Friday, February 25, 2011

Will the Real Upstate, Please Stand Up:
Or Greene on the Chenango?

[I have some Deliciously Real Upstate New York text here from Susan Dorsey of Greene, NY — on the Mighty Chenango, well upstream within the Susquehanna Watershed.  I've not yet met Susan, other than over the Internet, but I understand she's now Veep of the Joint Landowners Coalition of New York, an organization I recommend to anybody who thinks that humans are still an important part of the environment.  Susan wrote this after attending an "educational session," put on by drilling opponents in Norwich, NY, on Feb. 24 — an event I did not attend, because I just don't have the stomach for it anymore.]  

Dr. Jannette Barth came to town last night.  She spoke at the United Church of Christ, with God as her witness.  Before her presentation, the audience was duly chastised and threatened with fire and brimstone, should they misbehave.

Barth is an economist by profession.  I am not not an economist, nor a PhD.  But I read that two main purposes of Econometrics are to give empirical content to economic theory by formulating economic models in testable form, and to estimate those models and test them as to acceptance or rejection.   It is a fundamental part of the scientific method that all hypotheses and theories must be tested against observations of the natural world, rather than resting solely on a priori reasoning, intuition, or revelation.  Hence, science is considered to be methodologically empirical in nature.

I figure that Econometrics must have something to do with money, and money has something to do with numbers.  When I was in school, we used to have to prove our answers by showing our work.  At the very least, you should be able to show your formulas and show your equations.  While Barth claims the right to pontificate on other subjects such as endocrinology, hydrogeology, seismology, land use policy, taxation, and "farming and tourism" — subjects she admittedly has no background in — as an economist, she should be able to prove her math.

Where are your numbers, Dr. Barth?

So I asked the question:  Where can we find the study you did?  Online?

Answer:  "I didn't do a study.  I read other studies and drew these conclusions."

That pretty much sums up the due diligence devoted to telling the populace across 17 Southern Tier counties what they should and shouldn't do with their futures.  For their own good, of course, as stated by the doctor, "We don't know what they'll do with the money," referring to farmers.  She uses the same criteria for local municipal and school leadership also.  She says they will overspend and over build and then, when populations decline, they will not be able to maintain those levels of services.  Better to keep them down so they won't have so far to fall?  We are not qualified to make our own decisions with money, if we don't have a doctorate in economics?

Both Barth from Croton-on-Hudson, and her sidekick, attorney Nicole Dillingham of Cooperstown via California, spoke at length to detract from the opportunity we have been blessed with.  With absolutely no verifiable facts and plenty of innuendo and deliberate misrepresentations, they spun a story of fear and woe.  But they were unable to answer direct questions from local residents — questions on the very topics they themselves introduced in the body of their respective presentations.  The overall tone from both of them was intimidating to those who can be intimidated by letters behind a name —  and condescending.

Dillingham listed "myths" about gas development.  She expertly skirted the truth, but was called out by questioners at the end, such as, "What do you call someone who wants to use natural gas from somewhere else (as she contends we should), instead of their own resources?"

I can think of several things to call such a person, and none is flattering.  Worse than that are people who hold themselves out to the public as experts, and are respected by virtue of their education, but who abuse the trust placed in them by using slanted, biased misinformation to create fear and panic to further their agenda, while claiming to be impartial.  I would think professional ethics should be considered.  

Dr Barth spoke of the Marcellus multiplier effect, described by her as "every dollar paid by the gas industry generates $1.40," but she questioned whether other industries might have an even greater multiplier effect.

When questioned about her statement by Scott Ives of Norse Energy, the doctor said she was referring to jobs not money.  Come again?

Several weeks ago Dr. Barth was caught out by the audience at the Vestal Library and had no answer to questions regarding tax revenues that would be generated by real property taxes paid by gas companies.  She had no answer, so — like every good academic — she went home and looked it up?  Apparently not.  She was asked repeatedly last night in Norwich why her opinions did not take into consideration the fact that property taxes paid by gas companies are not based on the small footprint of the well head, but are assessed using the income approach to value, so that every cubic foot of production from every well is taxed by town, county and school for their direct benefit.  She is in favor of a "severence tax" which, instead of being kept close to home, would go to the state general fund, perhaps some winding its way to Croton-on-Hudson.

