shale gas

Let's not snatch defeat from the jaws of victory

Mercifully, while we bitter clingers at Redneck Mansion here in greater metro Moonbatville have been otherwise engaged, The Lonely Conservative and company have been covering the energy beat....

Funny—Ayn Rand said this would happen:

Ronnie Bryant, the owner of a coal mine, showed up for a town hall style meeting on environmental justice in Alabama and after listening to all of the griping and complaining he made up his mind on how to proceed. He’s going Galt.


But is Atlas actually shrugging?  One of LC's contributors who frequently writes on energy development issues, Unlikely Hospitalist, has a different take:

Highlighted by the Lonely Conservative herself is the untenable position that Ronnie Bryant finds himself. Reaching his wits end, he has decided to call it quits and throw in the towel. You could say he is going Galt and that may indeed be an apt description, but Mr. Bryant is quitting before the fight has been waged. These environmental activists are vocal, well financed fools and hypocrites who exert their influence through intimidation. They cannot win the arguments on the basis of fact or science and are left emotional gamesmanship to manipulate the masses.... you think there's an alternative to this approach available? At the Dryden Safe Energy Coalition's website, it says that group's mission is

To offer balanced, data driven information on safe energy development, to logically and numerically evaluate benefit-to-risk ratios, free of emotional bias or ideology, and to bring together people interested in an analytical approach to energy issues.

But I digress...

...We are on the cusp of victory over an environmental lobby flush with cash and short on argument. The fight now is a political one and in spite of all the rhetoric, New Yorkers are anxious for an economic revival and cheap gas. Be strong, hassle your representatives and senators and don’t be afraid to speak out. There is plenty of time to go Galt, but don’t quit while the battle is being won...

Read the whole thing.

And lastly (for now):

We’re surrounded by so many stupid people who buy into the crap the left is spewing, but we’ll never see them turn off their power. Where the heck do they think it comes from?

So, Dryden residents, turn up the heat on our elected representatives. They intend to vote Tuesday, August 2nd, on the proposed amendment to the existing town zoning ordinance, an amendment that bans all energy development and associated activities (not just fracking per se) in the town:

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:

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?


Shale shocka from our moral and intellectual superiors

The back page of the "Life" section of today's Ithaca Journal has a full-page ad (and those don't come cheap—paid for by "Social Ventures") with the header " Our Water Is Their Future." It consists of four quotes and a "what you can do " section, just to get your activist juices flowing.

From Sandra Steingraber (whose book was brandished by the lead singer of a rather weird band at an unsuspecting audience at Dryden Dairy Day in June during a tirade against BGH (bovine growth hormone)—that didn't sit well with the folks from the Grange): "Fracking is the biggest threat to children's environmental health that we've ever encountered..."  In the background is a tug-at-the-heartstrings photo of children holding hands with Cayuga Lake behind them. A couple of things come to mind...

Fracking is the environmental threat du jour.  It may well (no pun intended) turn out to be the equivalent of environmentalists'-sweetheart Rachel Carson's DDT.  That turned out well for all the children around the world who have died of malaria as a result of her crusade, didn't it?  And all those kids in that photo by the lake?  How many of them will still be in this area after age 18?  Not many, I suspect.  As a parent of children ranging in age from 34 to 14, I can tell you this: they don't hang around and they go where the jobs are and temp jobs at Cornell (and while local institutions of higher learning may have protected us from economic buffeting so far, they probably won't forever) aren't sufficient inducement to keep them here for any length of time.  Of course, once the "sustainability" folks get their way and none of us have cars, the inability to leave may stem that particular tide.

And by the way, Sandra Steingraber is in "good" company:

Over the years, In These Times has published the work of a wide range of noted writers, including fiction by Alice Walker and Kurt Vonnegut; reporting by Clinton speechwriter David Kusnet, former New Republic editor Andrew Sullivan, and current Salon Editor-in-Chief Joan Walsh; and political commentary by former presidential candidate George McGovern, environmentalist Sandra Steingraber, the late Democratic Sen. Paul Wellstone of Minnesota, novelists Barbara Kingsolver and Dorothy Allison, and a number of contemporary members of the House of Representatives who contribute to the magazine’s “House Call” column.

From Robert Howarth: "Shale gas has the largest greenhouse gas footprint of any fossil fuel..." We've said it before and we'll say it again—there's a lot of disagreement on this particular point. And while anti-anti-frackers (I won't call them pro-frackers—it's not necessarily the same thing) are always portrayed as being in the pockets of evil Big Gas, anti-frackers are never painted as having any ulterior motives—pure as the driven snow are they. So you may want to see Joe Nocera's op ed in the NYT as well as South of 5 and 20's post for some perspective on Mr. Howarth's objectivity.

From Tony Ingraffea: "A record of 1 blowout every 1000 wells and 1 cement failure every 20 wells, with tens of thousands of wells planned for New York, means the possibility of blowouts in your neighborhood and the ruin of your water supply..."  Another example of "it's a fact that it's a possibility."  And as Nocera points out in his NYT column

The truth is, every problem associated with drilling for natural gas is solvable. The technology exists to prevent most methane from escaping, for instance. Strong state regulation will help ensure environmentally safe wells. And so on. Somewhat to my surprise, this view was seconded by Abrahm Lustgarten, a reporter for ProPublica who has probably written more stories about the dangers of fracking than anyone. In a comment posted online to my Tuesday column, he wrote that while the environmental issues were real, they “can be readily addressed by the employment of best drilling practices, technological investment, and rigorous regulatory oversight.”

From Dr. Adam Law: "Permitting hydraulic fracturing is like conducting a medical experiment using members of our community as subjects..."  I put it to you that forbidding hydraulic fracturing (as well as other forms of energy development) is like conducting a social experiment using local communities in an experiment to see what the desired end, the de-development of society à la John Holdren, will look like. It's not just a coinkidinky that the anti-frackers sound an awful lot like the "sustainability" folks, who sound an awful lot like the local town and county planners, who sound like the local "social justice" folks and so on.  It's because they're all working off essentially the same blueprint for creating heaven right here in our backyard.  Ain't it grand? 

The six-point activist list at the bottom of the ad includes references to Walter Hang's (who spoke at Left Forum 2011 and Left Forum 2010) company, Toxics Targeting (no agenda there. of course), as well as NYPIRG.  But wait...aren't these various state PIRGs just nice, neutral organizations of energetic young people who come to your door in the summer with petitions and pleas for money? Um, not so much.  You may be interested to know, for instance, that the U.S.’ largest Marxist organization, Democratic Socialists of America, has a new national director, Maria Svart, who cut her post-college teeth as a campus organizer with the Massachusetts Public Interest Research Group.  Just sayin'.

All of life is a risk; but right now, we appear to be suffering the tyranny, not of the majority, but of the most vocal, who also seem to be the most risk-averse of all.  As Joe Nocera wound up his piece on the Marcellus Shale

...those of you who live near this tremendous resource have two choices. You can play the Not-In-My-Backyard card, employing environmental scare tactics to fight attempts to drill for that gas.

Or you can embrace the idea that America needs the Marcellus Shale, accept the inconvenience that the drilling will bring, but insist that it be done properly...

Let's not make the best the enemy of the good.

Subscribe to shale gas