Tales of a Domestic Energy Advocate (Entry 001) April 27, 2011

 As I ponder how best to start this blog, I suppose it would be most logical to start from the beginning of the journey. Of course I didn’t think of it that way at first. All I wanted to do was correct a media article. But I get ahead of myself…

My husband and I relocated to NE Pennsylvania two years ago this July, both of us having for the most part been born and raised in Wyoming State, always in or around some sort of mining or drilling of. He broke out drilling the CBM fields of the Powder River Basin and then moved onto bigger and better rigs in the Piceance Basin in Colorado. After the field there died for a little while around Obama’s election he transferred to Pennsylvania. Knowing how difficult it was on our family even with his work being a simple day’s drive away, and considering the extra flight expenses, we made the difficult decision to leave our home.

The first year here wasn’t bad. In fact, despite all the trepidation I’d had about moving, I was completely in love with our new home. Our daughter was at the age we didn’t want to move her again, so we started looking for a home to purchase as we looked forward to being a part of our small community. While getting to know people at our new church, we got asked a lot of questions. It was evident as this play was ramping up the communication between O&G companies and the locals was sadly lacking. We did our best to answer questions the O&G companies should have been answering, but as the “new family in town”, you don’t immediately attain a circle of friends.

It was about nine months ago I discerned a change in attitude via the two local newspapers. While there had been little coverage regarding the industry in the year preceding, Letters to the Editor opposing the industry were finding their way into print, and the seedlings of misinformation were planted. The Dimock Jugheads were starting their rants and Gasland was released on HBO. One newspaper’s coverage, Wyalusing’s Rocket-Courier, was well-balanced, despite the LTEs, but one newspaper, the Wyoming County-Examiner, printed incomplete and mostly biased articles. Because of my questioning his bias, my Letters to the Editor must be written to exact rules if I want my letters to “see the light of day”. The Editor’s words not mine. Other authors don’t have to play by the rules, but pro-industry letters must. I know of at least one other author who has had these restrictions placed on him, which is sad because he has valuable information regarding the Dimock situation. How sad is it that you not only won’t cover the other side of drilling, but won’t allow the truth of a situation to be read in your newspaper? Same thing happens with nearest newspaper to Dimock, the Montrose Independent. Same editor and same policies, with the one difference being there is a definite lack of ANY drilling-related news, because Cabot's office is located there and many business and people have benefited from the drilling occurring in Susquehanna County.

Around this same time I became aware of the drilling moratorium in New York. Tons and tons of anti-drill organizations abound. If you want a stark contrast to the information being propagated by both sides, Google “fracking” versus hydraulic fracturing. Don’t forget to take a gander at NYRAD’s site, the front-runner of all anti-drilling organizations. Please note, opponents have successfully hijacked the original meaning of the word. One proud anti stated, they now use “fracking” to indicate every aspect of the gas extraction process from “the moment the landman knocks on the door until the last lawsuit is settled.” Part of this new re-education process includes cult-like meetings and appearances of people with concerns about our water. Their arguments are all basically the same – emotion driven, little or no fact. Because they HAVE fought a well-organized battle, forming a battle plan before the first round was fired, it caught many unaware. They have been very effective at appearing there are many, when in reality they are a vocal minority. Yet they capture so much of the media attention, it has made the middle ground pro-drillers feel they are the minority and makes them less likely to speak up or speak out. And when they do, they are quick to burn gas company supply sheds or damage pro-driller property with spray-painted swastikas and hate remarks.

Meetings are held by those with an agenda under the form of information forums. I have attended a handful of these meetings since January and unluckily, not enough pro-drillers come out to support the industry. Instead those who attend in search of information are subjected to speeches about how HF fluid will make its way up through the formations and all water will be contaminated. This is highlighted by cases in Dimock, Wyoming, and other places – high profile cases in which newspapers jumped the gun in blaming natural gas companies, but no follow-up given to clear their names when the actual causes were found to be something other than NG.

There’s more, but I will let it stand for that now. I stay busy in my self-imposed position of domestic energy advocate. In just the next three weeks I will be attending the showing of the film “Frack” in Montrose (tomorrow) with a following appearance by Dish Texas ex Mayor Tillman. “Frack” is apparently an even more poorly done imitation of “Gasland”. I have some questions I would like to ask, but am unsure I will be able to stay until that point. They may not even let me in the door. First, the Montrose Theater is owned by one of the Dimock litigant’s relatives, thus the venue’s willingness to show the film, second a suggested $5 donation is being asked – I myself am not willing to cough up more than 2 cents – to give them that much of my mind if I can stay.

Then I will be attending a showing of Gas Odyssey in Windsor next week and lending my support to a panel of pro-drilling speakers. This event is being held in one of the more contentious areas of New York, around the area of Otsego and home to a number of elite and wealthy who are trying to “kill the drill”, but that’s a whole other subject for another entry and much purely speculation on my part at this time. The week after that, I and the producers of Gas Odyssey are traveling all the way up to Albany for “Lobby Day” to address staffers. They walk, we talk if they ask questions. (I do NOT do speaking engagements!) At least some find my experiences valuable regarding many years of being involved with the field.

If you like, I will try to post something each week if there is enough interest. If you have any questions in the meanwhile, please feel free to ask.

Comment by Overshot on April 27, 2011 at 8:10pm Please keep us updated Sherry.
I know what you have encountered in the groups you have (tried) to address, an openly hostile, non-reasoning audience that does NOT want to engage in a reasonable and reasoned discussion.
Keep the faith sister, don't lose hope. Comment by Lesa R on May 16, 2011 at 9:09am

So far most of the people I have met who go around saying "No Fracking" cannot give me any explanation other than ,"Well it is soooo bad."

There was a forum on PBS a few months ago, and it upset my husband enough that he wrote the station and also told me that we would not be sending our pledge in this year. I really hate the media sometimes.

Comment by Amber Horn on May 19, 2011 at 7:53pm People fight that which they do not understand. If they really understood a well-drilled/cased/cemented/perfed and fraced well, perhaps they wouldn't be so hostile......then again, it seems our nation praises ignorance...Comment

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