Tuesday, August 12, 2014
Yesterday, David Lee Miller of Fox News paid a visit to the farm. He interviewed Neil as part of a segment on the stark contrast between the ways that New York and Pennsylvania are taking advantage of Marcellus Shale via hydraulic fracturing. On his way, he taped some familiar sights in Addison, Woodhull, and Troupsburg. Also featured is Tom Santulli with some great input. I feel that as usual, Fox did a fantastic job with this story, and showing what we've been dealing with in our area. It's also nice to have a celebrity grandfather... Here's the address of the video: http://video.foxnews.com/v/3726607575001/pa-sees-fracking-boom-as-ny-remains-locked-in-legal-battle/?playlist_id=921261890001#sp=show-clips
"Suppose, five or ten years ago, you went to your doctor, who you believed in almost religiously, and he told you your cold was pneumonia and it would probably kill you shortly. Then, a few years later he told you your headaches were caused by a brain tumor that would kill you in less than a year. Then, two years later, he told you your stomach problems were colon cancer that would kill you in less than six months. If all these diagnoses and predictions were totally wrong, would you still believe in this great doctor ? Almost all of the "great" or famous environmentalist leaders have been just as wrong. Rachel Carson - 'we'll run out of food and fossil fuels before 1980'; Paul Ehrlich - 'we'll run out of food and fossil fuels before the end of the 80's'; Al Gore - 'we'll see the extermination of the polar bears' (5,000 in 1960, 25,000 in 2005 ); the internal combustion engine will not exist by 2000' ( he really hit that one ! ); 'sea levels will rise by 20 feet or more in the next 100 years' ( no semi-intelligent scientist believes that); " I invented the Internet" ( oops- different subject ). In the 1970's these environmentalists were certain we were entering a new Ice Age - see three cover stories in Time magazine. And, on and on they go, and where they'll stop nobody knows. ( Although we know a lot of them stopped in New York !) We live in an age where we know our air and water are constantly cleaner, but we believe they are getting dirtier. We believe the idiotic predictions of Carson and Ehrlich instead of listening to the much more valid science of Bjorn Lomborg. We listen to the likes of Al Gore and Josh Fox ( "the truth is irrelevant" ) instead of Robert Bryce or Ronald Bailey - both authors of thorough studies of the false claims of the environmentalists. Here on the more local level we know Pa. and Ohio are experiencing great benefits from the Marcellus and Utica Shales. But, we somehow believe that the same drilling will be "devastating" in New York. When we go down to Pa. we can see the jobs, the better roads, no water pollution, no dead cows, no "devastation", no dead children littering the roadsides. We see Lakeland School District with two gas wells on school property - netting $ 1.2 million in royalties so far. No dead students, just students with more educational opportunities than they had pre-wells. The overwhelming majority of the towns that have passed bans or moratoriums are located well north of the viable Marcellus Shale. We have to hope that the towns over the more viable shale play will continue to support gas drilling as they have in the past. They are closer to the benefits occurring in Pa. and Ohio. Many have friends in those states that are benefiting. Many of our farmers know Pa. farmers who "can now afford to stay in farming".Our towns that are located where the benefits are a real possibility are much more aware of their value. The towns to the north, where for now ( overlooking the potential of the Utica Shale ) drilling would not happen anyhow, can continue to make their political statements through bans and moratoriums. The towns to the south will continue to work to be on the receiving end of the benefits. And, those southern towns can help provide all the environmental benefits of natural gas that so many of the extremists continue to ignore - making those of us who favor gas the effective environmentalists. As more and more of our generating plants convert to natural gas our air is already cleaner. It's an 'inconvenient truth' that this is already happening, and happening on a scale that even the Kyoto believers could not have hoped for. The question for us is - will New York ever join the other 31 states that are already taking part in the "miracle". Or, are we going to keep going back to that "great" doctor ?"
