Hiram residents seek local control on fracking

By Dan, who lives in northeast Ohio. Originally published at Pruning Shears.

Lambert here. Fracking (“hydraulic fracturing”) is an interesting public policy issue to me, for several reasons. Anti-fracking activism — happening in the swing states of CO and OH, as well as in PA, NY, and WI — goes unremarked by both legacy parties and our famously free press. Leaving aside the implications of fracking for health, water, energy usage patterns, and climate change, coming to grips with a new extractive economy in our own back yards raises issues of corporate accountability, local sovereignty, the nature of private property, and neighborliness. In other words, the future political economy of the North American continent is being fought out on the terrain of fracking county-by-county in the flyover states, just as much as it has been in more storied settings like Manhattan, Montreal, or Oakland.

* * *

On Tuesday the town of Hiram held a public meeting with representatives of the company Mountaineer Keystone (MK). MK, a subsidiary of First Reserve Corporation, is set to begin fracking operations in Hiram next month. The company is a bit of an enigma; for one, it does not appear to have a web site, just a generic landing page at First Reserve. Also, according to Business Week it was founded in 2010 and lists no Key Executives. So who exactly the public was meeting with was something of a mystery.

Before the MK portion kicked off, though, we had remarks from one of the township trustees, and another from its counsel. The subtext of the evening seemed to be, you can’t do anything. (With local officials there was also a leitmotif of “our hands are tied.”) Over and over citizens pressed: we don’t like this, we don’t want this here, what can we do about it? And the answer, over and over again, was: Nothing; this is a done deal. It all smacked of an effort to inculcate a sense of despair, hopelessness, cynicism or at least sullen resignation among citizens.

The town counsel began by taking some questions, and residents tried to probe for different ways to slow down this runaway train. Ohio has home rule nominally enshrined in its Constitution, but the Small Government Conservatives in Columbus have happily chipped away at it whenever it has threatened (as in this case) to result in a messy outburst of local control.

Residents asked some creative questions, though. One asked about being annexed by a larger neighboring municipality in order to get a greater degree of local control (starts1 around 3:35):

Counsel could have said, yes that’s an option and maybe something we could look into. Instead he hems and haws a little bit, then says it still wouldn’t help to ban fracking. That, though, is a straw man argument. At the start of the clip (around 1:00) a resident asks about keeping the roads in good condition, and seeing trucks sloshing fluid all over. The speaker says, somewhat hilariously, “they’re supposed to prevent that.” Somehow they aren’t, though! And for a township crying poverty – see below – as a reason for why it cannot enforce the law within its borders, perhaps annexation to a larger community might make those resources available. It’s not about banning fracking at this point, just trying to keep existing ordinances observed.

Another resident asked (start of clip) why a noise ordinance couldn’t be enforced. The trustee responded that the township didn’t have the manpower to enforce it, and after a little back-and-forth she says: How about volunteer police officers?

Just like in the Old West, right? Deputize concerned citizens, but instead of handing them Colt 45’s hand them decibel meters. Give them a pad of citations and some quick instructions for how to document them. Let them hand out fines to offenders, or even just mail them. No need to risk any kind of confrontation. It could all be done in a completely peaceful and lawful way. Include a series of escalating sanctions, starting with fines and eventually leading to eviction.

That would be a bit of an unorthodox approach, but this is a circumstance that calls for a little outside the box thinking, no? Home rule has been gutted, town officials are saying they’re broke – why not give it a shot, especially since (KEY POINT AHEAD!) it is a matter of great concern to a large number of citizens?

Both the trustee and lawyer bat her concerns away, though, and her comment at 2:24 is a good summary for the meeting: “That’s my question. I guess you don’t have an answer.” After which counsel points to the next resident. No answer indeed.

The unresponsiveness of the officials brought to mind a concept I first encountered in Dana Nelson’s Bad For Democracy (p. 177): plebiscetary democracy. As Barney Frank described it relative to the Bush years, this is a system “wherein a leader is elected but once elected has almost all of the power” (Cf. Bush’s accountability moment).

These officials continually defer all proposals to the state level. Try getting the industry-friendly government in Columbus to do something about it, they say – which is really just a polite way of saying shut up and go away. By and large local officials bristle at any kind of pressure to act on this issue. There was an accountability moment a couple years ago, is the implication. You had your chance, now buzz off. See you next election day.

