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Monday, September 3, 2012

Audubon to Drillers: $30MM+, please!

I recently attended the first of four "listening sessions" hosted by the PA Audubon Society ( 2 representatives) and the Ruffed Grouse Society ( 1 representative ). A lone representative from Chesapeake Energy was also in attendance.

This is how the sessions were presented in the emails that hit my Inbox:

 Are you a hunter, angler, hiker, or other outdoors-person living in South-central or Southeast Pennsylvania?
> Do you have something to say to Marcellus shale gas drilling   companies about their operations in the state?
> Audubon Pennsylvania and the Ruffed Grouse Society have partnered with the Marcellus Shale Coalition to sponsor four “Listening Sessions” to bring conservation group representatives together to ask questions, discuss concerns, and partner on habitat restoration opportunities.

> Listening Session Opportunities

> August 27th, 9:00 a.m. – Noon
> John James Audubon Center at Mill Grove, near Valley Forge, PA
> 1201 Pawlings Road, Audubon, PA  19403

> August 27th, 2:00 p.m. –  5:00, Cabela’s (upstairs meeting rooms), Hamburg, PA
> 100 Cabela Drive, Hamburg, PA 19526

> August 28th, 9AM – Noon, Dauphin County Wildwood Park Nature Center, north end of Harrisburg, PA
> 100 Wildwood Road, Harrisburg, PA  17110

> August 28th, 2:00 p.m. – 5:00, NRCS Farm & Home Center near Lancaster, PA
> 1383 Arcadia Road, Lancaster, PA 17601

> Now that the natural gas industry has been active in Pennsylvania for several years, there is a track record that offers factual information about the impacts associated with drilling for, producing, and delivering natural gas. A facilitator will help us develop a thoughtful list of environmental concerns, and a list of suggestions for addressing them.
> Also, given that habitat changes will occur in much of the state due to Marcellus gas drilling and pipeline construction, we have an opportunity to be pro-active regarding what happens to these sites once gas extraction is completed. 
> Can we create early successional (young) forests  to reverse the downward trend of bird populations that depend on this habitat — such as ruffed grouse, American woodcock, and golden-winged warbler?  How can the natural gas drilling industry be a partner in this effort?


Now, based upon the information/ invitation above, would you have expected that a member of the Marcellus Shale Coalition would have been present? Me, too. "Have partnered with" doesn't leave much to the imagination.

Guess what…no one was there from the MSC.

From the public?  Get ready to be absolutely stunned beyond belief…just yours truly and one other person. Yep…two people. And the other guy was the head of some regional landowners group ( forget the name ), so although he raised some very good points, my takeaway was that he had already leased some of his land in Tioga County and was in ( pretty much ) full support of drilling for natural gas.

After I attend sessions like this, I keep saying “this is my last meeting.” This one may help hold me true to my word. If I wasn’t there to witness the multiple and blatant requests for money ( a MINIMUM of $30 million - documented in the minutes ) directed to the natural gas industry’s representative ( from Chesapeake ), I would not have believed it if it were posted elsewhere. Of course, it was mentioned that they couldn’t accept the check directly ( for fear of reprisals from its members and the public ), but they openly recommended setting up a trust account with an independent third party, Mellon I believe, to maintain and administer the account and dole out the funds to worthy parties and projects.

Folks, I am not kidding you…this happened right in front of me and there was no question as to what was being suggested. None. And we’re talking significant sums of money in the eight figure range.  I pretty much shut down at that point, but I did stay until the meeting concluded.

I really don’t give a rat’s rectum about successional habitat and the return of the three-toed yellow-winged warbler. I care about my parents, my children…and generations yet unborn.

We’ve raped Penn’s Woods many times over since we arrived. Clear cutting our land for well pads and pipelines won’t make things better for anyone except the industry and their trough-swilling cronies, regardless of how it’s “restored” once the NG folks walk away.

I did learn a new variant of “NIMBY”. It’s BANANA – Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anything.

Anyway...read the minutes from the four meetings here

From the email distribution list I received that contained the minutes, it appears a TOTAL of ~20 people attended the four listening sessions held over two days. Go figure: the biggest environmental and political issue of our day...and twenty (+/-) people show up.

Very poor.


  1. I share your despair.

    Few if any PA citizens, even many fishermen and environmental groups with whom I have spoken, seem to care about the decline of the smallmouth bass fishery and the disappearence of other species in the Susquehanna River.

    It will only become relevant when parents realize the cancers and degenerative diseases they suffer with, the malignant, developmental and behavioral disorders affecting their children and the reproductive problems of generations yet unborn are in many ways connected to the chemical pollution of our environment.

    We educate those who have eyes to see and ears to hear...the rest.....?

    I enjoy your passion!!

    William L. Yingling M.D.

  2. Hello, My name is Sean Kitchen and I write for the Raging Chicken Press. I came across your article and was very intrigued, would you mind contacting me so we can talk about this a little more indepth? You can get a hold of me by emailing us at the RagingChickenPress@gmail.com, then ask to forward the email to me.

    Thank you