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Protester drills spokesman at gas hearing

By Dave Davies of WHYY

May 6, 2011

Here's a remarkable piece of tape from a hearing of Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett's Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission last week, which media reports have noted is well-stocked with campaign contributors from the energy industry.
(Oringal post can bee seen at

In the clip Chad Sailor, communications director for Lt. Governor Jim Cawley is explaining to a reporter that testimony of drilling opponents was relegated to the back end of the hearing because they'd signed late on a "first come first served" witness list.

A unidentified woman from Pittsburgh overhears the exchange, and steps in to explain that there actually two witness lists, and protesters weren't allowed to sign the same one that got the industry reps top billing. This is from an account friendly to protesters at the Checks and Balances Project.

I called Sailor to for an explanation, and he got right back to me. I asked if there were two witness lists, including one the protesters couldn't get to. Yes and no, he said.

There aren't many rooms that can accommodate a 30-member commission, plus staff, media and everyone from the public that want to attend, he explained. So they got a big room with an overflow auditorium a floor above with a closed-circuit TV feed.

There was a witness list in the main room, and another list in the room upstairs for those who couldn't fit downstairs. So yes, he said, protesters who got there after the meeting started couldn't get to the first list because the room was full. Both lists went to the lieutenant governor, who called the main room list first.

Sailor also said some protesters were there to disrupt the meeting, and that the commission stayed late so that everyone who wanted to speak was heard. This was confirmed by reporters who were there.

I've been to a lot of hearings like these over the years, and it's my observation that somehow members of the public are usually shunted to the end, when the presiding panel members are tired and the TV crews have folded up and left.

I think everybody should have their say at public hearings, and access to the witness table should be even-handed and transparent. I also think protesters should be respectful of the rights of others to be heard.

UPDATE: This came in from Tracy Carluccio of the Delaware Riverkeeper Network:

I was there and can verify what you (Davies) reported. One more point - the meeting was publicly noticed for a 10:30 am start time. But it began an hour early. From what I understand, the members of the Commission were told about the hour early start item. However, many of us from the public did not know about it. I don’t know if they changed the time on their website prior to the meeting but those of us who traveled (I came from DRN’s office in Bristol PA) hours to get there had no notice of the change. I planned to be there before the start to sign up and arrived at about 10:00 am, well in advance of the start time and went in to sign up to speak. The “upstairs list” was already upstairs and I was denied entrance to the meeting room by the guards. So, the change in the start time made it impossible for the public who were not on the “inside” about the time change to sign up on the “inside” list. How did the first raft of speakers know to get there early? Did members of the Council call them? Was there an email notification to an elite group? Did the change in time meet sunshine law requirements? Even if it did, it made the frontloading of the speaker list even more difficult for us “outsider” public.


Tracy Carluccio

Deputy Director

Delaware Riverkeeper Network

pity party

I can only take away from this story that as per usual, protestors were too busy protesting outside for the cameras instead of signing up to speak. This is another weak attempt at indignation and conspiracy to explain an obvious oversight and lack of preparation. What's next, "the dog ate my homework"?

party party

Since the ExxonMobil/XTO water withdrawal docket was on the agenda for approval at the DRBC meeting in W. Trenton yesterday, and the vote was postponed after the DRBC received over 7,000 emails and letters, in less than 10 days, and since about 35 people showed up to speak out against the potential future approval by the commissioners, and only 2 spoke for, I can only take away from this event, that as per usual, the lessors were too busy counting the money they received from their lease agreement, and thinking about their potential future royalties, to bother to write, show up at the meeting, or sign up to speak.

How would they explain their obvious oversight and lack of preparation? What's next, the realization they have to actually perform research, or do "homework"?


Mr. Barth seems to feel that any and all dockets before the DRBC require our taking a day off from our usual endeavors to burn more of our precious resources by travelling to Trenton to attempt to out-whine the obstructionists. It does not occur to him that these jokers sitting on this board in Trenton are being paid to be there and make these decisions? It doesn't seem like we should need to drive to Trenton several times a year to repeat the same old, same old and thus maintain the balance of power and keep symmetry in nature. We cannot rely on Ms. Collier and her cast of clowns to make the right decisions without the need for hundreds of people burning thousands of gallons of fuel to reach Trenton in an effort to bully, sway, persuade, or beg the folks sitting there, and receiving pay checks, to make these decisions? Mr. Barth seems to feel this is some sort of competition and the louder whiner is the winner. That would be sad if he were correct. This is about property rights, foreign energy dependence, physics, responsibility, and reality. These are things beyond Mr. Barth's ken.

Extraction over extortion

On the other hand maybe the 6965 people who chose to write in were pro extraction and could not attend the meeting because they had to work extreme overtime in order to afford the gas to get to work?. Or do you have the fact sheet in front of you to show what ratio of those were pro or anti? Id be willing to bet most are for extraction over extortion any day! Individual property rights may have a hand in this as well


You are telling me that a water withdrawal docket was obstructed until further notice? Shocker! I guess every time there is a hearing for any mundane topic before the DRBC it is our job to take time off work and go unobstruct. What kind of no account has that kind of time on their hands? No thanks. I do my homework at home.