Some citizens, though, believe accountability moments happen at more frequent intervals.


1. Video was shot with my modest handheld recorder, so the quality is a bit iffy in places. If you can turn the volume way up it will probably help to hear everything.

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


  1. readerOfTeaLeaves

    I’m not surprised to read about local officials who perceive themselves as powerless.

    I don’t know whether eminent domain plays into this situation or not. The SCOTUS has in recent years shifted the rules so that individual citizens have less power to deny the right of government to purchase their land via eminent domain. It would be a nice jujitsu, however, if eminent domain could be used in this case for the public interest — the rights of the citizens to protect their local resources should surely trump the ‘right’ of a mysterious ‘corporation’ to frack.

    Eminent domain can be powerful, in the right hands.
    Doesn’t appear the citizens have researched this option yet.

    (FWIW, it could also be used by cities and municipalities to ‘take’ foreclosed properties and convert them back into the public interest. But I don’t know that many minds have focused on this option yet.)

    1. Liah

      The lawyers will simply be bought off. Or threatened and bought off. There is an “Economic Hitman” quality to all this. Only, now it is blatant. And here.

    2. LucyLulu

      How can the township use eminent domain if they’re broke? The times I’ve seen it used, the government, whether federal or local, paid (and IIRC, were required to pay) fair market value for the properties seized. If there is natural gas on the land, I’d guess the mineral rights would be worth a significant sum.

      And how would it work with horizontal wells? They can drill on one farmer’s cow pasture but then retrieve the gas from under another farmer’s corn fields. Depending on the size of the shale formation, couldn’t they be looking at having to purchase the mineral rights to hundreds of thousands of acres?

      Could they attack the problem instead by requiring land be zoned for drilling, and then subsequently refusing to grant the zoning on any land? Or pass such onerous local regulations on fracking that it was no longer economically feasible? Assuming they could get their local government officials off the corporate payroll.

  2. Jagger

    Fracking scares the hell out of me when I demy pend on a 140 foot deep well for water. If contaminated, I may as well abandon my land.

    Clearly this local council is not going to listen to its citizens but one or two lawyers might get their attention.

  3. Altoid

    Maybe of interest– yesterday the first-level court in Pennsylvania found the state’s abrogation of local zoning and state environmental laws unconstitutional. This was done under Act 13 last year to make things easier for the frackers, but the Commonwealth Court held that the provisions violate explicit clauses in the state constitution. It’s sure to be appealed, of course, but the Supreme Court is the only appeal level and I’d have to bet the chances are at least even that the ruling will be upheld, as republicans on the Commonwealth Court were split.

  4. Eric

    “How about volunteer police officers?”

    Heh,heh… sounds like a militia. Run that past your township insurance agency and cost out that expense as well as training, etc. It does sound like the “trustees” are in the pocket of the frackers. That one trustee sounded down right arrogant.

    The Hiram folks need to start digging into the Trustees’ back grounds. They need to organize amongst themselves. Unfortunately, what’s usually required to pull that off is high level of education and income among the residents. Start an organization called “Friends of Hiram Township.”

    1. enouf

      Actually – “Peace Officers” is not such a far-fetched idea (Not to mention, this should be done here in the US anyway, since the Militarized Thugs for Hire by the .01% are “on call” to protect their Investments, and used as Oppressors for TPTB – sanctioned (unlawfully) through the ‘State’) ; search youtube for ‘Robert Menard 3CPO’ — very doable and being done in Canada.

      I still have yet to work our what the US Const, and various State Const’s have to say about it — All i know is all Statutory Law is trumped via the Constitution(s),.. take it from there


    2. enouf

      Not to leave any stone unturned;

      Someone here also mentioned the Godfather movies, … so as far as digging into Trustees’ backgrounds, to the mix of choices of them being caught red-handed with;

      — a dead woman
      — a live boy

      We can now add;

      — a horse’s head? :-P


  5. Patccmoi

    Thanks for the report, very interesting (although troubling…). I greatly appreciate all you post about fracking.

