Monday, July 21, 2014

The Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline EIS: Demand FERC Do it Right!

Photo Wendy Lynne Lee


The following is a letter composed by Restoration Ecologist, Kevin Heatley and Philosophy of Ecology Professor/Writer, Wendy Lynne Lee. It's aim is to provide citizens potentially impacted by Williams Partners' (WPX) proposed construction of a 177 mi. 30-42 inch high pressure natural gas pipeline--the TRANSCO expansion, "Atlantic Sunrise"--with clearly drafted, precise information about the ecological hazards of this project. While this letter's focus is ecological, there are a number of other categories of serious hazard--property rights, the abuse of eminent domain, health hazards, and community division--just to name a few. This set is thus intended neither to be comprehensive nor definitive--but what we know is that if FERC took seriously any one of these DEMANDS, let alone the whole set, fulfilling it would become so expensive, onerous, and time-consuming that WPX would be compelled to abandon the pipeline expansion. Indeed, WPX (or any pipeline company) cannot fulfill these adequately because the harms just are beyond what they can assess, much less repair. We know that, and we know our readers know that. Hence, we invite you to copy this set of citizen DEMANDS for yourselves, your neighbors, include it in part or whole in your own comments to FERC, tack it up on doorways or trees, leave it at diners, bring it to read at the scoping hearings listed below. Send it to your legislators, your county commissioners--to whomever you think relevant to this project.

Our aim is clear: STOP THE PIPELINE.


Dear Citizen,

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has issued a Notice of Intent that it will be preparing an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the proposed Atlantic Sunrise Expansion Project. This pipeline will entail approximately 177 miles of new 30 to 42 inch, high-pressure natural gas transmission line and will bisect at least 8 counties in Pennsylvania. As you are aware, the environmental and socio-economic impacts associated with this project pose a grave threat to the integrity and security of our region.

You can find the notice in full here: ELibrary File List

This FERC Notice of Intent provides us with an early opportunity to register opposition to this ill-conceived and unnecessary expansion of natural gas infrastructure. As a citizen, you have a right to demand FERC develop a thorough and complete EIS. Unfortunately, our experience reviewing FERC EIS and (Environmental Assessment) EA documents associated with the last three interstate pipeline projects in our region (the Constitution, the MARC I, and the Tennessee Expansion) indicates that FERC has a history of producing inadequate and substandard analyses of impacts.

We thus encourage you to utilize the following observations to inform your comments to FERC. Now is the time to insist that FERC fully account for all the social-economic and environmental consequences of yet another massive natural gas transmission line.

This list is intended to demonstrate some of the inconsistencies in past FERC documents. Utilize it freely but we also encourage you to include issues of concern based upon your own personal insights and experience.

Williams Open House,
Columbia County
Photo Wendy Lynne Lee

·       FERC has constantly refused to address the full cumulative consequences of expanding interstate transmission pipelines. A recent court decision has found this to be inadequate and unlawful. DEMAND that FERC fully account for the increased upstream drilling activity, and ultimate climate instability, that will result from expanding the natural gas transmission capacity!

For the Circuit Court Decision, please see: 

·       FERC is required to develop an “alternatives analysis” that considers other options besides the construction of the proposed pipeline. DEMAND an alternatives analysis that includes decentralized power generation (a model based upon private homeowner and community solar panels and wind turbines).

·       FERC has a history of ignoring the full impacts associated with fragmenting interior forest and creating new forest edge environments. DEMAND that FERC include 300 feet on each side of the pipeline as acreage impacted WHEREVER the pipeline crosses interior forest!

·       FERC has repeatedly allowed the pipeline companies to avoid paying for replanting of removed forest vegetation when “temporary workspaces” (often another 60 feet of right-of-way width) are cleared. DEMAND that FERC require a full restoration and replanting plan for EACH forest area “temporarily” denuded!

Forest fragmentation
Photo Wendy Lynne Lee

·       FERC often requires that agricultural soils be separated, stockpiled, and replaced during pipeline construction. However, they devalue and destroy forest soils, despite the inherent fragility of these resources. DEMAND that FERC require the pipeline company fully protect ALL soil systems.

·       FERC consistently fails to provide for adequate and comprehensive invasive species control. DEMAND that FERC require the same level of invasive suppression in both wetland and upland systems for the ENTIRE service life of the pipeline AND for newly created forest edge habitat adjacent to the maintained right-of-way!

