Open Letter from Glenn Kroll, Candidate for Sullivan County District Attorney


Dear Breathing Readers:  On October 22, 2009,  I  invited  Attorneys Jim  Farrell and  Glenn Kroll (candidates for Sullivan County District Attorney)  to publish  open letters of interest and intent to local voters in the Breathing forum.   I  welcomed them to present their views and policies at length  because our  readers  care deeply about the future of  our beautiful, generous and often, beleaguered county.  We  deserve a forum in which  pertinent questions are  posed and thoughtful answers are provided.

Although Mr. Farrell has not  responded as of yet, I am very pleased to publish  the following Open Letter from Mr. Kroll and express appreciation for his support of a public exchange over issues as urgent as crime, poverty, education, our diverse cultures and the futures of  our grandparents and grandchildren:

Dear Sullivan County Voter: October 30th 2009

When asked why I was running for District Attorney, my response was straightforward: as an experienced trial lawyer and elected Bloomingburg Village Justice for the past four years, plus my unique background in both Law and Education, I was in a position to help my home County in new and positive ways for all of us.

I graduated from college in 1993 and New York Law School in 1996. For two years I taught in the New York City School System, having been appointed as Dean of In-School Suspension. It was an eye-opening opportunity to learn how children go wrong – and how their self-destructive behavior can be turned around. I understand how today’s young bully can become tomorrow’s gang member with guns. THIS MUST STOP!

We all understand that our criminal justice system is mainly geared to finding, arresting and prosecuting criminals. My legal training and experience as a trial attorney and Village Justice certainly qualifies me to handle that part of the DA’s job. But when I researched the operations and accomplishments of our DA’s Office over the past 20+ years, I discovered something very important had been completely overlooked:      almost no crime prevention programs or efforts had been undertaken in the last three decades!

As so many District Attorneys in New York State (and the nation) have learned, it’s vital that our DA’s office  become an integral factor in initiating and maintaining local crime prevention efforts in Sullivan County!  Let’s stop crime together in your community and your schools.

The slumping economy is also causing increased crime in our County: the economic crisis has caused a high level of crime in Sullivan County to become even worse. Drug use, drive-by shootings and illegal assault weapons on our streets, have increased dramatically in just the past few years!

My unique professional background will  add a new dimension to the District Attorney’s Office in the form of a strong and proactive program of CRIME PREVENTION in our County.

The DA’s office is, first and foremost, the arm of our legal system that protects the County’s citizens by prosecuting those who break the law. I intend to do just that with:

1.RELENTLESS Prosecution of the Real Criminals: The gangs, the shooters, the drug dealers, the child molesters and the second and third time felony offenders.

2.RESPONSIVE Community Input – the key factor in an effective County-wide Crime Prevention Program. As District Attorney, I will implement a network of Community Liaisons who will work closely with the DA’s office to share their specific concerns and needs for law enforcement in their communities. As District Attorney I will be ACCESSIBLE, APPROACHABLE and FAIR!

3.RESPONSIBLE Fiscal Control. Everyone in the Country is feeling the pain of these hard times. The District Attorney’s office must also conserve taxpayer dollars whenever possible. I pledge to run a lean, but more efficient operation.

My vision and energy will lead the District Attorney’s Office in the uncertain and dangerous years ahead. With your vote and support, we can begin to turn around the growing problems of crime in our County. It is important to all of us. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions or concerns. I look forward to hearing from you. Please make sure to vote on November 3rd.

Thank You,

Glenn Kroll

VOTE ROW “A” or “E” November 3rd Election Day

(845) 733-1065

DEC Holds Drilling Hearing at Sullivan County Community College


The  NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) held one of only four  state-wide Hearings on  drilling and hydraulic fracturing at Sullivan County Community College on October 28, 2009.

The vast majority of the standing-room-only crowd was opposed to drilling in New York State.

Few or none  of the opponents drew a distinction between drilling in a watershed or anywhere else.

Most or all  asked for additional  time so the public can read and  comment knowledgeably on the DEC’s  800+ page  “Draft Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement on Gas and Oil Drilling in New York State.” (DSGEIS)

They asked that  several  more public hearings be scheduled throughout the state because some had driven three or more hours to attend last night. (Note:  When I left at 11:00 PM, the meeting was still going on.)

Several local highway superintendents described their local roads as  “substandard”  and worried about the damage that will be wreaked by the enormous volume of truck traffic  necessary to drilling.  Uniformly,  they asked that the DEC inform local municipalities when each drilling application is made so that Road Use Agreements can be drafted in a timely fashion and so that control of local road use will reside with the towns.

Town Supervisors reiterated what the Superintendents said and went further.  Jim Scheutzow (Town of Delaware) said,  “We need the gas companies to step up.  We  don’t have the resources to  take care of the  roads.”

Jim Greier (Town of Fremont) laid out the specifics,  “We have  1391 people,   84  miles of town roads,  16.8 miles of county road, one gas station, two bars and no extra funds  for repairing roads that are damaged by extra heavy trucks.”

One Building Inspector, citing to the lack of local  prerogatives,  raised a point that’s bothered drilling opponents from the beginning,  “No drilling company’s come to me for a permit.”

Perhaps the greatest applause was saved for Luiz Aragon, Sullivan County’s Planning Commissioner and Maria Grimaldi, a tireless advocate for  a sustainable local ecology and economy.

“Despite DEC’s efforts,” said Mr. Aragon,  “many citizens remain concerned by  DSGEIS on many issues.  I respectfully request that the cumulative impacts and socioeconomic concerns be fully-addressed.”  He included, amongst others,  the impacts on municipal infrastructure,  standards of notification,  safety to muncipalities, protection of aquifers and  the overall health and welfare of our communities.

They were not empty words.  Referencing the Sullivan County Legislature, Mr. Aragon called attention to  the potential for drilling in flood plains and called the body of legislation salient to environmental protection, “inconsistent.”   After listing  several recent accidents and incidents of contamination by the drilling industry,   the County Planning Commissioner called for bans on open pit  storage and drilling in all flood plain zones.  He urged the DEC to add a requirement  that the contents and composition of frac fluids be posted at  drilling  sites and with emergency responders.  “Our County remains concerned that municipalities must be permitted to issue  local laws without fear of lawsuits.  The cumulative impacts of  pipelines and compressors will be huge.   It is unclear that mitigation can be effected if contamination of ground water occurs.”

When Maria Grimaldi said,   “The DEC’s  DSGEIS  seems to be enabling an industry that is not compatible with  protecting our environment,”  the crowd roared approval.  Her follow through was received even more noisily, “I’m concerned about conflicts of interest between state  governments  and  the gas drilling industry. Where did the information come from for the DSGEIS and  who was consulted?  We should require that no  high level   public servants can work for the gas companies  for four years after leaving public service…. How  will we be  protected by accidents that inevitably happen?  There have been  failures in eight  states with human error being the  leading cause  of systemic failures.”

On and on, opponents  stepped to the podium.  They asked for a clear delineation of  responsibility  for oversight of drilling practices and  enforcement of  regulations,  “What will happen when there’s an accident?  Who will respond?  How will the rights of  residents who didn’t sign leases be protected when their wells are contaminated?  How can we test our wells  [when they’re contaminated] if we aren’t allowed to see a list of the chemicals the industry used?  How can we  prove liability and recoup  our lost property values?”

Some worried that DEC regulations do not prevent the drilling industry from drawing down our groundwater supplies but the umbrella concern remains this,  the DEC’s  Draft Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement admits that it does not review the cumulative  environmental and socio-economic impacts of drilling.

Most opponents demanded  a halt to drilling,  calling it  a dangerous activity while citing to groundwater, human, flora, fauna and soil poisonings from Pavilion, Wyoming to Dimock, Pennsylvania.    One speaker referred to The  Precautionary Principle,  “Let the industry prove, within the context of  the wholesale destruction of an entire ecosystem [Dunkard Creek], that their technology is  safe.”

Members of the audience who want us  to “Drill, Baby, Drill”  included representatives of  IOGA-NY (Independent Oil and Gas Association lobbying group),  Noel Van Swol (Sullivan-Delaware Property Owners’ Association), Chesapeake Energy and David Jones (Owner, Kittatinny Canoes).

The Chesapeake representative stated, “Banning drilling anywhere would be inappropriate.”

The IOGA-NY  industrial spokesperson objected to  the DEC’s  DSGEIS,  “It  goes   too far and puts   us at an  economic disadvantage  compared to PA.   Many companies will walk away from exploiting the   Marcellus Shale   if the DEC continues to  move so slowly.”

Mr. Van Swoel claimed that,  “Ten percent of Sullivan County Land is under lease” and then quoted Newt Gingrich, “We should let the industry drill down.”

Opinion:

Last night  was  my third public meeting on the subject of drilling  and I salute those who’ve attended regularly for the past two years.  I don’t know how you do it.

Breathing is dedicated to an open forum;  not because I’m particularly nice, but because I believe  our world is on numerous brinks and  I’d like to help steady rather than destabilize it.

Last night I had to face the truth: I’m divided against myself.   The  lies and drivel that were uttered last evening by “Drill Now!” proponents   left me quivering.  My stomach was so roiled by  contained outrage that  vomiting was an imminent worry.

I wanted to listen politely.  I wanted to hear their words  in silence.  I wanted to find any points of agreement because I want to save our land and spend my days  building a sustainable local community.

Instead, drilling proponents made baseless assertions about safe practices and   denied that accidents have occurred or that lives and livelihoods have been destroyed by fracking poisons. They lied about the types of chemicals used and turned aside questions about  industry liability when contamination inevitably occurs.

As already covered by Breathing, nobody seriously believes the drilling industry will “walk away” from the brilliantly lucrative prospect of the Marcellus Shale.

IOGA-NY’s insistence  that the  DEC’s Draft Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement on Gas and Oil Driling goes too far is inconsistent with the DEC’s own recognition that the DSGEIS ignores the cumulative impacts of drilling on our entire ecology.

Nobody in a position of policy-making (including the drilling companies) have answered  the real questions:

  • Why did it take Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection nearly three weeks to close down Cabot-Halliburton when the Dunkard Creek ecosystem was destroyed?
  • Who funded the Penn State study that touted the economic benefits of drilling in Pennsylvania?
  • Who will oversee drilling and fracking?
  • Who will enforce the already flimsy regulations?
  • How will people know what’s contaminated their water if  they aren’t allowed to know the nature and composition of drilling chemicals being used?
  • Who will clean up the mess when  inevitable accidents happen?
  • Who will make the residents of Fort Worth, TX,  Dimock, PA, Pavilion, WY and New York State  whole for the loss of their water and property values?
  • What will we drink or use to grow our food when the water’s destroyed or requires  remedial interventions that nobody has been able to describe because they simply don’t exist?

Wes Gillingham of the Catskill Mountainkeeper has been to nearly all the meetings.  He’s knowledgeable about the issues and the land.  I echo his words from last night,  “I’ve tried to be patient.  I’ve tried to weigh all sides.”

But here’s my truth:  “Civility” does not require me to be silent in a packed hall when industrial interests are shoving the rape of my world down my throat.  “Civility” does not require me to listen politely to greedy lies.  Nor does “civility” require that I acquiesce sweetly to an  industrial oligarchy.

More importantly,  Justice requires  that the money lenders  be “driven from the Temple.”

Hydraulic Fracturing: National Council of Churches


(Dear Breathing Readers:   Yesterday,  “A River Valley Resident,”  addressed the question, “What does stewardship of   our lands and communities demand of us?”  Today,  we offer  A Call for Faithful Stewardship of God’s Creation: Reflections on Natural Gas Drilling and Leasing”  from the National Council of Churches in Christ (NCC).  Many thanks to Pastor Mark Terwilliger and  his congregation  for the education, outreach and community work  being done at The Beach Lake United Methodist Church and for  posting NCC’s call to Faithful Stewardship.  While at  the Beach Lake site, you might find  the Church’s  “Food Ministry” link of interest.)

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A Call for Faithful Stewardship of God’s Creation:  Reflections on Natural Gas Drilling and Leasing (National Council of Churches in Christ)

Purpose

To involve members of churches in biblical and theological discussion of the issue of drilling for gas, in order for them to feel equipped and motivated to engage in discussions and decisions about drilling in their own communities.

The Situation

The increase in gas prices and the inability of many small-scale farmers to make their land profitable has resulted in landowners signing, or contemplating signing, leases offered by gas companies to drill on their land. Signing a drilling lease appears to be one way that people can retain their land and make a profit. Gas companies claim that drilling has economic benefits to an area, including increased employment.

The Call to Stewardship

The Lord God placed the human in the Garden of Eden to serve it and to protect it (Genesis 2:15)    The Earth is the Lord’s and everything in it (Psalm 24:1)
As people of faith, we affirm that creation belongs not to us but to God. We further affirm that God has commanded us to act as faithful “stewards”: entrusting us to serve and protect the habitat God has created, including all its inhabitants.

We in the faith community call upon our members to exercise great caution when asked to sign drilling and mineral leases. Faithful stewardship requires that priority be given to protecting the health of the land in a way that conveys our love of God and neighbor, and that consideration be given to future generations and to the rest of creation.

Is Gas Drilling Compatible with Faithful Stewardship?

Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interest of others (Philippians 2:4)

Oil and gas companies have repeatedly assured us that drilling and exploration can take place in an ecologically responsible manner that protects the interests not only of private land holders who sign lease agreements, but also the economic and environmental interests of the wider community. When these promises are met, they are compatible with our stewardship responsibilities to God, neighbor, and creation. We are concerned about reports indicating that violations routinely occur in 60% of the sites inspected.1

The following newspaper story narrates the personal experience of a community in Pennsylvania:

Western PA landowners regret deep gas wells deals
By Tom Kane
WASHINGTON COUNTY, PA – At first, farmer Ron Gulla and horse farm owner Joyce Mitchell were excited about the prospect of making money from gas drilling. Now, after more than two years of the presence of drilling companies with their heavy trucks and huge drill rigs, they and many of their neighbors wish they had never signed a lease.

“They say one thing to you when they want you to sign, and quite another thing when you’ve signed your land over to them and they begin to do what they want to it,” Mitchell said.

Mitchell said the gas company, Range Resources, a subsidiary of Halliburton, told her they would drill only one well. Then, when gas was discovered in a nearby well, they came in and drilled four over her and her husband’s objections.

Gulla, has had his 141-acre farm destroyed by the drilling, he said. His water well gets muddy whenever it rains, which never occurred before the drilling. The water in his pond is brackish and he has had a fish kill.

“People are getting methane in their well like I am,” he said. “It’s happening all around me.”

Gulla, Alexander and Mitchell said that the drilling companies are ruining their once bucolic countryside. “The worst part of it is that the damage they are doing can never be reversed,” Gulla said. “It is forever.”2

In what ways can gas drilling challenge our being good stewards?

The land mourns, and all who live in it waste away; the beasts of the field and the birds of the air and the fish of the sea are dying (Hosea 4:1-3)
“I brought you into a fertile land to eat its fruit and rich produce,” says the Lord. “But you came and defiled my land and made my inheritance detestable.” (Jeremiah 2:7)

As each of us attempts to decide how to fulfill our moral obligation to care for and protect God’s creation, we must educate ourselves about the potential hazards associated with gas drilling and exploration.

Here are a few of those hazards:

Air Quality

A wide range of contaminants are released into the air during the gas development process. These contaminants include heavy metals, toxic chemicals, and radioactive elements. Human and environmental costs associated with these contaminants include acid rain, central nervous system disorders, miscarriages, and increases in the occurrence and severity of allergies, asthma, and other lung ailments.

Water Quality

Gas drilling now makes use of a process known as “hydraulic fracturing.” This process injects from one to nine million gallons of highly pressurized water into each well. Such high-volume water usage has the potential to deplete aquifers, lakes, streams, and other sources of drinking water and aquatic habitat.

Hydraulic fracturing also injects chemicals into the gas well and brings to the surface chemicals that normal occur underground. Many of these chemicals are toxic and can leach into the soil and groundwater.

“Fracked” wastewater is stored in open pits during well operation. These pits can overflow or leak. The EPA reports that humans and animals living in or drinking water contaminated by waste pits “may experience negative health effects or death, depending on the level of contamination.”  A waste pond is man made; it is used to dispose of contaminated waters created as a result of natural gas and other types of drilling.

Wildlife Disruption and Livestock Mortality
Wastewater ponds can be a fatal attraction to migratory birds, bats, and other wildlife who mistake the ponds for wetlands. Contaminants leaked from wells and waste ponds can be taken up by vegetation; health problems may occur in wildlife and livestock that eat the contaminated plants.
Land Degradation and Habitat Loss

Although each [gas] well is only about a foot wide, 2 – 5 acres usually need to be cleared in order to hold the rigs, equipment, pits, storage tanks, and other machinery. Drill sites may require additional clearing of land for new roads and transmission lines to transport the gas off site. Wells usually are developed in a “grid” pattern covering large areas of land and extending over many contiguous properties. This large-scale clearing of land can cause soil erosion and may adversely impact wildlife by removing natural vegetation and fragmenting habitats.

Additional Hazards
Gas is a volatile compound with a high risk of explosion, fire, and hazardous material release.  Drilling destroys scenic beauty and recreational opportunities, resulting in decreased revenue from ecotourism and other nature-based activities such as hunting and fishing. In addition, the presence of gas wells on a piece of property decreases the resale value of the property and depresses the real estate value of he neighborhood.

What Must We Do To Be Faithful Stewards?

I have set before you life and death, blessing and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to God’s voice, and hold fast to God. Deuteronomy 30:19-20

As landowners consider leasing their piece of the garden to energy companies, or wonder what to do next if they have already signed a lease, we all must remember that while economic prosperity is a desirable characteristic of a community characterized by “Shalom”, a critical part of our moral and spiritual duty is to protect creation for ourselves and for future generations. The earth and every creature in it is a precious gift entrusted to us by God. When we honor this Gift, we honor the Giver.

1 Statistics drawn from Earthworks, http:?/www.earthworksaction.org/pitpollution.cfm. 2 Tom Kane, “Western PA landowners regret deep gas wells deals,” The River Reporter Online (April 10- April 16, 2008). Available at:
http://www.riverreporter.com/issues/08-04-10/head1-drilling.html. 3 The following resources were used for the information in this section: Earthworks, “Air Contaminants,” http://www.earthwordsaction.org/aircontaminants.cfm. Earthworks, “Pit Pollution,” http://www.earthworksaction.org/pitpollution.cfm. Earthworks,Pollution,”
“Oil and Gas
http://www.earthworksaction.org/oilgaspollution.cfm. Delaware Riverkeeper, “Fact Sheet: Natural Gas Well Drilling and Production,”
http://www.delawareriverkeeper.org/newsresources/factsheet.asp?ID=72

Revised August 2, 2008

Natural Gas Leases/Hydraulic Fracturing: One Property Owner’s View

Thank you, “[Delaware] River Valley Resident” for grappling with the question, “What does stewardship of our lands and communities demand of us?” Although I disagree that “[gas] drilling [and hydraulic fracturing] are inevitable” or that their dangers and impacts can be mitigated, your question and profound determination to preserve and protect are what join us. Indeed, if drilling spreads inexorably, then your efforts to protect may be the last arrow in our quiver.

