Tuesday, July 7, 2015

With Facebook Friends Like These...: How a Self-Described "Ms. Witchdoctress" "Gets Rid" of Gadflies

Julie Ann Edgar, Inauguration of Governor Tom Wolf, 2015
Photo, Wendy Lynne Lee

The purpose of the following is to prevent harm, defend free exchange, and tell the truth.

But--especially to prevent harm.

The note below hails from self-described "Ms. Witchdoctress" Julie Ann Edgar. She posted it to her Facebook friends on a thread concerning appropriate remedies to bee-sting after she banned me from the thread. 

I could, of course, not see the post, and "Ms. Witchdoctress" apparently assumed it would not make its way to me. 

But it did.

To put it another, more explicit, way: 

Ms. Edgar determined that for whatever reason (we'll pursue that below), I ought not to participate in this discussion, so she banned me from it--rendering me defenseless against the excoriating tirade she then posted. 

I quote it here in full, and with sincere thanks to the source who believed I had a right to see it--that I have a right to self-defense, especially against attacks that come without provocation, without forewarning, and--as we'll see--without an once of justification.

Greetings friends, i have blocked Wendy from this thread she has chosen to hijack for her obviously pathological vampiric energy needs.  

I have answers to her many criticisms, but it is my opinion that she presents them mostly because she needs attention and not because she would listen to a damn word i said if i bothered to respond to all of them. 

I am saddened at her ignorance because Quantum physics will continue to bear out that many things she is falsely claiming are pseudoscience are absolutely NOT--

 and she who considers herself an ecofeminist is surely NOT, because a pillar of ecofeminism is the validation of the witchdoctress/botanical healer archetype, and the validation of nonlinear ways of knowing. 

I don't have the patience to deal with these spurious claims, and since this is my wall, i have gotten rid of her. 

It is obvious from her disproportionate response and UBER-argumentative style that she seeks attention more than anything else. 


First, some context:

The discussion was about remedies for bee sting. Julie had recommended Tea Root--Melaleuca. While I cannot produce her exact words--as I am banned from the thread--she had clearly recommended it for a wasp sting, and claimed that she had "run, not walked" to access the remedy. She strongly implied that Melaleuca was a remedy as opposed to a mere analgesic, and later in the thread she bragged that she had "saved" many children by making this "remedy" available to their parents at places like parks.

When the post came up in my Facebook feed, I had to respond for two reasons:

First, while I do not know exactly what Ms. Edgar meant by "saved," what I do know is that Melaleuca is nothing more than a modest pain-reliever. It will have no effect whatever in case of allergic reaction

That means it will have no effect whatever in case of anaphylaxis

To therefore recommend it without being very clear for what it's intended is simply irresponsible, and it had to be said. 

I know this firsthand: Several years ago I was stung by three wasps on my back porch.  I barely made it to the phone to hit 911 before I began to suffocate. It was terrifying, and people die from this kind of allergic reaction.  

From the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Insect sting Anaphylaxis: INSECT STING ANAPHYLAXIS

Second, though a native tree of Australia, Melaleuca is an extremely damaging invasive in the United States, especially in Florida where it is responsible for tremendous species and habitat loss. 

For sources, please see:



Melaleuca Trees in South Florida - YouTube

So, here's an argument:

Since Melaleuca is no more effective for treating non-allergic bee sting than, say baking soda; since the only sort of bee sting you'd "run, not walk!" to treat needs the intervention of epinephrine--an epi-pen--why would you recommend an invasive species plant responsible for wildlife decimation?

In other words, if baking soda works just as well for non-allergic bee sting, why would you risk contributing to the destruction of Florida wildlife? I thought that's what the gas companies did.

Ms. Edgar's response was that she purchased the Melaleuca from botanicals in Australia--hence she's not personally contributing to the decimation of habitat in Florida.

Well and good.

But consider two things:

1. Melaleuca, Inc--The Wellness Company--controls a virtual monopoly on the plant in Australia. Buying Melaleuca from Australia virtually requires that you join Melaleuca, Inc--for $45.00 per month. 