·       FERC repeatedly allows open trenching of small and medium size streams during pipeline construction. Yet they require directional drilling under LARGE streams. This preferential treatment of watercourses is arbitrary and ultimately damaging to watershed health. The cumulative linear footage of water crossings involving smaller streams is potentially orders of magnitude greater than that associated with one or two larger water bodies. DEMAND that FERC require directional drilling during all stream crossings!
Impacted stream at pipeline cut,
Photo Wendy Lynne Lee

·       FERC allows pipeline companies to permanently maintain and mow a right-of-way width of 50 feet in upland systems. Yet they restrict the width to 10 foot in wetlands. There is no ecological rationale behind this arbitrary difference in right-of-way width. If a smaller right-of-way is possible for wetlands, it is possible for uplands. DEMAND that FERC respect the private property rights of upland land owners!

Citizen comments are due on or before August 18, 2014. We encourage you to submit your comments electronically using the “eComment” feature located on the FERC website ( under the link “Documents and Filings.”

FERC has a long history of advancing virtually every project seeking approval. Hence, it is unrealistic to expect FERC to deny the Atlantic Sunrise Expansion solely based upon community concerns or the comments of private citizens. If, however, citizens DEMAND that FERC develop a thorough and comprehensive EIS that addresses the full spectrum of socio-economic and environmental impacts associated with this pipeline, it will become apparent to both FERC and Williams Partners that this project is cost-prohibitive. 

In other words, if FERC took seriously its responsibility to assess the actual impacts of the proposed Atlantic Sunrise expansion,  it would become clear that Williams' Partners' intent is to externalize the risks and the cost onto the taxpayers and communities who will bear the environmental, health, property value and divisive community impacts of this project--but enjoy few if any of the benefits.

The only sound conclusion to draw is not that the pipeline can be moved, relocated, made more efficient. but that the pipeline should not and must not be built.

Kevin Heatley, Restoration Ecologist
Wendy Lynne Lee, Professor of Philosophy

For further information please contact Wendy Lynne Lee:

FERC's Public Scoping Meetings: 7-10PM; Williams Partner's Open House, 6-7PM

8.4.14: Millersville University, Student Memorial Center, 21 South George Street
Millersville, PA 17551.

8.5.14: Lebanon Valley College, Arnold Sports Center, 101 North College Ave.
Anneville, PA 17003.

8.6.14: Bloomsburg University, Haas Center for the Arts, 400 East Second Street
Bloomsburg, PA 17815.

8.7.14: Lake Lehmon High School, 1128 Old Route 115, Dallas, PA 18612

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Dear Friends at the Pineland's Preservation Alliance: Power Plant Conversion is Just the Cover Story for LNG Export

I was asked by a colleague to do a little research into the relationship between the company endeavoring to get permission to construct a natural gas pipeline through the New Jersey Pine Barrens, a sensitive ecological system allegedly protected under state law, and natural gas drilling--fracking--in the Marcellus Shale. The company is South Jersey Gas--parent company South Jersey Industries (SJI), and in January 2014, their application was declined: 

In January 2014 the Commission declined to pass a resolution that would have waived the rules of the CMP and allowed South Jersey Gas to build the pipeline (click here to review South Jersey Gas Application pipeline page). The final vote was tied 7-7 and they needed 8 votes in favor for the project to move forward. But now the Commission is under a lot of pressure to overturn this decision. (Pinelands Commission Appointments - Pinelands Preservation Alliance).
A lot of pressure. And how.  

In fact, although the purpose of the pipeline was ostensively to provide natural gas to the BL England Power Plant (Pine Barrens, New Jersey Pinelands Protection - Pinelands Preservation Alliance - South Jersey Gas Pipeline), I'd argue that this is only part of the story, and that the bigger play demonstrated by SJI's interest--and significant gamble--in the Marcellus Shale lay in its connection to LNG export. 

Fact is, South Jersey Industries just wouldn't be going to all this trouble to get in on the shale play if they weren't also planning to get in on the export bonanza. 

