The Closing of the Natural Gas Mind

A group called the Peach Bottom Concerned Citizens and Socially Responsible Agriculture Project (PBCCG) held a “CAFO and Hydraulic Fracturing Conference” in Carlisle, Pennsylvania this past weekend.  EID Marcellus was refused entry as the natural gas mind of opponents closed.

This past Sunday, we traveled to Carlisle, Pennsylvania to attend the PBCCG 2012 CAFO and Hydraulic Fracturing Conference.  We thought it was a good opportunity to hear what some of our friends on the other side of the natural gas debate had to say, as the event had been heavily promoted by groups like the Delaware Riverkeeper and the Responsible Drilling Alliance (RDA).  The agenda included some individuals who often comment on this blog, so we thought important to listen to what they had to say.  Unfortunately, we never got such an opportunity.  We were told there was no room for us although we could plainly see there was seating available.

Here’s how it all went down.

We had learned about the event from the Delaware Riverkeeper website and the RDA calendar and saw that it was open to the general public.  It looked to be an important meeting, especially since Ben Price of the Park Foundation funded Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF) was scheduled to discuss that organization’s strategy of enacting unconstitutional local laws against Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) and natural gas development.  We drove three hours  (almost 5 hours for Rach) to Dickinson College in Carlisle to hear him and other speakers such as John Trallo, Carol French, Carolyn Knapp and Tracy Carluccio talk.

There was a registration fee of $20 per person, and neither of us had enough cash to cover both our fees. We told the woman sitting outside, who seemed to be in charge of the event, who we were to make sure we were welcome. She told us everyone was welcome, so we went to the ATM to get the money.

When we came back some 5 minutes later there was a group of 6 or so folks standing outside the door talking and as we walked over they stopped talking.  We assumed it was about us.  As we walked over, a women from the group came over and told us they were at capacity and there was, suddenly, no more room.  We could see clearly into the room and there was plenty of room for us, so it was obvious we were not welcome and were being uninvited as members of the general public.  We aren’t in the habit of going where we’re not welcome and, so, we left and started our long trek back home.

That wasn’t the end of the story, however.

We got an email yesterday from conference speaker John Trallo (a well-known anti-natural gas activist in the RDA sphere of influence) and this is what it said:

“Too bad that Nicole Jacobs and Joe Massaro left the conference at Dickenson (sic) College early yesterday. We would have loved for them to share their perspective on natural gas development in PA, as well as the other ancillary businesses they’ll bring like: pharmaceutical manufacturers, chemical plants, and CAFO’s.”

Nicole, of course, was not in attendance.  Someone apparently told Trallo two EID Marcellus representatives had tried to attend and he assumed it was Nicole and Joe.  So, did they tell Trallo they had also turned us away?  It’s hard to imagine they didn’t.  Why, then, would he say we left early?  Someone’s fibbing – either Trallo or the individuals who told us there was no room.  Trallo claims he “would have loved for (us) to share (our) perspective on natural gas development.”  Really?

Well, we welcome honest debate on the issues and would have asked some of the following questions:

Can the CELDF point to a single legal case upholding ordinances it has drafted for municipalities to deny natural gas development or do such things as:

•   Nullify the USA Patriot Act (Federal legislation)?

•   Deprive all corporations of the protections of the Contracts Clause of the United States Constitution?

•   Ban corporations from engaging in agriculture and ban persons from using corporations to do this?

•   Prohibit farmers from using genetically modified seeds?

•   Prohibit use of a corporation or syndicate to engage in product retailing within the townships?

Do residents of Cumberland County (where the conference was held) realize the counties of the Northern Tier have been revitalized economically by natural gas development with Bradford and Susquehanna County adding 3,600 local jobs and the former having one of the consistently lowest unemployment rates in Pennsylvania?  

Do they know Williamsport is the 7th fastest growing metro area in the United States and is doing far better than Ithaca, New York, a similar size city where natural gas development is on hold?

Do they know the EPA has said there is no proven case of hydraulic fracturing contaminating a water supply?

Do they know natural gas development produces more water than it uses?

Do they know some 34,000 wells were drilled and completed in Ohio over a 25-year period from 1983 to 2007 and there were only 12 incidents of connected with well casing or cement, a failure rate of 0.03 percent and none connected with hydraulic fracturing?