Melaleuca, Inc. is owned by Frank L. VanderSloot, the profoundly anti-gay campaign chief for Mitt Romney, and "major financial contributor to Republican campaigns" in Idaho--the corporate home of the company. He also donates heavily to the American Heritage Charter School, a far right wing K-12 that advertises itself a "free, rigorous, and patriotic" (American Heritage Charter School - Home). And VanderSloot has a nasty reputation for "threatening to sue just about anyone who puts his name in print"--that's one way, after all, of banning a critic (Mitt Romney's Money Man: Who Is Frank L. VanderSloot? - DailyFinance).

For more about VanderSloot's own version of "silence the critic," see: Billionaire Romney donor uses threats to silence critics - Salon.com

Melaleuca Inc. has been described by Forbes this way: "Melaleuca is a pyramid selling organization, built along the lines of Herbalife and Amway" (If You Believe - Forbes).

From Daily Finance:
To sell these wares -- and "350 other household and 'health' products" -- VanderSloot relies on what Forbes describes as "an army of part-time hucksters." For Melaleuca is essentially a pyramid scheme -- or, more politely, a "multilevel marketing firm," like Amway or Herbalife (HLF) -- in which so-called independent marketing executives make money by peddling the company's dietary supplements and cleaning products, as well as recruiting more salespeople (the newer recruits being on the lower levels of the pyramid).
This business model has been spectacularly successful for VanderSloot (who stands, of course, at the pyramid's apex). Melaleuca had $1 billion in revenue last year, according to Mother Jones, which points out the glaring disparity between the earnings potential advertised for would-be salespeople and the real income those "marketing executives" derive. 
On the its website, "Melaleuca pitches itself as a means to gain the economic freedom to live your dream life -- all while working flexible hours at home." A video shows several women who "claim to have made six-figure incomes through Melaleuca," Mother Jones reports. "One says she's earned more than $500,000."
The actual annual average earnings of a Melaleuca salesperson: a paltry $85 a year. 
You have to be a member of the Wellness Company to purchase its products. From the Website:
Discover all the ways that Melaleuca enhances the lives of thousands of people just like you by helping people reach their goals. Learn how members of Melaleuca are spending less money for safer, more effective products, getting out of debt, and making a difference in the lives of those they touch.

Whomever is a member is also expected to "huckster" for a company CEO who "ostensibly believes that the Garden of Eden was located in Jackson County, Missouri, and that Native Americans are actually Jews" (The Most Loathsome People in America: The Double Dirty Dozen | Alternet). 

So given that it is very hard to acquire Melaleuca from Australia any other way that through VanderSloot, we are entitled to infer the following about Ms. Edgar's insistence that she does not contribute to the decimation of species and habitat in Florida:

a. Ms. Edgar buys from the Wellness Company, but does not know who VanderSloot is. Fine--but utterly without excuse--in which case she is also presumably a salesperson for the company. Ms. Edgar has an undergraduate degree in Philosophy--and with that her excuse for not knowing better--for not having better critical thinking skills-- evaporates. 
b. Ms. Edgar buys from the Wellness Company, and does know its story, but doesn't care. Fine, but this would make her morally reprobate. 
b. Ms. Edgar somehow acquires her Melaleuca another way. Fine--but this defies credulity. Perhaps she could offer receipts from that company. One option might be Emmi's Essentials--very hard to locate--and raises at least two other questions.
This brings us to point (2).

a) Perhaps Ms. Edgar is buying Melaleuca from some other company, say Emmi's Essentials, where it retails for $35.00 for two ounces. Another fine. What the "Witchdoctress" decides to spend her own money on is her business. This is, however, the same Ms. Edgar who in late 2012 posted a Fundrazr Campaign titled "Help Julie's Family Stay Off the Street," raising $1,050 dollars (Yasni result for https://fundrazr.com/campaigns/8PLQ5)

As recently as July 2015, Ms. Edgar made a similar pitch to pay for veterinary care for her two cats, Cammie and Porchie and raised another $1000.00 (Please help us take our two sick cats to the vet. by Julie Edgar).

To be very very clear: charitable giving is a good thing. 

Do it. Do it often.

But it is a far cry from charitable giving to be solicited to support the veterinary care to supplement the funds for someone who, by her own admission (see Fundrazr (1)) cannot in fact adequately support her own children. 

In fact, it is cruel to the animals--and to the kids.

And it is crazily hypocritical for someone who insists rightly on her Facebook page that we ought not to eat pigs to assume responsibility for animals whom she cannot even get adequately treated for ringworm.

