Thursday, April 16, 2009

Bradford County Residents Are Speaking Out!

Responses to the Daily Review's Sunday editorial "Give gas firms a chance to do right thing" show the majority of opinions to be highly skeptical of the drillers and of the Review. Feeling betrayed, readers question the paper's credibility as they face the onslaught of an industry that has demonstrated no regard for anything but profits.

The Other Opinion wrote on Apr 12, 2009 11:51 AM:

" Would you feel the same way if YOU weren't getting money form Chesapeake? People want to give them a fair shake but you must realize that people don't want to be taken in the long run. People look at other gas drilling projects in other states and they wonder where the reporting is. Did those same folks hear the same speech? Give them a fair shake!

In my humble opinion are you giving those who purchase The Daily Review a fair shake? After reading this commentary it looks as though you're shaking hands with the gas company. "

James Barth wrote on Apr 12, 2009 2:01 PM:
" No one should take your editorial opinion seriously, after reading: "Firms do not get respected national reputations without sound, ethical business practices". In my fifty-nine years on this planet, I have never read such an absurd, and false, statement. Did you actually write that? "

Doug Saunders wrote on Apr 12, 2009 8:20 PM:

" Editor:
On chance it has escaped your notice, the Review's credibility, vis a vis your positions on drilling, stands today off scale low.

You are taking money from Chesapeake. Do you believe your readers are fools?? "

Alice Cornish wrote on Apr 12, 2009 8:27 PM:

" James Barth
To answer your question straight up, there is a possibility the Review did NOT write that. They are taking money now from Chesapeake. So that line you questioned might have come from a drilling company press handout. There is simply no way we can know, not any longer. "

Mark Standish wrote on Apr 12, 2009 9:23 PM:

" The Review wrote:
"We have some of the top companies in the field at work as major players in the Marcellus Shale exploitation . . . . ".

It is my view, Mr. Editor, that it's not just the Marcellus shale that is being exploited. But I give you this much: Exploitation is what the drillers, all of them, do best. "

Carol Manuel wrote on Apr 12, 2009 11:30 PM:

" Chesapeake does not have a good reputation in Fort Worth, Texas. Far from it. Forget about trying to establish a mutually beneficial relationship. This is a business relationship. Get everything in writing, and insist on accountability. Watch Chesapeake like a hawk. Even if everything goes well, this is still a win-lose situation for the environment, for the health of our citizens, for clean air, for tourism, for fishing and hunting. We're all losers except for the few who will make money. And the history of the gas industry in Colorado, Texas, Utah, and now even in Pennsylvania already, is anything but ethical. Don't even go there. "

Edith Masterman wrote on Apr 13, 2009 1:54 AM:

" To the Daily and Sunday Review
Now that you have come out foursquare in favor of the drillers, I no longer take you or your opinions seriously. Previously, I thought The Review was without bias when it came to drilling, seeing, comprehending, and illuminating both good and bad. Clearly, this was my error. No longer can I, or do I, count on you to report fairly and fully news reflecting negatively on the drilling companies. Your so-called "newspaper" has become little more than a shill for the gas companies. You are their new propaganda arm.

So much for your service to Bradford County. So much for your obligation to write the whole truth.

You will maintain that you have arrived at your position regarding drilling completely without regard to the money you now take from Chesapeake. But ask yourself this: If you actually WERE being influenced by the money they now are paying you, how would things be different?

I could kick myself for having respected and believed in your personal and journalistic integrity. I must have been crazy. "

Tom Posey wrote on Apr 13, 2009 2:24 AM:

" Mr Editor
This is a true story, as God is my witness. Last week a representative from one of the "respected" companies you mention in this editorial visited my home. The company wanted to lease my land for the purpose of drilling down into the Marcellus shale for gas. I treated the person who visited with me with courtesy, but I was hesitant about leasing and made my feeling known. At that point the representative told me, if I did not lease, they could drill horizontally right up to and around my property boundaries and take my gas that way, without paying me a cent. Reference was made to the "Rule of Capture".

