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Park editorial misses the point

By Tom Shepstone
June 14, 2012

Your May 31 editorial about the role of the Park Foundation misses the point, perhaps deliberately. The Park Foundation doesn’t just “fund opponents of hydro-fracking,” as you suggest. No, its influence is pervasive.

It funds hack studies such as the Howarth report that has been excoriated by other Cornell scientists and the Cristopherson and Myers report that are so weak as to be laughable.

Then it funds the anti-gas organizations, everyone from the Environmental Working Group to Catskill Mountainkeeper, that use these “studies” as leverage for campaigns.

Then it funds groups such Earth Justice to sue using the questionable data. Then it funds media such as Trailer Talk and the DC Bureau to report on it all. Then it funds Common Cause who attacks gas companies for using their influence, which returns the favor by giving the Park Foundation principals awards for their service.

Additionally, it funds not only “Gasland,” but also Duke University (you’ll remember that very selective study), the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund, a profoundly radical group, and the Community Environmental Defense Council, which actually tried bullying an Upper Delaware businessman who only expressed his opinion with a “lawyer up, big guy” threat.

The Park Foundation is creating the issues, using them to sue and then reporting on the results. They have every right to do all those things, but not in the guise of a non-profit corporation, the public purpose of which is not politics, but charity. Funding opponents of natural gas is not a legitimate function of a 501(c)(3) organization. That is the issue, plain and simple. Let them declare themselves a 501(c)(4) organization if that’s what they wish to do, but they shouldn’t be parading around as a charity when they’re really doing politics.

I am rather amazed at the reaction on the anti-gas side to my post about the Park Foundation principals. Clearly, it touched a nerve. Yet, all I did was point out the truth. No one has claimed any errors in my reporting. They just resent me bringing out some inconvenient facts, including not only the multi-faceted role of the foundation in the politics of natural gas, but also the stunning hypocrisy of some trust-funders who want the rest of us to live more simply and not develop our natural gas resources while they concurrently heat with gas and attack it.

Mr. Shepstone's self serving opinions

Mr. Shepstone continues to catagorize his opinions, and E.I.D.'s propaganda, as "Truthland" fact, while slinging sophmoric language towards his opponents, but mostly he, and they, are guilty of exactly the kind of misrepresentation, and mis-statement, that they accuse their opposition. They seem to revel in doing exactly that. After all, they are being paid to do it, and they are laughing all the way to the bank!

By his past comments, one might think that the Park Foundation (and environmental groups in general) was the equivalent of Chesapeake, or Exxon. Who is he kidding? He portrays the environmental movement as if it is a special interest group, loaded with cash?

I have read that McClendon gave Corbett $450,000 when he ran for A.G., well before "Marcellus" was a household word. Then, the industry gave Corbett's gubernatorial campaign well over a million? It seems that every night I see two fossil fuel advertisements during the national news, either telling me how shale gas will save the planet, or what a great job British Petroleum has done cleaning up the Gulf (Y'all come on down and eat the eyeless, corexited shrimp!).

Chesapeake and E.I.D. just funded the 35 minute, disingenuous, falsely premised, "Truthland", which is nothing more than a staged presentation, by a slick ad man, of the industry's talking points, and talking heads, falsely displayed within a "folksy road trip" by, a "real American"?

Who wrote the sickly slick script that amateur actor mouths? Who produced it? Who shot it? Who gave the logistical support? Who arranged the interviews?

Yet, it is all portrayed as if this lady woke up one morning, and went on a (self-propelled) "road trip" (bye bye kids, I'll be back whenever...), in search of "truth", because "her family is taught that the truth matters", and she was disturbed by some of the things she saw, and heard, in "Gasland"?

Even though she was/is a member of a landowner coalition, and had already leased her property, and, perhaps even had a well drilled on her property, she is initially portrayed in the info-mercial as a naive person, ignorant of shale extraction issues, who takes it upon herself to go on, and presumably pay for, a road trip in search of "real truth", as opposed to the "falseness" presented in "Gasland"? Rather, it is this 35 minute commercial that drips a constant, and amazingly false, premise.

By comparison, one can tell how utterly effective "Gasland" and Josh Fox have been, by the words and actions of the Shepstones and the E.I.D's of America, and the fact they are still obsessed with it in June of 2012, almost 3 years after it was filmed. Think of this, so much more damning information has come out since then, no wonder they are still obsessed with that film!

I remember when the Shepstones and the Wynnes were writing as if "Gasland" was produced by Chavez and Venezuela, and then it was by Sundance, and now it is Park.

In reality, Josh started his filming, on his own shoestring, out of his own pocket, in July of 2008, and was finished filming, in September of 2009, or so. He did the filming, and writing, virtually all on his own, with grassroots support from individuals, and groups like Damascus Citizens, yet, the Shepstone types portray Mr. Fox as "spoiled", "avant garde", "Hollywood", and in most vile reference, of course, as a "liar".

