Final NY DEC Hearing in NYC – Surreal

surrealYesterday was an interesting experience for MDN editor Jim Willis, sitting in the NY Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) hearing in New York City. The hearing was the last to be convened by the DEC to accept public comments on new draft drilling regulations proposed by the DEC that will allow high volume hydraulic fracturing to commence in New York State (ie allow shale gas drilling).

The crowd at the TriBeCa Theater in lower Manhattan was almost all anti-drilling—the vast majority were from New York City, were Democrat, and were boisterously loud against fracking. They believe it cannot and should not (indeed will not) ever be allowed in New York State. As Josh Fox, creator of the Gasland movie said during his comments, he believes talking about “how” drilling can be done safely is the wrong premise. He believes the argument should be about “whether it is done at all”. And many echoed his sentiment.

The big news of the day was not the parade of people effusing their emotions into the microphone. The big news was at the very beginning of the program. A DEC official announced that DEC Commissioner Joe Martens has decided to extend the public comment period, the period when people can send in written comments to the DEC, from Dec 12, 2011 until Jan 11, 2012. That’s certainly a blow to landowners and yet more evidence for MDN’s theory that Martens is anti-drilling and is trying to play this out as long as he can in hopes that opposition to drilling becomes so strong that drilling will not happen.

During the entire 3+ hour hearing from 1-4 pm, MDN tweeted various bits of news and comments as the speakers made their comments to DEC officials. For those who don’t use Twitter, a “tweet” is a short message, less than 140 characters, sent out via the Twitter service for others to read. The entire stream of messages from MDN is included below in the order in which they were tweeted.

There is just no polite way to say this: Many of the comments and the crowd’s reaction to those comments entered the realm of whacky, as you will see from the tweets below. And rude. The hearing had a surreal quality.

MDN will post more on the event on Friday after culling through notes and recovering from the trip! In the meantime, here is the raw stream from Twitter:

MDN Twitter Stream from NYC DEC Hearing

  1. Sitting in TriBeCa theater waiting for DEC hearing to begin
  2. Snatch of overheard conversation: So what does DEC and SGEIS stand for?
  3. Almost time to begin but theater that seats 1000 is maybe half full
  4. Stop press: Joe Martens has unilaterally extended SGEIS comment period from Dec 12 to Jan 11
  5. Room now mostly full now that testimony has started
  6. First 3 speakers were NYS state senators from NYC area, not surprisingly all against drilling
  7. State Senator from 29th district bumbled thru his comments at end said he wants criminal penalties for frack fluid releases
  8. No doubt this crowd is largely anti – all speakers so far have been against
  9. Even though he arrived well after others Josh Fox gets to speak 2nd now that non-officials are commenting, so much for fairness
  10. About 15 speakers in our first pro speaker – keeps getting interrupted and shouted down by very rude antis
  11. After the sole (so far) pro speaker, cat calls, boos, people shouting liar, in short, very hostile – so much for free speech
  12. Anti just said if Gov Cuomo goes forward w fracking he is psychopathic and should be removed from office by "all possible means"
  13. After 6-7 non-official speakers, still only the one pro speaker – hearing is very one sided
  14. Have not yet heard a single speaker address the language or concepts in the SGEIS which is what the hearing is for
  15. Dave Publo is leading a public recitation with several hundred reading along – scary, like a mob in here, zealotry
  16. Most of the comments are heavily emotional, things like fracking is a civil rights and human rights issue
  17. More like a revival meeting than a public hearing
  18. Wow! After 30 some speakers, finally a speaker addressing the SGEIS, anti, but at least on topic
  19. Speaker wants jail time for frackers – audience members waving hands in support of that statement
  20. Speaker reciting list of fracking chemicals/hazards – wonder if she knows those same chemicals are under her sink @home?
  21. Latest speaker knows lots of neighbors "who have lost their lives" from fracking, but she lives in NY where there is none yet
  22. Attorney who is anti – "we’re going to be in your face" to oppose fracking
  23. 2 hours in and out of maybe 35-40 speakers still only one pro speaker so far
  24. Speaker says the time for wind and solar is now
  25. Freak show alert: guy singing song about sweet water – lord save me!
  26. Speaker says she can’t swim in PA lakes anymore b/c of pollution from fracking & other sources – I’m not making this up!
  27. Speaker says fracking would make upstate "smell like Newark" – ouch
  28. Audience members shouting that frackers are murderers – such a tolerant bunch here 2day
  29. Mark Rufalo is now speaking against fracking, asks why we don’t go after renewable energy instead of fracking
  30. Mark Rufalo – we want renewable energy now and we will fight for it (loud applause)
  31. Speaker says its criminal to endanger the resource of water
  32. Sierra Club rep wants fracking to be criminalized
  33. Sierra Club rep says energy independence is a Trojan horse – she’s gone over time can’t shut her up
  34. Fracking is "murder for profit plain and simple" according to latest speaker
  35. All speakers so far who have referenced their political party have been Democrat – safe bet this anti crowd is 99% dem
  36. Home stretch now, antis seem to be losing energy with no further pro people to bash
  37. Speaker led off saying she’s a mother & grandmother & her kids/grand kids live in Philly, audience member shouted "oh god"
  38. Final speaker, another freak show alert – older man with maps trying to make a point about value of human life
  39. Sorry, last speaker now on and he’s pro!! Crowd is grumbling, some laughter, shouting of liar, more bad manners on display
  • Anonymous

    It was clear to me last night after  a few crazy speakers , the meeting was a farce so I left. The arbitrary move of the end of public comment to Jan 11th was a shock. Trying hard to look for a silver lining , the delay to the end of  public comment period will probably not have an overall effect because the recommendations from other state agencies are also delayed.