Here's part of the story:

1. South Jersey Industries is the "energy services holding company for utility and non-regulated businesses" ( South Jersey Energy Solutions, "the parent of SJI’s non-regulated businesses, provides innovative, environmentally friendly energy solutions that help customers control energy costs. South Jersey Energy acquires and markets natural gas and electricity for retail customers and offers energy-related services. MARINA ENERGY develops and operates energy projects including thermal facilities serving hot and chilled water for casinos, cogeneration facilities and landfill gas-to-electricity facilities."

2. "South Jersey Industries, Inc., through its subsidiaries, is engaged in the purchase, transmission, and sale of natural gas, as well as provision of other energy related services. The company sells natural gas and pipeline transportation capacity on a wholesale basis to various customers on the interstate pipeline system, as well as transports natural gas purchased directly from producers or suppliers to their customers. As of December 31, 2013, it had approximately 122.7 miles of mains in the transmission system and 6,247 miles of mains in the distribution well as owns oil, gas, and mineral rights in the Marcellus Shale region of Pennsylvania. South Jersey Industries, Inc. was founded in 1910 and is headquartered in Folsom, New Jersey" (

3. South Jersey Industries, the parent company of South Jersey Gas (created in 1948) created MARINA ENERGY in 2000 "to develop on-site energy production facilities that currently include thermal, combined heat and power, solar and landfill gas to electricity facilities"  ( 

"In 2007, Marina Energy and long-time business partner, DCO Energy formed Energenic LLC to extend the success both companies had achieved with on-site energy production facilities. Most recently Energenic completed an energy facility for Revel Resort in Atlantic City and has a large energy project under construction at Montclair State University. Energenic also acquired The Energy Network, LLC, holding company for TEN Companies, Hartford Steam Company and CNE Power I, LLC in Connecticut during 2012" (

4. December 8, 2008: POTATO CREEK: "SJI ANNOUNCES AGREEMENT TO DEVELOP MARCELLUS SHALE ACREAGE": "Folsom, NJ - South Jersey Industries (NYSE: SJI) today announced that Potato Creek, LLC has entered into a lease agreement with an experienced exploration and production company to develop the deep mineral rights on over 21,000 acres of property in the Marcellus Shale in western Pennsylvania. SJI’s wholly owned subsidiary, South Jersey Resources Group, LLC, is a minority partner in Potato Creek. In addition to receiving an upfront lease payment, Potato Creek has retained certain royalty and carried working interest rights that provide an opportunity to boost returns based on natural gas production on the property. The upfront lease payment will add an estimated 15 cents to SJI’s earnings per share over the life of the lease. “Currently we have a successful commodity marketing and shallow well program at Potato Creek in western Pennsylvania,” explained Edward Graham, SJI’s Chairman and CEO. 

“Leasing the deep mineral rights that we control to an experienced ... company enables us to begin realizing the value of this asset for our shareholders without incurring the risks and costs associated with drilling this acreage ourselves,” continued Graham." ( 

Interesting side note: These agreements appear to be directly connected to terry Engelder's predictions: "Penn State University geoscientist Terry Engelder said early in November that, based on several common industry assumptions, he estimates 363 trillion cubic feet of natural gas could be recovered over the next few decades from the 31-million-acre core area of the Marcellus region..."

5. ST. MARY LAND AND EXPLORATION COMPANY, NOW SM ENERGY COMPANY: "In December, 2008, Denver, Colorado-based St. Mary Land & Exploration Company (NYSE: SM) announced that it had entered into an agreement wherein it could earn 43,000 almost contiguous net acres (50,000 gross acres) of land prospective for Marcellus shale in the central Pennsylvania counties of McKean and Potter. In 2010, the name of the company was changed to SM Energy Company, and, as of August, 2010, it appeared to be planning either to sell its Marcellus shale and other non-core holdings or else enter into a joint venture. Bank of America Merrill Lynch had been retained to market the assets. By January, 2009 with a deteriorating economy, the company announced that it was cutting its Marcellus exploration and development budget by 54%. A May, 2009 report indicated that St. Mary planned to drill two horizontal Marcellus wells during the third quarter of 2009 and begin testing activities. It is permissible under its agreement to drill anytime before the end of 2010, so the work could be deferred until the following year. A further report at the end of June, 2009 qualified the above statement to say that that the company does plan to test part of its acreage during 2009."