Not rocket science: if you cannot take full care--veterinary, not absurd "Witchdoctress"--care for your animals, do not acquire them.

What makes this post especially rankling, however, is this: Ms Edgar claims that not only are her cats sick, but so too are her daughters--that they've "ALL" had ringworm since February, and that they're living in filthy conditions.

She lives in Bethlehem. Here's the websites for the Bethlehem Clinic:


Here's an option for a low-cost veterinarian:


Why hasn't Ms. Edgar sought better treatment--since February--for her daughters? This is what makes it very hard not to wonder:

Does she have the same apparently faulty beliefs about medicine in general that she has about how to treat bee sting? That some "natural botanical" will do the trick? If so, why should others be expected to pay for treating the damage when her bullshit botanical treatments don't work?

To the retort that how she cares for her kids and her cats is none of my or anyone's business, I say this: of course it is; she made it my business--and everyone's--the moment she asked for money in cyberspace.

This is how people and critters get really really hurt. 
This is how Ms. Edgar's cats and kids have been allowed to suffer unnecessarily. 

Ms. Edgar makes it a point to advertise herself as a "single mom and entrepreneur" claiming that she's got an interview for her "dream organizing position" in July. But while she waits for that "dream job," her kids and her animals are suffering. And that is not ok. She calls her situation "legitimate and extreme exigency." But why is that? I too have been a single parent most of my adult life, but what that has meant is that I have worked jobs I hated, lived within my means, put myself through school, and educated my children. This was very hard, and it is absolutely harder for women. But it did not entitle me to not seek out care for my children when they were sick (or substitute magical thinking for medicine); it did not entitle me to solicit money when things got really bad, it did not entitle me to acquire animals I could not care for--and it did not entitle me to subscribe to a raft of homeopathic, "natural" cockamamy that hurts people.

All of this brings me, finally, to Ms. Edgar's very nasty and rather nefarious post above.

Let's consider:

Claim 1: "i have blocked Wendy from this thread she has chosen to hijack for her obviously pathological vampiric energy needs."

Because Ms. Edgar does not specify in any fashion what "vampiric energy needs" refers to, there is no way to respond. This is name-calling pure and simple. I was having a very civil and interesting conversation with a gentleman named Robert. He and I agreed on some things and not on others. That is called "having a conversation." If Ms. Edgar really sees having a conversation as a "hijack," then what she's really after is either silence or unalloyed agreement. But in that case, it seems her commitment to free exchange is rather anemic. Maybe some Melaleuca ointment will help that out. 

Claim 2: "I have answers to her many criticisms, but it is my opinion that she presents them mostly because she needs attention and not because she would listen to a damn word i said if i bothered to respond to all of them."

If Ms. Edgar has answers to my criticisms, why doesn't she offer them? If not for me, for the benefit of her readers? What difference does it make whether I'm after attention or not? If she indeed does believe in the ascribed properties of Melaleuca, why not use this opportunity to educate? How does Ms. Edgar know I'm uninterested in listening? Answer: she doesn't. Indeed, the facts are she doesn't have the goods. The properties she wants to ascribe to Melaleuca are easily replaceable by baking soda or mud--and for a lot less money. This is actually just another variety of name-calling--and as such the refuge of she who, not having a good argument, goes for the next best thing--dismissal of the arguer through ridicule--and then banishment. Perhaps I can use my magical consciousness to re-insert myself on the bee-sting thread. Or, well, no.

Claim 3: "I am saddened at her ignorance because Quantum physics will continue to bear out that many things she is falsely claiming are pseudoscience are absolutely NOT--" 

