Sunday, May 29, 2011

From a Local Perspective: Gas industry under siege: Momentum shifting to gas-driller critics

The Sunday Daily Review May 29, 2011

Don't believe, or let anyone tell you, we're not making a difference, or that there's nothing we can do. The gas industry is vulnerable. They're feeling threatened, and political cover is falling away.
We need to stand together and keep the pressure on!

See Shift Happens: (which is the source for the following):

A gas industry exec finally admitted their worst fear -- that the loss of public confidence could do to shale gas extraction what it did to the nuclear industry 30 years ago, "and billions of dollars that had been invested were abandoned."

John Hanger, former head of PA DEP, tells gas industry, "There has to be truth behind the [gas industry] brand. It is under siege to say the very least."

Shift happens, and the energy industry knows its traditional game has changed but struggles to figure out what is going on. Industry's traditional power on this issue has shifted, driven by technology and the worldwide web. It isn't just the gas industry that is global; and the traditional industry behavior model is in decay.

Three indicators characterize this shift; and, in response, the industry is failing for three reasons:
1. The energy industry speaks in absolutes that, until recently, were not seriously challenged.
2. The industry characterizes citizen opposition as left-wing environmental whacko and even extremists. (It ignores its trampling of property rights which is fundamentally a conservative principle.)
3. The industry demonstrates it is not capable of living up to its own published principles such as environmental protection, accountability and transparency. (After seven months, the Marcellus Shale Coalition still cannot explain what its second guiding principle means it will do at the well site.)
Even Texas is no longer a sanctuary for the energy industry. The Dallas Morning News recently editorialized:

"Local governments across North Texas are sounding alarms about the possibility of increased air pollution, groundwater contamination, noise and declining property values coinciding with drilling companies' push into urban areas.

"These concerns are not overblown. ... But the industry's tendency has too often been to deny, deflect and use judicial bullying to get its way.

"Such tactics aren't exactly winning friends. ..."

To return to the comparison with the nuclear industry, the shale gas fracking industry is radioactive in terms of public trust. And it achieved this distinction the old fashioned way - it "earned" it.

Editor's note: Mr. Trallo's avocation includes being a natural gas industry critic who has been active in the region advocating his views. He also is a professional guitarist, singer, songwriter, music teacher and luthier. He lives in Sonestown in Sullivan County.

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