This is only just my opinion. You are free to disagree and you most likely do disagree given you like the gas companies. But I felt threatened when the representative talked about taking my gas without paying. And I do not believe a respectable and responsible company would use such a tactic to compel a land owner to lease his land. The experience left a sour taste in my mouth. I was left much more willing to believe some of the negative things one hears about these drilling companies. So defend them all you like. I now have personal experience with one of them, and I have learned how they behave when you do not bend to their will. I do not like someone, or some company, coming onto my property and threatening me. Respectable companies do not do business that way. And certainly that is not the traditional way of doing business here in Bradford County. "

Lets talk about trust wrote on Apr 13, 2009 4:32 AM:

" Finally, this editorial has opened up a topic of interest to me. Trust. I do not trust Chesapeake Energy. Its less than stellar corporate reputation is reported on regularly by local and national news media, and CHK has done several things to reinforce this reputation since they’ve been in Bradford County. CHK, as a company, is a warrior which uses its well-honed public relations as a shield, and lawyers as its legal gun-wielding army. Every contract presented has legal wording which are the equivalent of burdocks and oil. The burdocks are there so that the contract sticks to you if they want it to, but the oil is there so that CHK can slip out at their discretion. How many people last year thought they had a lease with CHK, just to find that they didn’t? In how many cases did independent landmen (not CHK, of course) lie, evade, or misrepresent facts in order to get a signed lease for CHK’s benefit?

I went to the March 5th CHK presentation in Athens and was impressed by the people I met.
One of the reasons that I was impressed by the CHK people was that from my corporate training of many years, I recognize consummate professionals upon sight, and the group fit the bill perfectly.

When I came home I did a little research, and found out why the image had been so impressive. Two of the individuals were media professionals, having worked until just a few years ago for the prestigious Charles Ryan Associates in Charleston. One of these individuals plus another who will be coming to Towanda as the Central Bradford Progress Authority dinner speaker on April 16th are registered lobbyists in the state of West Virginia representing Chesapeake. These are people who are both media and law savvy. Nothing wrong with this, but the average resident in Bradford County needs to know the level of skill and experience of the persons he is working with.

I found the third individual truly humorous and likeable. He explained that he had previously worked for Columbia Natural Resources and was absorbed into Chesapeake along with the office furniture. After my research, I learned that he, along with Chesapeake CEO Aubrey McClendon, spoke at the glitzy, WV governor-attended 8/23/07 Chesapeake announcement of its planned Charleston WV Eastern Regional HQ building which was an investment of 40 million dollars in Charleston WV. But something bad happened. On May 22nd, 2008, the full verdict including financial damages were announced for Chesapeake’s loss of a WV Supreme Court Case over cheating landowners out of royalties (which it took liability for when it bought out CNR). On May 29th, only seven days later, the true nature of CHK was apparent when its CEO Aubrey McClendon announced that CHK axed the plans for the eastern regional headquarters as a result of the outcome of the state Supreme Court case. Vindictive behavior, no apologies, true reason revealed. CHK knows that the money it has can buy justice, and if it doesn’t, it will retaliate. No big surprise, then, that on 3/2/09, just a few days before the Athens CHK public meeting, CHK announced cutting out 215 jobs in Charleston and demoting the Charleston regional corporate headquarters to a regional field office. Further retaliation against a state government that was clearly not influenced by money.

On 3/5/09 in Athens, the professional faces of the CHK trio showed no hint of emotion at the CHK Charleston job cuts which must have been troubling them. Even the humorous fellow, a Charleston native who had been inherited by CHK along with the CNR landowner royalty-cheating liability and the office furniture, who had been involved in proudly announcing the Eastern Regional HQ building in his hometown, who had lived through the axing of the building and now was surviving the axing of the jobs, kept his mask on securely. Only 3 days after the public announcement, any pain he or the others must have felt masked by professionalism, the CHK media show at Athens went on flawlessly. Good corporate soldiers doing battle on the front line for a flawed Napoleonic leader.

Just axing the building plans and jobs isn’t enough for a vindictive CHK CEO. In 2007, a CHK cheap shot against WV had been made in the early days of the lawsuit, this one against hopeful royalty owners. Here’s a quote I picked up from the net.