    I have a house in Quebec and while there is currently a fracking moratorium until further environmental studies by the government are completed (which seems to be a response to the mass outcry by the population at the eve of provincial elections, they are still drilling for study purposes and the current government seems very much into letting them continue), we have serious worries about it. Our house is in the country, in a region where fracking could happen, and when we went to talk to the mayor about it and ask him to look at data and some documentaries on it, he said that he was not interested. Our impression was that he would gladly take the money coming with fracking if the opportunity was there no matter the other consequences.

    We organized, had some town meetings and made people all around sign a letter stating that they would not give access to their land for fracking purpose (which apparently is one of the few things you can do from what we heard, it’s much harder for them to drill somewhere if everyone is against it and will not give them access to their property, it’s hard to do a mass eviction), but even then I don’t know how much that will be worth if they come here with a project ready seeing the total disinterest from our officials.

    It’s hard for citizens to fight back against an industry coming in like that, especially in small towns. And when you see an example like the one above, it’s far from reassuring…

    1. Dan

      Thanks for sharing your experience, Patccmoi.

      One of the things we’re looking into is making signs that say “I haven’t signed with frackers – and won’t sign.” One of the favored tactics for landmen is to tell homeowners that they have to sign, that all their neighbors are signing, that they’ll just get pooled if they don’t go along, etc. Having “I took the pledge” signs is a very visible way for people to tell their neighbors that not everyone is doing it, and to maybe make it a little easier for others to say no.

      1. Patccmoi

        It’s a good idea to have a particular sign for that, if it comes down to the companies really trying to settle in I’ll consider that. Right now most people have a sign that says “No to Fracking” that was distributed a year ago when we held town meetings.


    2. Susan the other

      Has there ever been a global boycott? Just boycotting natgas here in the US might not stop them. It might reduce their profits enough to seriously slow them down however. The fracking blitzkrieg might have already failed because they were probably relying on the US being too stupid and slow to react. We could probably stop them this winter.

  6. Aquifer

    Very interesting, sounds sooo familiar ….

    Where to begin …

    First i would note that the fellow at the mic’s statement – “once it begins, we, locally, cannot regulate it …” begs the question, do they have the power to prevent it from beginning? Do they have zoning? A site plan approval process? Any one of a number of ways to nip it in the bud ….

    The issue is the same in NY – localities can’t regulate, but they can forbid, the activity – is that true in Ohio?

    If so, then the first step is a moratorium on any local permitting process while planning, zoning rules are “updated”

    And, yes, getting an attorney and threatening to sue the board, if there are ANY conceivable grounds for a suit, is a good idea – in NY an Article 78 proceeding is the usual procedure.

    Local Town Boards are often populated by folks who 1) are well meaning but don’t really know a lot about the power municipalities have or 2) do know and are using it to benefit their local developer friends or those who are greasing their palms. The former can be intimidated by the threat of suit from developers or just snowballed by guys in expensive suits – they need to be educated and supported by the populace. The latter are simply facilitators and must be kicked out …

    The person who made the video – good show. If you can, tape all the meetings, put them up on a cable access channel, or the internet – let folks see their TB in action. Write letters to the editor, and for Pete’s sake get together and put folks in office who will not let this stuff happen!

    In the meantime – get a lawyer who knows municipal law (the town attorney may not be too swift – either (s)he is picked as a crony of the good ole boys or because (s)he really needs a job – Town’s usually don’t have a lot of money to spend on legal issues – which is why the threat of a suit, from either side, is a big deal ….

    1. Dan

      Thanks for the feedback and the kind words, Aquifer.

      HB 278 removed the ability of towns to zone for drilling.

      1. redleg

        They can get the roads posted for 5 ton or something that will slow them down and possibly generate ticket revenue.
        Go to the watershed disctrict and nail them for violating thier SWPPP. If the County/Town has a NPDES permit, they can nail them for voilating that every time a truck spills something other than potable water. Drill cuttings have been determined to violate NPDES permits on some projects I’ve been involved with.

        With regards to zoning or conditional use permits, the wells are horizontally bored. Are they keeping the borehole within the permitted area? Even if the zoning category is 2D one could argue that it applies at depth unless local laws say otherwise.