"One of St. Mary's business partners in the Marcellus venture already has gas gathering and processing capability that should give the company a leg up in marketing the gas. In November, 2009 St. Mary announced the drilling and completion of the Potato Creek 1H and the Potato Creek 3H, its first two horizontal wells located in McKean County, PA. St. Mary owned a 70% working interest (WI) in each well. The company was in the process of laying a temporary sales pipeline to the first of the two wells. The wells were expected to go online to sales in the second quarter of 2010. It further noted that St. Mary's acreage position in northeastern Pennsylvania's McKean and Potter counties amounted to 41,000 net acres. Update:In Augest, 2010 SM Energy (formerly St. Mary) announced that the Potato Creek 3H had begun producing to sales earlier in the month at a facility constrained initial rate of 7 Mmcfe/d.According to a February, 2010 news account, St. Mary's joint venture (JV) partner in the Potato Creek acreage was South Jersey Industries that owned the remaining 30% WI on 21,000 acres in McKean Co. The JV partners planned to drill two additional Marcellus shale wells during 2010. According to an early May, 2010, company update, St. Mary had decided to defer its 2010 Marcellus drilling program until June when its sales pipeline was to be complete. The company was required to drill two wells under its joint venture agreement during the year."

"Tony Best is St. Mary's President and CEO" ( best is set to retire in 2014 (

6. PRESIDENT OF SOUTH JERSEY GAS, EDWARD JAY GRAHAM: "South Jersey Gas' parent company expects huge profits from Pennsylvania gas fields": "“Natural gas,” said Edward J. Graham, president and CEO of South Jersey Industries, “is the answer for the future.”

So confident is Graham in the necessity of natural gas that he has taken Folsom-based SJI, the holding company of South Jersey Gas, into a different direction: drilling and production. And if the venture proves successful,  the region’s largest public company stands to collect millions of dollars in revenue, analysts say, potentially “dwarfing” its other operations. In December 2008, SJI told investors that its subsidiary was spending $2 million for a minority interest in the mineral rights of 21,000 acres in western Pennsylvania. The area — known as Potato Creek — is part of the Marcellus Shale..." (

7. July 18, 2011: "SJI ENTERS AGREEMENT TO SELL CERTAIN MARCELLUS SHALE ASSETS": Folsom, NJ - South Jersey Industries' (NYSE: SJI) announces that one of its subsidiaries has entered into agreements with Endeavour International Corporation (NYSE: END, LSE:ENDV) to sell certain Marcellus Shale assets for total cash proceeds of approximately $9 million. The transaction involves the company’s working interests and its interests in the gathering system held through its 30% ownership in Potato Creek, LLC. Since 2008, Potato Creek has leased the deep mineral rights on the 21,000 acres to SM Energy. Currently, three producing wells are located on this acreage and are included in the sale. SJI will retain its interest in the minerals and will continue to earn royalties on all gas production under the existing lease agreement. The closing is expected to occur in the fourth quarter of 2011. Edward J. Graham, chairman, president and CEO of SJI noted, “We are pleased to announce this agreement to monetize the non-royalty portion of our Potato Creek Marcellus assets. We remain very bullish on the Marcellus Shale as a source of abundant, low-cost natural gas that will serve as a foundation for this country’s future energy needs. This transaction will reposition our investment to focus on acquiring passive royalty interests throughout the Marcellus.” Graham continued, “SJI’s ongoing program to acquire royalty rights on natural gas production is a strategic fit with our position as one of the largest natural gas marketers in the Marcellus.” In addition to its Potato Creek royalty assets, SJI HAS ACQUIRED ROYALTY INTERESTS IN APPROXIMATELY 2000 ADDITIONAL ACRES THROUGHOUT THE MARCELLUS." (my emphasis).

8. December 18th, 2013: "South Jersey Industries : SJG to Provide $12 Million Bill Credit to Customers": "FOLSOM - South Jersey Gas has notified the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities that it will provide a bill credit of approximately $12 million to its customers..."With the availability and close proximity of Marcellus Shale gas to our service area, natural gas prices continue to remain low, which provides us with the ability to offer this bill credit. We're very pleased that we are able to provide our customers a reduced bill during a colder month when heating costs tend to be higher due to increased usage," said Jeffrey E. DuBois, president of South Jersey Gas" (,+Williams+Partners&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8).