If implemented, that would be double taxation.

Time ran out on the Q & A session as Ms. Dillingham pleaded exhaustion.

I left with one question unanswered:  "Isn't it wrong to lie in church?"

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Some Bad News and Some Good News
From Norse Energy

You want the good news, or the...  ohhh, screw it!

The bad news from Norwegian penny stock Norse Energy is this:  The only natural gas driller with still-ongoing development plans in Central New York now suddenly seeks to rearrange very old, very traditional, and very persuasive contractual agreements calling for drillsite host landowners to be rewarded with free gas for their households — so long as the wells produce.

The natural gas explorer, for safety reasons, announced it was going to replace the free gas with trucked in propane — and to help pay for conversions back toward burning that more typical rural heating source.

While this may affect only a dozen or so families in Madison or Chenango counties, it didn't play well from a PR point of view (as can probably be expected, at this juncture).  In fact, media outlets from a number of key area counties — some virtually oblivious to Norse's prior existence in the region — have all suddenly clocked in on this issue within the last 24 hours:

• The sent-from-heaven lead from the Syracuse paper in Onondaga County, NY:  "The phone call came after a week of sub-zero temperatures in January."

• Jim Kenyon on Channel 3, or Channel 5, or Channel Whatever Have You — Syracuse TV in Onondaga County, NY:  Update: Landowners react to natural gas drilling twist.

• And the headline from Oneida County, NY:  Norse Eliminating Free Gas.

In short, this can't be good.

At this writing, I'm not sure what the Almighty Cortland Standard laid down, because they still think they can survive as a print-only operation.  And I still need to hunt around for the OD from Utica, assuming it still exists.  Plus I haven't yet seen the coverage yet from Norwich itself.

But, again, I'm sure it can't be good.

There's no way around it — it's a dark day for the principle of a Deal Being a Goddamn Deal in upstate New York.

However, though, this last bit is interesting:  At the exact same time, coming from Norse — here we have success from a horizontal Herkimer sandstone well.  In fact, after quite a bit of back and forth on this one, they appear to have finally hit bottom.  It's called the Sweezy, J. 2H — just northwest of Sherburne, on County Road 22, Town of Smyrna, Chenango County.  Here's a Google map for the exact location. 

I gather from my source — my main man, Tom, who raises a special kind of cattle in the Greater Earlville area — that the Sweezy was flaring as of last night, Feb. 22 — meaning, yes, successful, and flow being calibrated.

In fact, here is a picture from Tom, who also has video — but who apologizes in advance for the blurriness:

How Smart People From Upstate Think About Fracking — Reply to a Post From a Union College Prof. From My Hometown

Just a (supposedly) quick introductory note:  Chad Orzel and I have the same hometown — Whitney Point, NY, in northern Broome County, right on the cusp of the much-hyped, but-not-yet-proven "sweet spot" for eventual natural gas production from Marcellus Shale.  His dad Ron was my reading teacher in grade school, and my chess club coach in high school, and his uncle John (recently an unsuccessful candidate for NYS Senate) was my gym teacher for swimming, and my swimming coach.

In short, I have always liked all these guys, and I still like all these guys.

But this is my quick and very contrary reply to Chad's interesting blog post, which has attracted a number of equally interesting, brighter-than-average comments — including these few paragraphs from me.  Chad was moved to write after having (apparently painfully) sat through a recent Albany-area presentation by several upstate professionals representing fields touching on the Marcellus Shale question, including John Martin.

[John Martin, I note with peevish dismay... so far as I can tell... so far as I can recall... does not appear to have been sought out, consulted, interviewed, or quoted, by any New York State media outlet over at least the last two years of widespread political conflict over shale gas.  This is the case, despite the fact that Martin basically ranks among the Empire State's top geological experts in this area — much, much, much higher than, say, Josh Fox, or Mark Ruffalo.]


Hi Chad,

Part of me does hesitate to get into this with you, as in my experience nobody *ever* changes their mind on shale gas, once they've got it made up.  And I can see you've got yours made up.

But I can't restrain myself.

Your post clearly reveals you responded emotionally to the pro-drilling and pro-fracking positions, and I understand that pretty much everybody does this.

But, for you, it meant you weren't able to think like a scientist anymore -- somebody who ordinarily seeks to clearly and objectively test where the others might be wrong.

Instead, you were repulsed by their conclusions -- and by how you perceived them to be carrying themselves. That's what I read when I see words like "dick," "peevish," "grating," "condescending, "deliberately obtuse," and "assholes."

(Probably anybody that differs with you on this issue seems to come across like a dick, or an asshole -- am I right?)

Here's what I think is interesting, though (and it's a place where you did not want to go, in your writing):  All anybody has to do to put an end to the practice of hydraulic fracturing is to clearly demonstrate that on rare, unpredictable, and unmanageable occasions fracking fluid does migrate up through thousands of feet of bedrock and contaminate ground water.

[The surface spills and the casing failures, as big as they've played in the media, are not enough to thwart deployment of this technology -- because most of us still accept that every complicated enterprise suffers from similar rates of failure, and because the professional community asserts these issues can be minimized (though never eliminated) through better practices and tougher regulations.]

But doesn't it seem remarkable that no scientist or technician has yet shown the smoking gun on frack fluid?

You are free to take the position that this has already happened, but nobody was on hand to test for it.  Or that the results were in fact collected, but they were suppressed.  Or that it hasn't happened yet, but it is likely to happen in the future.

Or you can try coming to terms with the alternative explanation -- the possibility that John Martin and Anthony Gorody were actually giving you their best professional conclusion, based on years of paying attention to observable reality in their respective fields.

Andy Leahy


P.S. -- Been awhile since I've run into your dad or uncle back home in Whitney Point, but send them a hello for me.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

NY Academics Debate Hydraulic Fracturing: Seigel (In Favor) vs. Ingraffea (Against)

Dr. Don Seigel of Syracuse University (left) chatting with Dr. Tony Ingraffea of Cornell University — just prior to taking the stage for a two-hour debate, Feb. 20, at SUNY Cortland.  The issue — the pros and cons of shale gas production — has consumed New York State environmentalists, landowners, politicians, and news media for much of the last two years.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Anatomy of a Rumor: New York Fracktivist
Caught With His Junk Showing

Is it possible to ever actually track a totally false rumor back to its point of creation, and to publicly point an accusing finger at the Original Rumor Monger

With Twitter, it turns out, sometimes you actually can. Especially if you get on top of the job way early, before things get confusing and deniable. Over this past weekend, I did just that — exposing a fellow New Yorker for his excess of partisan passion, for his surplus of groundless imagination, and for his completely flaccid sense of personal ethics. All of this led him to Get Caught, Right In the Midst of Actually Making Stuff Up.

It all started, while reading some tweets, when I saw this:
@catskillfishing @MsCalin @nrdc where did you hear this rumor about oscar natgas ad?Sat Feb 05 08:28:24 via web
Curious to see what Now-Famous Fake Pennsylvanian Josh Fox was asking about, I did some hunting around. The tweet Josh had hit the reply button to was this:
@MsCalin @nrdc Spending three million dollars for a 30 second ad on ABC the night of the Oscars is really going overboard to trash Gasland!Sat Feb 05 01:02:40 via web
Well, that's interesting. Tony Ritter, I had encountered previously. At one point in time, I tried to "follow" him on Twitter, but he just tweeted much too much — consistently against Upstate New Yorkers ever being allowed to produce their own shale gas — and most of it ranged between being either whacked out or freaked out. But what did Tony say, in answer to Josh?
@gaslandmovie  My guess is that the CEO's of $RRC, $COG ,$CHK, $NE and all the other execs you invited wish they has accepted your offer nowSat Feb 05 14:26:45 via TweetDeck
Hmmm... This seemed a little feeble. I mean, you're a Delaware River fishing expert, and a real estate agent, out there on Twitter practically every single day, tweeting non-stop about how all this shale gas hydrofracking is obviously already making the Rivers Run Black With Carcinogenic Ruin. And you've posted surprisingly well-informed detail — alleging that the natural gas industry is poised to commit Yet Another PR Blunder by spending [not just a lot of money, but] $3 million, and [not just for a bunch of ads, but] for one measly 30-second spot, to run [not just anywhere, but] on ABC during the night of the Oscar's, whether "Gasland" wins or loses. 

[Is it even true that ABC is hosting the Oscar's this year? Hold on... OMG! It's actually true! Feb. 27. Maybe this Tony actually knows what he's talking about, and he's genuinely onto something... But, on the other hand, what about the money? Checking... Advertising Age has already reported ABC was set to seek $1.7 million for a half-minute's commercial airtime on Oscar night — more than the last couple post-crash years, but, no, not $3 million.]

So here we have the maker of
"Gasland" — new-found hero to the High-Living Class of Scare-Brained Mythologists Who Must Have All Flunked Their Science Classes — publicly tweeting you back and asking for your original source of information. ('Cause, you know, Josh Fox could really use some actual, factual, verifiable information!) And all Tony's got, by way of reply, is some cryptic, badly worded guess — referencing the stock-trading symbols of a handful of major natural gas producers? (Tony doesn't like fracking, but he does like dabbling in the market, I gather.)

This, you know, cannot stand, man.

So, anyway, I kept poking around. Maybe the $3 Million Oscar's Night Natgas Ad Nugget was coming from @nrdc, or from @MsCalin? Or maybe it came from somewhere else, entirely? I searched it every way I could think of, but all the fingers kept pointing back to Tony. It's true these other anti-frack twits, together with @catskillfishing, were all contemporaneously busy tweeting their outrage about the pro-drilling advocacy groups having launched an obviously pre-planned Wave of Righteous Pissiness, Trailing All Across the Flogosphere during the period immediately after
"Gasland" made the cut for the Oscar's Best Documentary category.

(In general, the industry flacks were for-once-cleverly arguing that they wouldn't be compelled to protest so much, if the Academy simply maintained a Best Propaganda category — and stuck
"Gasland" in that pigeon hole, where it obviously belonged.)

Anyway, I couldn't resist. I jumped in with both thumbs:
@catskillfishing: Tony, are you getting found out for creating rumors? @gaslandmovie: "where did you hear this rumor about oscar natgas ad?"Sat Feb 05 17:23:12 via Twitter for Android
Like a nicely tied fly, listing carelessly on the Delaware slackwater, it didn't take long to bring in a bite.
@NYShaleGasNow  Somebody posted it - Variety, Ad Age, etc.  EID sent letter to Academy bashing Gasland pdf in NY Times I guess EID is upset.Sat Feb 05 17:36:01 via TweetDeck
Here we go.
@catskillfishing @NYShaleGasNow  EID: "Hollywood Elite" - now where have we heard this before? ;-)Sat Feb 05 17:58:30 via web
I was already familiar with all the links and pages Tony was furiously spitting out, like a man overboard. Yeah, yeah, yeah — righteous fury over the prospect of "Gasland" be-spoiling the Academy's hallowed genre of Best Documentary... I had already read that. Pretty good stuff. But where's this $3 million attack ad info coming from? 

Anyway, partly because I was busy helping my family set up for a Ground Hog's Weekend party — upstream within New York's Susquehanna River watershed, not the Delaware — and also partly because I philosophically believe y
ou can't push on a string, I was okay, just letting it go, at this point in time.

