You are entitled to your assertions about the safety and benefits of fracking, but the facts speak for themselves.

    And here’s perhaps the most important fact to date: Much of what we have been led to believe is about natural gas production isn’t. It’s about buying up leases, and then selling them at a profit. Chesapeake’s profoundly corrupt Aubrey McClendon’s behavior couldn’t make this clearer. That his Ponzi scheme isn’t working out as lucratively as he’d envisioned does not detract from this FACT. Now that he’s having to renegotiate leases (and how completely DIRTY is THAT, Mr. Shepstone?) or drill on those properties, his only thinly concealed motives are as exposed as an outcropping of shale bed. The money you derive from this industry is blood money, Mr. Shepstone. Your comparison of water use fro fracking to golf course watering is transparently absurd. Your penchant for ad hominem (to which you resort again even AFTER it’s pointed out to you) an indication of the fact that you have neither evidence nor reason on your side.

    • Tom Shepstone says:

      Your rage speaks for itself, Wendy. Let the reader compare our facts with your rage and decide for themselves.

  11. Wendy Lynne Lee says:

    Rage, Mr. Shepstone?

    Do you now think that facts are “rage”? No, Mr. Shepstone, facts are facts.

    That you have no response is patently clear.

    You respond not to any of the facts, but continue to commit ad hominem. It’s apparently all you’ve got.

    IS Chesapeake trying to renegotiate leases? yes: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702303612804577529002584367334.html?mod=googlenews_wsj.

    Is DEP investigating Aqua America for federal level violations of the law that requires AA to perform asbestos inspections? Yes Call DEP, Williamsport, Air Quality Office and ask them.

    Has Aubrey McClendon admitted that his primary interests are in the land and not the gas? Yes. Read the interview he did for Rolling Stone: http://www.ragingchickenpress.org/2012/03/17/why-fracking-epitomizes-the-crisis-in-american-democracy-profiteering-and-the-good-american/.

    Is water used on golf courses recyclable? Yes. Is water for fracking recyclable? No–except for more fracking.

    Is fracking dangerous? Yes:

    The toxicity of the chemicals involved in the fracking process itself, and the veritable certainty that these will leak along fissures in well-casings into ground water.

    The necessity of deep injection wells for the permanent disposal of wastewater.

    The earthquakes the United States Geologic Society associates with deep injection wells, and the potential fissures to well casings caused by a repeating pattern of seismic activity.

    The environmental destruction, pollution and noise hazards caused by compressor stations, transmission lines, and water withdrawal facilities near public schools, hospitals, and other community assets.

    The nearly complete absence of regulation in “Class One” rural areas with respect to the construction and monitoring of transmission lines in and out of compressor stations.

    The destructive consequences for the sensitive ecologies and endangered species of state park and forestlands.

    The potential extinction of whole species of microorganism—some of which likely remain uncatalogued or even undiscovered—and who make their home in shale deposits.

    The erosion of roads and bridges due to increased heavy truck traffic.

    The emission of diesel and other carcinogens from trucks idling for long periods at frack sites, water withdrawal stations, and compressor stations.

    The risk of carcinogen exposure to human and nonhuman health from the frack site wastewater deposit pools and from compressor stations.

    The community division destined to erupt between those who lease and those who refuse to lease, some of whom now claim they’ll have to be shot before the state can take their land under the guise of recognizing the lease of mineral rights to energy corporations.

    The erosion of private property rights by those who would decline a gas lease and who are then subject to compulsory condemnation, forced pooling, and the appeal to eminent domain by the state in the interest of allowing the gas corporations to not only frack on such properties, but construct roads, waste pits, and transmission lines in and out of a fracking operation.

    The effective neutering of municipalities and township boards to govern the infrastructure of their communities under Pennsylvania House Bill 1950 and Senate Bill 1100. (ACT 13).

    The use of fracking wastewater as road de-icer in winter despite its carcinogenic properties.