This is a particularly tortured sentence, but I gather Ms. Edgar's claiming that Quantum Mechanics will bear out that homeopathic "natural" medicine" is legitimate and that Western medicine is bad. And I gather she premises this claim on the idea that Quantum Mechanics implies that human consciousness is somehow in control of reality. She is entirely unspecific, so it's difficult to know what she thinks is defensible, but we can say this:
The appeal to quantum mechanics by magical thinkers opposed to "linear thinking" are very old, and long-discredited both on empirical--evidenced--grounds and on their internally incoherent and inconsistent logic. The 2004 film "What the #$!%* Do We Know!?" and its 2006 expansion "What the Bleep, Down the Rabbit Hole" re-newed some of the enthusiasm for what New York Times writer, Dennis Overbye, describes as follows:
The "rabbit hole" in the title refers to the philosophical muddle that the contemplation of quantum mechanics, the paradoxical laws that govern subatomic life, can lead to. And it is a legitimate and maddening one. Quantum physics proclaims, for example, that an electron (or any object, elementary particle or not) is both a particle and a wave before we look at it, a conundrum neatly illustrated by a cartoon featuring "Dr. Quantum" in the new film.
Physicists have been at war for the last century trying to explain how it is that the fog of quantum possibilities prescribed by mathematical theory can condense into one concrete actuality, what physicists call "collapsing the wavefunction." Half a century ago the physicist and Nobel Prize winner Eugene Wigner ventured that consciousness was the key to this mysterious process.
Wigner thereby, and inadvertently, launched a thousand New Age dreams. Books like "The Tao of Physics" and "The Dancing Wu Li Masters" have sought to connect quantum physics to Eastern mysticism. Deepak Chopra, the physician and author, has founded a career on the idea of "quantum healing," and a school of parapsychology has arisen based on the idea that things like telekinesis and telepathy were a result of probing minds' manipulation of the formless quantum potential. And now the movie. 
All of them promote the idea that, at some level, our minds are in control of reality. We are in charge of the holodeck, as one of the characters in "Down the Rabbit Hole" says. And if it doesn't work for you, it's probably because you don't believe. 
So what's wrong with that? Like everyone else, I am inspired by stories of personal change. The ideas that consciousness creates reality and that anything is possible make for terrific psychology.
We all know that self-confidence breeds its own success. I wish I were a member of that club. 
But physics has moved on. 
It has been decades since anybody took Wigner's idea seriously, said David Albert, a professor of philosophy and physics at Columbia, who has the dubious honor of being one of the talking heads in both "What the Bleep" films and is not pleased with the results. 
Many physicists today say the waves that symbolize quantum possibilities are so fragile they collapse with the slightest encounter with their environment. Conscious observers are not needed. As Dr. Albert pointed out, Wigner framed the process in strict mathematical and probabilistic terms. "The desires and intentions of the observer had nothing to do with it," he said. 
In other words, reality is out of our control. It's all atoms and the void, as Democritus said so long ago. Indeed, some physicists say the most essential and independent characteristic of reality, whatever that is, is randomness. It's a casino universe. (Far Out, Man. But Is It Quantum Physics? - New York Times).
In other words, the Quantum-consciousness-control-of-reality stuff is far-out--way far-out, but it is also bull shit. Science has moved on, and so must we--at least where the health and lives of other people depend on it.  

Indeed, if we do not demand good evidence under repeatably controlled experimental conditions, we are every bit as guilty of perpetrating bull shit as are the climate change deniers, the creationists, and the folks who claim that tobacco doesn't cause lung cancer. 
We are, in fact, exactly the same. If this is what Ms. Edgar believes, it amounts to new age fluffer-nutter.

Claim 4: "and she who considers herself an ecofeminist is surely NOT, because a pillar of ecofeminism is the validation of the witchdoctress/botanical healer archetype, and the validation of nonlinear ways of knowing."