9. May 14th, 2014: "South Jersey Industries executives confident of pipeline approval":  "Executives with South Jersey Industries, the parent company of South Jersey Gas, said in a conference call with investors last week that they are confident that a 22-mile natural gas pipeline from Millville to the BL England power plant in Beesleys Point will ultimately become a reality...“We are incredibly optimistic about the outcome and, in fact, I think it's realistic in our minds that to think that we're going to start to spend money on this project of this magnitude during 2015,” Graham said according to a transcript on the website SeekingAlpha. “…I would very much hope before 2016 ends that would be in service.” (

10. SOUTH JERSEY INDUSTRIES CONNECTION TO WILLIAMS AND THE TRANSCO, AND TO DOMINION: "South Jersey Gas Company, operates as a regulated natural gas utility. SJG distributes natural gas in the seven southernmost counties of New Jersey. It has direct connections to the interstate natural gas pipeline systems of both Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line Company, LLC (Transco) and Columbia Gas Transmission, LLC (Columbia)...SJG also secures other long term services from one additional pipeline upstream of the Transco and Columbia systems. This upstream pipeline is owned by Dominion Transmission, Inc. (Dominion). Services provided by Dominion are utilized to deliver gas into either the Transco or Columbia systems for ultimate delivery to SJG. Services provided by all of the pipelines are subject to the jurisdiction of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). Transco Transco is SJG's major supplier of long-term gas transmission services which includes both year-round and seasonal firm transportation (FT) service arrangements..." (

11. "Another Williams Partners' Transco Pipeline Expansion Fully Subscribed to Serve Southeast's Growing Demand for Natural Gas":

"Williams Partners L.P. (NYSE: WPZ) today announced that its Transco pipeline system received binding commitments from shippers for 100 percent of the 448,000 dekatherms of firm transportation capacity under its Dalton Expansion Project, which would support providing access to Marcellus shale gas supplies to customers in northwest Georgia for incremental electricity generation and growing local distribution load. Additionally, AGL Resources (NYSE: GAS) has entered into agreements with Williams Partners to jointly fund the Georgia lateral portion of the expansion.  "The Dalton Expansion Project is one of six large-volume projects Transco is pursuing to connect approximately 3.4 million dekatherms of natural gas from surging supplies in the northeast to high-value growth markets in the southeast," said Rory Miller, senior vice president of Williams Partners' Atlantic-Gulf operating area. "By year-end 2017, we expect to add more than 50 percent to Transco's system capacity with mainline expansions that include the Dalton Expansion Project, Atlantic Sunrise, Leidy Southeast, Virginia Southside and others to meet the increasing demand for natural gas in the region."" Williams (WPZ) is an MLP and operates the TRANSCO. This is the company responsible for the proposes Atlantic Sunrise Expansion that will bisect a number of Pennsylvania Counties.

This is just the tip of this iceberg, and no doubt domestic markets are one target of this company. But what's also clear is that Mr. Graham is taking a gamble by expanding his company interests well beyond its traditional reach--and into the Marcellus Shale on the same promise of "strike it rich!" that Terry Engelder made possible. The only way to make that promise pan out for his shareholders is to expand beyond the domestic markets because while good advertising can make these markets more profitable, the pressure to realize those dollars is very very real given that, as we can already see in the Baaken, the Eagle Ford, and other shale plays, the gas will decline in production, and it will do it quickly. Hence, Graham must acgt and act aggressively before this boom goes bust. 

And the Pine barrens, just like the Everglades in Florida, Tiadaghton and Loyalsock State Forests in Pennsylvania, Mount Rushmore, tribal lands across the country, and so many other places large and small, known and unknown (like you yard) hang in the balance.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

"From the very start we were followed by gas security people": how the gas industry harasses and intimidates us into silence

Active Dehydrator, PGE, Tract 293, Pad G, HuntleyRd.
Tiadaghton State Forest, Lycoming County, PA
Photo Wendy Lynne Lee

UPDATE: For photographs of the trees marked for conversion to stumps, please see:

The Birth of a New PGE Frack Pad is Death Row for Trees - an album on Flickr.

UPDATE: For photographs of the trees post conversion, as well as the decimation of state game lands 75, Tiadaghton, please see: 

Taking down the forest one tree--or a hundred--at a time: Tiadaghton State Forest, PA - an album on Flickr

UPDATE: I now have permission to share with my readers the name of the gentleman whose words follow my brief introduction: Bob Deering. Bob's story has been profiled before--but I think his own words capture something more intimate and invaluable about what's happening in the "shalefields," a polite word for our forests, our farms, our homes. 