“We’re just finishing up the first large three-dimension seismic survey ever shot in West Virginia which, ironically is in Roane County (the county where the lawsuit was filed originally),” McClendon said. “So we’re kind of scratching our heads about what to do with it. “We own most of this acreage already — it’s called ‘held by production by shallower wells,’” he said. “So in terms of timing, if we want to sit on this for the next 20 or 30 years, we can certainly do that. “I’m not willing at this point to commit to a big new exploration program in the state of West Virginia when I don’t know how the leases that I’ve inherited are going to be interpreted by judges across the state.”

A comment on a fourth fellow at the 3/5/09 meeting, who presented himself as the new CHK local Tunkhannock recruit. A former Chief of Staff to Lisa Baker, he has a long resume of PA state government experiences. CHK has a desire to manage its relationship with state governments productively. I am sure his contacts will be useful to CHK. The only PA lobbyist I could find listed for Chesapeake in PA is a Robert J. Wilson of the Sandstone Group out of Kansas. I have to wonder whether Chesapeake has some new local lobbyists in mind? Now that same local fellow is recommending that we don’t post and bond. I am left wondering why. What is in it for CHK? I only know, I cannot recognize the burdocks and oil in a legal document. The army of CHK lawyers, armed with their legal guns, will insure that you don’t win. I’ve come to the conclusion that it almost doesn't matter what the document you sign with CHK says. Their army of lawyers can twist and spin words and meanings, and CHK will win in any case brought against them. And if they don’t, they’ll be hell to pay.

The plans for the prestigious Charleston Eastern Regional Headquarters are probably still available on their award winning architect’s shelf. If Bradford County cozies up to CHK enough, and the state of PA does likewise, maybe someone can convince CHK to plunk the building down in Towanda on Main Street in the borough owned lot next to C&N. What a feather in our cap that would be! Maybe that’s what the Central Bradford Progress Authority has in mind as it cozies up to CHK at Thursday night’s annual dinner. Only time will tell.

Chesapeake’s ethical position is self-expressed in great detail on its website. CHK gives money to good community causes and uses lots of media savvy and more money to shore up its reputation. It’s true reputation, however, leaves much to be desired. And I will not be so trusting as to lower my guard. "

Dew Wright wrote on Apr 13, 2009 9:45 AM:

" So is Chesapeake suggesting that North Towanda Township disregard the law and open themselves up to having no legal ground by not going with a bond?
To me it's kind of like insuring your home, it's there in case you ever need it. To me, it is the right thing to do, the wrong thing to do is to expect gas companies to do the right thing without a legal paper to hold them to do the right thing. I ask myself WHY don't they want a bond? "

Local Resident wrote on Apr 13, 2009 10:59 AM:

" Dear Editor,

You have lost all credibility. "

John Parke wrote on Apr 13, 2009 11:05 AM:

" Lets Talk
Thank you for your remarkable comment. I have not read one better . . . ever!

As you have pointed out, the media savvy of Chesapeake outdistances anything here in Bradford County by an order of magnitude. Nobody here is anywhere near to being in their league, and nobody here has their kind of money. I am very wary of them, just based on instinct.

But most of all I wish they had not been successful in cozying up to our best newspaper, our only county newspaper really, the Daily and Sunday Review. This was a great loss for the people of Bradford County, We desperately need the Review to be an independent voice. We need our newspaper now, more than ever before in the history of this county. Courage might be too much to ask when so much money is being waved around by Chesapeake. Courage cannot educate one's kids, buy groceries, or pay a mortgage. But still, courage, the courage to say "no" and remain above suspicion journalistically, was what the Review needed when Chesapeake came offering. And that courage was not in evidence. What are we to do now for information we can trust? We are left facing the behemoth you have described blindfolded, with one hand tied behind our back. This is Bradford County's saddest day. "

S. Hoskins wrote on Apr 13, 2009 11:22 AM:

" You people criticizing The Review for taking money from Chesapeake and then writing an editorial like this need to think. The Review is a newspaper. In our country newspapers are independent businesses. The Review receives no money from, for example, the government. They must make a profit or else they go out of business. And many newspapers ARE going out of business in this country today. The competition for ad revenue is intense, and the internet is killing them. The world is changing and newspapers, paper ones anyway, are on the wrong side of that change.