Eco-Feminism is an enormous field in philosophy, and many other disciplines. The term was coined by French feminist Fran├žoise d'Eaubonne  in 1974. There is one variety of ecofeminism that subscribes to these mostly stereotypical images of healers, witchdoctresses, and nonlinear thinking. This is appropriately referred to as "radical cultural feminism," and is represented by, among others, the late Mary Daly. But these positions are routinely challenged from across the feminist disciplines--especially feminist science studies theorists like Donna Haraway, Katherine Hayles, Sandra Harding, Greta Gaard, and Karen Warren. 
I routinely contribute scholarly work to this discipline, and that can be found here: Wendy Lynne Lee | Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania - Academia.edu, and especially in my 2010 book, Contemporary Feminist Theory and Activism, Broadview. Ms. Edgar might also avail herself of the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy's entry on Ecofeminism: Feminist Environmental Philosophy (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy). Among the things she might learn is that there continues to be a serious conflict among deep ecologists--more the Quantum Fluffer-Nutter sorts--and many ecofeminists who argue that identification with some notion of a universal consciousness is precisely contrary to women's liberatory aspirations since it requires self-abnegation--and that's what women have long had to contend with from men. 
 Indeed, the efforts to elevate the mother image in the interest of reclaiming women's "power" are at great risk of back-firing since these are the very same images that heteropatriarchal cultures have utilized to institutionalize oppression. I take this theme up at great length in my new book, Eco-Nihilism: The Philosophical Geopolitics of the Apocalypse, Lexington, 2016, where I evaluate some of the strategies of the anti-fracking movement in Pennsylvania from an ecofeminist point of view, and particularly with respect to the resistance strategies of Sandra Steingraber and Naomi Klein. In short, validation of healer, mother, etc. images is not a "pillar" of ecofeminism; it is simply one---and one long-critiqued from within feminism--theoretical avenue. 
Not really a claim 5: "I don't have the patience to deal with these spurious claims, and since this is my wall, i have gotten rid of her.  It is obvious from her disproportionate response and UBER-argumentative style that she seeks attention more than anything else." 
Having mostly canvassed Ms. Edgar's penchant for name-calling, dismissal, ridicule, and banishment, I'll only note this: "i have got rid of her." 
I wonder if Melaleuca can address that sort of arrogance that allows someone to treat others like the greasy bacon-burger wrapper they just threw out.


Wendy Lynne Lee 

Monday, June 29, 2015

Requiem for Pennsylvania: A frack pad in the middle of a state forest. But in truth, it's just a chunk-o-catastrophe waiting for more.

Anadarko Pad 23783, Cop Tract 285, Pad E, Coudersport Pike. Grugan Township, Clinton County, PA
Photo, Wendy Lynne Lee, 6.26.15

Bitter? You bet, and you should be too.
Lest we forget what Pennsylvania has now become--the poster child for a successful and virtually total industrial colonization.

Photo Wendy Lynne Lee, 6.26.15
Here's your "new" and irreparable (unless you like grass-n-gravel) Tiadaghton State Forest--otherwise known as the "Land of Anadarko"; well, otherwise known as "gone.

And these are the happy days. Once (A) the pipelines are built, and (B) TPP begins to take effect, we'll all be nostalgic for the "good old days" before the corporate oligarchy.

The saddest part is that we COULD have put up a real fight--some absolutely DID.

But I think it's too late now--at least for Pennsylvania. What could have been a genuine movement was co-opted early on--no doubt before I ever realized it in those Halcyon days when I thought--I now realize stupidly--that if people just SAW the pictures I (and many others) were taking--THOUSANDS of pictures of this industrial cancer, they'd be so angry and so galvanized that they'd see through the charlatans looking to use the disaster to bolster (or create) their own careers as pseudo-heros.

But, alas, in the face of a culture hell-bent on resignation (to coal and logging), the faux-saviors were easily able to get a foot-hold--convincing people of what had never been true, namely, that the very system that had opened the floodgates to the gassers could be counted on to protect the citizens.

Photo Wendy Lynne Lee, 6.26.15

So we wasted precious YEARS going through the motions--hearings, FERC, more hearings, industry sponsored events, polite protests on the steps of the Capital Building on a Tuesday at Noon--a few hours of lock-down, some bail here and there. 

One or two tree sits. 

A few louder protests. 

But the lesson is absolutely clear: 

you can't make a movement out of following the rules of the very system that's responsible for the liquidation of your lands, your water, and your children's futures.

There was never any end to this insanity short of siege after siege after siege of an insurgency whose committed members were willing to be water-canoned, pepper-sprayed, and shot.

We were so afraid of being accused of violence that we never seemed to realize that what we had to be willing to do wasn't PERFORM acts of violence--but PERMIT ourselves to be gasser casualties while the world watched. 
The violence is ALL on the industry's side. We just didn't have the guts to do what was necessary to demonstrate this.
Sit down, and not move until they dragged us away by the thousands over and over and over. 

That, I think, is among the most important insights I have had about the difference between a movement and an insurgency.

That the charlatans--and there are entire organizations large and small who merit this description--the Sierra Club, Pennsylvanians Against Fracking, the NRDC, RDA, Clean Water Action, and on and on--could co-opt us into exhausting our time and energy on what could never be other than failures of the efforts of sincere people is, I think, tragic. 

Anadarko Pad 23783, Cop Tract 285, Pad E, Coudersport Pike. Grugan Township, Clinton County, PA
Photo, Wendy Lynne Lee, 6.26.15

That they're STILL able to sucker us is shameful. 

An industry that stands to accrue BILLIONS and BILLIONS more with TPP was never going to do anything but laugh at us until we made them SHOOT us to get out the godamn gas.

That is a basic, I think unequivocal, truth.

Wendy Lynne Lee

Monday, June 15, 2015

Your Help Needed: UK Solidarity and Anti-Fracking Research

Photo, Wendy Lynne Lee. Site of Crestwood proposed LNG Storage Facility, Watkin's Glen, NY
October 24th, 2014. For set, see: https://www.flickr.com/photos/wendylynnelee/sets/72157648941947952

*Below is a letter from my friend and fellow insurgent, Kai Heron, University of Sussex, UK.

Dear all, 

Firstly, please let me apologise for the unsolicited email. My name is Kai Heron; I’m an anti-fracking activist and PhD researcher based at the University of Sussex, UK. I have recently been awarded funding toresearch the impact of hydraulic fracturing on communities in the US and the UK. 

As an activist myself, I have a particular interest in resistance to the industry and I have been following the situation in Pennsylvania and NewYork carefully for several years. The Marcellus Shale region’s example has been instrumental to our own struggle with fracking here in the UK. 

I intend to come to the region for a period of months during my PhD.During my time, I will be looking to conduct interviews with activists and community members, experience the wells first hand, and, I hope, to contribute to the struggle in whatever way I can. The project is intended to be for and by activists, it is therefore really important to me that it makes a difference the communities and individuals I work with.  

I have already made contact with several activists in the region but I am looking to create a further network of contacts interested in the project. If this is something that you would be interested in being involved in, have suggestions for the project, or further questions, please contact me at:


I would also be happy to discuss the project via Skype.

My username is: kaiheron 

It would be a pleasure to hear from you and I hope to meet you in person soon. Warmest regards,

Kai Heron

Friday, June 12, 2015

"I'm glad no one is dead": Williams Pipeline Explosion, Lycoming County, Pennsylvania

Photo, Wendy Lynne Lee, 10.13.12, faulty re-welded weld, TRANSCO Pipeline,
CNYOG Compressor Station, Sullivan County, PA
Update 6.18.15: Letter from Kevin Heatley, Restoration Ecologist, 
Press Enterprise, 6.17.15

Pipeline Risk Unacceptable

Pipeline explosions rattle more than just windows in the same way that nighttime home evacuations result in more than just lost sleep.  These are public relations disasters for Williams Pipeline Company – the same firm that wishes to build the 42 inch, high-pressure Atlantic Sunrise pipeline across Pennsylvania.  Given recent events here and across the country, how do you justify subjecting citizens and property owners to the involuntary risk of a catastrophic event?

If you are editor Sachetti of the PE, you trivialize the opposition position as an emotional “...rush to judgement” as if a technical explanation from Williams will be sufficient assurance that future events will not occur.  It also helps if, as editor, you engage in adolescent name-calling and refer to concerned citizens as “greenies” and “anti-energy.”  If you are Gregory Markle (PE letter-to-editor 6/16/2015) you employ ad hominem attacks coupled with the standard logical fallacies and false equivalencies that industry apologists have promulgated for decades.

Markle, for example, improperly compares the risk of driving a car to living within the blast radius of a pipeline. What he fails to realize is that there is a profound difference between voluntary and involuntary risk.  Research into risk tolerance clearly shows that people have a lower risk threshold with respect to allowing the reckless conduct of others to impinge on their safety.  Choosing to skydive is fundamentally different from being pushed out of a plane, regardless of the quality of the parachute.

While a small number of property owners will receive a financial return on the permanent conversion of their land to a pipeline ROW, Willliams is forcing adjacent property owners who live within the “blast zone” (potentially well over 1,000 feet from the pipeline) to involuntarily submit to catastrophic risk. It is also requesting that citizens downwind of any compressor stations involuntarily submit to the chronic risk associated with toxic air emissions.