The following is a first-hand example of how the gas industry is allowed by the state to behave effectively like an invading army--and how citizens in the path of the gas wells live under what can only be described as martial law

We might be tempted to think that stories like this are exaggerated, embellished, or even fiction. 

But this is a first hand account of a private property owner living out his life on his own land--surrounded by gas wells and fracking infrastructure operated by Pennsylvania General Energy in Tiadaghton State Forest, Lycoming County, Pennsylvania--what one DCNR (Department of Conservation and Natural Resources) agent called Tiadaghton Industrial Park.

I have not altered the written description in any way, nor have I deleted or added anything to it. I took the photographs on 6.22.14.

"This is a description of events that occurred on June 18, 2014. 

I was ask to give an interview from NPR/WITF about how gas drilling has affected my quality of life since its inception 7 years ago. I began by giving a short site tour of an area to the rear of our property.

Photo Wendy Lynne Lee
From the very start we were followed by gas security people. As we proceeded out a state forest road--School House Road--we were approached by a guard vehicle that had been following us. he ask what we were doing, our names, and then proceeded to take a picture of my vehicle and another picture of my license plate. He then told us we were not allowed to take pictures of any well pads and mentioned this incident would have to be reported. At this point I made a cell phone call to the DCNR office to clarify what I was allowed to do and where I was allowed to walk; unfortunately I had to speak to a voice mail system and was told I'd be called back.

We turned around and stopped at a construction site where a new pond and a compressor site is to be placed; one of the people with me mentioned: we have company again. We had a security car in front of us on School House Road. another parked in front of us on Okome Road. he ask me whether I thought they were trying to block us in.
Photo Wendy Lynne Lee
We were totally off either road that would obstruct traffic flow. The guard cars just sat there and watched us, as we moved, they moved, we stopped they stopped, until we left and they followed us until I turned onto the road to our house. 

At what point is this type of activity harassment of the public. I am tired of being followed like I am a criminal, I'm tired of telling the guards every day where I'm going on the roads. These people were originally only placed to prevent traffic flow problems when an OVERSIZED GAS COMPANY truck was using the road.

Photo Wendy Lynne Lee

Now they have taken total control of all traffic flow no matter what type of vehicles are using the roads. This is not an issue totally with the security people, they work for PGE.

After returning the people doing the interview I proceeded to the DCNR office since I didn't get a return phone call. I spoke with a forestry person that explained to me that I did nothing wrong and where I was allowed to go and the incident would be taken care of...After that visit I returned towards home, when I got to the intersection before my home, another guard approached me and ask how things were going and then proceeded to tell me why I was being followed. he said it was for my own safety from any truck drivers or gas well personnel. 

I disagree with that answer; if that is the case why don't they follow every vehicle that uses the road. If it is the answer they have some very severe personnel issues to deal with.

I do not believe this is going to be the end of this issue.

Photo Wendy Lynne Lee


The more I think about the circumstances, the madder I am getting. I wish I would have been accepted as a candidate for the PEDF hearing in harrisburg. To me it was an embarrassing situation.

Typed while I still remember the conditions.

Pa code part 18 section 2709 Harassment:

a)  Offense defined.--A person commits the crime of harassment when, with intent to harass, annoy or alarm another, the person:
(1)  strikes, shoves, kicks or otherwise subjects the other person to physical contact, or attempts or threatens to do the same;

(2)  follows the other person in or about a public place or places;

(3)  engages in a course of conduct or repeatedly commits acts which serve no legitimate purpose;

(4)  communicates to or about such other person any lewd, lascivious, threatening or obscene words, language, drawings or caricatures;

(5)  communicates repeatedly in an anonymous manner;

(6)  communicates repeatedly at extremely inconvenient hours; or

(7)  communicates repeatedly in a manner other than 

specified in paragraphs (4), (5) and (6).

Harassment. Intimidation. Silencing.

There are, however, really two issues here:

1. The liquidation of Tiadaghton State Forest by PGE.

2. The repressive jackboot tactics utilized with the blessing of the state by the gas industry.

Under such conditions, none are free. 

Photo Wendy Lynne Lee

Under such conditions, freedom of expression, freedom of movement, are effectively criminalized.