So now along comes Chesapeake offering money to The Review to buy newspapers for school children. The Review desperately needs the money and the newspapers will be good for the kids' education.

I am confident Chesapeake asked nothing in return. They are just doing a public service, a good deed if you will. If this arrangement gets them some positive PR that's just the way of the world today. The ones with the money get to call the shots. And Chesapeake certainly has the money.

I would rather see The Review take the money if it means they will remain in business longer. I do not want our newspaper to fail. Ideally, I grant you, the Review would not take money from so controversial an entity as Chesapeake. But this is NOT an ideal world. And that's a fact the complainers must confront. "

Constance Smith wrote on Apr 13, 2009 11:49 AM:

" John Parke
While I am respectful of what you wrote, I think your focus is insufficiently broad. You focused on what Chesapeake money has done to our best newspaper. At least the Review, on Saturday, told its readers about its arrangement with Chesapeake.

My focus is on that same kind of money working out of our sight, and without our knowledge. How about our public officials! McLinko has been under suspicion almost forever. How about Sullivan! And how about our absolutely silent Representatives!! Could there be campaign contributions involved?? Could there be other money changing hands with a wink and a nod!? You can bet on it.

Excoriate the Review if you wish. And I do admit it would have been far better for them to remain neutral. But don't ignore the many other threats "big gas" money poses to Bradford County. This problem goes FAR beyond the Review. These gas companies are placing Bradford County beneath a full court press. We have the gas they need to continue to make the big money for which they are known. And they will use ALL of their resources to take our gas for as little money as possible. Welcome to the real world, Mr. Parke. "

BCTaxpayer wrote on Apr 13, 2009 1:18 PM:

" I don't know why you're all surprised. This paper has always been pro-drilling, just like the editor's buddy Mclinko. They have briefly raised some of the main issues at hand, then bragged about their "fair" coverage... but they haven't been truely critical when it comes to the serious problems we all knew would impact our area. What this county needs is real investigative journalism, not this wishy-washy ambiguous garbage that leaves the reader a twitch dumber at the end of the article.
Give the gas companies a chance? Yeah, that's working out so well already. The restaurants and motels are doing great, a few "poor" people are getting rich, a whopping 59 locals have been hired by the gas companies (but many laid off already), and our local newspaper is on the gas companies payroll. Brilliant. So now we're down to only 62,800 people in this county that are still suffering through the bad economy while the gas companies are getting rich, then sending their money back home. I'm jumping with joy. "

Shaker wrote on Apr 13, 2009 6:21 PM:

" You'll probably find out that the editor himself has a lease with Chesapeake! Most people gave up on the current administration of this newspaper being fair and unbiased long ago, but its a good thing that the few that thought differently are realizing just how wrong they were. I wonder if they'll remember it though!

EDITOR'S NOTE: The editor has no personal business ties with any natural gas driller or any business associated with gas prospecting. To do so would constitute a conflict of interest in violation of our Code of Ethics. "

Bro wrote on Apr 13, 2009 6:31 PM:

" What's astonishing is that anyone though they could rely on this paper to be straight and fair. "

JRB wrote on Apr 15, 2009 7:26 PM:

" Money makes the world go round.
Money talks.
Money is the root of all evil.
We've heard them all before.

Individual landowners approached to sell leases on their land had better give it serious consideration because they CAN and DO drill horizontally and somebody around you WILL sign up and then "poof," there goes your hope of ever getting anything.

My grandmother owned a home where a developer wanted to put a parking lot for his high rise. Grama felt the offer was too low, and she really didn't want to move. They offered to buy a comparable sized home in a comparable neighborhood, but ultimately she declined to sell. Her former home sits today in the shadows of the behemoth high-rise, in no sun for hours every day, with their emergency exit not more than 10-12' off the rear corner of her house.

In retrospect, she wished she'd sold or allowed them to buy her a comp; they made the last years of her life a living hell.

Don't be my Grama...take their money--as much of it as you can get--and run like crazy! "

No right answer wrote on Apr 16, 2009 7:40 AM:

" Saw an example just like JRB's, only this one was a shopping mall. The house which the owner declined to sell was tiny in the shadow of a major mall.