In part, I hope readers will respond with suggestions helpful to landowners who’ve been cut off like islands in the midst of leased properties. Thank you, Breathing Is Political, Liz Bucar)


(Dear  Readers and “River Valley Resident”:  In an effort  to provide a  community forum where divergent and frequently  noisy  views can be aired,  Breathing has  solicited articles from property owners who are considering signing   natural gas leases or who, after months of  deliberation, have completed the signing. There have been difficulties  and  I had to decide whether or not to publish an anonymous post.  In the end, I decided  a wide-ranging discussion of  the issues facing our communities is more critical  than identifying our author who fears for her job if her name is released.  I hope her obvious concern for the land and our cultures is sufficient to set minds at ease.  She’s known to me.  She’s not a figment.  She’s not greedy and she’s not oblivious to the dangers posed by drilling —  and cited to regularly  by Breathing.  Hers  is an important voice that sheds light — whether or not you agree with her conclusions.

For months,  the author researched, examined  and agonized.  Breathing is grateful that she chose  to speak in this forum despite her misgivings. Unhappily  — given the high passions on both sides of the discussion  —  being a kind of bridge in the middle can invite  vilification and  distrust from  those standing on the  opposite shores. Thank you,  “River Valley Resident”  for  grappling   with the question,  “What does stewardship of   our lands and communities demand of us?”   Although I disagree that “drilling is inevitable” or that its dangers and impacts can be mitigated,  your  question and profound determination to preserve and protect are what join  us.  Indeed, if drilling  spreads  inexorably,  then your efforts to protect may be the last arrow in our quiver.

In part, I hope readers will  respond with suggestions  helpful to landowners  who’ve been cut off   like islands in the midst of leased properties.   Thank you,   Liz)

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I have spent months exploring the ramifications of drilling in the area. Unfortunately, I believe it is extremely likely to occur, so I have been trying to learn the dynamics of horizontal drilling and its potential to contaminate the aquifer. I have read numerous articles and finally found what I believe is a good representation of the process. The gas companies appear to make an extremely strong effort to isolate the aquifer from the fracking fluids. Please see this website for visualization:

http://www.geoart.com/index.php?id=1

Perhaps this is all hype by the gas companies, but if they do in fact follow this process it seems that the aquifer is isolated by steel piping encased in cement. Perhaps aquifer contamination is more likely related to the holding ponds where the backflow is stored as it is forced from the well; which brings up an interesting possibility. One. of the drilling companies, (which is one of Hess’s designated subcontractors for this area) is utilizing a patent pending process called “Ozonix”. It apparently removes all organic chemicals, particles, etc. from the flow back as well as nearly all the brine through reverse osmosis. This process can be read about at the following web site:
http://www.wallstreetresources.net/pdf/fc/TFM.pdf

On a more personal level I have found myself in a situation where the majority of the landowners in my immediate area (across the road and next door) have signed leases. Personally, I do not want to see gas drilling in this area, but am somewhat resigned to the power that the Gas corporations wield and feel that it would be amazing if the gas development does not take place. As a result, I have chosen to try to protect my property. I joined [Northern Wayne Property Owners’ Association]  NWPOA a few years ago, because I felt it gave me a chance to do that and also because this group planned to work toward the most environmentally sound lease possible. I have also been a member of the UD Community for several years, and feel fortunate to have had the opportunity to receive information from the divergent viewpoints. As more information came out from both sources I became more and more confused. This caused me to undertake my own research into the fracking process and its potential for adverse environmental effects. Simultaneous to this, NWPOA came up with a lease agreement with Hess. I have not as yet signed that document. However, I did begin researching the drill company that would be working for Hess in my area. It is a company called Newfield and they are using the “Ozonix” process mentioned above in some of their other shale developments. My thought was to attempt to encourage Hess to have Newfield employ that technology here, as it appears to strongly mitigate a lot of the potentially detrimental effects of the frac process. Additionally, it allows the water to be reused at multiple sites, thus greatly reducing the amount of water needed from the Delaware or other sources, as well as reducing the truck traffic on the roads. Perhaps, I have been taken in by good PR, but I also believe it is in the Gas companies’ best interests to develop these wells as efficiently as possible. If they are drilling and allowing the gas to somehow escape into the aquifer then that is gas they can’t bring to market which spells a loss for them. I have been an environmentalist for well over 40 years and if I had a magic wand, I would surely make this all go away, although I do completely understand the local farmers’ support of this issue. I guess the bottom line for me is that I believe the gas development will occur and that the best approach is to do all within our power to make it happen in the most environmentally responsible way possible. This means supporting companies like Newfield and trying to have them employ the frac recycling process called “Ozonix”. It also means supporting legislation in Congress such as the “Frac Act” which requires companies to divulge their “formulas” for the fracking mud. The Clean Water Restoration Act also needs support to return some of the strength sapped from it, by our previous administration. Will I sign a lease with Hess…I honestly have not been able to decide as yet. I fear drilling around me, and with no lease, if there were any problems, I would be up against the Gas Company on my own. The lease ensures that they will mitigate any water contamination issues, or provide bottled water if necessary. Granted this is not a great solution, but it is probably better than trying to deal with it unassisted.

