gas drilling

"From ancient grudge break to new mutiny, where civil blood makes civil hands unclean."

Well, maybe that line from the prologue to Romeo and Juliet overstates things just a tad—we're not quite at the "civil blood" stage in Dryden and presumably won't be—but there's no doubt that we're at the "civic groundwater pollution" stage and actually have been for some time...see the videos that are linked in this post from June if you doubt it.

More of the same occurred this past week at the Dryden Town Board public hearing and you can see some videos in this blog entry, "Will Dryden Go Dry?"  And if only there were video available of one of these same speakers cautioning against the town overreaching its authority at the April town board meeting and being loudly booed by his moral and intellectual superiors.

The aforementioned blog entry, by the way, contains some valuable information, such as

...The proposed ordinance amendment  is written so naively as to prohibit not only drilling but also pipelines, gas-related offices, storage or use of gas and all sorts of other things.  It says, among other things, that “No land in the Town shall be used to … transfer (or) store natural gas; or … for natural gas and/or petroleum support activities” and “No permit issued by any local, state or federal agency, commission or board for a use which would violate the prohibitions of this section or of this Ordinance shall be deemed valid within the Town.”  This language would prevent any fuel oil dealer or any propane dealer from locating in the town, along with pipelines, CNG fueling stations or even a gasoline station or office for a company dealing in petroleum products.  Perhaps worst, is the notion that the Town of Dryden can declare a state or Federal permit as invalid. [link added--tvm]  Does the Town really think it can supersede the Public Service Commission’s Article 7 process relating to pipelines for example?  Well, maybe it should read this case, which says not.

Read the whole thing.

A new group, the Dryden Safe Energy Coalition, has a website containing Dryden-specific information as well as more general Marcellus Shale info, articles, and excerpts from relevant legal source documents. If you're interested in joining the group, there's an e-mail address,, at which you can indicate that interest to the group organizers.

The town board was originally scheduled to vote following the public hearing on July 20th on the zoning ordinance amendment that would ban all gas-related activities, but has postponed its vote until August 2nd. If you're a Dryden resident, you may want to contact the board members before August 2nd:

Mary Ann Sumner, Dryden Town Supervisor:

David Makar, Dryden Town Board member:

Jason Leifer, Dryden Town Board member:

Steve Stelick, Dryden Town Board Member:

Joe Solomon, Dryden Town Board member:

For a little different perspective, no one beats South of 5 and 20 for spot-on snark—check out South's post on this topic.

And Dryden farmers had their say, too, and quite eloquently, although I haven't been able to unearth any video of their remarks to the town board.  By and large, though, their take on this is reflected in this earlier post.

Let's hope the discourse going forward is a little more civil than it's been.  And stay tuned—we'll keep you posted.

Dryden Town Board to hold public hearing on drilling ban

At its June meeting, the Dryden Town Board unanimously voted to hold a public hearing on a zoning amendment that would ban drilling from Dryden. The public hearing is scheduled for Wednesday, July 20th, 7:00 pm at Dryden Town Hall, 93 E. Main St., Dryden.

After the hearing, the board will vote on whether or not to approve the zoning amendment.

All are welcome to attend, although only Dryden residents may address the board at the hearing.

The gas drilling debate continues

Back in the spring of 2010, Tom Reynolds read a paper by Jannette Barth on the economic impact of gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale; he thought at the time that her reasoning seemed a little, well, suspect.  When Jannette came to Newfield in June of this year to give a presentation based on that paper, it renewed his interest in the topic.  One thing led to another.  He responded to her paper both at the Newfield meeting and in writing.  His letter was published in the Lansing Star, the Newfield News, and the July 4th Tompkins Weekly (pg. 6)—we also ran it here.  That letter prompted this response in the July 11th Tompkins Weekly:


Drilling vs. Tourism Report Defended

By Marie Terlizzi

Recent issues of area community newspapers contained an opinion piece by Tom Reynolds concluding that no intelligent person should take seriously a Newfield presentation by Dr. Jannette Barth titled “The Economic Impact of Gas Drilling in the Marcellus: Don’t Jump to Conclusions.” As a member of the group PAUSE (Promoting Alternatives to Unsafe Sources of Energy) that sponsored the event, I would appreciate the opportunity to respond...

You can read the rest here (pg. 6).

After having read Marie's article, Tom was motivated to respond to her response and submitted it to the Tompkins Weekly, receiving this in reply from the managing editor of the Finger Lakes Community Newspapers:

...I'm afraid, however, at this point, with you and Terlizzi quoting each other and Barth and disputing each other's statements and quotes, the letter is no longer general interest. It is difficult to follow the arguments without all three letters and the study arrayed around one....

No longer general interest? And yet another reason why print media is going the way of the dinosaur....because, wah lah, we can do and just did the very thing she suggests, and with ease.

Here's the letter Tom wrote that you won't see in the Finger Lakes Community Newspapers:

It is amazing that people try to defend Jannette Barth’s Economic Report on Marcellus gas drilling for anything other than a biased distortion. But, Marie Terlizzi of PAUSE tries to do just that.  The best response that I can suggest is that you actually READ THE REPORT!  I did.  It is available on line.

Barth constantly suggests possibilities as if they were facts and Terlizzi believes my criticism is silly as, she states, “Most people do understand that ‘might’ automatically implies ’might not’”.  If you read Barth’s report, she does an excellent job of hiding “might not” as a possibility.  Of many available examples, after Barth states “It is quite possible…existing residents may be driven out”, Barth’s next sentence is “Far fewer retirees WILL (my emphasis) choose to settle and second home owners WOULD CERTAINLY (my emphasis) be vastly reduced in numbers”.  Barth buries any possibility of “might not” in her current certainty about future events.

