Usual Suspects Try ‘Last Second Sprint’ to Stop Natural Gas Development in NY
The anti-natural gas crowd hasn’t had much success trying to change Governor Cuomo’s mind on natural gas development. Among the many reasons this is the case, is New York needs all the help it can get as far as economic boosts are concerned. Now, in a last ditch attempt the anti-natural gas folks are sending out letters to Governor Cuomo’s campaign contributors in a desperate attempt to stop development in New York. Its equivalent to a last second sprint in a 200 meter race as a struggling Olympian makes their last dash in an attempt to secure Olympic gold. Of course, their will be no Olympic gold for the anti’s and this latest effort is laced with misinformation as well as the usual scare tactics and it is, of course, signed by all the usual suspects.We decided to look at the letter piece by piece just to show everyone the misinformation our friends on the other side are spreading to the Governor’s campaign contributors. The first paragraph is below.
We, the undersigned, are writing because you are one of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s biggest campaign contributors. Given your interest in New York’s government affairs, we respectfully ask you to help safeguard our state’s public health and environment from the unprecedented pollution hazards posed by Marcellus Shale gas “fracking.”
Public health is not at risk. The best way to prove it is to examine other studies of health health impacts where natural gas exploration has taken place and we’ve already done it for you. This is easily noticeable in Denton County, Texas where natural gas development has occurred for the better part of a decade which has increased the health of the population by providing more people access to health care and lead to a healthier population.
Moreover, as far as pollution is concerned, natural gas is the cleanest burning fossil fuel and that’s why U.S. carbon emissions are dropping like a rock. In fact, as a result of power plants converting to natural gas the U.S. has led the world in carbon reduction since 2006.
Burning natural gas also puts water back into our environment. While we wait for renewables to become feasible without massive subsidies and more government loans (Solyndra, et al), natural gas is the cheapest, cleanest source of energy we have available on a scalable level today.
The second paragraph of the letter reads as follows:
Fracking is a drilling technique that pumps millions of gallons of water laced with toxic chemicals into natural gas wells. This high-pressure injection process can release natural gas trapped in the mile-deep Marcellus formation by cracking the shale that underlies New York’s Catskills, Finger Lakes and Southern Tier regions.
Natural gas production relies upon hydraulic fracturing that primarily involves the use of water and sand to fracture the Marcellus Shale. The additives, which are used to ensure the water and reach can reach the proper points underground, are common – akin to items under the household sink and even in the bathroom cabinet. They cannot get into the aquifer because they would have to travel up against gravity, through several different layers of impenetrable rock formations, as much as a mile, to do so. Also, the fractures in the Marcellus Shale only extend a matter of hundreds of feet and then laterally.
The third paragraph is as much of an overstatement as I have seen from our friends on the other side;
Fracking has generated huge air, land and water pollution problems in Pennsylvania and other states. For example, more thank 750,000 residents near Pittsburgh were forced to drink bottled water after public drinking water drawn from the Monongahela River was contaminated by improper dumping of toxic and radioactive fracking wastewaters. Fracking’s massive pollution threats prompted New York’s Department of Environmental Conservation to impose the nation’s first shale gas fracking moratorium. No Marcellus Shale fracking will be allowed until comprehensive safeguards are adopted.
The letter is more than misleading in claiming hydraulic fracturing contaminates air, land, and water – it’s totally disingenuous, and in fact could be considered an outright lie as there are no documented cases of it contaminating any of these. They then say dumping actually caused the contamination, which, of course, refutes their original point. This is especially true of the “toxic and radioactive” drinking water claims which were rebuked by Pennsylvania as well as countless water utilities following erroneous reporting.
Next they say the DEC has enacted the first moratorium ever, but distort the purpose. Yes, for four years New York State has had an on-off moratorium of sorts for the express purpose of allowing time to pull together rules and regulations ensuring the public’s safety. The DEC developed a Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement (SGEIS) to ensure natural gas exploration is done safely and the letter actually acknowledges this in the final sentence, but somehow manages to to imply that’s a negative rather than a positive. Get it? Well, I don’t either.
The next two paragraphs reveal the utter hollowness of the anti-gas arguments:
Even though new fracking regulations have yet to be enacted, The New York Times reported that Governor Cuomo is preparing a plan to permit Marcellus Shale “fracking” in five counties of New York’s Southern Tier while maintaining the moratorium in all other areas of the state.
His proposal would treat the Southern Tier residents as second class citizens and unfairly subject them to potentially irreparable hazards. It has been broadly opposed by environmental groups.
If the Governor is treating anyone like second class citizens by going slowly, it is those people outside the counties mentioned. But, let’s play the game by the anti-natural gas rules for a bit. Haven’t natural gas opponents advocated for precisely this policy by encouraging the Slottje efforts to get bans and moratoriums in towns outside the five counties where Governor Cuomo would supposedly allow natural gas development? Several towns in the five counties have actually passed natural gas resolutions, saying they will not enact a ban or moratorium and are supportive of natural gas development. Isn’t this exactly the outcome the anti’s desired, a home rule fiasco where some towns are in and some are out? Natural gas proponents have never argued that, but the opponents have.
The usual suspects have signed the letter; from Walter Hang (who, like the NRDC, started his business with Rockefeller family money and perpetually generates petitions) to Mayor Matt Ryan. Hang has made lot a of accusations against DEC over the years, with little effect. The DEC took him on very effectively, however. Check it out here.
We all remember how warmly (sarcasm) Mayor Matt Ryan was received when he brought water to Dimock, Pennsylvania using Binghamton, New York tax-payer’s money. He allowed Binghamton City trucks to drive over the state border and deliver water that wasn’t even requested by the community where it was being delivered. He actually visited Dimock Township to solicit a mutual aid request that would authorize the deliveries and was embarrassed by a crowd of residents who clearly supported natural gas development.
These are the folks now trying a soft version of blackmail on Governor Cuomo. It’s a pitiful effort, really, one based on internal conflicts, inconsistent messages and untruths. It isn’t going to work, but I suppose a “last second spritnt” does have a certain emotional appeal with the other side in lifting morale. It’s just this: a sprint like that requires guts, smarts and some actual scientific data to support your claims. Of course, it’s hard to find much of any of this among the usual suspects.