Saturday, July 5, 2014
"As a landowner, and especially as the president of the Steuben County Land Owners Coalition, not responding to the Court of Appeals decision is not an option. Everyone, pro, anti, and in the middle, on gas drilling, has to understand this is a very, very, broad and complicated issue. ( In New York, not in 31 other states). Any full discussion would take many pages. So, I will try to make this as simple and as optimistic as I can for now. Let's put some lipstick on this pig. The court has ruled that each of our towns can decide whether or not their town will allow drilling. This has been a "big deal" for five or six years now. Ignoring all the negative effects the decision will have ( and they are many and huge!) on drilling in New York, lets look at the "good news" here. The towns that don't want the benefits that 31 states are experiencing, can simply say so - and it's done. BUT, the towns that do want some of those benefits can now have them - the court just said so! We need our illustrious governor to open the state to drilling first, but once he does that we may see some progress here in the Southern Tier. Karen Moreau (N.Y. State Petroleum Council Executive Director) made the following statement after the Court's ruling: "Hundreds of towns in the heart of …the Southern Tier, have repeatedly supported safe and responsible natural gas development and job creation. Our companies look forward to partnering with these communities, to ensure that uncertainty created by the court does not stand in the way of efforts to promote investment in New York." Walter Hang ( radical anti-gas drilling spokesman) had this to say: "Today's decision serves up the Southern Tier on a silver platter to allow shale gas development to begin." "… it allows it in the five counties along the Southern Tier where it is most likely to begin." So, depending on how Cuomo acts, we may finally see some positive motion here in the Southern Tier. In that sense, far from being a total negative for our people, this could be the biggest move forward we have seen since 2008. Lots and lots of problems remain, but this pig does look a little better with some lipstick."
Friday, June 13, 2014
"The environmental movement is actually made up of many separate philosophies concerning all our environmental problems - real and imagined. It is probably safe to say that the biggest single issue would center around the use of fossil fuels. Burning fossil fuels does result in the emission of "harmful" by products. The biggest single problem emission would be carbon dioxide (CO2). They will assure you that CO2 is absolutely an Earth destroying element. They will not remind you that CO2 is also the lifeblood of our planet. OOPS! Ask any plant if it would prefer less CO2 in the atmosphere and we cannot repeat, in polite society, what the plants would tell you to do with that suggestion. The environmentalists would have you believe that we can "eliminate" our use of fossil fuels. We need a little reality check on that one. In reality, that is totally impossible. Hydro power would be by far the most practical of the renewable resources, but with little hope for expansion because of environmental opposition! ( Having fished below power generating dams on the lower Susquehanna I can guarantee you that the fish view these plants as big mixer/blenders.) The next most popular choice would be wind power. So, let's have a little reality check on that one. Let's start with a fossil fuel plant that puts out 1000 megawatts. On average it would take a windmill farm covering 2000 square miles to produce 1000 megawatts. That electricity would cost a homeowner two to three times what the electricity from the fossil fuel plant would cost. And I almost hate to mention that with the price of natural gas so cheap (thanks to hydraulic fracturing) that difference will most likely increase. The windmill energy will also need a fossil fuel back up system for when the wind isn't cooperating. How many time have you seen windmills not turning ! The 1000 megawatts will supply roughly 100,000 homes with electricity. If you average 100,000 homes on 1/2 acre lots, those homes will cover 78 square miles. So, we need 2000 square miles of windmills to supply electricity for 78 square miles of homes - and we still need the fossil fuel plant for non windy days. It's a little embarrassing to point out that those windmill farms also have some disadvantages beyond the huge amount of land they require. They are very visual. They are prone to fatal bird strikes. They are noisy. They provide much more expensive electricity. And, did I mention they are very visual - in many cases easily from fifty miles away. California today is just as well known for its windmill "junkyards" as it is for its windmill farms. If by any chance your mind jumped over to solar instead of wind, you should know that ( another reality check ) the problems get much worse. We do need to continue R&D to find affordable and practical renewable energy sources. R&D ( mostly industry financed ) led to the development of hydraulic fracturing, which in turn has led to an absolute revolution in our energy situation as a nation. That revolution has destroyed the predictions of the environmentalist leaders. Rachel Carson, Paul Ehrlich, Al Gore, etc., now all reduced to buffalo chips ! But it will be R&D that will, if ever, develop a practical renewable fuel. It might even be that R&D will develop a totally clean way to burn coal. Maybe we shouldn't go there."
First and foremost, I would like to thank the SCLOC for allowing me the opportunity to run this blog. I also wish to thank my grandfather, Neil Vitale, for providing me with the knowledge necessary to do so, while he is keeping busy from sunrise to sunset on the farm. With that being said, I'm very excited about undertaking this project, and look forward to lending a hand to The Coalition in any way that I can. My interest in natural gas development in New York State began in the late summer of 2010, when I realized that if the drilling industry were to come into New York, particularly in Steuben County, I might not have to watch my neighbors lose their farms, and I might not have to leave my community in order to secure a decently paying career. I, along with my grandfather, began to write opinion editorials to the newspaper on the subject of hydraulic fracturing in the Marcellus Shale. Eventually, I found myself testifying at the DEC hearings in Dansville, and speaking at a large landowners rally in Albany. Running this blog is another small way in which I will continue to fight the good fight. My next post will feature an opinion editorial by Jeff Heller on the subject of "green energy". He takes the subject out of the lecture halls and takes it into the real world, and as always, hits the nail on the head.
Thursday, March 27, 2014
Who are these "environmentalists", especially here in New York, who have stolen the landowners' property rights, deprived our job seekers of tens or even hundreds of thousands of jobs, and all of us of the tax revenue that would have been provided under Title V of our tax code ? These are, or at least ought to be, serious charges against one group of citizens that is causing very serious, in some cases life-changing, harm to another group of citizens. Every state sitting over a significant shale play (31), except one (New York), has decided that the environmentalists' concerns are not valid - or at least are not valid enough to stop drilling. So who are these people who are causing so much harm only in New York ? At the top of the "scale" would be the BANANAS - Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anybody. These are the "true believers". No industry, no cars, no fossil fuels, no animals, no man! All of these cause either carbon emissions or methane emissions - both of which everyone knows will destroy the Earth in the very near future. This is in fact the lunatic fringe - but still very sincere and very real, and very loud! These are the people who believed Paul Ehrlich in 1968 when he declared that the Earth would run out of food and fossil fuels in the 1980's. These people made plans for mass starvation, and all bought bicycles. When Al Gore ( who is about to lose control of his invention - the internet ) said the seas were going to rise over twenty feet they signed up for swimming lessons. When Al said in the 70's that the internal combustion engine would be nonexistent by 2000, they made plans to run their Hummers by windmills or solar panels mounted on their hoods or trunks. In short, we cannot "reason" with this group - they're "gone". Then there is a group below the BANANAS, but separate from the NIMBYs ( discussed later) who have a more rational, but still exaggerated, concern about the environment. While almost all of us would fall into this group in being to some degree concerned about the environment, this group is more susceptible to the false claims of the BANANAs. The good news is this group is rational enough to be reasoned with. The best example of the type of BANANA charge this group can be effected by is the assertion that hydraulic fracturing will cause water pollution. On first hearing this charge you can understand some concern - if not outright belief. Unfortunately the evidence, science, and history, prove just the opposite. It has never caused water pollution on any level. It has been "cleared" of this charge by dozens of leading national left/liberal, environmentalist, leaders - from the President down! And yet, especially here in New York, this group does not quite get the truth. The best single explanation for this is simply that they get all the exposure in the world to the false charges of the BANANAs, but virtually zero coverage of the rebuttals. This is a media problem which, to be fair, goes back hundreds of years, and has been applied by the left and the right: sensational headlines make better, and more profitable, print than boring truths. Then there are the NIMBYs - "Not In My Backyard". In many ways this is the easiest group to understand - yet in some ways it is the hardest to accept. To various degrees these folks may understand that natural gas is good for the environment; they may realize that fracking must be safe since every other shale state is using it; that those new jobs the other states are getting would be great in New York; that the tax revenue would be a big help here; they may realize that this is all great for everyone else. But, they don't want fracking in their "backyards". Their inconvenience of (possibly) getting behind a truck (on a two lane road) is more important than the benefits that that truck represents. They feel that the site of a 50' drilling tower, whose life expectancy is now down to sixteen or seventeen days, is somehow more offensive than the benefits of that temporary tower. The fact that one two to five acre pad can now cover an area that it used to take thirty to sixty pads to cover involves much less environmental "damage" - before reclamation - seems unimportant. Yet many of these same people will find the appearance of a 300', permanent, windmill attractive ! So, who are these people really? They are our friends, our neighbors, our relatives, maybe in some cases even our spouses. We have to admit that they are sincere. After all, how could anyone cause so much harm to so many people and not be sincere? And yet, they are killing the rest of us. We cannot accept the results of their thinking or their actions. If we do, we're dead. If we do, the Southern Tire continues its death spiral. We have to keep trying to reason with those who still can be reasoned with. We have to hope they are still a majority of our citizens. They seem to be in every other state but New York. The overwhelming majority of the "national" news on hydraulic fracturing and its benefits is positive. The question for us here in New York remains: how long can New York maintain its state of denial on this issue? Jeff Heller
Thursday, February 27, 2014
To the Editor: A recent article be Stephen Moore, "Europe's Green Collapse", in National Review should have considerable interest for all of us here in the Southern Tier. In the 80's and 90's the European Powers bought into the green-energy extremism we hear so much about today. Many of them supported the Kyoto guidelines. The EU promised that by 2030 it would reduce carbon emissions by 30 to 40% below 1990 levels. Even though the U.S. Senate defeated the Kyoto Treaty 95 to 0 (now that's bipartisanship!), the green energy crazies have maintained strong (disproportionate) influence in national and, more important our state energy policies. In January the EU announced it was dropping their renewable energy standards. The EU leaders, all of them solid " greens" in the past, have recognized they cannot survive economically with the extreme policies associated with "green energy". Germany, the leading economic power in Europe, saw its economics minister say recently that reliance on green energy could lead to a "dramatic deindustrialization" of Germany. With the cost of electric power in EU nations up to 100% higher than in the U.S., the minister said: " We have reached the limit of what we can ask of our economy." European companies (like Volkswagen) have begun moving plants to the U.S. because of the lower energy costs. The Europeans know the development that has made low energy costs possible in the U.S. is horizontal hydraulic fracturing - Fracking!(Fracking is the friendly mouse that the environmentalists have turned into the would be evil dragon.) This kind of talk can send environmentalists screaming into the night. This is the kind of "truth" that Josh Fox finds "irrelevant". Al Gore would find it "inconvenient". More objective thinkers should find it "interesting". I can't even imagine what our sharp governor is thinking as a result of this development. Would anyone care to guess how many European industries will be looking to move to New York? Our governor says " New York is open for business" - it's too bad businessmen know better! Besides the economic advantages we have seen as a result of Fracking, we have already seen a huge reduction in carbon emissions - and we have just begun the process of switching our coal plants to natural gas. The long range environmental benefits of using cheap natural gas in place of coal and oil will in fact be huge; far more positive than the wildest dreams of the "Kyoto- believers." And all of this will be market driven, not regulation driven. Like it or not, we are living in the beginning of an energy revolution. We all can agree, to some degree, that it would be "nice" if we could replace fossil fuels with green energy. However, some of us have already realized, for a multitude of reasons, that that just is not going to happen. Green energy is only remotely viable with huge taxpayer funded subsidies, and even then far too many have been dismal failures. Europe has now officially learned this lesson. The question is, will we learn from Europe? Jeff Heller
Tuesday, January 28, 2014
To the Editor: A few recent developments in the energy area need to be noted by our local energy consumers - which is almost all of us. My last propane delivery included a note that from now on every propane delivery (and I assume this will apply to my oil deliveries as well) will include an additional charge of $9.62 to cover increased costs of Hazmat regulations and environmental regulations. If your average propane delivery (not this week's) would be around $100.00, that fee represents (BAM!) a 10% increase in your heating costs - due to environmentalism. In addition to that added cost was a significant increase in the price of the propane. About 70% of propane comes from natural gas. That supply is increasing very rapidly thanks to the Marcellus and Utica Shale Plays in Pennsylvania