Unfortunately, we never had an opportunity to share any of this or ask any questions.  The  natural gas mind of opponents is apparently closed.

Comments

  1. Carolyn says:

    Joe and Rachel I would have been happy for you to hear what I had to say that day. It is unfortunate that you did not join us. If you had joined us you may have understood that some of the information you have been spreading is not backed by any facts or in some cases the statistics are not accurately interpreted. If you want a summary of our talk I would be happy to provide you with one. I will leave you with one bit of information: The industry is sending division orders to property owners, while the letter to the owner makes one believe that these orders are required to be signed. Pennsylvania does not require the royalty owner/ property owner to sign it. Especially if you do not agree with the words that are unnecessarily added to the document. My recommendation is to check the accuracy of the math on the division order but do not sign it. If you want to know more of what I said just ask, I have nothing to hide, I have always spoke the truth.

    • Tom Shepstone says:

      “Unfortunate that you did not join us”? They weren’t allowed in!

  2. fred jones says:

    Frew Run and Gernatt……..

    • Tom Shepstone says:

      What the Frew Run case has to do with anything, I don’t know, Fred. It is has nothing to do with natural gas or the CELDF.

      • fred jones says:

        Tom….I was referring to Rachel’s and Joe’s question:

        Can the CELDF point to a single legal case upholding ordinances it has drafted for municipalities to deny natural gas development.

        Now I know that the CELDF or the “it” in the above question posed….. had nothing to do with the decisions in Dryden and Middlefield, , however, when one looks at this whole appeals cliff hanger, reading most accounts of the arguments on both sides, these two towns played huge in Home Rule and zoning ruling.

        In the case in Dryden, the Supreme Court focused on the Court of Appeals’ decisions in the Few Run and Gernatt holding that no meaningful difference existed between the suppression provisions in the MLRL and in the language of ECL23-0303(2) and its legislative history. As a result the Court concluded that the Dryden zoning ordinance was not preempted.

        I think all of Rachael and Joe’s questions that they didn’t get to ask, are hinged on winning an appeal first, then what benefits are there or not become relevant.

        • Tom Shepstone says:

          Putting aside the merits of Dryden, Middlefield, Frew, et al, the CELDF strategy is completely different. Indeed, it is completely bizarre as the blog post indicates with examples. There is no connection between their strategy and those cases.

          • fred jones says:

            I agree Tom…….as far as CELDF and the two cases on appeal, but you and I know, if the appeals are shot down and there is a good chance they will, if we look at other states respect for home rule and mining, the CELDF will be a big part of bans that spring up like weeds in a hay field all oevr NYS. Besides, like I have pointed out many times, most towns in the “NG FAIRWAY” are all for drilling and will not join the ban bandwagon, so where the CELDF can sway opinion, that opinion was made up long before they showed up anyway.

      • John Trallo says:

        Tom,
        First of all, I wasn’t the one at the door, and I didn’t turn anyone away. All those who attended RSVP’d in advance by 10/22. If EID wanted to attend, they could have reserved a seat just like everyone else did. I’m sure EID knew that reservations were required if they knew about the event. Someone mentioned to me they were there. If I had known, I would have made sure they got in, even if I would have had to give up my seat. You see, unlike EID, and MSC, we don’t discriminate as to what points of view can be heard. Matter of fact, most people I know would welcome the chance to engage EID in a public forum. As you well know, I have offered to publicly debate any EID member in a public forum, anywhere. EID talk about “the facts”, but for some odd reason, you don’t want you ‘facts’ to be publicly challenged. I, on the other hand, would welcome the opportunity to share what I have leaned about natural gas extraction, and even more willing to learn even more. If I’m wrong, present your scientific evidence, and your hard facts, and show me I’m wrong. I would like to learn more, and am secure enough to alter my position in the face of hard, independent evidence. That’s why I’ do what I do. Unlike the folks at EID, I’m not paid, nor is it my ‘job’ to promote a one sided point of view. So, since you have chosen to imply that EID was intentionally ‘denied’ access to the conference, pick a date, pick a place, and I’ll be more than happy to engage you, or any of EID’s well informed operatives in a public debate. Hey Tom, this should be a slame dunk for EID. After all, I’m not nearly as well versed in oil and gas extraction as you folks are. So, you tell me when, and where and I’m there. Now, I will tell you up front, that I am posting your article, unedited, on my blog, and on social networks along with my response… just in case your ‘moderator’ decides not to post my response.

        • Tom Shepstone says:

          John, you try to play the martyr by suggesting we wouldn’t post your comment when you know full well we almost always do so unless the commenter abuses their privileges. Secondly, you evade the real issue. The meeting was open to the public, you had room and your greeter welcomed them until the group discussed who Rach and Joe were and decided to play rules games to keep them out. Finally, why don’t you suggest the Sullivan County Task Force sponsor a panel discussion type debate. We wouldn’t miss it.

          • Matt LandOwner says:

            I think he’s referring to posts I tried to make months ago under a different name that wouldn’t be approved because they “raised questions” about fracking… You’re funded entirely by gas companies, and your demeanor and defensiveness make it all the more apparent that you’re not concerned about facts…. you’re concerned about winning…

  3. While I realize this industry and those who tow the line for it get preferential treatment …whether it is industry input on legislation in this state or the cozy relationships of some who are elected to represent us, most in society don’t get preferential treatment. If you wanted to attend the conference and saw the event on the RDA calender, it clearly stated…why didn’t you register?

    RSVP Maria Payan by Oct 22 717 456 5800 [email protected] Or mail check to: PBCCG, P.O. Box 307, Delta PA 17314

    Or by credit card through Paypal http://pbccg.com/

    Student – Requested Donation $10 General Public – Requested Donation $20

    Why didn’t you register like everyone else had to? You could have attended.

    • Tom Shepstone says:

      That evades the real issue. It was open to the public, you had room and your greeter welcomed them until you discussed who they were and decided to play rules games to keep them out. You know it and we know it.

      • Tom Frost says:

        Your buddy Cabot’s 2011 picnic was allegedly open to the public too, yet I was booted out of it. WELCOME TO THE CLUB. DEAL WITH IT. I’ve found that one way of doing so the following year is to just go in via a different gate – one where the particular rent-a-cop who’s apparently in direct communication with the big boss, isn’t.

        • Tom Shepstone says:

          Tom, that story is growing very old.

          • Tom Frost says:

            A busload or three – which I’d be happy to bankroll one of these times – of antis from Philadelphia and Vermont showing up at the Cabot picnic is one way that I could provide you with some fresh fodder if you don’t like MY antics there.

          • Tom Shepstone says:

            Did we say we didn’t like you, Tom? No. We do.

          • Tom Frost says:

            Yes, but not as much as you like the COMMON antis, because ad hominems on them are simpler to write.

  4. I’m sure that the questions that would have been asked by the good folks at EID would not have been welcome. Just like the Gasland Facebook page, dissenting opinion is a threat that they just won’t tolerate.

    When you’re trying to instill a herd mentality, it takes but one person to stand up and say “hey, is it REALLY a good idea to drink this Kool-Aid?” to throw a wrench into the machine.

    Mike Knapp

    • Tom Shepstone says:

      Well said, Mike!

    • Matt LandOwner says:

      That why I’m not drinking this kool-aid… It has strontium in it… no one seems to care though

      • Tom Shepstone says:

        Care to back that up?

  5. Alex L says:

    That’s funny, I see gas industry conferences promoted heavily that neither me or my friends would be able to attend.

    • Tom Shepstone says:

      Not any that are advertised as open to the general public, as this one was.

      • Alex L says:

        At the Shale Gas Insight Conference, the director of environmental non-profit, despite paying the full fee for entry, was denied and refunded his money. When he showed up anyway, he argued his way in as a lawyer because the continuing education credits offered at the conference have to be offered to all PA Bar Association members. He was escorted around with multiple security guards at all times and wasn’t allowed into the exhibit hall or to see other workshops or speakers.

        Also, I’m not being paid to respond to this article’s comment thread, but you are. So, I’m going to finish my morning coffee and let you continue to bathe in your tub of lies and fantasy.

        • Tom Shepstone says:

          Well, that last line was clever, wasn’t it? Come on, Alex, you can do better than that.

          • Matt LandOwner says:

            Tom, you give out more BS responses than any anti I’ve ever met… try intellectual debate for a change… its progressive (which means it’s a catalyst for progress, not liberal hippie crap, fyi)

          • Tom Shepstone says:

            It seems to me you are far more skilled at that.

  6. Tom,

    I welcome an honest and open debate. Let’s not spin this. The add was clear. You had to register in advance due to a head count for food…rather than going back and forth on this…why don’t we arrange a joint meeting with a debate and Q and A session. PBCCG is a non-profit devoted to socially responsible agriculture. My concern is from farms reaching out to us, with concerns from this industry. Are you willing to do a joint meeting focused on agriculture? If you are, you have my contact info…please contact me.

    maria payan

    • Tom Shepstone says:

      Absolutely, we’d be willing to do it. I will do it myself. Lay out your concept and we’ll be pleased to participate.

      • Nathan Richard Sooy says:

        I think you should debate Tracy Carluccio. Now that would be interesting. I would help promote that one.

  7. fred jones says:

    Maybe….just maybe……at this point in the debate, the EID staff has become so well known in both camps, that this kind of rejection will become common place. Besides, EID already knows the answers to the questions it wasn’t able to ask, so why fret and make a big deal about it? This is the price of fame or infamy people……get used to it. Maybe EID needs to start using unfamiliar faces to get a foot in the door? 🙂

    It is a war now, over a small segment of NYS that might hold some decent reserves of NG (with emphasis on might) and all the “talk” could be in vain if NYS does not let in the drillers with a ban or the state wide moratorium goes on for so long, the NG companies will give up trying, leaving in its wake, folks who used to be friends, enemies…..a sad legacy after all is said and done. On the other side of the coin is the perpetual promising of prosperity we keep hearing about that had better materialize if and when HVHF comes to NYS, or some real “splainin” will be necessary, as Ricky used to say to Lucy.

    • Tom Shepstone says:

      The war started with folks such as the Park Foundation who have funded virtually every attack on the industry and view ordinary people and landowners as “collateral damage” – their term.

      • fred jones says:

        It started in small towns in rural America Tom. This was an issue shortly after the mad rush to garnish leases all over NYS when the landsmen came a knocking at my door and others doors, long before I or anyone I know, knew what the PF was. The collateral damage, no matter who coined it…. is the long term generational friendships that are the real victims of the NG debate. I’m sure even you Tom, have friends and maybe even family that do not share your views. Regardless of what the “facts” are on this subject, the truth is that it is a extremely divisive part of our lives and will be until the dust settles. I understand that EID has an obligation and truly believes what it is doing is for the good of the country and NYS, but every industry has its problems and nothing is a 100% sure bet these days. Maybe it’s just hard for NG proponents to grasp the fact that some of these sleepy communities like their neighborhoods just the way they are, taking all the rhetoric and politics out of the argument. I’ll guarantee there’s a little NIMBY in all of us…..it just depends on the subject and if whatever it is, be a garbage dump or a strip club, does end up in your back yard.

        • Tom Shepstone says:

          You make some good points but ignore one thing. I was doing this for nothing before I joined EID. Don’t assume we don’t believe what we say, because we do. Are we are vulnerable to the NIMBY syndrome? Yes, but I’ve spent about 35 years fighting them on every front and even if I did weaken and turn into one that wouldn’t make it correct.

          • fred jones says:

            Tom……you getting paid or not was not my point. I assume nothing my friend…….you know where that leads. I try to look at all this at face value and with an open mind. In EVERY industry there is a good a bad and an ugly. To what degree on each point is why we are here debating. If I may say….I would say EID and the opposition are guilty of the same exaggerations, like it or not. I try my best to sort it all out as there is truth in both arguments.

            And the NIMBY syndrome is why there is zoning Tom. Is all zoning wrong? No. Just when it goes against ones stance. That is how it usually works.

          • fred jones says:

            And Tom……a little tongue in cheek question. Don’t tell me you fought for strip clubs in residential neighborhoods? Sorry…I had to throw that in there 🙂

          • Tom Shepstone says:

            I always advise communities to provide for adult uses subject to stringent standards and I further advise them to allow such uses widely, subject to those criteria, precisely because anything else is ripe for a legal challenge. You seem to assume zoning is simply a exercise of political power at a given moment. It is the opposite when done correctly.

          • fred jones says:

            There’s that “assume” word again Tom. Zoning as you and EID have pointed out many times, can work both ways. That was my point. Is it a fool proof method of smart, fair land use/control? You know the answer. And what is “done correctly”? Would you say that when a majority of a township votes in town Gov. through the Democratic process and that town Gov. by the will of the people that it’s members were elected on say a anti-fracing platform, enact a zoning law that prohibits certain industries within it borders (Home Rule) is an example of “done correctly”? Or is this “mob rule”? Or say, a town votes in a Gov. that’s NG friendly by the same voting process and they adopt a “no moratorium” on NG development, parroting the will of the people or the majority, as “done correctly”? Or is that too mob rule?

          • Tom Shepstone says:

            You keep ignoring what the law is – a protection against arbitrary political will. Read Toqueville.

          • fred jones says:

            “When the members of a community are forced to attend to public affairs, they are necessarily drawn from the circle of their own interests, and snatched at times from self-observation. As soon as a man begins to treat of public affairs in public, he begins to perceive that he is not so independent of his fellow-men as he had at first imagined, and that, in order to obtain their support, he must often lend them his co-operation.”(Vol2, book2, Chap4)”

            Yes………this is what town meetings are all about Tom. This is what voting in or out, Govs that do or so not reflect the interest of the community. A perfect example is the few land owners who have leased, thinking they are victims of tyranny…..when it is their own SELF INTERESTS that are driving that belief. Some how…..their “rights” outweigh the rights of their neighbors, who through communal effort, and the Democratic process, and a very PUBLIC way and forum, takes control of that community’s own destiny. Thank you for reminding me of the book…….it’s been years.

          • Tom Shepstone says:

            That is tyranny when it destroys the rights of the minority on a whim.

          • Matt LandOwner says:

            I can totally picture the paint industry trying to use this same line 40 years ago because some “academic” decided lead was bad for you and it caused a public uproar…

            New technologies require new laws to regulate them… and until the radioactive cocktail used in the fracking process is disclosed I don’t know how you can expect any community to actually support fracking… When a nurse suffers multiple organ failure after attending to a gas worker soaked in frack water, people start to get concerned…

          • Tom Shepstone says:

            Now you’re getting ridiculous. Try stating some real facts and we’ll debate them.

          • Tom Shepstone says:

            Good zoning is not NIMBY based. It is exactly the opposite. It is designed to establish reasonable rules in advance of development proposals that evaluate those proposals on an objective pre-development set of rules that takes the emotion out of it and avoids NIMBYism. That it often descends into something else is a failure of leadership.

          • fred jones says:

            I’ll agree Tom on the principle of your statement and here comes the “but”. One would hope that any zoning follows a public debate and input by a fair reflection of a municipalities inhabitants, and through that process, the governing boby crafts zoning laws or at least, comprehensive plans that try to represent the majority of it’s citizens. I suppose one could label a whole town NIMBYS and I’m sure EID has a list, but zoning should reflect the town government which should reflect the majority of it’s residents. If that town doesn’t want certain activities within it’s borders and has to craft zoning laws to accomplish that and those zoning laws are NIMBY based, then why would that be a bad thing Tom? I’m not trying to be combative my friend…….just posing some questions that have perplexed me in this who debate.

          • Tom Shepstone says:

            It’s about the law, which is supposed to protect minority (or majority) rights against the political whim of the moment by the majority. There is no other purpose to the law, in fact.

          • fred jones says:

            Tom…….you say “political whim”……….is t always the case? So when a voting body of the majority vote for Home Rule (which is the status quo even in states where HVHF is happening) you call it a whim? As far as I know, HR is a legal recourse across this land and has been for many years. And is a a “moment”? Who cares. Is voting in HVHF a moment too? You are walking a very slippery slope here with this position. Most town have a comprehensive plan and some of those plans include limiting or banning certain industries. You know that. If they have to craft laws to uphold those values and plans, so be it. What is so hard about understanding
            that?