        As a geologist, I see the problem much differently than most here (horizontal wells and lack of accountability for general pollution vs. the fracking itself), but dissent and accountability are both really important if we are to have a functioning democracy. Local residents’ well being and consent should always trump resource extraction.

      2. Aquifer

        I read the citation you provided about the court decision – it was brief and i am not sure of the basis for the courts decision – if it simply decided the plaintiffs particular claim was inadequate to toss out the statute. So, 1) is there another basis for challenging the statute? 2) is there a way to zone that indirectly precludes the activity that could be upheld under home rule? 3) are there procedures that must be followed for permits that require environmental reviews? As redleg said – are there water issues, specifically, groundwater issues? Do you have an aquifer underneath you? I have used the Article 78 in NY to successfully get a TB action overturned on the basis of an inadequate environmental review re an aquifer – does the state have to do one for it’s permits?

        Seriously – pony up the money to get a good attorney, or find a good volunteer – there are usually a bunch of ways to tie things up in court until you can achieve a political solution and, ultimately, that is what you will need. i learned that decades ago ….

  7. rjs

    your township needs a change of attitude…unless you treat it as an act of war, as if the drillers are an invading army who will rape & pillage your land, you dont stand a chance…

  8. Max424

    ” Anti-fracking activism … goes unremarked by both legacy parties and our famously free press. Leaving aside the implications of fracking for health, water, energy usage patterns, and climate change, coming to grips with a new extractive economy in our own back yards raises issues of corporate accountability, local sovereignty, the nature of private property, and neighborliness.”

    Good stuff, Lambert. Fracking is fascinating (terrifying!) on all levels.

    I always thought that after peak crude oil, we would be forced to turn toward a simple and straightforward technique, a method tried and true, one previously tested and successfully implemented (by the 3rd Reich, in WWII*), coal liquefaction on an epoch scale. But I was wrong.

    Peak crude is creating a slippery, complex, and insidious paradigm built around fracking, and Canadian mud oil.

    I feel like Tom Hagen in the Godfather: I always thought it would be Clemenza, not Tessio.

    And Michael says: It’s the smart move. Tessio was always smarter.

    *South Africa too, today.

    1. Mark P.

      Natural gas is, indeed, the smart move.

      Be very glad we’re not going to Fischer-Tropsch coal liquefaction (yet). The carbon release and environmental damage from that would be worse than from the current oil and coal-centered paradigm and far, far worse than natural gas.

      We entered peak oil in the 2005-2009 period. What we’re seeing today is what that — BP gulf blowout most definitely included — looks like. Given oil’s role in the formulation of plastics and agricultural fertilizers, continuing to burn it for energy is the most deeply stupid thing we could do.

      Moreover, we know how to do adequately clean fracking, since some companies have been doing that for a couple of decades. The problem is holding back bad corporate actors from cutting costs and corners as NG production scales up, which then create a Gresham’s Law-type rush to the bottom in the rest of the industry.

      1. Mark P.

        Let me qualify my statement that we know how to do clean fracking because we’ve done it in the past. What’s certain is that we know how to do clean fracking on the scale we’ve done it in the past. (See, forex, Rockman’s accounts over at the Oil Drum). Whether we can do it as the NG extraction industry scales up and vastens is not clear to me.

        The future in NG is the Arctic, ultimately. This is clear to a bunch of people, not incidentally, as every month I see more patents published on methods to mine the methane clathrates up there.

  9. Warren Celli

    Excellent use of the internet here. Kudos to Dan and NC. I suggest NC stay on this and make it a showcase David vs Goliath show with the average ‘David’ Hiram resident pitted against the ‘Goliath’ of super Xtrevilist global reaching, double dealing pig — yes he doubled the UK office in four years, oink! oink! — Alex Kruegar. Rah rah! Let’s hear it for super double dealing pig Alex!

    Alex believes; “You can drive a lot of productivity and access through technological advances.” Oink! Oink!

    “About First Reserve Corporation

    Founded in 1983, First Reserve is a leading global investment firm dedicated to the energy industry with over $23 billion of raised capital as of December 31, 2011. With offices in North America, Europe and Asia, First Reserve is well-positioned to make strategic investments on a global basis across the energy value chain. First Reserve seeks to create value for its investors by applying its deep industry knowledge, decades of investing and operational experience, highly talented management team and powerful network of global relationships to its investments and through active monitoring of its portfolio companies.”

