A little while back, I wrote about the stark hypocrisy on the part of some of our friends on the other side, in a post entitled “There Ought To Be A (Natural Gas) Law.” We’re all hypocrites to some extent, of course, and it may be said hypocrites, at least, have standards. Nevertheless, one is taken back a step when learning some of the most vocal natural gas opponents heat their homes with the very fuel they proclaim is responsible for every ill known to man and beast.
They can argue, I suppose, they are in favor of natural gas and just opposed to hydraulic fracturing and “unconventional” production. Today, however, unconventional natural gas makes up 60% of marketed production in the United States (see page 102) and up to 90% of all natural gas wells drilled in the U.S. require fracture stimulation. This means most of that gas used to heat Tony Ingraffea’s home comes to him via the processes he regularly attacks and, which he suggests causes climate change and sundry other calamities. We documented his use of natural gas in our last piece on this subject, noting Josh Fox and Mayor Matt Ryan also relied upon natural gas to heat their places of work. As hard as it may be to believe, these are the small fry. There are much bigger hypocrites.
The Park Family
We’ve done numerous reports on this blog about the role of the Park Foundation in funding all things opposed to shale gas development. Their fingerprints are everywhere, including on the recently released and, already thoroughly discredited, Myers report. It was funded by them, of course, as was Bob Howarth’s and Tony Ingraffea’s ludicrous methane study, debunked by their own Cornell brethren. They have also funded everything from DC Bureau to ShaleShock Media on the public relations side, EarthJustice to NRDC on the litigation side and CEDC to CELDF on the special interest lawyering side, not to mention Gasland and American Rivers (sponsor of the fraudulent “most endangered river” fiasco every year). They also fund the Common Cause Education Fund to attack anyone else doing what they’re doing and reward the Park heirs who fund them with rosy praise at tony Manhattan events for the well connected.
The Park Foundation, like so many, spends the money made by the hard-working honorable first generation under the watchful eye of a spoiled second and third generation committed to causes it supposes will allow it to enjoy the reputation of the first. It’s an all too familiar story, of course, but what is utterly fascinating is the fact there are three generations of Park family living in the Ithaca area who rely upon natural gas to heat their homes, oblivious to the inherent conflict in using a product they bemoan being produced anywhere near them.
Roy Park built the Park Communications empire which owned numerous publications and other media outlets. Roy Park operated from Ithaca, where he resided, and had many interests there and in North Carolina where he grew up. Forbes identified him as the 40th wealthiest person in the U.S. in 1993 and, when he died, he left 51% of his company to the Park Foundation, which funded a variety of causes connected with Cornell University, the Ithaca area and ornithology, among other things. He and his wife Dorothy Dent Park lived in a 6,558 square feet home on Devon Road in the Village of Cayuga Heights. Mrs. Park was still residing in the home as of 2011 and it will be no surprise for the reader to learn it is heated with natural gas.
The home sits on 4.7 acres of land and resembles an English noble’s home with no apparent solar panels or windmills in sight. No, the home of Roy and Dorothy Dent Park, still owned by the family, is heated by natural gas, according to Tompkins County Department of Assessment records. REPEAT: the homestead of the family leading a relentless broad-based campaign against natural gas development in New York State and North Carolina is heated by that same gas and the owners have made no apparent effort to shift to other fuel sources.
The Second Generation
It doesn’t end there, however. Roy and Dorothy’s daughter Adelaide Park Gomer essentially controls the Park Foundation at this point and is extremely committed to doing anything and everything to stop natural gas development in New York State. She modestly suggests it “will ruin our pristine landscapes, agriculture, our tourism, and our wine industry.” Then she uses the silver spoon in her mouth to feed us this bit of self-righteous mush:
It is heartening that people are beginning to realize that if frackers are invited into New York State, the only recourse we’ll have is to hit the streets and use civil disobedience. Nothing short of a total ban can save us from this unfolding tragedy! We believe that New York must become the first state to ban fracking, taking a leadership role that the rest of the country can then rally behind. There is nothing less than our future at stake.
So, natural gas development using current technologies, the same technologies now responsible for delivering most of the gas to her home, is an “unfolding tragedy” – a tragedy of such proportions only a ban will do. Really?
If you were contributing to an unfolding tragedy wouldn’t you want to alter your own behavior as well as ban that of others? If you really believed your future was at stake wouldn’t you consider changing the fuel source used to heat your home? Is that too much intellectual honesty to demand?
Apparently, it is too much to ask of Adelaide Park Gomer, who owns a two-family residence on Wyckoff Road in Cayuga Heights heated with gas, the production of which she says will “ruin our health.” Perhaps, just perhaps, Ms. Gomer is given to overstatement. Yeah, that must be it.
The Third Generation
Park hypocrisy extends a bit further , however. Adelaide Park Gomer’s daughter, Alicia Park Wittink, lives on Highland Road in, you guessed it, Cayuga Heights. The village income per capita is 79.8% greater than the New York State average and 116.8% greater than the national average, and it’s hardly surprising given all the Park family members who live there (along with Tony Ingraffea). Mrs. Wittink serves on the board of the Environmental Working Group (funded by the Park Foundation, of course) and was “Co-Founder” of the DC EcoWomen’s Hour. She is also on boards of directors at Mother Jones Magazine/Foundation for National Progress and the Center for a New American Dream (both also funded by the Park Foundation).
The last of these says “envisions a society that pursues not just ‘more,’ but more of what matters—and less of what doesn’t. It also claims it desires to help “Americans reduce and shift their consumption to improve quality of life, protect the environment, and promote social justice.” I guess that means reducing your standard of living and living more simply. Mrs. Wittink lives in a six-bedroom, 3,923 square feet home with an estimated market value of $870,000, so she would know something about reducing her standard of living (sense the sarcasm). And, hey, she also says she’s a “consultant” at the Park Foundation, so I have to assume she’s a heck of a lot smarter than me!
Revealingly, Mrs. Wittink bragged about her then upcoming eco-friendly honeymoon in Tahiti in a “you can’t make this stuff up” piece entitled “How to Marry Your Sweetheart and Love the Planet” with these words:
We want to find a lodge that employs local people in management roles, that gives money back to the community, and that treads lightly, using solar energy.
That pretty much says it all, doesn’t it? Finding a lodge that treads lightly by using solar energy somehow makes up for the massive amounts of jet fuel consumed going to Tahiti. Get it? Is this a demonstration in social conscience or what?
That was 2003 and, in 2009, the eco-friendly Wittink couple acquired their home on Highland Road. Here’s an aerial view:
This is 2012 imagery from Google. See any solar panels? No, I don’t either. I don’t see any backyard windmills either. I’ll bet the neighbors wouldn’t go for that. Maybe she went geo-thermal, as that is pretty well hidden. What do you think? Well, it doesn’t really matter, because the one thing we do know is the Wittink home uses natural gas for home heating fuel, as 75% of Cayuga Heights residents do, according to the U.S.Census. They must think it “treads lightly,” just like solar.
You know … there ought to be a law.