It was during the post production period that he began to get some support, and that would have happened between September of 2009 and the premier, at Sundance, in late January of 2010. Josh Fox deserves a ton of credit, it was an incredible, individual effort, yet the Shepstones want to portray "Gasland" as a product of the "trust fund environmental movement" and Hollywood? HBO came into it very late, I believe it was AFTER the Sundance Festival, and that was about distribution.

It is egregious that these lobbyists make such false statements, and presentations, but when they also use language and tactics out of the juvenile debating gutter, it is beneath contempt. Howarth's report is a "hack study"? Earth Justice sues using "questionable data"? The anti shale gas extraction opposition is filled with "trust funders" who are "stunning hypocrites", and who have made their living elsewhere? The Delaware Riverkeeper Network is the "Delaware RiverCreeper Network"?

Not one bit from that perspective matters to the real issues at hand, but what it does show is a transparent, bitter, bias, by the likes of the Mr. Shepstones, towards those majority of tax paying residents, and non residents, who were either not "born here", or have not lived "here" since the "1700's".

To end with a bit of humorous speculation, given Mr. Shepstone's thread of comments, in his work for E.I.D., I would not be surprised if I were to find out that his family supported the English Crown against the revolutionary colonists, back in those "1700's". In reference to that, approximately 42% of the property owners in Damascus Township are non-residents, who end up in a "taxation without representation" existence. That is a major reason why the Mr. Shepstones of the area are able to strut about.

Mr. Shepstone's "America" seems to stop at the edge of his property's boundaries, and he seems to value his "property rights" far more than his neighbor's human rights. His America is populated by "We the owners of large tracts of acreage", as opposed to "We the people".

He portrays his opinions, and beliefs, as the "true truth", while his opposition, is nothing more than trust fund babies, or outsiders, on a mission to spread fear and falseness.

Indeed, Mr. Shepstone, what's this all about? Truth, really?

Tories, or Patriots? Which are we today?

Continuing with the thread that Mr. Shepstone began when he declared that his family has been "here" since the "1700's", below is a copy/paste from an email sent by John Conway, the Sullivan County historian.

"The Declaration of Independence and the Upper Delaware Valley: When the Declaration of Independence was read to the public in the summer of 1776, it was not universally cheered. Some historians estimate that as many as one-third of the colonial settlers maintained their loyalty to Britain, and that was certainly the case in the upper Delaware Valley, where Cushetunk resident Robert Land would become one of the most noted Tories of the Revolution. Sullivan County Historian John Conway examines the impact of the Declaration of Independence on the Cushetunk settlement and the region at a special program at Fort Delaware Museum of Colonial history at 12:30 PM on Wednesday, July 4.

Visit the Fort early for a reading of the Declaration of Independence by a costumed re-enactor at 12 Noon.

Stay in Narrowsburg for the 4th of July Parade at 3 PM."

John Conway
Sullivan County Historian

Sometimes the stars simply align!

So Mr. Shepstone, were your settler ancesters, Tories, or Patriots? As many as 1/3 were Tories, in our area, according to John Conway's email above.

Amazingly, that percentage is exactly the percentage of landowners in Damascus Township that have signed leases for shale gas extraction.

Notorious Tories?

The Sky is Pink

Click on the above link, and click on the red The Sky is Pink, for the Josh Fox new 18 minute film that deals with casing issues, gas migration, and the lies of the industry. It is a perfect response to the faux TruthLand, even though it was done separately from that film.

Fred, Tom, what can you say to the real truth? Shoot the messenger? Who is effective? Who tells the truth? Look at Tony Ingraffea's diagram and explanation, as opposed to the blah blah that is presented in your disconnected explosive propaganda commercial, as it relates to "casing". What does steel's relative strength vis a vis an explosive charge, have to do with safety, when the real issue is the cement failure between the outside of the steel and the wall of the borehole?

Listen to Josh's explanation about casing failure as described by, yes, industry documents themselves.

Hear his explanation to the Markham faucet flame, and the surrounding area's residents, as opposed to your irrelevant interview with a homeowner who bought his house despite the warning of "don't smoke in the shower"! Just because that fellow chose to ignore the reality of a pre-existing condition, that has no relation to a family that has absolutely no problem with their private well water, and the subsequent contamination they suffer after shale gas extraction.

Doug Shields, the former city council member of Pittsburgh, is a natural. He describes perfectly how your types entered his office and tried to convince him that "The Sky is Pink".

How can you continue to lie like this? Is "Plausible Deniability" your operating phrase?

The link to "The Sky is Pink" has changed

It can be viewed at: