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Enough with the Park Foundation nonsense already

May 31, 2012

In the dispute as to whether hydro-fracking for natural gas is desirable in this area (or anywhere), there are a number of legitimate bones of contention. Take jobs, which all agree are important: one valid topic of discussion is the question as to whether the number, quality and sustainability of jobs provided to local residents by gas drilling would outweigh the practice’s economic, environmental, health and social costs.

But there are other lines of argument that are pure drivel. The idea that opposition to gas drilling is an inimical conspiracy funded by the Park Foundation is a case in point. It’s not only drivel, it’s dangerous drivel, because it sets up a scapegoat—a propaganda technique that serves only to sow irrational suspicion and fear in the community, while diverting attention from legitimate concerns. This contention has been a favorite talking point for some time on the Energy in Depth (EID) Marcellus website, which admits openly (to its credit) the fact that it is funded by the natural gas drilling industry. More recently, public comments attacking the Town of Highland’s Local Law #3—which would ban hydro-fracking—on the grounds that it can be “traced back” to the Park Foundation, indicate that the idea is gaining broader currency.

It’s time to call a halt.

Yes, it’s true that the Park Foundation has been a major funding source for individuals and entities that oppose gas drilling, from Josh Fox and “Gasland” to the Community Environmental Defense Council (CEDC). So what?

To find out what kind of organization this must be to earn the aspersions cast upon it, we went to its website. Here’s its mission: “The Park Foundation primarily supports scholarships in higher education, quality media that heightens public awareness of critical issues and protection of the environment.”

Aha! So people who fear that hydro-fracking will damage the environment are being funded by, wait for it—a foundation that aims to protect the environment.

Well, duh. Argue that hydro-fracking does not damage the environment if you must. But there’s nothing nefarious about an organization whose mission is to protect the environment funding people who want to protect the environment. There’s no hidden agenda here.

Dear Editors

Just take a walk over to TRR's news article about the Poll on shale/frac'ing/drilling, to see an anonymous poster who hides behind a Virginian, "founding father", name, to see him rant against the Park Foundation, calling "it's" views, "elitist and narrow minded", and, calling Cornell University, a "bastion of buffoonery", with no further explanation or reason. This would seem to be the poor fellow's feelings about higher education in general, but, especially,when the professors oppose shale drilling and frac'ing. I also think back to the way he ALWAYS attacks Janette Barth, in that same, sophmoric, manner.

EID folks like Tom Shepstone, ALWAYS seem to be pandering to the low brow, taking every opportunity to stoop to mini mock their opposition. A recent example by Mr. Shepstone was when he referred to The Delaware Riverkeeper Network, if I remember correctly, as "The Delaware RiverCreeper". Think of how they write about Jim Northrup, Helen and David Slottje, the Delaware River Basin Commission, and anyone who successfully stands up to them.

Even our PADEP Secretary Krancer, without provocation, compared the State of Delaware to the "tail of a dog", and said it even smelled like a "tail of a dog". He was never held accountable for this outburst.

What a bunch of enlightened adults.