fracking

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:

Opinion

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?

 

"Science is the belief in the ignorance of the experts."

Richard Feynman, no slouch himself when it came to science, said that.

The Babster's been to the left coast and the results aren't pretty.  In today's Ithaca Journal (h/t South of 5 and 20):

Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton, D-Ithaca, visited the West Coast earlier this week to tour renewable energy sites in central California and meet with leaders in the green energy field...

[....] "My work on gas drilling has heightened my great concern about climate change, and the role that fossil fuels are playing, according to an overwhelming consensus of our nation's and world's climate scientists," Lifton said. "Peer-reviewed studies are showing that the huge release of methane gas in the drilling and transportation of natural gas, which is mostly methane gas, is likely to significantly add to the amount of greenhouse gas we are releasing into the atmosphere. Since methane gas is anywhere from 72-100 times more potent than CO2 as a greenhouse gas, such release of methane would add considerably to the already destructive effects we are seeing from climate change."

Lifton said the trip was mostly educational, but may factor into legislation she plans to draft in the next session of the state Legislature...

Remember when the Climategate story broke in November 2009? You remember—the hockey stick? "Hide the Decline"?  Oh, you don't remember? That's because it didn't get muchany play in the lamestream media.  Well, some people noticed anyway and produced a series of videos on the Church of Global Warming at which Babs is a regular worshipper:

Notice the not-very-subtle shift in emphasis in Lifton's remarks above from CO2, the original focus of all the hysteria, to methane, a bugaboo related to our regional environmental cause du jour—fracking.

We here at Redneck Mansion have gone hoarse—in a manner of speaking—on the subjects of our moral and intellectual superiors, global warming (or "climate change" as they now like to call it since "global warming" has become a discredited shibboleth), sustainability, energy development (or the lack of it, more to the point) and the like.  Lifton's brief remarks read like a compendium of logical fallacies, and she makes claims that if not demonstrably false, are at the very least questionable:

...Professor Robert Howarth, a biologist at Cornell University, argues that the gas industry generates as much or more greenhouse gas as the coal industry, though only in the short term. This is because methane is a more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide and methane leaks during fracking and production59.


85. This conclusion requires unrealistic assumptions about: the quantity of methane that leaks during fracking, production and transport; the lack of methane leaks from coal mines; the residence time of methane in the atmosphere; and the greenhouse warming potential of methane compared with carbon dioxide60. For example, Howarth assumes that methane has 105 times the global-warming potential of carbon dioxide over 20 years; even the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change only uses a factor of 72 over 20 years, but prefers 25 over 100 years, which is the normal period of comparison. And Howarth gets his numbers on high gas leakage from shale gas wells from unreliable sources, his numbers on gas leakage from pipelines from long Russian pipelines, and assumes that `lost and unaccounted for gas‘ is actual leakage rather than partly an accounting measure61. He also fails to take into account the greater generating efficiency of gas than coal. As one critic puts it of Howarth‘s latest paper:

Practically every paragraph includes an assumption, simplification or choice by the authors that tends to increase the calculated environmental impact of natural gas. Whether that‘s the result of bias or merely a series of judgment calls, it undermines confidence in the final conclusions at the same time it amplifies them. -- Geoffrey Styles, The Energy Collective, 15 April 201162.

86. Absent these unrealistic assumptions, gas is clearly a lower-emission fuel. It is also worth noting that the growth rate of methane concentration in the atmosphere `slowed in the 1990s, and it has had a near-zero growth rate for the last few years‘ according to NOAA63. This is hardly the signature of a growing problem.

59 http://www.eeb.cornell.edu/howarth/GHG%20update%20for%20web%20--%20Jan%2...
60 http://epa.gov/climatechange/emissions/downloads10/US-GHG-Inventory-2010...
61 http://www.energyindepth.org/2011/04/five-things-to-know-about-the-corne...
62 http://theenergycollective.com/geoffrey-styles/55663/still-not-worse-coal
63 http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/obop/mlo/programs/esrl/methane/methane.html

We've said it before and we'll say it again—the science is not settled.  Babs would do well to not make it sound as though it were.

