The coalitions of landowners who have fallen for the gas-industries propaganda like to say that high-density, high-pressure, horizontal hydraulic fracturing extraction natural gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale is “highly regulated.” Of course that is baloney. The regulations are meaningless when you can’t enforce them, and the gas industry laughs at them.
Big companies outsource to smaller companies, most of which are from out of state and somehow just don’t feel beholden to the interests of the locals or our area. If the big companies have certain screenings for their employees (and that is a big “if”), they can always hire smaller companies to do the dirty work. If the smaller companies are not rigorous in screening their employees, the bigger ones feel insulated against responsibility. This is what’s called “plausible deniability.” It works against the interests of the suckers who think the industry regulations are sufficient. It also works against everyone in the communities that are affected.
It’s sort of how the mafia works. Lenny the Shark contacts Joey the Fish who hires Sammy the Clam to hit Elmer the Yokel. Sammy is caught, but doesn’t rat on Joey. We all know that Lenny knew what he was doing, and is responsible. But just try to pin it on him.
It’s also similar to terrorist cells. Smaller groups are sacrificed to do the dirty work, but you can’t trace it back to the source. In our case you can trace it back, but convoluted laws and exemptions from laws protect the real perpetrators.
So what is happens when a small company hires someone who screws up? What happens when the person who screws up disappears from the scene? What happens if the company has been cited for violations before, but it keeps operating the without much accountability? What good are the regulations? Not much good, it appears.
Read this story about how 5J Oilfields Services violated permits several times in March of this year.
The tractor trailer, driven for 5J Oilfield Services, LLC out of Texas, was in violation of its permit and weighed in at nearly 53,000 pounds over the limit. The driver was fined more than $16,000 and released.
A $16,000 fine to the gas industry is a joke. That’s less than their lobbyists spend influencing local government officials and industry collaborators all over NY state in the time it takes to rent hotel space for a supposed “information conference”.
Less than 24 hours later, police stopped two more trucks from the same company at that same location after people called in traffic complaints.
Is there no end to this?
Then read about how a few months later how this Texas company’s truck ran off the road while speeding through Owego, NY, shearing off several telephone poles and a guardrail before resting the cab in a stormwater drainage ditch near a Family Practice office, and cut of local power to the area, including a nursing home, for hours.
The driver left the scene and wasn’t found by the police until hours later, after an extensive search. He was charged with fleeing the scene of a property damage accident, Driving While Intoxicated, imprudent speed, and criminal mischief 4th degree. According to Owego Police officer Brett Kobylarcz, Mohr was arrested and remanded to the Tioga County Jail in lieu of $5,000 cash or $10,000 property bond. (Another joke!) (Thanks to Wendy Post at the Owego Pennysaver for her coverage of this incident.)
How serious is this industry? Just look at the website of the company they outsource to. Is it a sham?
After all of the egregious BS this industry hands out, and after we’ve all seen how lax regulations work (or don’t work) from the Gulf of Mexico to Wall Street, how is it that some flunky from the gas coalitions still think anyone will take them seriously when they try to pretend that the “DEC and a good lease will protect us?”