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Pledging to protect a way of life

June 29, 2011

SULLIVAN COUNTY, NY — The goal was $100,000. The effort to raise it began on June 4 and already more than $55,000 in pledges have been received in support of a legal defense fund to protect three Sullivan County towns in the event of a legal challenge to zoning provisions prohibiting high impact industrial activity.

Concerned citizens groups in the towns of Highland, Lumberland and Tusten have combined forces to launch the fund. The groups are not asking for donations of money at this time, but rather, pledges of support should the need arise. The money will be collected only in the event of a legal challenge.

Currently, each of the towns is working on zoning ordinances to prohibit high-impact industrial uses, as are other areas of the state, such as Ithaca, the Finger Lakes, Cooperstown and Lake Otsego.

“The defense fund will help demonstrate to our town officials that they have our full support in taking this action, and that we will not allow the fear of legal challenge to deter us from this goal,” wrote Highland Concerned Citizens (HCC) in an outreach email.

Based on the initial response and growing interest, Peter Comstock of Lumberland Concerned Citizens (LCC) said he believes the pledge total will easily pass the $100,000 target. “We are determined to fight to protect the natural and cultural heritage of our river valley. We know we will prevail in a court of law, because our zoning against high-impact industrial activity is sensible and our legal right under NY State home rule authority," Comstock said.

A document being distributed by the groups calls the issue the fight of the century. “Large-scale industrialization threatens the quality of life of the people living in the Upper Delaware River Valley,” it asserts. In response to the potential threats of large scale water use, the disposal or storage of deleterious substances, high frequency truck traffic, underground injection of deleterious substances, injection wells, and any use of land that is likely to result in degradation of private water systems, new provisions are being drafted into the towns’ comprehensive plans and zoning ordinances.

Instead, the towns are encouraging things like low impact, environmentally responsible industry, sustainable development, preservation and enhancement of the amenities of small town life, high-quality educational and cultural opportunities and tourism.

According to LCC, towns have every right to take such actions because of New York State’s Home Rule authority, which gives municipalities broad powers to make land-use decisions that protect their resources and quality of life.

It's their money.

They have the right to give it away to whomever. This all sounds a bit negative as they work to create "zoning against high-impact industrial activity". The residents and tax payers of these towns that want drilling need to respond in kind. This paper has the pledge form and contact information on this website for those wanting to contribute money to keep the area in the stone age. It probably does not have any pledge forms for those seeking to zone for high impact industrial activity. That is only a guess, of course.

Thes people want the following. "Instead, the towns are encouraging things like low impact, environmentally responsible industry, sustainable development, preservation and enhancement of the amenities of small town life, high-quality educational and cultural opportunities and tourism." Who in hell can argue with that dream? The reality likely will be far different, however. Shangri-La, here they come.

They contribute, but the legal costs

will likely exceed the amounts raised, and they will still lose. Taxpayers will lose more money because of, in part, these obstructionists.

"The Constitution of New York State limits municipal authority to only those specific aspects of law that have been granted by the State — and municipalities cannot go beyond those limits. The State Legislature has vested the NYS DEC with the exclusive authority to regulate all facets of oil and natural gas exploration, drilling, completion and production. The Legislature codified the laws pertaining to natural gas drilling as part of the Oil, Gas and Solution Mining Law as set forth in Article 23 of the ECL.

Section 23-0303(2) of the ECL specifically provides that: “[t]he provisions of this article shall supersede all local laws or ordinances relating to the regulation of the oil, gas and solution mining industries; but shall not supersede local government jurisdiction over local roads or the rights of local governments under the real property tax law.” (Emphasis Added).

Based on 23-0303(2), local municipalities cannot regulate, limit, or ban oil and natural gas production activities; to do so would be to violate the Constitutional authority granted to local municipalities and the pre-emption doctine that exists in New York law.The Legislature initially left 2 areas open to local regulation: road use and taxation. However, taxation was later delegated to the New York State Department of Taxation and Fianince through the Office of Real Property Tax Services. Section 594 of the New York State Real Property Tax Law specifically supersedes local laws relating to the taxation of oil and gas within the State."

There is much more about this at:


Of course, Mr. Barth and Obie will not agree with this. They can find lawyers that will not agree and will, for a substantial fee, try to fight the laws as they exist. That is why there are lawyers, and why towns have trouble balancing budgets. Outsiders will offer all sorts of encouragement, but they do not pay your taxes. Open minded people that carefully read the above link can form their own opinions, much to the consternation of this paper, Obie, and Mr. Barth.

It is also worth noting

that more material relating to pro-drilling is available. The person that emailed this link to TheNatural says there is much more information available and will be more than pleased to share it. Those for safe drilling must band together. Obstructionists certainly have. If there is more interest shown, information will shared.

It is also worth noting

that there is no such thing as "safe" high volume, slick water, multi-stage hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling into shale, especially as the process is still being practiced, and especially with the current lack of adequate regulations, and laws, and the insufficient enforcement of even those inadequate regulations, and laws, prior to accident, spill, blowout etc.

Most of the current law was written in 1984, and it is a thoroughly inadequate protection against this industry. We are not protected by enforcement after the blowout, after the spill. Someone is fined, but the damage is done.

Here is an unofficial "body" count of individual household water wells that have been contaminated due to this drilling process, gathered by "boots" on the ground in Tioga, Bradford, Potter, and Susquehanna Counties (thus far I have no "unofficial" figures for western PA Counties).