While there is indeed risk in any endeavor, it is inherently absurd to claim that because we assume some risk we should assume all.  The effect of additional risk may cause harms to increase exponentially rather than arithmetically. It is also absurd to argue, as editor Sachetti is fond of doing, a false “all or nothing” dichotomy.  Opposition to the reckless endangerment of the public health and welfare is not predicated upon living an ascetic existence void of energy consumption.  Arguing that people who drive cars or heat their homes and oppose extreme energy extraction are hypocrites is like chastising someone attempting to lose weight for not going on a starvation diet.

A more intelligent and prudent response to the recent explosion of the Williams Transco pipeline would be to employ the “Precautionary Principle.”  Given the severity of the event and the nature of the risk, the burden of proof falls upon Williams Pipeline Corporation to show that catastrophic ruptures and toxic compressor station emissions will not occur.  Appeals to existing regulations are insufficient given that the regulations pass involuntary risk onto an unsuspecting public. In the interim, to allow the building of a second pipeline is irresponsible.

Kevin Heatley M.E.P.C, LEED-AP
Bloomsburg PA.

Update: 6.17.15: Response to Gregory Markle 
from Wendy Lynne Lee

First, a local gentleman by the name of Gregory Markle went straight for the ad hominems and faulty analogies to try to refute my letter, writing that since, say, living in Tornado Alley is dangerous that living near a pipeline is comparatively safe--so nothing to worry about in William's pipeline explosion near Unityville, PA just last week. 

What Mr. Markle doesn't get, apparently, is that there's a world of difference between voluntary and involuntary risk.

Folks who live in Tornado Alley know that they may be at risk for cyclone activity--they take that on as a voluntary risk. But if, say, you lease YOUR land to Williams, and they build a pipeline that later explodes setting MY house on fire, I have been subjected to an involuntary harm. 

Indeed, I have been made to subsidize with MY house, MY property values, and potentially MY life and health YOUR voluntary risk. And I have been made to do so involuntarily. There's nothing remotely defensible in THAT. Hence, faulty analogy.

Second, Markle claims that my response to the Williams explosion has nothing to do with "concern for human lives," but rather is about "promoting" my "personal politics via fear-mongering." Mr. Markle then says precisely nothing about what these "personal politics" are, but blithely slides right on to falsely report that Williams accident record is just fine since, at least in Pennsylvania no one has died! 

But, we might ask Mr. Markle, if DEATHS are what's required to become wary of Williams plans to build a monster 42 inch pipeline through far more densely populated regions of Columbia County, then why regulate the company at all? 

Mr. Markle as much as admits that pipeline inspection is not what it ought to be (and, of course, better to drive Williams out of the state altogether), when he tells us he "won't go deeply into [his] opinion on government inspectors, but let's just say that for every one who actually has the skills to be in the field doing inspections, there are 10 who should be slogging their way up through the ranks." That's pretty cold comfort for safety, yet Mr. Markle would have us put our faith in a company who didn't even know how long the exploding 24 inch, 1000 PSI pipeline had been in the ground.

Third, on this point about deaths, Mr. Markle implies that because "there is risk in any such endeavor" we must balance that risk against the benefits of natural gas production.

Sounds reasonable--until you realize that what he's really saying is that even though the risks are expected to be borne by people who did not agree to them--for whom they're involuntary--and the benefits accrue to a few already wealthy landowners and, of course, to the tune of billions to Williams, that THAT'S balance enough.

But it's clearly not. Indeed, the only "balance" resides in Williams flush bank accounts.

All of this dithering with Mr. Markle, however, pales in comparison to the embarrassment that Columbia County, PA commissioners ought to be feeling in the wake of this explosion--one that could have taken the lives of the very people who voted these politicians into office.

The photograph below came to me this morning from a friend. I'll let him identify himself should he wish, and I wish to thank him here. It's a letter dated 5.21.15 from Chris--my support is not unconditional!--Young, silent Richard Ridgeway, and equally silent Dave Kovach, thanking Kimberly Bose of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (whose name they misspell as "Rose"(!)) for FERC's support of the 42 inch, 12-1500 PSI monster pipeline set to bi-sect Columbia County.

In it they claim that "Williams has been a good neighbor...respectful of our community," and that they're happy for the county to be a part of the future growth of natural gas.

In other words, they're happy to be a party to subjugating the citizens of Columbia County to the involuntary risk associated with Williams' profit venture.

A last point. Williams will be more than happy to enhance YOUR level of involuntary risk. 

