Sunday, September 29, 2013

Tom Stepstone's Excellent Message about Farming in the Southern Tier

Natural Gas Development Saves the Farm Posted on September 29, 2013 by Tom Shepstone Open Space - Tom Shepstone ReviewsTom Shepstone Shepstone Management Company, Inc. One of the most disingenuous arguments of the natural gas opposition is that development constitutes industrialization. It preserves open space by giving farmers and landowners a means of sustaining it. Nothing will do more to save the farm and preserve open space than natural gas drilling. It is the single most effective tool available for protecting the rural character valued by all who live here, because it rewards landowners for holding onto property and gives them the means to do so. All the government programs combined will not protect as much farm land as natural gas. Vacant farm land in upstate New York typically generates an annual real property tax bill of $6-8 per acre, meaning that just holding onto 150 acres of farm fields costs about $900-1,200 year in taxes before considering taxes on improvements, insurance and other operating costs or the opportunity costs involved, all of which can be considerable. Indeed, a 2011 Cornell study of 190 New York dairy farms found they paid an average of over $30,000 each per year in real property taxes. The same Cornell study found farmers with less than 110 cows had negative labor and management income for three of the last five years and they earned nothing on their equity, indicating the old saying – “the quickest way for a farmer to become a millionaire is to start with $2 million” – is, sadly, all too true. It is ever more difficult for our farmers to stay on the farm and unless they find additional ways to produce income from that farm, it will inevitably disappear, despite whatever heroic efforts we make to save it with this or that program. Ag assessments, conservation easements and agricultural zoning don’t help when you still have to pay to farm. Natural gas is the obvious answer, not only because it offers tremendous income potential but also due to its incredibly small footprint and compatibility with agriculture. The newest approaches to shale gas development provide for units as large as 1,280 acres (two square miles) with all wells for each unit being drilled on a single pad of five to six acres in size. Even after allowing for an access road of three-fourths mile in length to reach the pad, this amounts to total land disturbance of but eight acres, or six-tenths of one percent of the land. Putting this in perspective, a typical home on a three-acre lot will, with driveway and lawn included, disturb a minimum of 5-10% of the land. A commercial or industrial enterprise will often cover more than 50% and is seldom allowed less than that by zoning. Nothing has so little impact on the land we treasure as a finished gas well. You can drive through the beautiful Finger Lakes region and numerous other farming areas and see them everywhere in the middle of farm fields. Anyone serious about farmland and open space protection understands this source of additional income is critical to the effort. Natural gas will save the farm – it’s that simple

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Jeff's OP-ED Hits it out of The Park

To the editor: I had stopped reading Mr. Mantius a long time ago. His articles are so lacking in the truth element that I felt it wasn't worth getting "cranked up" about them. However, some of my "friends" felt "someone" should respond to his 9/4 article. I had to run down to The Ranch to get a paper - the suburbs of Bradford being too far out for carrier delivery. When I saw the size of the print over his article, by far the boldest I have seen in over fifty years of reading editorials, I knew this one was going to be "good". "... energy industry bent on setting its own rules." That's interesting - I thought all those regulations were finalized by legislatures or environmental departments. Who would have known! "... we can expect an array of deep pockets to submit novel, sophisticated new rationales for why the state's home rule principle needs to be dumped to serve the gas drillers." Besides the valid interest of the drillers there is the "minor" issue of property rights. More specifically, the mineral rights of all the landowners in the state. I recently read "The Founding Conservatives" and was reminded, once again, of how important property rights were to our founders - both the "Radicals" and the "Conservatives" of the day. (See also "The Federalist Papers" if you have any doubts on the importance of property rights.) When a town passes a total ban on gas drilling they are taking away the mineral rights of all the landowners, and probably more important, the rights of landowners well beyond their town. All the other states, and New York up to now, realize the gas industry cannot function in an area that is divided into areas that do, and areas that do not, support gas drilling. I'm fairly sure that this is EXACTLY what Mr. Mantius and his allies want! "Could the DEC possibly make it any more clear that accommodating industry is a higher priority than concerning the environment?" Well, let's see. New York is preceded in allowing hydrofracing by only about thirty states (thirty one if you count California and Illinois). I'm not sure I see the validity of Mr. Mantius's point if we are the last state to allow the process, and the only state sitting on top of a significant shale play not allowing it. For some of us that is proof of the exact opposite - that New York is overly concerned about the "environment". Actually we all like to think we are concerned about the environment - it's just that some of us are more realistic, or honest, than others. For the environmentalists, in the words of one of their heroes - Josh Fox - "the truth is irrelevant". You've got to love that concept! Oops - I forgot, they do! Let's face it - this is totally a political issue in New York. The history, the valid science, the honest experiences of all the other states ( even with the surface accidents - to be expected) lead all of them to continue to allow drilling. New York just missed the train - all the jobs and revenue benefits have gone elsewhere. What a sad day for New York! The track we're on now will someday let us say "Detroit was first!" The lack of support for drilling (the strength of the environmentalist lobby) is only one part of this - but it is a significant part. Drilling was really by far the most realistic hope for the Southern Tier for economic revival - period! We need to thank Mr. Mantius and all his allies for what they have done for (or is it "to") our area. Jeff Heller

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Good News for Dominion and the Country

Dominion gets approval for Maryland facility to liquefy natural gas September 11, 2013 1:56 pm By Anya Litvak / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette The federal Department of Energy cleared Dominion's liquefied natural gas terminal project at Cove Point in Maryland. The facility will be allowed to convert natural gas, much of it coming from the Marcellus and Utica shales by pipeline, into a liquid that can be loaded on ships and transported abroad. This is the third export terminal to be approved by the DOE this year, and only the fourth since 2009 when companies, spurred by shale gas production estimates, began to petition the government to turn import terminals into export ones. The DOE said it reviewed 200,000 comments for Dominion's application and found that Cove Point was in the public interest and was "likely to yield net economic benefits to the United States." The approval allows Dominion to export 0.77 billion cubic feet of gas per day for 20 years. Read more:

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Running from Big Lies Is No Way to Lead, Gov. Cuomo

Posted on September 2, 2013 by Natural Gas Now Guest Blogger BryantBryant La Tourette Chenango County, New York Businessman and Landowner Governor Andrew Cuomo has surrendered New York State’s future out of fear of big fracking lies being told by a combination of amateur and professional propagandists, demonstrating he’s a leader unwilling to lead. Not even Snake Plisskin could save our governor today. He’s an incurable appeaser. And, he’s running scared of big fracking lies; sacrificing our pride, our land, our youth, our spirit and the greatest economic opportunity New York State ever had in a foolish attempt to appease the unappeasable, which is no way to lead. Real leaders confront liars with unequivocal truths the same way Winston Churchill, against all odds, and the popular will for many years, confronted a false ideology that had consumed nearly all of Europe when he was finally given the reins of government in a last ditch attempt to save what appeared to be a lost cause. He rallied Western Civilization with old-fashioned truth combined with an eloquence we seldom hear today. Cuomo - FenceRiderUnfortunately, no such leadership or eloquence has come from Governor Cuomo. He has stood by, balancing himself on a fence trying to not make enemies; apparently hoping to appease radicals by throwing out occasional inane comments about kids falling down wells, comments that only illustrate his ignorance. He has stood by as the Gasland flaming faucet turned heads even though his Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has undoubtedly told him the truth – that this is common and has nothing to do with fracking. He has stood by as a Rockefeller funded group helped finance a collection of big lies called The Flowback, telling his DEC personnel to keep their mouths zipped at all times. He has stood by as the untested brown jug has been hauled around Albany, as if that was evidence of anything. He has allowed the big lies to take hold as he has stood by trying hard to do nothing, as if that was leadership. Meanwhile, the likes of Yoko Ono have filled the leadership vacuum. They exploited the Manning family in Franklin Forks, for example, until Pennsylvania officials confirmed what the gas company said all along – that their problem had zero to with fracking. Weak towns have fallen prey to moratorium groups using their non-profit charity classifications to unethically lobby local officials. Vocal groups of second-home owners and elitists have anointed themselves as “visionaries” while doing everything they can to divide communities. Corruption has taken hold in the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) as Cuomo’s do nothing position has allowed others to manipulate the agency. Public servants at DRBC, DEC and the Department of Health are being sacrificed on the altar of political correctness. Unchallenged propaganda is robbing New York of one of its greatest economic opportunities ever and leaving behind a trail of collateral damage that will remain when Cuomo is gone. Some people have fallen “hook, line and sinker” for the big lies. Others have thought it was just another fear campaign. Many have believed, given enough time, the truth would