“Opposition to a 3.5 mile pipeline … has nothing to do the environment. It is ideology and special interests, not facts, that drive the Chesapeake Climate Action Network.”

“So, 35 million gallons of raw sewage is no problem if there’s a flood to carry it away. Who knew? And New York, the professed protector of the environment via its fracking ban, didn’t think it was important enough to notify Pennsylvanians. Where are the environmentalists? Why haven’t we heard from them?”

The first speech I ever gave, way back in the 1960s as part of a Future Farmers of America (FFA) regional high school speaking contest, was about conservation. That was the sensible term used then, before the first Earth Day when a bunch of virtue-signalling folk turned such commonsense into “environmentalism.”

A few years later, now out of college and married with two children, I got a local award as “Environmentalist of the Year.” I was still thinking conservation. But ever so gradually, over the decades, what was once a worthy cause has changed. So much so that I can no longer bear to be called an environmentalist (not that anyone’s trying). The movement is still populated by privileged kids (some grown old), and “environmentalism” has become environmental extremism. Its excesses have become its own worst enemy as the great middle goes in the opposite direction.

Extremism in Action: UK

Agenda-driven “environmentalism” is everywhere. It gets louder by the day as ordinary folks are disinclined to pay attention to the antics that worked last time. It no longer even makes a pretense of exhibiting reason (or the scientific method for that matter).

Take, for example, this story from the UK’s Chester Chronicle:

Anti-frackers demand a proposed energy research centre near Chester concentrates on renewables but avoids investigations perceived as supporting the shale gas industry. Government-funded plans envisage a site at Ince Marshes looking at shale gas as well as carbon capture and storage with a sister site in Glasgow focused on geothermal energy. But Frack Free Dee want British Geological Survey (BGS), who will deliver the project, to drop the shale gas research element fearing its data will be used to support the fracking industry.

Hydraulic fracturing or fracking is the controversial method used to extract the gas from the shale layer with associated concerns around water and air contamination as well as earthquakes. And the government has made no secret of its intention to convince the public that fracking can be safe using independent research.

In a statement, Frack Free Dee said:

We do not support publicly-funded research into an already failed and discredited industry and call on the British Geological Survey to remove this aspect of their research programme at Ince Marshes. There are significant issues with BGS being seen to promote this industry, including loss of professional reputation as identified in their own strategy.

Frack Free Dee would be supportive of those aspects of research which would remove our dependence upon fossil fuels, have a positive effect on our communities, and help our nation meet its climate change responsibilities.

This is the world of environmental extremism where even talking about shale gas is viewed as something that should be prohibited. It is a world where even research into the potential for shale gas development to assist in carbon capture and storage (perhaps for use in future fracking) is dismissed as politically incorrect and, therefore, morally reprehensible.

Meanwhile, fracking in the US has made it the world leader in reducing carbon emissions, while Germany, the vaunted leader in supposedly fighting climate change, builds more coal plants. Frack Free Dee should be called Foggy Dee or Wiz Free Dee.

Extremism in Action: Hagerstown, MD

Then, consider this from the Hagerstown Herald-Mail Media (a paper serving a town of 40,000 in Washington County, in Maryland):

Chesapeake Climate Action Network and the Potomac Riverkeeper Network announced Friday they will request a rehearing for a key permit needed for Columbia Gas Transmission’s Eastern Panhandle Expansion Project. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission issued the permit on July 19.

“We are committed to taking any and all opportunities to protect our communities from the dangers of this pipeline and all other future pipelines to come,” Anne Havemann, general counsel at the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, said in a prepared statement.

The $25 million, 8-inch pipeline is to connect existing lines in Fulton County, Pa., with the Mountaineer Gas pipeline being built in West Virginia. Mountaineer’s line is to stretch from near Berkeley Springs to Martinsburg.

Proponents have said the pipeline is needed for continued economic development in the region.

But groups such as the Potomac Riverkeeper Network have expressed concerns about potential pollution to the environment and drinking water supplies. They said contamination could come from the horizontal directional drilling process that will be used, as well as leaks from the line itself after it is in place.

In Friday’s news release, they also said the pipeline “would also deepen our dependence on fossil fuels and lead to an expansion of fracking in Pennsylvania.”

The last two paragraphs tell us what this opposition to a 3.5 mile pipeline is all about. It has nothing to do with the environment, though speculative “concerns” about it are employed as cover for the real reason. It is ideology and special interests, not facts, that drive the Chesapeake Climate Action Network. (CCAN is partially funded, by the way, by an eccentric trust-funder “artist” who lets a phony ex-nun dispense her fortune for obscene compensation.)

The idea that a 3.5 mile pipeline represents an environmental threat is absurd on its face. Moreover, the substitution of gas for coal has done more for the environment in a few years than all the efforts of environmental groups here in the US since Earth Day. The fact CCAN refuses to recognize tells us they’re not serious. Indeed, they’ve gone over the edge like so many others.

Extremism in Action: Northeastern Pennsylvania

Finally, there’s this story from the Wilkes-Barre Times Leader (a paper serving the Scranton–Wilkes-Barre–Hazleton, PA metropolitan area):

If the swollen Susquehanna River looks browner than usual, that could be due to the nearly 35 million gallons of untreated waste discharged into the river by the City of Binghamton, N.Y.

A public safety alert issued by New York officials says the discharge was due to heavy rain, construction at a waste treatment plant that was at capacity, and flood conditions.

The discharge of approximately 34,976,300 gallons of waste began Monday and lasted for almost 103 hours, or more than four days, the alert says.

The discharge came from combined sewer overflow, which collects domestic sewage, industrial wastewater and storm water runoff into a common pipe that flows into a wastewater treatment facility, according to the New York Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC).

Binghamton treats its waste at a joint-owned facility with the Village of Johnson City.

A spokesperson at the joint-owned facility said the City of Binghamton discharged the waste before it reached the wastewater treatment center. She referred inquiries to the City of Binghamton….

Colleen Connolly, community relations coordinator for the Northeast office of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, said her agency was not notified by New York officials of the discharge, but she also didn’t expect any harm thanks to how much water also has been channeled into the river.

So, 35 million gallons of raw sewage is no problem if there‘s a flood to carry it away. Who knew? And New York, the professed protector of the environment via its fracking ban, didn’t think it was important enough to notify Pennsylvanians.

Where are the environmentalists? Why haven’t we heard from them? Why are they not concerned about this very real problem? Why are they dismissing this accident, this risk, with a turn of the head and a wave of the hand? Just imagine 3,500 gallons of hydraulic fracturing fluid spilled into the Susquehanna and the reaction of fractivists and regulators. Then multiply it by 10,000. And, CCAN is worried about a 3.5 mile pipeline?


Why the double standard? Why the war against natural gas? Common-sense environmentalism is not to be found because it doesn’t fit the template for environmental extremism today. All perspective has been drowned out in flood of self-righteousness. They’ve gone stark, raving mad obsessing over ideology and demanding that their virtues be recognized.

Real virtue, anyone? It is time to put the environment back into environmentalism.

Thomas J. Shepstone is a planning and research consultant and publisher of NaturalGasNOW.