Farmers, Hunters, Wildlife Aficionados – True Environmentalists

Bryant LaTouretteBryant La Tourette, Sr.
Chenango County Businessman and Landowner

Typically, environmentalists have conservationist views – in general, they advocate for the preservation, restoration, or enhancement of the natural environment.  I view myself and many of the landowners I know as the true activist environmentalists and hard core conservationists. I am going to take a few moments to explain how we can support the development of our natural resources, namely natural gas, and still be responsible stewards of our lands.

What is an Environmentalist? defines the term environmentalist as follows:

1.  an expert on environmental problems.
2.  any person who advocates or works to protect the air, water, animals, plants, and other natural resources from pollution or its effects.

From Bryant's Facebook page: Moose River

If you know me and have access to my Facebook page, you can see many of my photos, most of which are of outdoor activities from the northern Adirondacks to the furthest points in south of Florida. I am an avid hunter and fisherman, purchasing game licenses in two states every year. Many of you, who do not hunt, may not realize the money from the licenses goes back to protecting and enhancing the habitat of the areas, and is just one of many ways sportsmen and women help to keep the land we love enjoyable for future generations.

My commitment to protect the environment does not end there. I do my part to conserve my own land by enforcing strict hunting and trapping rules. If a person has permission to hunt on my land they are briefed on the rules. If they are a bowhunter, I like to know their abilities. A novice is only allowed a 20 yard shot and no hunting on rainy days. I do not want to see an animal shot that can’t be tracked. If it’s a trapper on my land, traps must be checked twice a day by law. We also maintain  dedicated ATV trails and camping areas.

My house here in the northeast is mostly glass, allowing full view of the seasons and wildlife. If you have perused my online pictures, it does not take long to see the enjoyment my family and I receive from observing all types of wildlife, plants, and trees.

My house in the south is located in a jungle complete with snakes, giant spiders, lizards and huge land crabs. When I find a snake in my yard I don’t kill it. I may put it in a bag and move it to a safe location. The same goes for my land here in the north. I have raccoons that love to get in my garbage, so I bungee the tops down.

My point is, we support natural gas development and we love our land and respect it, and are doing our best to co-exist with the habitat around us. It is possible and common for individuals to be both natural gas supporters and environmentalists, and I am proud to be just one of many.

Impact of Harvesting Other Energies on Our Land and Wildlife

Mojave Desert Tortoise

I am a strong advocate of drilling for natural gas on private land given the very negative environmental impacts of other alternate energy harvesting.  These impacts are not trivial, but, rather, substantial and this is before considering the kinds of things Cris Pasto discussed on these pages a few weeks back.

Let’s take a brief look at solar. When they build large solar farms that take up hundreds or thousands of acres, they have to trans-locate the wildlife and rare plants, taking indigenous wildlife and moving them to a new location.

Here is just one example where alternative energy development has had a dramatic on the natural environment, habitat and valuable species.  Are to pretend these impacts do not exist in our ideologically driven pursuit of alternative energy schemes that soothe the consciences of those thinking with their hearts rather than their heads.

According to one biologist, the results of the trans-location of 158 tortoises from Fort Irwin resulted in 49% mortality in within months of trans-location in 2008, and this year alone 11.6% of the remaining tortoises have died.

As for plants, a portion of them can be moved and the rest are bulldozed.  Unlike with natural gas development, where impacted plant life will be put back when operations are complete, these solar facilities create permanent changes.

Wind power is the worst! Do you know how many bird species, many of them protected, are killed a year?

Yet a July 2008 study of the wind farm at Altamont Pass, California, estimated that an average of 80 golden eagles were killed there by wind turbines each year. The study, funded by the Alameda County Community Development Agency, estimated that about 10,000 other protected birds were being killed along with the eagles every year at Altamont.