    The potentially hazardous effects for neighboring towns, municipalities, and even states of items 1-14.

    Absolutely. Let the reader decide for themselves.

    • Tom Shepstone says:

      And, once again, no facts – only assertions.

  12. Dean Marshall says:

    I think it is much more likely that EID, Aqua America, PVR , Range Resources etal; have a much clearer Agenda and vested interest in distorting the truth. The folks who were living in Riverdale, some since the Flood of 1972 had been thru many high water events without a single death or injury.
    How many ” concerned” Corps. Assisted them then? Not one!
    It just seems odd that suddenly this “flood plain” is a hazard and Aqua-PVR is “helping” by buying the property ,( after secret plans are finalized including re- zoning and SRBC permits for 3 million gal/day water grab), evicting them summarily, and destroying the entire park.
    Strange also that this “flood prone” location will now have a multi- million dollar facility built on it!?
    If I were an investor in this company, I might wonder at this twisted logic.

    As far as outright deception, one line states that ” continued operation of the Park was impossible”.
    Skippy Leonard was ” leveraged” to either raise any NEW units allowed to rent vacant sites above projected high water whereupon he decided to “SKIP” out and DUMP THE PARK AND THE RESIDENTS for sheer greedy economics! I may be wrong but I hear Skippy has made a real sweet deal aside from the sale price that gives him profit from Aqua’s water sucking .
    Protestors and supporters were invited by Residents desperately seeking help after they had appealed to local and state officials with no success. OUR “agenda” was quite clear,…
    We will not sit by and allow Corporate takeover of ANY occupied communities or private homes for dirty, Un-renewable energy projects without a fight. You best not start a war and not expect resistance!

    • Tom Shepstone says:

      Gee, Dean, couldn’t you fit a little more hyperbole in this one?

  13. So, hmmmm, here’s how this conversation has gone:

    I lay out facts. Facts: verifiable and supported by hard evidence. Simply not disputable.

    Mr. Shepstone’s response: facts = rage. Then, facts – assertions. Then, facts = more assertions. Then, facts = hyperbole (Dean Marshalll).

    What else is there to conclude but this: Mr. Shepstone does not know what a fact is. Or, Mr. Shepstone must deny facts in order to support an insupportable world view premised on the fiction that drilling and all of its collateral industries are safe. On the first, Mr. Shepstone appears to be illiterate. On the second, willfully ignorant. The second is the ore charitable–though morally bankrupt.

    But in any case, what his responses amount to is this: “You are yucky.”

    And THAT is no response at all.

    Readers can, of course, judge for themselves, Mr. Shepstone. But future readers–indeed, future residents of the state–will NOT be generous, and–confronted with the devastation of their water and air–they will certainly not be on your side.

    • Tom Shepstone says:

      I don’t believe you issued a single fact, Wendy, but since we seem to be talking past each other, how about we focus on one my facts and see if you agree or not. You have complained about water withdrawals and dismissed my observation golf courses use more water than hydraulic fracturing. Yet, it is undeniably true. It’s also true that the combustion of natural gas yields more water than is ever required for hydraulic fracturing. Indeed, I offered a fact-based post on that here:


      My question is simple. Do you agree with this or not? If we can gain some agreement on or two points, perhaps we can make some progress into other areas.

  14. Wendy Lynne Lee says:

    Response to Tom Shepstone’s Patriot News Op-Ed 8.3.12:

    Dear Editor:

    What Pennsylvania citizens need to know about Energy in Depth is that “it was created by major oil and gas companies” “to devise and circulate ‘coordinated messages’” after the model of successful national political campaigns, and that Tom Shepstone is their well-paid propagandist. EID is financed by BP, Halliburton, Chevron, Shell, CNYOG, and XTO (Exxon-Mobil) among others. But if that’s insufficient to dismiss Shepstone’s absurd 8.3.12 letter touting the benefits of slickwater horizontal hydraulic fracturing—fracking, consider:

    Act 13—the PA law stripping municipalities of the power to regulate industry’s impact on the health and welfare of its residents—has been found unconstitutional because it “violates due process,” and “do[es] not protect the interests of those living near drilling sites, alter[s] the character of neighborhoods and create[s] “irrational classifications.”

