The Rank Hypocrisy of ‘American Rivers’ on the Marcellus Shale Drilling Issue

You would have to be blind to have missed the recent announcement from American Rivers, a so-called conservation organization, that the Delaware River is this year’s #1 most threatened river from sea to shining sea in the good ole US of A. The announcement was picked up, according to Google, by no less than 349 news outlets and repeated, almost verbatim, from the American Rivers press release. Here’s how their press release of June 2 beings:

The Upper Delaware River, the drinking water source for 17 million people across New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania is at risk from shale fracking for natural gas, a process that poisons groundwater and creates toxic pollution. This threat landed the Upper Delaware in the number one spot in America’s Most Endangered Rivers: 2010 edition.

“Unless we stop the threat of rampant shale fracking, the drinking water for 17 million people across the Northeast will be threatened by toxic pollution,” said Rebecca Wodder, president of American Rivers. “We can’t let natural gas companies fatten their profits by putting our precious clean water at risk.”*

Frankly, the press release is shot full of lies and the same tired scare tactics that anti-drillers find so effective: Drilling will poison your drinking water. Problem is, it doesn’t. But let’s not let the truth get in the way of a good press release! There is not one documented case of chemicals used in drilling a gas well poisoning ground water supplies across hundreds of thousands of hydraulically fractured wells. What is so mind-boggling is that one organization can create a press release airing nothing more than an opinion, and it gets picked up and run as “news” of an imminent threat across the entire country by the likes of Associated Press and CNN, repeated and amplified, until the general population believes the headline. The headline says the Delaware River is threatened—indeed the “most threatened” river in the entire country for 2010. Why? Because American Rivers doesn’t like gas drilling. It’s all manufactured news. In fact, it’s not really news at all.

American Rivers is utterly hypocritical in identifying the Delaware River as “threatened.” To wit, in 2005, American Rivers named the Susquehanna River as the #1 most endangered river in the USA. This year? The mighty Susquehanna isn’t on the list at all. Here’s the thing—Marcellus gas drilling hasn’t even happened yet in the Delaware River basin. The Delaware River Basin Commission has not approved a single drilling permit anywhere in the watershed, even though plenty have been submitted. But there’s lots of Marcellus gas drilling going on in the Susquehanna River basin right now! So if gas drilling would be so dreadfully disastrous for the Delaware basin and the millions who get their drinking water from it, why isn’t it equally disastrous for the Susquehanna basin and the millions who get their drinking water from it? I’ll tell you why: Because gas drilling doesn’t pollute groundwater supplies of any kind—including rivers—and if American Rivers mentioned the Susquehanna (where drilling already exists) on this year’s list alongside the Delaware, it might raise some uncomfortable questions for them.

So what’s really going on here? The people at the top of these so-called “environmental” organizations are trying to manipulate public opinion and stop drilling dead in its tracks. Also from the American Rivers press release:

American Rivers called on the Delaware River Basin Commission to ban any shale fracking in the Upper Delaware watershed until a thorough study of impacts is completed and the pollution potential of shale fracking is fully documented and assessed.*

Now we see the real agenda. Stop drilling, and if you can’t stop it, slow it down any way you can. There’s isn’t any evidence that natural gas drilling pollutes water supplies because such evidence does not exist. So instead, manufacture a scare with headlines in hopes you can buy time to figure out a way to get Congress to kill gas drilling for good.

I can only speculate why anyone would not want cheaper, cleaner energy supplies that benefit everyone, but my guess is that the people running organizations like American Rivers have become so caught up in their philosophy of anti-fossil fuels of any kind, they’re willing to deny their fellow Americans the benefits of cheaper, cleaner energy because they (the self-proclaimed enlightened ones) think we (the great unwashed) should all be driving golf carts for cars and getting energy from wind mills. No thanks. Renewable energy is a part of our future, but it’s not a meaningful and substantial part of our present—and organizations like American Rivers just don’t get that. Don’t fall for their cynical manipulations.