When did the gas companies take over? When did they gain the right--in the name of safety--to tell me what to do? 

Can anyone really "stop the job at any time"?

Only when we, the citizens, become brave enough to take seriously the promise of democracy.

The gas companies are counting on us to remain cowards.

They count on us to be pacified by the hollow promise of "regulations," "best practices" and perhaps a severance tax. A tax, of course, is just a gift to the frackers--it legitimates and institutionalizes the industry by making social programs and education dependent on the revenue. So--they're even liars when they feign opposition to taxation.
State Gameland 75, Tiadaghton
Photo Wendy Lynne Lee
Note the deer fencing--to protect the forest from the deer.

My new friend, who generously gave me his words, may not agree with me here. I don't know. What I do know is that his quality of life--his very way of life--has been sorely compromised, and without justification.

Message to PGE: I am a citizen. These are public roads. I have a camera. You have no right whatever to stop me, harass me, intimidate me. And I have every right--indeed
responsibility--to record and expose what you are doing to my fellows, and the polluted wasteland you're making of the air and water upon which we all depend.
Tiadaghton State Forest
Photo Wendy Lynne Lee
Taken while detained with Bloomberg reporter Isaac Arnsdorf
for 15 minutes--on a public road.

My rights are not dictated by your profit margins.

For the complete set of pictures, please see: 

For my own experience of intimidation, in this case, by police who may as well be the gas company's own bought jackboots, please see:
Tiadaghton State Forest--now a NO TRESPASSING zone.
Lycoming County, PA
Photo Wendy Lynne Lee

For another piece similar to this one, please see:

Wendy Lynne Lee

Friday, June 20, 2014

The Road Paved With Frack-Tax Dollars Leads to an Industrialized Hell

Collapsed road sign, sharp curve, public road, Chief's Dacheux Well Pad, Cherry Township, Sullivan County, PA
Photo, Wendy Lynne Lee

Below is my response to Democrat Party candidate, Steve Todd, and his defense of the claim that it is consistent with identifying as a "fractivist" the Democrat Party gubernatorial candidate, Tom Wolf's plan to impose a tax on the natural gas industry. 

The response can be found here: 

The defense of a tax on the gas industry is not consistent with any position whose goal is to end fracking. In fact, it's self-defeating. 

Steve Todd:

Collapsed road sign, sharp curve, public road,
Chief's Dacheux Well Pad,
Cherry Township, Sullivan County, PA
Photo, Wendy Lynne Lee

I call myself a fracktivist. And I support a tax. Because I know the entire world is not going to march lockstep to my edicts. I admire your work (we have attended numerous events together, are FB friends and have met several times). I am on your side. And Alex Lotorto’s side. The same Alex I had to unfriend on FB because of his relentless and very personal attacks on my positions. I am backing Wolf, being a Dem Committeeman (Dauphin County), but I wish you and Glover all the best. But if you do win, I am 100% certain you will be a little disappointed. Winning a political office does not mean you march in and everyone shuts up, and prepares their pens for orders. Folks like Victoria and Tom (with whom I am also acquainted and have worked) are on our side…yours, Alex’, Vera’s, Rebecca’s and mine. It should shock no one to learn that none of those folks march lockstep on the issues of the day…it would be a scary world in which we did."


HI Steve, and thank you for your reply. The argument against a tax--severance or otherwise-- is very clear, as are its implications with respect to who gets to honestly call themselves anti-fracking--and that is not and cannot be you or, for that matter, anyone who supports a tax.

1. A tax on natural gas extraction via fracking will institutionalize the industry by making social programs dependent on its revenue stream. However much the industry resists it, they know that any tax will have this positive effect for them--and so their resistance is feigned and simply aimed at the lowest tax possible. The amount of the tax has no real bearing on the extent to which it institutionalizes the industry as part of the state's internal revenue structure.

2. Wolf is the best thing that could happen to the gas industry--far better than Corbett--because while the duped are celebrating Wolf's imposing a tax, the industry will go about their dirty business as usual--but with the added bonus that they now have the cover of legitimacy behind a painless tax that will guarantee their presence in the state forever--or until they leave us a spent industrialized wasteland. Corbett could never have lent them this cover.