Why do those who oppose natural gas development in the name of environmentalism support this double standard? Why is it fine for wind and solar to kill protected animals? It’s not fine, as any true environmental conservationist would admit. And, that’s why natural gas is the energy I support. It creates more power per acre, while having less impact to the environment. It’s really a no brainer if your an environmentalist.

Coexistence or Coercion?

Today, like the term “fracturing,” the word “environmentalist” has been distorted to fit an agenda. It’s been given a negative connotation and been hijacked by those with an agenda that is far from the most beneficial one for our environment. I believe that to play a fair game, we need to play on a level field putting all our cards on the table to weigh out the risks and benefits of the next moves we will make. The field is far from level at the moment, but, I hope, more and more true environmentalists will do their homework and come back to the table equipped to really understand the decisions we need to make about our energy future.

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  1. susan dorsey says:

    You are right Bryant. Anti-gas activists like to paint us with a broad brush and, as you know, have even gone as far as saying we landowners are a “homogeneous” demographic while they are “diverse”. They would be very surprised to learn, if they ever took the time to disillusion themselves through fact finding, that we are many and our backgrounds are too.

    The stereotype they like to confine us to does not fit well in my case: I turn to NPR for news, listen to classical music, collect and admire art and antiques. I also love children and don’t kick dogs!

    I raised my 2 boys in a one room hand built log cabin where our water had to be pumped by hand outdoors in the winter wind, and carried 83.45 pounds at a time in two 5 gallon containers for a balanced load back to the cabin. We raised all our own food from a huge vegetable garden; we canned and froze enough to last until next year’s crop. Our milk & cheese was from our dairy goat herd, eggs & meat from chickens, also grass fed beef and pigs for pork. We were lucky to also have venison if our aim was good. We cut and carried wood and baled hay. We heated with a wood cookstove, but used propane for cooking in Summer. In our free time, we fished and swam in the pond. We subscribed to the DEC’s Conservationist magazine and the kids got Ranger Rick every month in the mailbox.

    With age comes wisdom, and also aches and pains. I will not be able to keep up the strenuous life I once led, and I do not feel that I am too self-indulgent to appreciate a little well deserved comfort. The truth is no one in our society can be 100% self-sufficient, and I am satisfied that I have done my part to reduce any negative impact of my existence on this earth. I do not need to excuse myself for being born and breathing, nor does anyone. Instead, we can maturely and honestly do the best we can to meet our own needs without being gluttonous or wasteful.

    Natural gas goes along with the philosophy of treading lightly on this earth when you consider the full impact of each alternative and acknowledge the true magnitude of our energy appetite as a nation. We as a people need to act like the grown ups we are and take responsibility for producing what we consume. As was reported by Bloomberg last week, hydraulic fracturing is a miracle with astonishing power to cut emissions that have been linked to global warming:

    Robert F. Kennedy Jr. was absolutely correct when he said that “The giant advantage of a quick conversion from coal to gas is the quickest route for jumpstarting our economy and saving our planet.” And now that the EPA’s testing in Dimock & Pavillion & Texas have shown water contamination claims to be unfounded and without merit, we all should chose the responsible energy policy. There is nothing in the way of progress towards conserving our environment on a global scale. We have been blessed with abundant, clean, local natural gas.

  2. Sherry says:

    I know I sound like a broken record, but out of all the arguments I hear from all sides, those from landowners are the most balanced because they are not only the ones with the most to gain, but could also be the ones with the most to lose if all the opponents’ threats were real. Many of the landowners in New York have had four years to research the natural gas drilling process and have taken advantage of this time to become well-versed in all matters related to drilling and fracing, etc. Many of them have also taken the time to “go the distance” in visiting drilling areas instead of blindly believing everything the “kill-the-drill” crowd would like their followers to believe without question.

    While drilling opponents focus on the “what ifs” and “could bes”, landowners have focused on actual risks in relation to the positives drilling brings them, communities, and the nation as a whole.

  3. I was Proud to be an American…. But New York is having an effect on that

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