'Fracking, again' and more

Letters to the editor February 11 to 17

Posted 2/10/21

Letters to the editor February 11 to 17

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'Fracking, again' and more

Letters to the editor February 11 to 17

Posted

Fracking, again

The notion that NEPA (Wayne County) would legalize hydraulic fracking in 2021 is as retro as it is without vision.

With GM going fully electric by 2035, Audi (Volkswagen) by 2030 and most carmakers turning to many battery-powered models in the immediate future, the upward demand for oil and gas, like coal before it, is mostly wishful thinking. Tesla, the groundbreaking electric car company, is now valued at $750 billion, about 10 times the value of GM. Ford, among its many electric models, will offer an all-electric mustang MachE, SUV. GM is offering for 2021 an electric Hummer, but all that were planned for construction this year were purchased on the first day they were offered.

As of February 1, oil is about $53/barrel (www.brentcrude.com). In 2019, it averaged $64 and in 2018, it was $71, according to the January 2020 EIA report. This long-term downward price trend has forced small oil and gas fracking companies to go belly up, as only the big companies can make money during serious downward price movements. And the creation of jobs that, arguably, once may have been real is now a thing of the past in many towns on shale fields all across our country. Reuters has reported that currently 160 billion barrels of oil are stored in tankers across the world; by far, the most ever.

So, why fracking for NEPA?

Mostly, certain ideologically driven politicians have decided that “property rights” and not the environment is the issue. By teaming up with the dark forces of mining and gas, opportunist politicians can pretend to defend the “little guy” against those “radical” environmentalists and coincidentally get lots of oil and gas lobbyist money, too. In reality, after any misguided ruling of what would likely be temporary efforts into fracking, with its generation of millions of gallons of toxic waste, poisonous drinking water, ruined rural roads and lost property values for entire communities, don’t expect any of these politician heroes to help us try to put the environment back together again. There is no campaign money for them in such work.

John Pace
Honesdale, PA

‘Massive tax increase’

PA Gov. Tom Wolf has proposed a massive personal income tax increase in his upcoming budget. For many years, the tax rate has been 3.07 percent.  The new proposed rate will be 4.49 percent, or an increase of over 46 percent.

A few years ago, many local municipalities put in place a 1 percent earned income tax (EIT). This effectively raised the income tax for working families by 32+ percent to 4.07 percent. This was bad enough.

Now, if the governor’s budget is passed, the total income tax for working families will become 5.49 percent, or 78+ percent more than just a few years ago.

How many of us have received 78+ percent more in wages and salary over the past few years?

We recommend that each of us contact our local state senator and representative to voice our strong opposition to any increase. Our state senator is Lisa Baker (lbaker@pasen.gov, 570/226-5960). Our state representative is Mike Peifer (570/226-5959). You may also contact them via their websites and/or Facebook pages.

At some point, local, state and federal officials, along with authorities that have rate-setting responsibilities, must recognize that money does not grow on trees for working families.

Allyson and Charlie Gillinder
Matamoras, PA

Overreach

The anger and dissension that have come to characterize meetings of the Sullivan County Legislature can be laid directly at the feet of freshman legislator Rob Doherty, who was elected chair just over a year ago. The problem is that Doherty doesn’t seem to understand his role in a legislative form of government like the one we have in Sullivan County. It’s a modest job. Simply put, the chair is supposed to help the body run smoothly. But Doherty acts as if he is a county executive. Time and again, he attempted to assume powers that are not granted to him under the county’s governing charter. Doherty’s inflated sense of his own importance was on full display on January 28:

  • Embedded in a package of new rules for the legislature was one that would have given him the absolute power to unseat every single chair of a legislative standing committee, generally referred to as subcommittees, and replace them with himself. His colleagues wisely rejected this unprecedented overreach. These 11 committees will continue to be chaired by the nine legislators.
  • Without a vote listed on the agenda and using a walk-in handout, Doherty attempted to force an immediate vote on leasing the county-owned care center. Several legislators expressed shock at this stealth move and the vote was tabled.
  • One of the most troubling actions Doherty has taken was to post a defamatory message about another legislator on the county website as a message from “Chairman Doherty.” In it, he made allegations that he cannot support because they are either based on confidential information that he could not have legally obtained, or because he simply made them up. (An attorney familiar with the matter publicly stated that his accusations aren’t supported by the sealed confidential record.) Should the legislator who was smeared by Doherty decide to sue, Sullivan County could be in jeopardy because its website was used to spread the story. By using his legislative chair title, Doherty implied that he was speaking for the county government as a whole.

Bruce Ferguson
Callicoon Center, NY

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