In the case of gas, there are no right answers if all you want is a peaceful life. If you sell out and run, where is there to go? And if you decline their money and stay, you just don't know what'll be near you and what the quality of life will be. If everyone or even most people had refused to sign, we'd be ok, but looking at the maps most people have sold out. The holdouts are few. But, each person must act out of their own conscience. I cannot make myself sign one of their leases, so I plan to stay here, clean and green, and hope the area where I live stays decent enough for me to enjoy the rest of my life. But I rue the day Bradford County was noticed for its gas, and quite frankly I hope the price of gas stays down, and that it becomes uneconomical to drill here. Maybe the leases will run out and people won't sign a second time. "

Martha Barends wrote on Apr 16, 2009 8:24 AM:

Reality is a little different than what you wrote. Marcellus gas is locked pretty securely into shale which has very low permeability. Not until the shale if "fraced", or hydraulically fractured, is the gas released in a significant manner. So even if they drill horizontally near to your land, your gas likely will remain intact.


Two additional considerations enter in. One is strictly against the law, the other should be:

First, if they drill horizontally into your land without a lease then, of course, they can steal your gas. This is strictly contrary to law. Proving the infraction, though, is nearly impossible. The trespass is happening a mile down and completely out of sight. You have to rely on the integrity of the gas companies, and I can hear the cascades of laughter on that one. I concede they have scant little integrity.

The second item is far more murky. It is not covered by existing law, but should be. This is an area where our Representatives are failing us BIG TIME... It is the issue of fracing another person's land, land which is unleased. There is no trespass per se, no drill bit penetrates unleased land. But the horizontal bore gets close, very close, to the leased land's boundary. Then, during the fracing process, the frac fluid and pressure wave impact fractures shale on unleased land, releasing gas from it which flows to a well head on leased land. This is straight out theft. The practice it is not against the law, but it obviously should be. No PA lawmaker, though, has addressed this practice in new legislation regardless the obvious need. "

Keep up the good work! Speak out! Share your knowledge and understanding with others! Our collective well-being is at stake! The lessons are all out there to be learned, from people in Colorado, Texas, Wyoming... right here in Dimock. We need to demand that our government regulate in favor of Life, not industry. There's plenty of money to be made, and jobs to be had, developing green energy... AND! there are even a number of ways to drill for gas that pollute less and are less damaging... just maybe not as cheap. Integrity is clearly not at the top of any of these complicit parties' agendas.


  1. I am opposed to drilling- period. As they say in Britain, FULL STOP! But, of course, I would accept ANY measure that would alleviate pollution and illness. The comment I have is this: It is my understanding that most gas companies dislike any kind of regulations or addendums, and the more of these they encounter in leases and local and state law, the less interest they will have in them. We have all seen articles which say we should not over-regulate OR ELSE the gas industry will just go somewhere else. Now there's a happy thought! I realize some people are actually afraid that the money they want to make will never materialize if citizens put too many restrictions on the industry. I don't want to deprive anyone of income, but, at the same time, is it right for a few people to receive money at the expense of our earth, our health, our air, our water, our very quality of life? More than once I have read the comments of industry spokespeople who say that we should sacrifice for the good of the whole. This is an argument for accepting loss on one's own property in order that we can all have access to good old clean gas. This could be turned around I think. Those who have leases or those who support gas drilling could sacrifice the money they would have had for the sake of the many who will suffer the devastating effects of gas drilling. Do you follow me?

  2. Thanks for adding OGAP to the BLOG. There is a wealth of information on this site. Stay tuned; I'm in the process of requesting the use of a local high school auditorium for a public awareness event. The gas companies have had plenty of opportunity to spread their propoganda, now it's our turn!

  3. bravo they never!
    be sure to email splashdown the info so an announcement can be posted.

  4. I'm a journalist from London, I will be interviewing Rep. Tina Picket, County Commissioner Doug Mcklinko, and Paul Swartz of the Susquehanna River Basin between the dates of 21st-24th. If anyone has questions for any of them them please e-mail me at

  5. Of late I have seen very few reader comments in support of gas drilling. What has happened to those who were looking forward to this? Is the public wising up? I think that's it.

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