3. Taxing the industry will actively encourage even less regulation. The formula is simple" Imposing a tax=insuring dependence of social programs=pressure to generate more revenue=pressure for the industry to make more money=weakening regulations. In other words, the more dependence, the more pressure to generate greater tax revenues, and because the tax as a percentage of profit is never going to amount to anything substantial, the thing that's going to have to give is the regulations and their enforcement. When you add to this the fact that--as this article demonstrates once again--the regulations are meaningless and unenforceable now, just imagine what that will mean given the institutionalization of the industry. Welcome to Texas.

4. Once the industry is institutionalized in the state's tax structure, they will be able to exert pressure like never before. They will be in a position to level substantive threats of withdrawal and whoever is governor will cave to the threat precisely because essential social programs--and (thanks to Wolf) funding for education will now be tied to gas tax revenue. The regulations will then be enforced even less, more and more Democrats will jump on board for horrendous bills like the gutting of the state's endangered species act--and representative like yourself will have paved the way for the future industrialization of the state including the further erosion of property rights, rights to clean air and water, rights to speak out against the industry. In short, an invitation to become part of the state's essential economic wherewithal in an invitation to corporate hegemony.

5. (1)-(4) can have only one conclusion: more fracking including all of its dirty and damaging infrastructure.
Erosion and Sediment Plan,
Chief's Dacheux Well Pad,
Cherry Township, Sullivan County, PA
Photo, Wendy Lynne Lee

I invite you to demonstrate where this argument fails. You might argue, for example, that the argument for a tax is "being realistic," and that a tax is better than no tax.

The problem with this reasoning is that I have shown that a tax is far worse than no tax because it institutionalizes the industry in the state's fiduciary structure--with the implications I have spelled out.

You might argue that these implications-- social program dependence, education funding--don't necessarily follow. But indeed they do, and the history of the state shows it. Moreover, we cannot rationally believe otherwise given that Corbett has gutted these programs such that there exists a funding vacuum that Wolf is clearly prepared to fill with frack-dollars.

You might argue that there's no necessary connection between social program dependence and the weakening of already weak environmental and safety regulations. You're correct--there is no necessary relationship. But there will be an empirically demonstrable one since the need to fund these programs will continue--and for some escalate--creating pressure to generate more revenue. That just IS the history of taxation.

To use the language of "march lockstep to my edicts" is ad hominem and implies that I have acted in a dictatorial fashion. That is false--I have laid out arguments premised on reason and evidence, and to resort to this variety of name-calling only implies that because you can't offer reasoned and evidenced objections you're comfortable with punches that are below the belt. That is unbefitting a candidate for office.

That you are backing Wolf because--as you put it--you are a Democrat councilman is simply to say that you feel yourself compelled to march lock-step with your party regardless their positions. You are not so bound--and this is the pot calling the kettle black.

Wishing myself and Glover the best is wholly disingenuous and easy for you because it costs you no political capital. I also am not interested in being patronized--and your claim about being disappointed that winning does not mean people will simply "shut up" and follow orders is just that. But it is consistent with your strategic attack to get readers here to identify a clear and resolute position with "lock-step" and dictatorial.

This is how those who want to have it both ways--be identified as anti-fracking, all the while acting in a fashion that is in fact complicit with the gas industry--paint those who are genuinely anti-fracking as irrational because we argue that given the failures of regulation and the inherent hazards of extraction infrastructure, the only morally defensible rational position to take is to fight for a ban.

But your unwillingness to take up this fight can neither be identified as moral nor rational--and one evidence for this is your willingness to paint those who'd defend a ban as the dictatorial radicals in order to make yourself appear reasonable. But in this case appearances are deceiving.
Truck with unspecified filled containers heading up narrow muddy road to frack operations, Dacheux Well Pad
Cherry Township, Sullivan County, PA. Photo, Wendy Lynne lee

Your promotion of a tax is not morally defensible because--as I have shown--it will lead to indefensibly harmful consequences. Now that you know this, to continue to defend the tax can only be seen as politically expedient--about being electable--but it is not anti-fracking.

The time to defend a tax, to defend regulation--especially in the face of pieces like this one--to defend "best practices" is over. None of us have a right to this ignorance--least of all those who'd pretend to represent us. To make this claim is not dictatorial, sectarian (and nathan Sooy would have it) or narrow. It is realistic. It is to acknowledge the fundamental truth that none of us involved in this struggle have any right to find one iota of this article about silencing surprising.

We all know better, and it is high time we acted like it.