Terlizzi states that my Headwater quotes owe their positive ring to the omission of important context.  But her “context” further reinforces my position and further degrades Barth’s position.  For context, Terlizzi adds, “Prices for oil, natural gas and coal remained high for nearly a year after the onset of the recession in 2007.  Combined with a lag between production and tax collection, production tax revenues continued to grow well into 2009 buffering state budgets in energy producing regions from the early decline in tax revenue felt elsewhere”.  Thank you, Ms. Terlizzi, for your ringing endorsement of the economic benefits of gas drilling; it would seem to be a good thing that gas drilling’s tax revenues continued to grow and buffer states from the recession in spite of declines elsewhere.  

Concerning Economic Multipliers, Terlizzi states that, “Reynolds, however, applies multipliers for the gas drilling and tourism industries to an average wage for each, a step that makes no sense, and produces meaningless results…he needs to consider not just the average wage but the number of people employed.”  Perhaps Ms. Terlizzi should review Barth’s report, since Barth bases her Economic Multiplier conclusions solely on the Economic Multiplier and I was following Barth’s own template.  If my efforts make no sense and are meaningless, then the same standard must be applied to Barth’s report.

Terlizzi reinforces her position by stating that the “Marcellus Core Industries” only created 9,288 jobs in Pennsylvania between the 4th quarter of 2007 and the 4th quarter of 2010. But a recent Dow Jones report in the Wall Street Journal quotes the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry (PA DLI) estimate that “fracking” in the Marcellus Shale formation has created 72,000 jobs in the Keystone State.   If both statistics are correct, it sounds as if every “Core Industry” job created another 7 jobs related to Marcellus activity.  The PA DLI reports elsewhere that unemployment remains below the state average in counties with Marcellus development.

Perhaps, Barth’s omission of the number of people employed is intentional, since it raises questions about how much less tourism employees’ actual earnings are than annualized salary, since many tourism employees only work part of a year which would further degrade the argument for tourism over gas drilling.  This would also raise related issues about unemployment and welfare costs. 

Jannette Barth’s proponents always include that she has a PhD.  Is it in Creative Writing?


Smart fracking

Some people might think that's an oxymoron, but former US senator from New Hampshire John E. Sununu, an engineer by training, sees it differently, as do an increasing number of others.  A great piece in today's Boston Globe (h/t Henry):

ENLIGHTENED MOMENTS in politics are few and far between. Populism has a lot to do with it; playing to fear, anger, and other emotions is a safe move politically, and what the media love most.

That’s why New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s decision to lift a ban on hydraulic fracturing - also known as “fracking’’ - should be celebrated as a victory for rational thought...

[....] The environmental records of both the process and the gas it produces are pretty strong, but the economics are even more compelling.

Job creation and tax collections in Pennsylvania counties producing shale gas have increased significantly during the past three years. Their neighbors have not fared so well. Governor Tom Corbett calls the investment boom, started under Democratic Governor Ed Rendell, “the foundation of a new economy.” New York could either ignore the economic development occurring in its own back yard or participate.

Above all, this transformation is a lesson that energy policy shouldn’t pick winners and losers...

Read the whole thing.

Hogs are hovering

"This presentation is not intended to support or oppose gas drilling activities..."  We'll have to see, of course, but the presentation in question, called "Looking Down From Above" sounds an awful lot like this video (complete with Pete Seeger music)—and, really, don't we all regularly view our property from a helicopter? 

The video's found at the Fracking Resource Guide website, whose sources include Pro Publica, hardly a neutral organization. I'm guessing that it's as likely that this presentation at the VFW will be neither pro- nor anti-fracking as it is that pigs will, you know...


More "It's a fact that it's a possibility":

Babs embraces the fishwrap of record...

...and the smell isn't attractive.  Via WHCU:

Local state Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton is calling for federal and state investigations into hydraulic fracturing after a series of New York Times articles raised concerns about the industry this week.

The reports show industry insiders questioning whether companies are as well-off as they claim, comparing gas drilling to the housing or dot-com industries right before they crashed.

Lifton says there now needs to be greater oversight of the industry from both the state and federal government.

Really.  Funny, but a piece at Hot Air begs to differ:

...The Gray Lady blew a spectacular bit of smoke with a recent article that suggested shale natural gas production is a shaky investment at best and, at worst, a Ponzi scheme of sorts, destined to devastate those who buy the “lie” that shale plays will not only produce high profits for companies, but will also provide affordable energy for the country.

The piece — “Insiders Sound an Alarm Amid a Natural Gas Rush” — appeared in the Sunday New York Times and implied natural gas companies intentionally or even illegally overstate the productivity of their wells and the size of their reserves. The article mentioned by name (among others) Aubrey K. McClendon, CEO of Chesapeake Energy Corporation, the second-largest producer of natural gas in the country. The piece juxtaposed a McClendon quote — “It’s time to get bullish on natural gas” — with supposed “facts” that suggest no reason to be bullish exists.

By Sunday night, McClendon had already responded to the inaccurate and misleading article. In an internal all-staff e-mail, McClendon reminded Chesapeake employees of the facts NYT reporter Ian Urbina conveniently chose to ignore. Yesterday, McClendon published much of the same information to the Chesapeake website...

...McClendon was hardly alone in his reaction to the article. Energy in Depth compiled a list of some 25 responses to it, from experts in government, academia, industry and peer media, all to the same effect: The NYT article misstated the truth about natural gas...

Natural gas just might be the energy solution environmentalists say they want, but actually can’t stand because nothing would put them out of business faster.

Absolutely, positively read the whole thing.


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