*American Rivers Press Release (June 2) – Upper Delaware Named America’s Most Endangered River

New President and Board Members for Central New York Landowner’s Coalition

MDN received the following email noting changes in the leadership of the Central New York Landowner’s Coalition:

Transition In The Leadership of the Central New York Landowner’s Coalition
Bringing you up-to-speed on these recent developments.
June 3, 2010

Just two weeks ago, a special meeting was held at the office of Levene, Gouldin and Thompson, our coalition’s legal representation. Present at the meeting were our attorney, steering committee members (Todd Barnes, Charlie Rowe, Hank Tumilowicz, Kern Walling, Abbie Tamber and Brian Conover) along with some of the more active members of our landowner forum. After discussing specific ways to help our coalition become stronger, the committee voted on certain leadership changes that you need to be aware of.

After 2 years of sacrificial and loyal service, Richard Lasky, our coalition president stepped aside from his position. His farewell note follows this notice.  Richard is known for investing his personal time, finances and talents to grow the coalition from the ground up to where it is today. This coalition would not be all it is without his leadership, dedication and sacrifice. Following the acknowledgment of this decision, the steering committee nominated and voted Brian Conover as our current president. Brian has served with Richard and the steering committee for the past two years.

After much positive discussion between the forum members and the steering committee, the steering committee members present saw an opportunity for the forum individuals to rise to the occasion and give of their energy and perspective to help advance the coalition. The greatest tasks of the coalition have already been accomplished: our lease is completed, our members and community have been educated, our coalition has grown to the largest coalition in New York State, and our hard-working committee members receive credit along with Mr. Lasky for these accomplishments. However, recognizing the future needs of the coalition to grow our political voice and continue to fill in our coalition acreage, the steering committee encouraged these individuals to fill their positions and continue the purposes to which they dedicated over two years of their life advancing. The landowner forum representatives then formed an advisory committee that worked in coordination with our attorneys and Brian Conover to give immediate direction and helped establish a new formal steering committee. The new steering committee members are … Steve Gage, Chris Babcock, Lee Schultz, Scott Utter, Sean Campbell along with Wilma Gorrell and Brian Conover from the previous committee.  Additional committee members will be added in the future as representatives for various areas of the coalition range.

Please know that our commitments to the landowners of this coalition are unchanged. We do appreciate your loyalty to the coalition purposes as well as your understanding through this transition. Another newsletter update will be arriving in the near future announcing the JLC Albany rally on June 9th and also promoting our coalition values and direction for the future.

Grateful for all that has been done – excited about our future,

Brian Conover

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Farewell Note From Richard Lasky

Two years ago, a small group of committed landowners assembled in my living room to contemplate a growing crisis: landmen were combing our hills and valleys and leasing land from folks who had no idea of the issues surrounding natural gas, or how to effectively form a business partnership with an energy company. Destitute farmers and elderly people were gleefully signing over their mineral rights without understanding how to ask for protections for land, air and water and for pennies and dollars per acre. As we sat and faced the music – we knew we had a choice: bury our heads in the sand and let the events unfold – or spring into action and create an educational outreach program to make formidable partners of landowners around the central and southern parts of NY who could face energy companies with knowledge, fortitude, and power. Many times in my life I have recalled the words of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, a German playwright and poet who said, “What is my life if I am no longer useful to others.”

That sentiment in mind, two years later, it is clear which path we struck. Today, I am proud to have presided over the Central NY Landowners Coalition (CNY) which has grown to almost 170,000 acres of land, comprising the largest regional coalition in the state.  To the members of CNY, I pledged to make sure that people who did not know how to protect themselves could be given all the information they needed so that they could make the right choice about leasing their land.

It has been my passion to bring hope to this area; hope that we can rise above the economic challenges of our day, hope that we can protect our environment and way of life through this drilling endeavor and hope that the future of our great state will, one day, exceed anything in its glorious past. Although I leave behind my term as president of the Central NY Landowners Coalition, that hope in me yet lives on. I thank you for your work, for your support but mostly for your friendship. I wish you all Godspeed.

Richard Lasky