Can you top this?

No, I can't.  Just go to South of 5 and 20 and read the rest  smiley:

Town of Ithaca bans fracking

 

Town residents boarding Cornell's new campus shuttle
 
Well, that's settled...

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.

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.

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":

This "top ten" list supercedes Letterman...

...although that wouldn't be difficult.

In an article reprinted in the Herald Examiner (published in Freeville), via Village Squared:

This paper provides ten reasons why natural gas continues to gain market share and why it will be a key fuel of the future.

Natural gas saves consumers money.

If it's not going to be nuclear, it's got to be gas.

Natural gas is abundant and the globalization of the gas market is accelerating.

Unconventional gas is driving unconventional oil production

Unconventional oil production is stimulating the U.S. petrochemical sector and global oil production.

The United States's huge gas production capability, and its vast gas infrastructure, make it uniquely well positioned to take advantage of the shift to natural gas.

Increasing regulatory pressure on the coal sector is leading electricity generators to switch to natural gas.

Low-cost natural gas means lower-cost electricity.

Two key trends—decarbonization and urbanization—favor increased use of natural gas.

Global electricity demand is growing rapidly.

Read the rest. An earlier related post is here.

The reprint from the Manhattan Institute makea a nice counterpoint to moonbattery:

47 Groups Call on Cuomo

for Statewide Fracking Ban



....Last week, the New York Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) released its recommendations on fracking, allowing the practice in most areas of the state outside of the New York City and Syracuse watersheds. The DEC’s plan, which informed Governor Cuomo’s decision, leaves many New Yorkers without equal protection from the environmental and public health risks associated with fracking, and still exposes New York City and Syracuse residents to many impacts of shale gas drilling, including toxic air emissions.

“The DEC’s recommendations on fracking will turn many areas of New York into sacrifice zones...

....Under the DEC’s plan, thousands of new wells will be drilled across New York, using billions of gallons of fresh water, and industrializing rural communities across the state....

....“Governor Cuomo got it wrong when he said fracking can be done safely,” said Claire Sandberg, Executive Director of Frack Action. “Not only does this practice carry an unacceptable level of risk, but there is no rationale for drilling when we know that the promises of limitless energy and continuous economic growth are not borne out by the facts.”

....“Fracked natural gas is a dirty fuel that will make global warming worse,” said Alex Moore, dirty fuels campaigner, Friends of the Earth. “Governor Cuomo should put clean water and a safe environment ahead of gas company profits.”...

....A recent investigative series by The New York Times found that the natural gas industry has exaggerated the economic benefits of fracking, while downplaying its risks to public health and the environment....

Read the whole thing.

There's so much hysteria in this piece it's hard to know where to begin dealing with it all, but many of these claims have been addressed in earlier posts—try putting in "fracking" or "shale gas" or "gas drilling" or "natural gas" in the search box at the top right of this page and you'll get a list of at least some of them. Also take a look at The Lonely Conservative and South of 5 and 20 which cover the fracking controversy in CNY extensively.

Tom Reynolds interview on the economics of fracking

Here is the audio from Tom Reynolds' interview on WVBR's Shin Hollow Radio program, July 3, 2011

Real Republican Radio: WVBR -- UPDATE

Update: Tom's on tonight, but look for Bruno another time...

Thought that might get your attention.

Bruno Schickel, Republican candidate for Dryden Town Supervisor, and Tom Reynolds, former NY Assembly candidate and author of an essay on the economics of gas drilling, will be interviewed on Shin Hollow Radio, a show on WVBR this Sunday evening, July 3rd, 6pm-7pm.

WVBR is at 93.5FM and it also streams.  We'll be recording the show and putting it up here at One of Nine.

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