    First Reserve Corporation, a leading global investment firm dedicated to the energy industry, today appointed Alex T. Krueger as President as the next milestone in its senior management succession plan.

    And here is a picture of Alex Krueger;


    I can hardly wait for the next episode. Will the residents of Hiram be able to bring the double dealing secretive pig behind the scenes, Oinky Alex, to Hiram to insure them all that he will wear a condom as he inserts that 23 billion dollar tool into the heads of the community? Who will ultimately win here? Are the residents of Hiram about to get a lesson in ‘democracy’ and local sell out scum baggery that is currently sweeping the nation as the disease of Xtrevilism now spreads like wildfire? Throw away those no fracking signs and replace them with picture signs of pig Alex that say “NO FxxCKING!” Put dollar bills in his eye sockets. Frack the sick local weasel sell out pigs! Shame on you limp dick losers!

    Deception is the strongest political force on the planet.

    1. enouf

      Ya know, these stories about Frucken Fracking WMDs make me violently ill .. many times to the point that i literally vomit.

      Here’s some possible Signage / Chants;

      “Our Sovereignty is Lacking,
      If we can’t stop the Fracking”


      “A Sovereign’s Well-Being;
      No Frucking Pipe-Dreams ”


    2. Dan

      The next episode will be next week, when I post the second part (at Pruning Shears if not here). There was a presentation by a rep from an “educational” group that was pretty interesting. I didn’t want to go too long on the post though, so I decided to break it up into two parts.

    3. K Ackermann

      Nice cartoon on your site. All the little piggies.

      I wish I had the time to animate life-like steaming piles of shit in the likeness of the usual suspects.

      I think you might be wrong about Geithner. He only blows the banks. That thing he does to you, me, and the rest of us is something else.

    1. enouf

      Funny how The Crown (Crown Corp) thinks it still retains Allodial Title to all Land east of the Mississippi, ain’t it? ..and from how our Village / Town / City / County / State / Fed critters are acting, I can’t see anything that shows the Crown is wrong.

      Look into Dunn & Bradstreet


  10. hb

    oops — looks like that may be greenwich, connecticut rather than greenwich uk. ceo is american.

    William E. Macaulay
    Chairman & CEO

    William E. Macaulay, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of First Reserve, has been with the firm since its founding in 1983. He is responsible for supervision of all aspects of the firm’s investment program and strategy, as well as overall management of the firm. Mr. Macaulay sits on all of the firm’s investment committees. Prior to acquiring First Reserve with Mr. Hill in 1983, Mr. Macaulay was a co-founder of Meridien Capital Company, a private equity buyout firm. From 1972 to 1982, Mr. Macaulay was with Oppenheimer & Co., Inc., where he served as Director of Corporate Finance with responsibility for investing Oppenheimer’s capital in private equity transactions. At Oppenheimer, he also served as a General Partner and member of the Management Committee of Oppenheimer & Co., as well as President of Oppenheimer Energy Corporation. He was the founder and largest stockholder of Peppermill Oil Company. Mr. Macaulay holds a B.B.A. degree Magna Cum Laude in Economics from City College of New York and an M.B.A. from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, where he also has served as a member of the Executive Board. Additionally, he currently serves as Chairman on the Board of Directors of the Rogosin Institute and is Chairman of the Advisory Board of the City University of New York. Mr. Macaulay has also received a Doctor of Humane Letters (DHL) honorary degree from Baruch College.


  11. Jason Boxman

    How much you want to bet those police resources materialize suddenly if anyone successfully organizes say, a blockade of a road used by fracking equipment?

  12. petridish

    Chris Hedges on Bill Moyers — the topic, among other things is “sacrifice zones.”


    Up until now it has been the coal producing areas of the country that have borne the brunt of “sacrifice” for quarterly profits and energy “independence.” If you live in an area that is being sized-up for fracking, you should be terrified. Also read this Chris Hedges account of what it took to fight this juggernaut(albeit unsuccessfully.)


    You are going to need more than the equivalent of speeding tickets or yard signs–you are going to need your neighbors, your “fellow Americans.” You are going to need to change your lives in order to save them.

