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Not a time for division

December 1, 2011

I apologize for the error resulting in the omission of my name from a campaign handout. It was an innocent oversight—no more and no less. This oversight worked against the community-building theme that I have always encouraged, a problem compounded by an inappropriate and divisive letter to the editor published in the paper. To clarify several points:

First, I am prepared to consider supporting any candidate for public office, local state or national, Joe Canfield or Dolores Keesler, who has the experience and other qualifications appropriate for that office.

Second, I am not the spokesperson for Northern Wayne Property Owners Alliance, nor do I have any intention of serving in such a role.

And third, I would not support any gas exploration in this area unless it could be demonstrated that it could be done responsibly—safely, with appropriate and strong regulations covering all aspects of the exploration, with strong provisions for oversight, with demonstration that there are adequate resources available for both safety and oversight and with sensitivity to the community.

This is not the time for this community to be so divided. There are too many local, state and national issues to be dealt with. People in the community, whether for or against gas exploration, have many concerns, with more areas of agreement than appear in the verbiage. It is the time for a meaningful dialogue focusing on how we can work together to make this area a better place to live, an economically sound region, with due regard to its unique beauty, where children want to live and not be forced to leave because there are no opportunities. Let’s celebrate the bounty of this community, pick up the theme that Dolores introduced in her campaign and find ways to work together.

Mike Uretsky
Damascus, PA

Forked tongue(s)

Mr. Uretsky wrote that he is not the spokesperson for NWPOA. He is not "the", but he is "a". He can not distance himself from his past two year history.

Which brings me to the point of questioning current statements made by Uretsky, Shepstone and Sweighofer. They are interesting in the contradictory message they are sending out, simultaneously, about shale gas extraction potential in Wayne and Sullivan Counties.

In the Wayne Independent, we have Ms. Sweighofer quoted as saying, "For members of the Northern Wayne Property Owners Alliance, they believe natural gas exploration means jobs for recession-stricken Wayne County. Instead of importing natural gas, there are jobs potential,” said Marian Schweighofer, executive director of the NWPOA." She goes on to say, "But, she said, none of that can happen until the Delaware River Basin Commission votes to allow gas exploration in the area."

Today, we have Mike Uretsky saying the opposite, quoted in the Times Herald concerning the NYS DEC recent hearing in Sullivan County, "But Mike Uretsky, a member of a task force established by the National Petroleum Council at the request of Secretary of Energy Steven Chu, echoed Engelder and Hartman. He said the geology of the county is "uncertain," just as it is across the Delaware River in Wayne County, Pa.
"Nothing is going to happen in Sullivan and Wayne," said the retired NYU professor from Damascus, Pa., who, like Shepstone, leased his land for drilling."

Shepstone was earlier quoted in the same Times Herald story, saying that Sullivan "may have some drillable gas, but only in "the towns of Fremont, Delaware and the environs,"".

What is going on here? Sweighofer plays the shale gas extraction money and jobs card for the NWPOA members, while Uretsky, and Shepstone play down the significance of shale gas extraction as barely happening in the two Counties, to not happening at all.

The difference is the audience to whom they are playing. As towns across NYS are banning, through zoning, the heavy industrial activity of shale gas extraction (see the article on Tusten in this paper), and as the hearings are being held by the NYS DEC (overwhelmingly filled with anti-drilling sentiment), Messrs. S. and U. are attending, spreading the message that really, no drilling is going to happen in our area, or hardly any.

Ms. S. on the other hand, is speaking over the course of two articles in the Wayne Independent about the obstructionist DRBC, and how it should get out of the way so that drilling and frac'ing may occur, bringing jobs, and money. She says that PA is ready to drill.

The anonymous commenters who are members of NWPOA frequently call their opponents, "liars".

What should this PR campaign by top NWPOA members be called?

Wednesday, December 7, two news items

The above link is to a piece by Dave Efaw, Sec'y-Treasurer of the construction and building trades council in West Virginia. He relates that Wetzel County has the highest rate of drilling in the state, and also has the highest unemployment rate in the state. The drilling companies have not, and are not, hiring locally.

This second link is to an AP story on tax revenues from gas drilling in PA, and the facts show that the revenue is far lower (less than half) than what was projected by the state, and touted by the industry.

"The report downsized its original estimate of $102.7 million to an actual figure of $46.2 million"

Meanwhile, how much in increased taxes for roads, emergency services etc. has the industry forced upon PA residents?

Apology Accepted

Thank you Mr. Uretsky for being so forthright. It takes a person of moral fiber to apologize for what many would consider to be such a small transgression these days. Maybe there is some middle ground that can be achieved if we set aside our differences and work together. I doubt that your oversight in this matter had that large an impact and after all, the voters have spoken. God bless.

Transparently anonymous

What really is and was devisive was the propaganda provided by Mr. Uretsky on the Saturday before the election. Perhaps whoever Ms. Bates really is never read it? What was so "middle ground" about the anonymous campaign mailing? And how can some one so learned as Mr. Uretsky compose something that clearly states it was neither paid for by the candidate nor did it originate with the candidate (so as not to place blame on the candidate) and forget to provide credit for who actually wrote it? I'm sure the "many" who would see this as a small transgression are the same "many" who don't care what happens to their neighbors when there's not enough oversite and our water resources are ruined by toxic chemicals, when retention ponds fail and when erosion causes sedimentation and loss of wildlife habitats. The same "many" think breaking the law is a "small transgression"? What's next? I'm sure the "many" are also not the type of people who are "forthright" enough to use their real names to respond here. Funny how they all disappeared when real names were required. I'd like to thank Mr. Barth for the "moral fiber" and the fortitude he has found to be a beacon of hope for those who ALSO want to exercise their property rights by saying "NO" to the phony landmen, the greedy corporations and the tentacled renewable lopsided leases. That's about as "forthright" as it gets.