    Yet Shepstone defends it by insisting that local officials “know nothing about” drilling. Big Frack-Daddy Tom Corbett ($1,042,116 campaign donations from the natural gas industry), in other words, knows best. And with his appointments of Michael Krancer (Counsel for Exelon—coal, oil, and natural gas production, 2008—and head of the DEP) and C.A. Walker (CEO, Bradford Coal, and Corbett’s appointment to the DCED—and no less than 15 documented cases of water pollution involving 173 million gallons of untreated mine water)—Act 13 would have effectively pre-empted the rights of municipalities to, for example, prevent frack pads, compressor stations, and pipelines—and all their necessary infrastructure— from being constructed within 300 ft. of your kid’s school, your grandma’s nursing home, your community hospital, or YOUR HOUSE if you’re “lucky” enough to be a “Shaler.”

    Shepstone’s claim that fracking profits will create economic prosperity for Pennsylvanians is also false. Kevin Bogos (AP) reports that natural gas production is destined for “resource curse”: since the lion’s share of natural gas is slated for export, “the general population hardly benefits, while a few get very rich.” Indeed, the MARC I pipeline effectively guarantees precisely that. We shouldn’t be surprised. This is the story of King Coal, Big Oil, Big LNG, and now Big Gas. And the players are all the same: see above—and add Chesapeake, Cabot, WPA, Aqua America, Chief, EXCO, Exelon, and Range Resources.

    While CEO’s like Aubrey McClendon (Chesapeake) and Nick DeBenedictis (Aqua America), and their frack buddies in the Corbett administration (not to mention the Marcellus Shale Coalition) are getting rich, Pennsylvania citizens will face:

    Evidence of “hydrologic connectivity” found by Duke researchers who make it clear that “hydraulic fracturing for natural gas puts drinking-water supplies in Pennsylvania at risk of contamination.”

    Exposure to carcinogenic, radioactive, and bio-cidal toxins via waste-pool evaporation, compressor station explosions, and illegal dumping of drilling mud.

    The necessity of deep injection wells—documented by the USGS to cause earthquakes—for the permanent disposal of wastewater trucked to Ohio creating massive truck traffic with its attendant noise, toxic diesel emissions, and road destruction.

    The egregious violation of property rights via the abuse of eminent domain, compulsory condemnation, and forced pooling.

    The destruction of sensitive ecologies, endangered species, and potentially undiscovered microorganisms.

    The loss of aesthetic, recreational, hunting, and fishing opportunities in state game lands, parks, and forestlands.

    But what’s perhaps the most perverse aspect of Shepstone’s fracking-propaganda is his promotion of the alleged benefits for “the neediest among us.” Nothing could be further from the truth. Ask the former residents of the Riverdale Mobile Home Community in Jersey Shore.

    Evicted from their homes, offered an insulting pittance of $2500.00 to move, and potentially exposed to asbestos when Aqua America failed to perform the federally required inspection prior to demolition, these PA-citizens have a very different story to tell about the “benefits” of natural gas production (see “Wendy Lynne Lee,” Raging Chicken Press.com).

    And they’re not alone.

    Indeed, the future of every citizen of the Commonwealth is at stake. Fracking is a form of genocidal profiteering. Genocidal because paid propagandists like Shepstone KNOW the hazards, and profiteering—well, that part’s pretty obvious. Just ask the gentlemen cited here what they made last year—and what they expect to make once those shipments to China get underway.

    Wendy Lynne Lee

    [email protected]

    • Tom Shepstone says:

      “Genocidal profiteering” – no hyperbole there, huh, Wendy? Your hate is showing. And, all from your perch at Bloomsburg University.

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