But then something interesting happened. One of Tony's fellow anti-frackers chimed in:
@NYShaleGasNow @catskillfishing Hey bubs, you're getting challenged here... What's the deal with this ad?Sat Feb 05 19:52:57 via Twitter for BlackBerry®
Again, I don't follow John L. Pratt, because he tweets too much for my taste. But I recognized his handle from the cabal of anti-frack regulars on Twitter. Tony wrote back to John like this:
@jlpratt4  On some BB via Variety, AdAge, etc.  Wouldn't surprise me if it's true since EID is in a tizzy with letter to Academy re: GaslandSat Feb 05 19:58:43 via TweetDeck
You know, this is not lookin' good for Tony. Like me, and like John, and like Josh, Tony's got the Whole Friggin' Internet at his Immediate Beck and Call. So why can't he just give us a short link already as to where he originally found out that Big Gas was gonna drop a $3 Million Piece of Network TV Persuasion on
"Gasland" the very night of the Oscar's? If you're like Josh Fox — and totally corrupted by the fact that you're already completely committed and completely invested in a certain persuasive but flawed version of reality — then you just say, "Forget about it. I'm sticking with all my errors and distortions. Because I've come to understand that the truth doesn't actually matter." 

But this wasn't Josh. This was Tony.
Tony, Twitter timeline shows you're the source of this TV ad rumor. Must we wait 'til Oscars night for proof? @jlpratt4 @catskillfishingSat Feb 05 20:04:32 via Twitter for Android
Then he said this:
@NYShaleGasNow  Gee, I guess everybody will be watching the ad spot before Best Documentary now. And Andy, we're all waiting for proof.  :-oSat Feb 05 21:11:21 via TweetDeck
And this:
@NYShaleGasNow  We're all looking for "proof" Andy. Can NYShaleGasNow be of any assistance? All we are saying... is give us some truth.  :-)Sat Feb 05 22:13:40 via TweetDeck
So I wrote back:
Tony, you're so busted. You can't prove the source of your own rumor, then you're the rumor. @catskillfishing @jlpratt4Sat Feb 05 21:18:53 via Twitter for Android
He started asking for truce, but without first fessing up:
@NYShaleGasNow  Truce Andy.  Gasland OSCAR Pool!  1st Prize: Trip to Jonah Gas Fields with Dick Cheney  2nd: Gas Masks  3rd: Frack NovelitesSun Feb 06 00:54:38 via TweetDeck
And he was still showing a certain — how you say? — lack of remorse:
In the midst of our dispute, we inspired some Grumpy Collateral Chatter from an upstate hiker-slash-disabled veteran:
@catskillfishing @NYShaleGasNow ----You guys need to have a beer together......Un follow in process......Sun Feb 06 01:09:37 via web
And Tony tried to ease the pain with talk of the blues and beer. (Such a pleaser! No surprise that he sells real estate on the side.)
@HalfDomeOrBust  Shoot. Way ahead of you. I'm bring tunes from B.B. King, Stevie Ray and Chuck Berry. Andy - bring the Smithwick's! Cold!Sun Feb 06 01:12:15 via TweetDeck
Should liars be left off this easy? Well-meaning but clueless liars? I don't think so.
Tony, dude, we can disagree all you want, but you totally lose credibility when you start rumors like that. @catskillfishingSun Feb 06 00:51:08 via Twitter for Android
Then I added this:
@catskillfishing caught making stuff up: "Spending $3 million for a 30 second ad on ABC... is really going overboard to trash Gasland!"Sun Feb 06 02:16:39 via Twitter for Android
Then this happened:
@NYShaleGasNow  20 lashes!  Frack or Fiction? Andy, my man - don't fret. Gasland & Restrepo are the longshots. See: Feb 06 02:27:18 via TweetDeck
And this:
@catskillfishing @NYShaleGasNow @jlpratt4 Mea culpa. I don't know what I was thinking. Penalty: 50 laps in a flowback pit. Frack or fiction.Sun Feb 06 02:32:21 via web
Ohhh, so too bad! This is what it's like, then, in the end? If anybody ever goes to the trouble to look closely, you will find your righteous fracktivist turns out to be just another myth-maker, standing behind a curtain, making stuff up — because he thinks it's funny;
or because it's good for the cause; or because it makes some kind of weird sense within his wishful belief system; or because nobody really cares about the truth anymore; or because he's licensed, entitled, and special?  (All hallmarks of the Natural Born Liar.)

It reminded me of a prior frack-related Internet rumor — which, by the way, still has not yet died. Sometime late in 2010, Darling Hunky Indie Actor Mark Ruffalo (on Twitter as @Mruff221) bragged to GQ magazine — basking in the Counter-Cultural Glow of His Own Imaginary Idea — to the effect that he was on some kind of Official Terrorist Watch List, due to all his ceaselessly heroic, anti-frack activism. Later on, all that was exposed as a stretch, or an error, or a lie (depending on how you want to phrase it). But Ruffalo himself was afterwards incapable of quieting the tabloids, or the fawning choir, despite many tweets intended to set the record straight.
Remember when @Mruff221 claimed he was on a terrorist list -- and then tried to correct his own falsehood? @jlpratt4 @catskillfishingSun Feb 06 02:56:10 via Twitter for Android
And I also sent this:
Better let Josh Fox know before it becomes just another chapter in his rather extensive mythology. @jlpratt4 @catskillfishingSun Feb 06 03:12:37 via Twitter for Android
Late in the game, even Ruffalo took notice (probably because I had "mentioned" him in my tweet, which no doubt dings his phone), and he was good enough to give us a quote — a stern lecture on the dangers of using diesel to frack an oil well:
@NYShaleGasNow Nice diversion from the ugly news coming out on your industry. Using Diesel fuel to frack. Thought it was soapy water, bro?Sun Feb 06 03:48:03 via web
So, does that quiet the rumor then?


Of course, it doesn't matter. Josh and Mark and Tony are right about one thing: The truth doesn't actually matter. If you are a true believer, then you simply forgive pretty much everything coming from your own side, even if it's just flat-out wrong. It's just the way most human brains work.

In fact, even before it was clear that Tony Ritter was actually just making stuff up, Josh Fox was already busy spreading the rumor on his own Facebook page — drawing 44 likes and 98 comments as of the time of this writing. (Only one or two of the comments expressed any particular level of skepticism as to the original claim, which I suppose is to be expected if all you ever do is hear from your own fans.)

Then the rumor migrated to the Daily Show Forum, where fractivists were miffed to see domestic energy enthusiast T. Boone Pickens interviewed by Jon Stewart last week.

Round and round it goes. Where it winds up, nobody knows.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

I'm An Upstate New Yorker. I Burn Natural Gas, And I Drink Finger Lakes Water. And Yet I Am Not Freaked Out About Shale Gas.

[This was written as a spur-of-the-moment reply to an especially offensive, badly written, highly inaccurate op-ed piece by Joseph Hoff of Keuka Park, Yates County, NY.  The writing materialized out of the ether today — appearing verbatim on the web pages for a whole slew of Suburban Rochester media outlets, a sample of which can be found here.  I noticed it because it immediately generated several hits on a particular Google media search function that I happen to follow — a tracking of the usage of the word "hydrofracking," which is basically a dead-giveaway that we're talking about opposition.  Anyway, I'm cross-posting my reply here — in order to preserve it, and in order to give it a hopefully wider readership, and because it's basically the only thing I've written in awhile, because I've just been too busy lately working on some shale gas stuff down in Pennsylvania — or shoveling snow in Syracuse.  If you want to join me in responding to Hoff, I think that would be awesome.  You'll just have to come up with a user name, and surrender your email address to the publisher, and then your reply will appear everywhere that the original posting appears.]

I live in Syracuse, and I drink water which has been drawn from Skaneateles Lake since the 1800s by the City of Syracuse.  This is a public water system that for economic reasons (and for political reasons) doesn't want to go through the trouble and expense of filtering its water.   (But let's get one thing straight about that:  For both Syracuse and New York City, the lack of high-tech filtering is all about money and politics.  It's got nothing to do with public health.  In fact, if it were truly about public health, then of course our professional water system managers would demand that the water be filtered already!)

