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Sunday, March 6, 2011

Ice House Public Seminar - 3/5/2011

I attended and spoke at a seminar yesterday along the banks of the Lehigh River in Bethlehem, PA. It was held in a large former "Ice House" on River St. on Sand Island, and as settings go, it was pretty darn cool.

There were, according to the host Sierra Club, 128 people in the (initially) standing-room-only crowd. By the time I was able to take photos, a good portion of the crowd had moved to the overflow seats on the stage, or had begun to leave. However, for an overcast Saturday afternoon, it was a good showing.

There were six scheduled speakers, all bringing a different perspective to the event. Don Miles, the Lehigh Valley Sierra Club's chairman, did an excellent job putting this event together and keeping the speakers on schedule. I was a last minute add-on, and I went first. The reason I was "last minute" was twofold; I had only learned about the event a few days earlier and not one of ~three professors ( PhD-types ) that were invited to attend were willing to come and speak about the hydrofracturing process. Not one.

Wonder why?????

Anyway, quite a few folks came up after the speakers were done to thank me for what I did, comment on my presentation, and ask questions. As I started to work on my PowerPoint presentation at 5:30 a.m., and got home ~5:30 p.m., chalk another 12 hours to the cause...and it was well worth it.

Thanks to Don Miles and all of the event's sponsors. Great job!

I'll close today's post with the following observations:

1. One elderly woman left in tears after hearing about what had happened to some pristine woodlands in upstate PA in a presentation by one of the landowners. At one point before leaving, she said something to me like: "You think we would have learned our lessons by now. I can't believe this is happening."

2. One rather large gentleman is really PO'd at Penn State University and Dr. Terry Engelder. I mean really PO'd. I won't repeat anything said. Too many frack-bombs.

3. There are some very, very angry people out there. If I were an elected official, especially one speaking in support of the natural gas industry and/or against enacting ( or repealing ) legislation to further protect the environment, I would allocate additional funds to hiring security escorts whenever attending a Marcellus-related public event, and I mean that in all sincerity.

As most visitors know, I've been doing this for a long time. I was lecturing on the geology of eastern North America over 30 years ago. I've had a website/blog since October 1999. I've been a fully engaged river activist for well over a decade.

Having said all of that, I'm close enough to the front lines on this issue to be able to sense a shift in the attitude and energy of the anti-fracking movement. And I have no doubt it is both significant and sustainable.

To that end, if anyone wants to host a similar public information seminar in their neighborhood, give me a holler.  I'll get the speakers, you do the rest.

Here are a few additional pics from my wild Saturday adventure.

The Lehigh River @ Sand Island

Enjoy the rest of your weekend.

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