Apology Accepted by whom?

MarjTheNaturalTheHick, is still posting here. It is a transparent mocking of The River Reporter comment process, and it displays a sadly inadequate response capability of TRR. Marj was first an ignorant "fractivist", and now she is displaying a support for the gas apologists.

Oh, I am shocked! I am sorry that TRR is not up to the task of supervising their site.

Oy Vey

I'm with you people against the horrors of drilling. This good man has taken the time to script an apology in order to repair strained relations across party lines and you mock him. I meerly acknowledge his efforts and you call me names. I am deeply hurt. This fine publication is not to blame here. Your intolerance of a different view point and dissent within your own ranks are in the wrong. Shame on you both.

Timing is Everything

I would like to also comment on the fact that Mr. Uretsky's apology would have been so much more credible had he made it before people had to research the filing of the author/sender and then reveal his identity. Had he been so forthright as to "man up" it might have carried some degree of weight. After all, it's not as if the candidate wasn't asked directly and acted as if he didn't know. Was it forthright for Mr. Uretsky to compose and send it without the candidate's knowledge?

How aout some strong coffee?

Look, this type of continued arguing wasn't part of our fabric until the region was presented with what some call opportunity and others call a blight on a once safe and uncompromised environment. When it was introduced to Damascus at the very first meeting called by Marian and the drilling companies, we were told to basically lie down and take it and "this wasn't about neighbor against neighbor"and, "it was not going away". The message meant if you opposed it, you weren't being a "GOOD neigbor" because you'd be standing in the way of people making money. We were supposed to ALL sign so that those who brought the landmen in could capitalize to the fullest. That automatically set the tone. At that time, Mr. Uretsky sat on the board of the Delaware Highlands Conservancy, an organization whose efforts had already achieved voluntary preservation of thousands of acres of land from future over development and industrial use. Such was the vision of the founders that the precious waters and natural integrity of the landscape were worthy of high recognition. It was an identity that few areas are lucky enough to have. This was echoed on a broader base by the tri-township comprehensive plan survey mandated by the municipal code which showed that the majority of property owners favored less development and preservation of the rural character and as yet unspoiled water resource. When members of the Delaware Highlands Conservancy realized that certain board members had signed leases, Mr. Uretsky, being one, they refrained from renewing memberships. This was a huge blow to the hard work and dedication of so many truly "good neighbors" who had done so much to preserve not only the land, but also the public perception that we, in fact, were "special". Having become a spokesman for the NWPOA, Mr. Uretsky wasn't a good match. The Conservancy had to make some tough decisions, I'm sure. But thankfully he is no longer on the board and he is free to express, by any means, his true nature and support of candidates who favor drilling as he himself has done by signing his supposedly conserved land to a drlling lease. Presenting some unsavory facts is not mocking. Some things just need to be said and you needn't take it so personally.

Really? I don't think so.

Here's why. When I spoke with Joe Canfield on election day I recommended that he look into who was so cowardly as to send an anonymous mailing in the name of his candidcay with disparaging remarks about an opponent and when it was too late for the opponent to make a response. Mr. Canfield promised to look into it. Did he? No. It took the efforts of good citizens to find out. So did you send it Mr. Uretsky without Joe's knowledge? Whether he knew or didn't know, either answer is unacceptable for some one I would want as Supervisor. An oversight on your part? Totally not believeable for some one as educated and aware as yourself. Let me remind you that if you care about qualifications as you say you do: In all the years I attended meetins at Damascus from the late 70's to a few short years ago, never once did I see Joe Canfield at a meeting, asking questions and showing interest in township affairs. For your information, Dolores Keesler was there when meetings began and fought a long hard battle to retain our property rights, the very rights you now enjoy when we were threatened with eminent domain by the federal Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. Whether you were in the "corridor" or not, you would have either lost your property or completely lost the tax base. Perhaps you'd be supporting gas drilling in Dimock right now. Let me remind you that Mr. Canfield's qualifications, or lack of such, to run and lead a township were not questioned prior to this when he first ran, unfortunately unopposed a very lucky break. When the heat was on in his second bid, he relied on whatever list you could conjure to blow some pretty slik smoke...anyone could have made those claims. Instead, Dolores took the high road and spoke from something good people admire: genuine concern, a background in education, a plan for the future of the township. She said and did nothing divisive. but that wasn't good enough for you then. So please don't make believe it is now. We are not fooled by "too little, too late".

Huge contrast between Uretsky and Keesler

I read Mr. Uretsky's letter, then Ms. Keesler's.

Mr. Uretsky would do well to put down his pen.

It is way past time for those like Mr. Uretsky, who have divided us, to cry out for "unity". He has no credibility, so please, put down the pen.

His third point, regarding shale gas extraction, is beyond the pale. It has not been, and it can not now be demonstrated, that it can be done safely. It is just the opposite, over the past two years in Susquehanna and Bradford Counties.

The amount of households, and water supplies, that have been subjected to dangerous methane migration, is clear for anyone with open eyes, to see. Just take all his examples in that section, and understand that the opposite is reality. PA DEP, as an example, has allowed Cabot Oil and Gas to stop supplying water to more than a dozen households in Dimock, despite the fact that PA DEP clearly has identified, and held Cabot, resposible for that contamination. Those people have suffered three years without their water well supply, and now they are abandoned.

Mr. Uretsky leased in 2009? It was very unsafe, under regulated, and had little real enforcement, oversight, capacity. It remains glaringly lacking, still.

There can be no unity when people, such as Mr. Uretsky, continue to put forth visions that have no bearing upon reality.