  13. Aquifer

    It is stories like Dan’s that wake folks up to why we need to really take politics seriously. Many of us start as NIMBYs – i did, but if we are serious and persistent we soon learn how things are connected – where the levers of power are – often, surprisingly, at the local level and perhaps, more than anything, we learn that it is soo important to pay attention as to whom we put in positions of power ….

    Dan – maybe it’s time to run for office ….

    1. enouf

      As most here likely realize; We know why a debt-jubilee / universal-bailout for the “People” never happened and never will — these things are inextriably intertwined;

      Steal the phony (debt-based) wealth of the people, then offer them pennies of the same phony money for allowing the TPTB to ass-r*** their Natural Resources, ..and do it locally, slowly and methodically, all over the world.

      After all, the meme from the cretin pols (and even the local populations) is “We need the Money”, right?

      Thing is, I’m not sure which is worse – Contamination (for multi-millenia, if not longer) of all arable land and (mostly above-ground) water from Radiation? (Nuclear Plant failings, Spent-fuel rods and their pools, etc) – Or – Contamination of all underground Aquifers that supply fresh water to millions and millions of people, their crops and animals, local businesses, etc!

      This sh*t has got to stop!


      1. F. Beard

        We know why a debt-jubilee / universal-bailout for the “People” never happened and never will … enouf

        It could. People just have to vote for people who’ll do it. Or an organized debt repayment strike (self-service Jubilee) could soon have the banks themselves begging for a universal bailout.

    2. Dan

      It’s a possibility. There’s quite a few people getting more deeply involved in the process as a result of this, and we’ve mentioned the idea. We’ll see how it plays out.

      1. Aquifer

        Go for it – the backyard, the town, the planet you save – all of a piece, may be your own, and it will be your kids’ …

  14. Chauncey Gardiner

    The issues highlighted by this article have been playing out in other venues for many years across America. Only the names and parties engaged in the development of resources and transfer of wealth to themselves from less well connected private citizens and the American people change, often coming at great environmental and other social costs. The predators have ranged from mining and oil companies to corporations that own nuclear power plants to chemicals manufacturers to real estate developers and Wall Street banks to large waste disposal companies and others. And always the stories and ultimate outcome are the same. Why is this so?

    1. Aquifer


      I have given some thought to that as well and from my own experience have come to some conclusions.

      i spent a decade trying to help assure protection for a 10,000 year old aquifer in upstate NY that had/has? been a continuous source of drinking water for residents in a town/village for decades, at least. The issue is/was that to protect the potability of the water, restrictions on land use in the recharge area are necessary – oops, local landowners wanting to “develop”/subdivide their properties did not want such restrictions. So they made sure that the TB/PB members were on “their” side.

      Folks who wanted to protect the resource showed up in large numbers at meetings for awhile – the TB stonewalled with promises to “study” the issue, most folks wandered away. I kept coming to meetings (frankly, i think i was at more TB meetings than TB members!) The TB passed a crappy Master Plan without the necessary protections – I, and another municipality, sued and won – but we realized that victory could be easily undone, and needed protections could only be achieved if there was a decent TB …

      Bottom line – if there is money to be made, folks will easily be found and cultivated to take their places on TBs, PBs, etc – i.e. positions that have the power to enact the rules needed to facilitate the exploitation. If there is no money to be made, but only principle or protection to be upheld, it is much harder to find folks who will stick it out, run for office and go through the crap that is slung at them. I have known a lot of the former and very few of the latter. Until we have more of those latter folk who will step up and hang in there and folks who will support them when they do, we will continue to be washed over by the former.

      Sadly, principle seems to be a less widely motivating factor than money when it comes to politics. Until that changes – until we choose to change it – we will keep repeating that pattern you have noted ….

  15. gn

    The Fracking Lobby wants to steamroll over you because they want to get as many LNG export terminals approved as possible, to push nat gas back to $10/btu, then say ” we can’t meet demand without fracking!” Can’t everyone see that? You think Pickens isn’t behind it in a big way?(as in BP Capital Hedgefund) You really think it’s about his “transportation”? How many deisel truck drivers have been on CNBC touting the benefits of nat gas 18-wheelers?
    Look at the water usage involved. These bastards will form their own water districts to ram this down our throats, steal it from residents and farming, even during a draught.
    Don’t trust asshole Obama to help. He’s a fraud.