I just checked the number of Marcellus wells drilled in those four counties from January, 2009, through May, 2011. There have been 1,388. The "unofficial" count of contaminated water wells is approximately 255. That averages to about one household water well contaminated for every 5.44 Marcellus shale gas wells drilled.

One would think that PA DEP would get off its BU TT, and actually perform a real, official investigation into the number of private household water wells that have been contaminated, but then who thinks PA DEP is competent when it comes to the "P" in its name?

Just the same people who think that this drilling is "safe".

And I might add that

The figures on the wells drilled to household water contaminations gets even more astonishing if you consider how few of those Marcellus wells that have been drilled are actually in "production".

The figure I have for Bradford county, for example, shows that about 500 wells have been drilled, but only 75 are "producing" at this point. The figure I have for contaminated household water wells is 91.

If that figure is accurate, then for every Marcellus Shale gas well that is in production, there are 1.21 household water wells contaminated.

The figures are absolutely damning. Where is PA DEP? Where are our legislators? Where is the Governor? Where is TheNatural, the proponent of "safe drilling"?

It is always entertaining when

Mr. Barth uses his math skills for the rest of us. Why would anyone doubt his figures?

cite a source

please James Barth, so that these clowns can't continue their denial.

This is some interesting new dementia we have here- now the "drill baby drill" idiots think we'll believe that they are proponents of something called "safe drilling"? By definition, opposition to even gathering data and evealuating the safety of these drilling methods is NOT support of "safe drilling".

Denial is a strategy

Nothing will change their constant repetition of the most outrageous lies. Their denial of reality is right out of Ronald Reagan's early 1980's playbook, called, plausible deniability. Or, as the Bush Administration took it to a new level, "we are an empire, and empires create their own reality".

The information is out there in lawsuits, and news reports. Where it is not, is in the PA DEP statistics and records, because, PA DEP does not record anything, or investigate anything, unless the affected landowner ask the agency to do it, or, if a newsworthy accident, blowout, spill occurs, or youtube posts methane bubbling up in the Susquehanna.

The source is a member of Damascus Citizens, who has been painstakingly involved, at his own expense, since mid 2008, with the contamination events, and lawsuits, in the four counties I mentioned, as well as western PA.

This will all come out in time. In the meanwhile, make your own lists, and demand that the PA DEP get off its butt and take care of business. PA DEP should be doing this, not grass roots, unpaid, volunteers taking up a lot of our time.

Everyone needs to get involved in a real way. Blogging is not an answer.

That's a source?

Afraid not, Jimbo! And thanks for asking, Obie! You two make a perfect set. Mr. Barth does his math and Obie says it sounds right to him. Fear is the message you are presenting and it has grown old. The future holds gas drilling in Wayne and Delaware Counties and life will be good!

The truth according to hick and natural



















It's a good thing most people aren't like these two!

Obie utilizes the obstructionists' method of

insult, insult, insult, hoping that it will distract everyone from their obvious lack of science and truth. Has everyone seen the story on Crystal Stroud? She was the woman that spoke at the anti-drilling rally featuring Liar Fox and his minions in Harrisburg. She has drilling in her area and barium and other undesirable things in her system. Fox claims it is science when you find an ill person and there is natural gas drilling in the area to state without doubt that drilling caused the illness. Yes, he calls that science. He has no idea how controls must be used in science. It turns out that the DEP has determined that gas drilling did not cause this woman's health problems. Bad news for Mr. Barth, his voodoo math, and Obie and his rabid Fox support. (Yes, that was a pun!) Read this link and then work on your DE-NILE, and thanks for making this fun!


Only a River Reporter blog that allows anonymity...

would provide a forum for such a low life, coward, who, while complaining of the "insults" hurled at him, continually refers to Mr. Josh Fox, a real person who has put his name, and reputation, on the line, and has garnered an Oscar nomination for best documentary, as "liar Fox", or to continue to refer to my work, put forth under my real name, as "voodoo math", without any substantiation whatsoever.

Is the River Reporter online comment section here to provide this type of "fun", to the likes of such, cowards?

Isn't it well past time for our fabulous editors, and publisher, of The River Reporter, to make an attempt to live up to higher standards?

If the standards were any higher,

we would both be gone. You praise Fox, but he was not telling the truth about the amount he was offered for a gas lease for his father's property. What do we call a guy that makes stuff up? What do we call math that is not accurate, logical, or even close? The pathetic effort to determine 115% of a number for the FHA formula told the entire story. That was voodoo math. Try to have the numbers checked by someone that understands them before you blunder into a discussion. It will prevent a lot of embarrassment. Trying to eliminate opposing opinions? Good strategy.

Oh boy....

here we go again with the gas clowns demanding "science" and 'math" when never once, in any of their long list of comments here, have they used one bit of scientific evidence to support their claims. Apparently if it's good enough for CHesapeake's marketing and PR suits, it's good enough for them.

The fact is, they just don't like the facts. They label others "onstructionists" when the only obstruction going on is their attempts to cover up and cloud the truth, or try in vain to keep the truth from being found.

Take a good look at yourselves before you ever again utter the word "obstructionist". Be honest with yourselves. If it weren't for your perceived monetary benefits, you'd be saying at least mostly the same things we are.

Oh, and by the way, check YOUR math. There was not one insult in my last post! You do deny the truth and do only care about your money- those are just facts, don't shoot the messenger.

Is that the same messenger that

wants to tell us there is only a little gas being produced in Pa?