Fracking Meeting Wasn’t Really Open

To The Reader’s Forum:

I guess it’s true: there are falsehoods on social media. Recently, the WNY Drilling Defense Fund posted a notice on its Facebook page that said “Join us for a county-wide open meeting where we will be discussing the campaign to ban fracking and fracking waste in Chautauqua County” The post also stated that “All are welcome!” However, upon my arrival at the publicized meeting at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Jamestown on Thursday, April 24, myself, and others, were told that this was not an open meeting, rather that it was an “organizational” meeting limited to “like-minded people” and not the general population which may have opposing views. The organizers defensively videotaped us as we asked why we were not welcome at a public meeting. They even went so far as to blame the Jamestown Post Journal for the incorrect language which was posted on the group’s own Facebook page.

Could it be that the organizer, Rita Yelda, from the Food & Water Watch chapter in Buffalo recognized me and the other professionals engaged in the natural gas industry, and didn’t want our input?

Ms Yelda and her cohorts physically locked the door of the church and barred our entrance, despite her open invitation on Facebook.

This is another example of the gross hypocrisy that prevails in groups like these. Their members cry about social injustice, yet are systematically trying to deprive New Yorkers of their right to earn revenue from their land.

In a larger sense, Ms Yelda and her group are trying to deprive New York’s communities from the generous ad valorem tax that follows well production: these dollars benefit schools, libraries, public safety and social services. Instead of learning more about how technology continues to make the natural gas industry safer, more productive, and natural gas a cleaner cost-effective choice, Ms. Yelda and company are electing to keep New Yorkers in the dark.

Apparently the folks from Food and Water Watch, WNY Drilling Defense Fund, and the League of Women Voters weren’t at all interested in hearing how the natural gas industry has a long history of safe and responsible production in Chautauqua County. Thousands of acres of verdant farmland there is dotted with safely-producing natural gas wells: while hundreds of people in the county earn their living in this industry, thousands of people in the region enjoy safe water and good health as a result.

The WNY Drilling Defense Fund should be held accountable for its actions here: the group invited the community to a meeting, and then profiled attendees who the organizer didn’t deem “like minded.” This speaks volumes about the group’s integrity and intentions: these are not the people who should be determining New York’s energy future.

Brad Gill