Thursday, March 27, 2014

Defining Environmentalists by Jeff Heller

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

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