Mattter of convenience

It is curious that Ms. Carluccio of the River Keeper has a direct line to this paper and is able to add her opinion directly into a so-called news article. This paper obviously knows that she is not an impartial observer, especially on this subject, and her observations would be better placed in these comments or in a letter to the editor. A reader might conclude that this paper supported her view and is more than willing to give her a stage to present it. Somehow, she is able to inject her take on the issue directly into the heart of the story. Go figure.

TRR expansion of timely coverage (statewide) is welcome

Thanks to TRR for posting this video, which is going viral. I saw a follow up video interview in which Dr. Conrad Volz backed up the account of the odd goings on, where "latecomers" were relegated to another room on another floor, even though they had arrived just after the building opened. Sailer calls the opposition "protesters", but Tracy Carluccio, Conrad Volz, and Myron Aronowitt of Clean Water Action, are hardly "protesters" in any common sense. Ms. Carluccio's account explains a good deal. What is left out is that the Commission CHOSE a small room that could only accommodate a little over one hundred industry supporters, and all those HAPPENED to be the ones who were notified privately, of an advanced start? Myron Aronowitt, in another subsequent interview, explained that his group had notified the Commission several days earlier, that they expected a turnout of about 150 of their membership. Why did the Commission choose a small room that would accommodate only the priveleged industry supporters, as well create an early start, seemingly just for them?

Masters of media manipulation

It is rather amusing that James Barth and Ms. Carluccio are outraged at this lost opportunity to manipulate the media in their usual fashion. One only has to look back at the hearing in Trenton last Summer where about 28 of the first thirty speakers were obstructionists. These same folks were fine with that situation, but oddly enough, lessons were learned. Pro-drillers seem to have borrowed a page from the obstructionist handbook.

This has deteriorated into a street fight, and both sides are more than willing to hit below the belt. You win some and you lose some. Look how great it is be able to play the "it wasn't fair" card and go for the sympathy and outrage reaction from other obstructionists. Those for drilling are simply grinning at this situation, while obstructionists are suffering painfully from media withdrawal. Hence this clip to attempt to regain that media attention. Of course, this paper finds it newsworthy and important. Many papers will skip this earth shattering event entirely. Go figure.

Intelligent analysis

What lost opportunity at media coverage? An intelligent analysis would conclude that those opposed to the current state of shale gas drilling and frac'ing, are receiving much more attention as a result of the incompetent, and unfair, actions taken by the Governor's Marcellus Shale Committee. As Matt Pitzerella, a spokesman for Range Resources, seems fond of saying, the industry's wounds are self inflicted. Just look at that video tape, for goodness sake.

The potential civil rights violations that were taken by the Governor's Shale Committee, is the story that is being reported. The public comment hearing, if it had been conducted properly, would have disappeared from the scene after a cursory report.

False comparison

What happened in West Trenton in July of 2010 is not comparable to the events at this hearing, held by the Governor's committee, and structured to get this distorted result. All anyone had to do was to read the DRBC's explanation of the event, and indeed, the event as described in a TRR editorial, to arrive at the truth. That some desperate lessors are still clinging to their misrepresentation of that day, is not surprising. Truth is not their friend, when it comes to shale gas drilling and frac'ing.

All one needs to do, really, is

believe everything the DRBC and the editorial staff of this paper say and print. Then one will be seeing things Jim's way. This story is viral in your feverish mind, JB. That limits the impetus this non-story will have. You, this paper, the River Keeper, Hill Keeper, Creek Keeper, and a few other "keepers" will try to make some hay here, but you're all beating a dead horse. (Let's mix metaphors!) We'll see what sort of legs your outrage has in the next week or two.

How is that viral clip doing?

How's it working out for you, JB? No one seems to care about it? Boy, that's tough!

This clip gone viral

If one were to step a little outside of their narrow comfort zone, and take a quick web trip to YouTube, one might see that the clip has been viewed 17,478 times already. The clip, as shown at TRR, never leaves the TRR webpage, as one views it, so those viewings don't even count.

As to "how it is working out for" me, personally, well, I always enjoy when a pro gas bureaucrat makes a fool of himself, and is caught misrepresenting information, to put it politely.

If anything is "tough", it would seem to be tough for certain people to perform even a bare minimum of research and analysis, before expressing an opinion geared towards mocking those they perceive as their opposition.

On the other hand, while easy, it must be demoralizing to perform the tasks of an anonymous cartoon character.

Will it never end?

The FACT is everyone who wanted to speak was heard, this is not in dispute. Now those against fracking are upset because they weren't heard first? The more I hear from the no frack crowd the less I want to hear, no wonder the Commission didn't want to be in the same room with you people.