  • Anonymous

    Same with Binghamton, exdent11, but as you can see Martens is using every available tool to delay the process from moving forward. The comment period was as Jim said above on line #14 to enhance the SGEIS. Not the Anti antics show. Remember what I have said in previous comments, Martens is a WOLF in sheep’s clothing, he is placating the pro’s and has a back door plan to make sure drilling does not come to NY. He is an Anti make no bones about it. Landowner groups and landowners must start the legal process or all will be lost.Then we must vote these jokers out of office.

  • Re Tweet No. 9:  Josh Fox was there for a press conference held more than an hour prior to the hearing, so probably got an “early” number the way everyone else did — by standing on line. The fact that he may have entered the room after the hearing was underway simply means he was busy elsewhere.  Let’s not see conspiracies where there are none! 

  • Re Tweet No. 25:  At least he sang in tune! 

  • Pingback: Further Reflections on the Nov 30 NYC DEC Hearings | Marcellus Drilling News()

  • Patently false. I was there. There were at least 50 people in line, getting speaker cards as they were handed out, AHEAD of Josh Fox. Sorry, you can peddle this somewhere else. I tell the truth on this blog site.

  • It was a freak show, plain and simple.

  • Anonymous

    Leave the New York crowd in economic turmoil chanting in front of their windmills!!! The landowners and everyone else who would benefit from the industry should’ve showed support. We’ll continue to prosper in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and much of Ohio while we power North America!!! 

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  • Anonymous

    Martens extending the comment period can also be taken as the Albany crowd throwing a bone to these misinformed people.  After all, they vote, and the state government has to at least pretend to take their crazy comments seriously.

    New York will drill when the dust settles.  All of this delay is strictly pandering to the left.

  • Pingback: MDN Weekly Update – Dec 4, 2011: Should Renewable Energy be Required? |

  • I’ll back you up on this one Jim – I was at a similar event in PA, the DOE hearing south of Pittsburgh.  I was there very early, within the first 10 people and I saw his name written down by someone else.  A group had brought some folks to sign up and hand off their speaking spots.  Take it for what you will, but pissed me off that I left work early to guarantee a speaking spot.

  • Indeed, irritating that those of us who take time off to attend are moved down the list by a very well organized anti effort. And it puts the lie to their claims that they’re the “little people” in all of this. Quite the opposite. A small but organized group is trying to force their opinion on everyone else, and when it doesn’t happen via free and open debate, they resort to thuggish and intimidating behavior at these meetings.

  • Anonymous

    I disagree Roskybosky, Martens is an Anti.He will do whatever is in his power to stall,extend deadlines and abolish drilling in NY. We must vote them out of office when election time comes around. The Anti’s put on quite a show in the last few weeks, the Pro’s must come out as well.The only way to win this is the vote. The gas companies must also come out financially to help the landowners ( leasing and show of support)) in unison and file a lawsuit, to ensure landowners rights are enforced and that free enterprise reigns. This will take lots of money( which landowners do not have)and may take years for that dust to settle, but ultimately landowners will win. These are desperate times in NY, we must take action.

  • NEPAgal

    I will second the post by Area Man – I was at the DOE as well and that is exactly what happened.

    I will further add in Binghamton that another drilling supporter and I stood in line for over three hours to get our spots and should have been around the 14th or 15th after the politicians got their turns.  When the doors opened, Sautners and other anti-drill speakers who had arrived well after us dodged in with others – we wound up with the 34th and 36th in line.  A number of people who had waited in line with us for those 3+ hours were denied the right to speak because of the rudeness of those who have been led to believe they are special.

  • West Virginia is NOT “prospering” despite those 3,000 frack drilling permits that our WV Department of Environmental Prostitution has handed out to the industry over the last decade.

    As a matter of fact, in Wetzel County where drilling is going full tilt we’ve suffered the worst unemployment problem of any in the entire state! There the unemployment rate has soared to 11.9 percent while they drill as furiously as possible before WV passes decent regulations.

    Meanwhile industry contractors are looking for property to establish “work camps” where they can house the large numbers of imported Mexican workers during this brief phase of gas field development, which, according to the most recent USGS estimate will be around 20 percent of that which was originally predicted.


  • Anonymous

    Well I’ve just leased 60 acres for a project headquarters in Fairmont, WV. We’ll have a union workforce of 600+ going full swing by April. Union agreement states 50% company hired, 50% local hired!! We do background and identification checks on all workers, NO ILLEGALS!!! We’ve also got another substantial project in the Moundsville area as well. Sounds prosperous to me… 

    Be productive, go stand in front of a windmill when you talk……