The moment they execute their "right" to eminent domain against landowners who said NO to that risk, they've not only made you an involuntary--COERCED-- subject of your neighbor's decision to convert their property into a right of way, they've made YOU effectively forfeit your own land, drinking water well, health, and potential life to their profit venture. 

Eminent domain is intended for projects that clearly perform a PUBLIC good--like a bridge to an island. 

The gross abuse of eminent domain appropriated by Williams--and endorsed by your elected representatives--is in no fashion whatever a public good. The gas will be shipped to the global markets, and the profits go right into Williams pockets.

A last last point: What states have seen LOADS of gas production, pipelining, export? Louisiana and West Virginia--two of the poorest states in the union. So the next time commissioners Young, Ridgeway, or Kovach tell you about how the Atlantic Sunrise is going to benefit you and your county--tell them that if you wanted to live in West Virginia or Louisiana, you'd move there.


Original Letter to the Editor, the Press Enterprise, 6.12.15, Concerning Williams Pipeline Explosion, Lycoming County, Pennsylvania

To the Editor:

What if that 24 inch, 1000 PSI Williams TRANSCO transmission pipeline explosion—a blast that fired a  “huge boulder” 300 ft., forced evacuation of 60 people, and was heard “miles away”—had been the 42 inch, 1200-1500 PSI Atlantic Sunrise expansion of the TRANSCO Williams wants to build? The one that will intersect a far more populated area throughout Columbia County?

What if you were confronted with that second explosion—potentially double that of Tuesday night’s blast that spread debris hundreds of yards into the tops of trees—and asked to evacuate even though it meant leaving your dog? What if you’d need to transport an elderly parent? What if there’d been a fire? What if you’d just happened to be driving, cycling, or walking near the blast zone?

Mr. Mordan points out that he’s “glad no one is dead.” Me too, but are we really entitled to let that be the end of this when the disaster that might have happened could have taken life?

These are the questions you should direct to commissioner Chris Young who says his support for the Atlantic Sunrise is “not unconditional,” but when queried by concerned citizens demonstrates his support is precisely that: unconditional. Young’s posturing for the sake of protecting his political capital is disingenuous; Kovach’s and Ridgeway’s silence, both staunch cheerleaders for Williams, is equally telling.

Williams’ appalling history of regulatory violation, accident, their effort to deflect responsibility and avoid liability is well-documented. Even more reprehensible is the willingness of local agencies and townships to be bribed by the company’s spare pocket change. Orange Township Secretary/Treasurer Erika Burkhardt, for example, recently sent a letter of thanks to Kimberly Bose, Secretary of FERC, the deceptively named Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, for FERC’s support of the Atlantic Sunrise—and the money that will flow from that township’s silence to Kocher Park. Burkhardt writes that “Because of Williams support, Orange Township will be able to improve areas that hold the greatest needs in our community.” What Burkhardt fails to calculate is the prospect that the township’s greatest needs might be a burn unit, an expanded graveyard, or far more voluntary firefighters and expensive equipment.

This smug arrogance, however, appears to belong not only to Burkhardt, but to county commissioners, township supervisors, PE Editor Sachetti, Senator Gordner and Representative Mallard. We seem to be lulled by the mantra of “jobs” as if “jobs” had some magical power demanding our wholesale acquiescence. We’re willing to horse-trade the future of the county for a few paychecks, a spattering of royalties, and some absurd hand-waving at “national security” for a pipeline whose golden gas is headed straight for the global markets. Or maybe we’re just that lazy—happy to ignore the hazard at our doorsteps because Wheel of Fortune’s on.

Maybe folks think that Tuesday night’s explosion just couldn’t affect them, that the Atlantic Sunrise will somehow be safer, that Williams actually gives a damn about anything but the money they’ll get from mid-streaming the gas the industry is prepared to eek out of the ground at literally any cost—so long as it’s not theirs’.

Williams record is clear: they’ll do everything they can to cover this up, avoid investigation, and make sure you don’t know diddly about the causes. They’ll hale local firefighters and reassure us “there’s nothing to see”—until we forget. Until next time. Here’s a question: What will it take for our electeds to decide to care about us? I’m glad no one died, but if that’s what it takes, we’ve acceded to moral bankruptcy.

Pick up your phones—starting with Young: 570-389-5608.

Wendy Lynne Lee

600 words.