and Ohio (but not in New York!). What is missing is more storage to handle these high demand periods. In our area in particular the environmentalists are blocking that process - think Watkins Glen. With more storage, which in effect would increase supply, we would not see as much of a price spike. Is it any wonder so many of us, who used to call ourselves environmentalists, now prefer to call ourselves conservationists? On the one side we have pure emotionalism and on the other a rational relationship between the use of our natural resources AND the need for common sense regulations. Speaking of common sense and environmentalism, have you heard the latest story on the Spotted Owls? In the 70's and 80's we wiped out about 90,000 jobs in the Pacific northwest because "logging" was killing the owls. Well, not really. It turns out the Spotted owls can't compete with the Barred owls. So if the Spotted owls go "extinct" it will be because of the Barred owls, not the loggers! Tough luck for the loggers, and their families. And tough luck for the Barred owls! The Interior Dept. is going to pay licensed hunters over three million dollars to kill a little over 3,000 Barred owls! Only and "environmentalist" can see the logic if this! (You can't make this stuff up!) These are the kind of people, and their policies, that are driving our energy costs up. 'Beam me up Scotty, there's no intelligent life down here'! Jeff Heller
Tuesday, January 7, 2014
New Year's Resolutions of a Landowner: I have finally settled on a broad resolution for 2014: I will not be bitter about the things that make me bitter. I will not be bitter about the fact that New York is the only state not taking advantage of all the proven benefits of hydraulic fracturing that the other states (31) are. But I do feel better when I realize that by doing this we are keeping Yoko Ono happy! I will not be bitter that N.Y. has passed up all the tax revenue benefits of our Title V of our tax code. Most of the states that are intelligent enough to take advantage of Hydraulic fracturing - did I mention that was 31 states! - would kill to have our Title V in their state codes. But then I realize that in N.Y. our counties, towns, and school districts don't need millions in extra revenue! And we certainly don't need any chance of reducing our property taxes! I will not be bitter that N.Y. has passed up at least 100,000 jobs. (The Pa. Dept. of Labor placed the number of jobs directly dependent on the Marcellus Shale for the first quarter of 2013 at a mere 232,000!) But then I realize that N.Y. doesn't need these solid year round jobs - we've got gambling and tourism. And we all know that could bring in several thousand seasonal jobs - right? I will not be bitter that the state, and any town moratorium represents a "taking" of the land owners' mineral rights. This is a really tough one because it goes against one of the most fundamental beliefs of the Founding Fathers - the need to protect private property rights. ( This was one of the few, if not the only, principals that there was 100% agreement on!) N.Y. has just thrown that baby out the window! But, they have balanced that travesty with the gift of The Safe Act! (Why is it that whenever a liberal sees someone carrying a gun, they see a criminal. But whenever the rest of us see someone carrying a gun, we see a fellow deer hunter!) I will not be bitter that Pa. has better roads in the areas of drilling than we do - and at no cost to the taxpayers! N.Y. would have no use whatsoever for well over half a billion in road improvements - at no cost to the taxpayers! I will not be bitter that none of the states that are allowing hydraulic fracturing (did I mention that was 31 states!) are experiencing the devastation that our environmentalists are sure will occur (only) in N.Y. I will not be bitter that my wife and I made a huge mistake in deciding to retire in the Finger Lakes region rather than the Endless Mountains region of Pa., where we started looking first. (My accountant was right again!) On balance I do have to admit that the fishing is much better up here - and that provides the best therapy to help me get over my bitterness! I will not be bitter that N.Y. loves Yoko Ono more than it does it's farmers, or its job seekers, or its businesses, or its county's, or its towns, or its school districts, or ………; I'm beginning to drift! Actually, if you have ever seen Yoko singing, and dancing to "Don't Frack My Mother", I'm sure you'll feel a lot better about Cuomo and the environmentalists loving her and hating us. I really need to stop listing anymore of my resolutions - I'm getting bitter! Actually, I need to go make reservations to see the popular new trio that's touring the country in 2014. They're Governors Brown, Simms, and Hickenlooper from those great conservative states of California, Illinois, and Colorado respectively. They will be calling themselves "The Frackers", and I've already heard they have great pipes, and they really drilled their new routine! Here's hoping to see some of you, from both sides, when "The Frackers" come to New York - assuming we haven't turned out the lights in New York before then. Jeff Heller