I don't for one minute feel my health is any safer for the NYS DEC's decision to make more cumbersome (and more unlikely) any shale gas development in either the Skaneateles or the NYC-Catskills drinking water watersheds.  In fact, this very unfortunate decision was also all about politics.  It had very little to do with what's actually known about the environmental impacts of drilling for natural gas, including the revolution wrought by hydraulic fracturing technology to produce natural gas from shale.

If anything, I feel as though the landowners in those watershed areas — my own fellow New Yorkers — were summarily deprived of a rare chance for a future economic opportunity, based on their own unwitting ownership of a deep underground natural resource.  This de facto shale gas drill ban was carried out by the powers that be in exchange for no detectable health or economic benefit to me, or to any of my fellow city residents.   In fact, if anything, I'm probably even further behind, the same as everybody else in this state — because it's just one step further by the State of New York, marching toward that full-blown State of Decline.

Reading the heartfelt observations of adamant anti-drillers such as Joseph Hoff, I'm repeatedly struck by how little truthful, accurate information these people possess about the actual environmental impacts of the natural gas industry — or about the actual state and federal regulatory history regarding this industry.

Hoff's opinion piece, for instance, is so loaded with outright errors, incorrectly spliced details, and completely unhinged ignorance that a knowledgeable person would need a full half hour, an overhead projector, and a red felt-tip marker to show everything.  (Believe me, he's not the only one.  There is so much misinformation out there — spread over the last three years by dedicated, well-funded, anti-drilling propagandists — not even professional journalists are able to get half of it right, half the time.)

Right from the get-go, for instance, Hoff is just plain wrong when he says New York State passed legislation giving extra protection to the Syracuse and New York City drinking water supply areas as it relates to hydraulic fracturing activity.  That was an administrative decision, not a law, made during the administration of former Gov. David Paterson, and former DEC chief Pete Grannis.

Secondly, contrary to the way Hoff has phrased it, this administrative ruling won't have any restraint on the drilling of traditional natural gas wells, whether horizontal or vertical, such as for prospective supplies in layers of limestone or sandstone, all of which are still completely permissible statewide.  In fact, landowners upstream of every single Finger Lake, including Keuka Lake, have already witnessed and benefitted from significant leasing and drilling activity over the last decade or two (even before the shale gas revolution), driven by private-sector efforts to find and produce natural gas from these sedimentary layers.

If there's been any impact affecting Hoff's water, or my water — well, then, I'm all ears.

Otherwise, I say this:  You're gonna have to show me!

Show me the "devastation" and the "decimation," as Hoff so blindly, and so ideologically, alleges to have overtaken Pennsylvania.  To me, if you're going to truly help make public policy on this question, it's not enough to just be concerned, or to just be afraid, or to just mean well.

You're talking here about the privately owned resource of many New Yorkers, including anybody owning land uphill from all of those Finger Lakes — which is a lot of land, and a lot of people.  You're also talking here about the livelihoods of many past, present, and future New Yorkers, including many people who already call the Finger Lakes home (even though they may currently be working down in Pennsylvania, due to New York's political indecisiveness).  Lastly, you're also talking about a resource that many urban New Yorkers use without controversy every single day — whether it's for heating their homes, heating their water, drying their clothes, cooking their food, or generating their electricity.

Believe me, I would much rather continue to drink the water from Skaneateles Lake, but to also have 15%, or 20%, or 25% of my utility bill money go into the bank account of some farmer struggling to survive somewhere in Cortland County, or Cayuga County, upstream of Skaneateles Lake.  I would much rather have that happen than to continue to fill the pockets of some stranger from Texas, or Louisiana, or Canada — or even Iraq.

It just doesn't make any real sense for New York to be so completely freaked out about this — unless that's all part of somebody's persuasive plan.  If you are a New Yorker reading this, I urge you — before you fall under the spell of the anti-drillers, as has obviously already happened to Hoff — to seek out more balanced, and more reliable, information.  I think you will find, in the end, that Hoff is wrong on just too many levels to be considered a reliable source.