come out. The past six years has, to many, seemed to be a race to win the minds of people by way of information vs. propaganda as one side has tried to win people over with facts while the others has relied on emotion and the big lies. What better place, after all, to employ such a tactic and talent but in quaint honest areas where handshakes are stronger than any written contract; where respect is not earned but given until respect is lost? PropagandaWe can look back to our youth to understand the basics of getting attention. Buy a bag of candy, take it on the school bus or playground and all will be your friends until the candy runs out. It is human nature to want attention and, for some, attention is an addiction. Unfortunately for them, the same candy eventually gets old and the attention goes away but many fall for the gimmick in the meantime. The relentlessly negative, attention seeking propagandist knows this and realizes what works in one town (or on one cause) will work in others when the welcome mat is withdrawn. He (or she) simply moves onto the next town or the next cause and starts again, preying on new people with a new cause and new propaganda built around a new slogan or catch phrase. It is all in the slogans and catch phrases, in fact. Invent a word and attach anything you want to it. If you want even more success, alter a word to capture another meaning and capture the world with big lies. Those who have real talent for this sort of thing, instead of having to move onto the next town, become sought after practitioners for political campaigns and utopian social engineering. Some even graduate into dictators to pursue their dreams of reprogramming populations, living by the theory that if you repeat a lie often enough, people will believe it, and you will even come to believe it yourself. It’s the big lie principle articulated by Adolph Hitler. I hate to interject a reference to someone so incomparably evil, on the risk that it might diminish the horror of his later acts. I also don’t want to draw comparisons between him and anyone else and won’t. Unfortunately, however, his early writing explains, all too clearly, so much of what happens with propaganda issuing from all hardcore activists, whatever the cause. Here is the relevant statement from Chapter X of the infamous Mein Kampf: …in the big lie there is always a certain force of credibility; because the broad masses of a nation are always more easily corrupted in the deeper strata of their emotional nature than consciously or voluntarily; and thus in the primitive simplicity of their minds they more readily fall victims to the big lie than the small lie, since they themselves often tell small lies in little matters but would be ashamed to resort to large-scale falsehoods. It would never come into their heads to fabricate colossal untruths, and they would not believe that others could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously. Even though the facts which prove this to be so may be brought clearly to their minds, they will still doubt and waver and will continue to think that there may be some other explanation. For the grossly impudent lie always leaves traces behind it, even after it has been nailed down, a fact which is known to all expert liars in this world and to all who conspire together in the art of lying. Cuomo’s lack of leadership has allowed both types of propagandists, the amateur as well as the pro, to dominate the fracking debate. Avoiding the decision has, as a consequence, made the decision that much more difficult for him. The biggest fracking lies have been exposed, but traces of the lies keep accumulating, making it harder and harder for him to do the right thing. A little leadership would have turned it all around long ago, but the governor can’t seem to muster it. He’s paralyzed by the thought his constituents will believe the big lies before they believe him, which pretty well sums it all up. Leadership to confront the propagandists of all stripes comes from within and now more than ever a true leader is needed. Cuomo, unfortunately, is no leader and no one, not even Snake Plisskin, can save him from his inevitable fate of being the leader who refused to lead. He might get re-elected as governor in a state as politically correct as New York, but a leader who won’t lead won’t get past the first caucus in the first Presidential primary contest