I know that there are many people like myself who are conflicted over this issue, and struggling with making the right decision. I could never refer to myself as “pro-drilling”. Perhaps, a more appropriate classification is “pro-preservation”. I would like to see this area remain as much like it is right now as possible. This may be a false hope, but I honestly believe that trying to influence the gas companies to use the very best practices possible here, is a more achievable goal than stopping the entire process. I would greatly appreciate comments, as I have been struggling with making a decision for a long time. Thank you for taking the time to read this. I hope that I have not inadvertently insulted anyone’s viewpoint. I am merely trying to illustrate what a lot of people are feeling.

October 7, 2009. Since writing the above comments, I have had numerous discussions with Gas Company representatives about exactly what signing a lease would mean. My first thought was to obtain a conservation easement or deed restriction on my property so that the only gas related activity that could take place would have to be subsurface. I was informed that they were not accepting properties with conservation easement unless they were large commercial properties where portions of the surface land are critical to continuing their businesses whatever they may be. I then discussed the amount of acreage I have with the gas company, its geography and location and they told me that it was highly unlikely that they would place a drill pad on a piece of property the size of mine, nor would they likely place a road there. However, they could not guarantee this. So, to sign I would have to accept the remote possibility of surface activity. This gave me a lot to think about. But, perhaps more important than that is what the gas companies do with the individual leases they own. As most people know there are at least 3 major players in the area: Chesapeake, Cabot and Hess. Although you may sign with any of these companies, it does not mean that they will be the company developing your land. In order to create a drilling unit, they need about 640 contiguous acres. In some cases, they may have this from large farms or adjoining properties that have signed. But they may also have an area they would like to develop where the mineral rights have been leased to different companies. The gas companies now trade leases to obtain the acreage they need for development. It’s just like Monopoly where you need all the cards in a block to build houses. So, Hess’s drilling company, Newfield, with the innovative and environmentally sensitive technology may have nothing to do with the development of gas on the land of Hess lease holder. The terms of the lease remain the same as far as per acre compensation, royalties, and environmental mitigation, if needed. But, you could sign with Hess and Newfield, and end up with Cabot and Halliburton. The initial signing deadline has come and gone. I may or may not be on a secondary list. I am not sure at this point, since I haven’t gotten any emails lately from the group.

Have I done the right thing, I honestly don’t know. I have turned down well over $25,000 in guaranteed lease payments, and the potential for royalties. If the area near me is made into a drill unit and all goes well and the water stays good and the roads are removed and replanted when the development is complete will I have regrets? If the area is developed and the aquifer is contaminated and I can’t sell my home and have to sue one of these companies for compensation will I have regrets? More importantly what would you do in my situation? I could probably still sign a lease…..should I? I would really appreciate it, if you could try to put yourself in my place and honestly consider what you might do. Thank you for taking the time to read this.

a river valley resident

(Tomorrow:  The National Council of Churches on the issue of drilling.)