  16. Lyle

    But the question is how many landowners who have signed leases showed up. It is just like wind turbines if you have on leased on your land its more money for you, if its on your neighbors land its just an eyesore. If folks bought the land without minerals, then they knew this when they bought it. Does the township have the right to expropriate the mineral rights and deny the mineral owners their rights?
    Note of course that the state is likley a mineral rights owner as well owning the rights under highways and rivers etc. So production makes money for the state.

  17. Susan the other

    One thing we need to do in every town, city and state is change all extraction and development requirements so that they don’t leave their mess behind. If we cannot prevent them from fracking, we must be able to control the devastation. I don’t see how they can get out of that reasoning. They must be required to develop and use techniques that do not pollute and devastate. To pollute and devastate are the equivalent of a taking. And a poisoning. Laws should have teeth and damages should be severe. The planning requirements we now have are half-baked, graft-based nonsense. Only incomplete requirements for reclamation exist. There is pollution everywhere that no one is taking responsibility for. It needs to be dealt with before it happens. The EPA could do something if it weren’t totally bought.

    1. Aquifer


      Sounds great – in theory. Problem is when damage occurs as an inevitable feature of the process, quite aside from the inevitable “accidents”, there is no way to “clean it up”, nature may “fix it up” – in decades, or centuries.

      Sometimes you really can’t eat your cake and have it too – in this case, take your pick – water or gas, or, in this case, water with gas and a bunch of other crap.

      I have spent a good deal of time looking at permits that include provisions for all sorts of “mitigating” factors that are worth no more than the paper they are written on. Even if they worked in theory 1) in practice the conditions necessary for them to work don’t pertain 2) when they are not observed there is no adequate enforcement. The NY DEC is an excellent example of an agency that, IMO, is “bought” at the high end and insufficiently funded and staffed at the low end …. I could tell you stories …..

      We have to understand that with this activity we are agreeing to trade water for gas – a fools bargain, an absurdity, folly, at least IMO ….

      Hate to quote her – but sometimes, as Nancy would say, you have to “Just say NO!”

  18. rjs

    The lead author of a recent University of Texas study that suggested that hydraulic fracturing, commonly called fracking, does not contaminate groundwater is a paid board member and shareholder in a company that engages in the practice, a situation that critics are calling a conflict of interest and of which the researcher’s supervisors were unaware. “The report was presented as if it was an independent study of fracking when, in fact, the study was led by a gas industry insider,”

    Groat, who did not respond to messages from the American-Statesman, has been on Houston-based Plains Exploration & Production Co.’s board for several years. Groat was paid $413,900 in cash and stock by the company in 2011, according to SEC filings reviewed by the Statesman, more than twice his salary from the university, and holds almost $1.6 million in the company’s stock.


  19. rjs

    something else you should know: http://www.nowandfutures.com/download/d4/TypicalBakkenWellProduction(north_dakota_govt).png

    source: https://www.dmr.nd.gov/oilgas/presentations/WBPC2011Activity.pdf page 10

    unlike conventional wells where you drill one well & produce for 40 years, to continue to produce oil from the bakken you have to drill more & more wells…& the same is true for fracking for gas in the marcellus…the drilling is continueous

    keep that up long enough, & you’ll have no bedrock left under Pennsylvania, Ohio, & New York…what happens then is anyones guess…you might end up under the rising sea levels before new jersey..

      1. erim

        It’s pretty crazy the amount of misinformation going around about the Bakken. You still here the “energy independence” myth in the mainstream media, even though the numbers do not add up. The Bakken might peak at 1.5 million bpd some day, but that’s nowhere near what we import, even just from OPEC. Still, they keep trumpeting this nonsense.

  20. Joelle Pulido

    I definitely agree that location/scenery can make a city seem more sexy. Miami kind of surprised me. When I lived in Florida we’d visit there often and I always found it kind of dirty. I feel like there are much sexier beaches in Florida. But it’s still a pretty interesting list all together. I think Venice should have made the list!

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