          • fred jones says:

            “Whim”…….Arbitrary thought or impulse: governed by whim. To towns that create a comprehensive plan Tom, executing HR is not a “whim”my friend. These are educated people who love their towns and want control over their own destiny and do not want that control handed over to the State or any certain industry. Not a foreign concept where HR is accepted in other states with HVHF. “Comprehensive”….Marked by or showing extensive understanding: comprehensive knowledge. An examination or series of examinations covering the entire field of major study.

          • Tom Shepstone says:

            It’s not the plan that’s a whim, but the bans, moratoriums and the like that have no connection to any plan.

          • fred jones says:

            No connection? OK Tom…….let’s just agree to disagree. Let me just say, while I understand your industries need to drill for NG as it IS a business and NG is the product they sell, this battle in NYS should be a wake up call and a hurdle that NG companies must get over in order to drill here. Towns all across this state have taken it upon themselves to exercise their rights granted by the state to control their destiny with the laws that ARE in place. You and others can call it what you want. I respect town sovereignty in this matter just as I would HOPE you respect town sovereignty in a towns RIGHT to NOT ban as we have seen. It really is that simple. Lastly……I do thank you for maintaining a mutual respect and patience disusing this issue…….which can be a bit testy at times on this site and the hard stance from both sides accomplishes nothing.

            Fred

  8. Tom:

    The team you sent to this meeting was not rejected for lack of registration or a shortage of food, not even because they were from EID. The rejection comes because of the knowledge they have acquired on natural gas issue’s and the people who held this forum knew that. They knew the meeting would recorded and answer honestly the unfounded allegations often used at these forums by the anti’s to vilifie the industry. Just like at many of there meetings “opened to the public” in which 3X5 cards are handed out for questions then cherry picked to maintain their anti cloud of deception, If your a well known pro gas supporter as I seem to be they also block you from commenting on their youtube video’s. The truth is the last thing people like John Trallo wants the public to hear.

    • John Trallo says:

      Vic,

      Wht you don’t know could fill a library. -First of all, it wasn’t my conference. I was invited to speak there. -Second, you would have known that registration was required if you saw the press announcement from Senator Daylin Leach. -Third, there was no 3″x5″ cards used during the Q&A, and we even went overtime to ensure that all questions were answered, and to allow comments from the audience.

      Not that you’ll believe it, nor does it matter if you do.

      • I was in my post not referring to this one event Trallo, rather the many I have attended where 3×5’s were used for Q&A and when a recognized supporter could not get called upon even when they where the only hand raised. This is the standard practice of NYRAD & VeRSE also used by Hitler and Stallion. When you sequester the truth you reach your objective of strengthing your lie. And your right about “What you don’t know could fill a library” which is why I attend public meetings on the subject to “learn” but the anti’s are not teaching anything in fact, they (you) have been spreading the same BS over & over for 5 years just retitling it to make it look new. Your arguments are old and antiquated, dated’ even applies. You ignor the new technoligies being used to favor your argument and an example of that would be the use of flowback ponds, no longer used. More importantly is since you opened the very first meeting of yours I attended in La porte ,in which you introduced yourself as a nutruarl obsever just wanting to get the facts from both sides, a quick internet search of your name showed you as a member of NYRAD and your signuture on several anti petions from toxic targeting. In otherwords you felt it neccasary to lie even that far back and have no credibility with me and many others I am sure.

  9. John Trallo says:

    Tom, stop dancing around your ‘talking points’ and answer the question. Will you debate me publicly, or not? I saw your response to Maria, so debate me. Here’s the concept. You and me in an open public forum. You present your arguments and supply the evidence to support them, and I’ll do the same. Then we’ll have a unfiltered, verbal Q&A session – no 3″x 5″ cards. Nothing is off the record, or off the table for discussion. Are you in, or out? Your call.

    • Tom Shepstone says:

      I already answered you on that, John. Find the appropriate more or less neutral forum that will invite both you and me to be on the panel and I’ll be there. Maybe the Sullivan County Task Force would do it.

      • Trallo is all talk Tom…. he won’t debate you and he sure won’t have evidence to back up his claims.

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