The fracking industry’s amateurish attempts to mislead the public and FERC

A gentleman by the name of Dustin Kuhlman posted a comment to the PennEast FERC docket this morning. He is very pro-pipeline has some nice turns of phrase in his commentary. His comments in full are below:

The vocal opposition of a few should not be generalized as the common opinion of many. I, like many of my neighbors, colleagues and friends, welcome responsible natural gas development and recognize the PennEast
Pipeline Project as crucial to the region. As such, I would like to add my voice to those who support the PennEast Pipeline Project.

The presence of large quantities of accessible natural gas in our region cannot be ignored. With current state-of-the-art technologies and diligent oversight to ensure established safety protocols are followed,
this natural gas resource must be developed and put to good use for the benefit of homes and businesses.

I proudly encourage environmentally responsible exploration, safe drilling, efficient transportation and proper maintenance of our natural gas resources. This will ensure that our energy needs will be met well
into the future in an environmentally and sound economical manner.

Beyond the logic of putting our own resources at a higher priority than those controlled by often hostile foreign energy suppliers, I point to the growing needs of our local economy. The PennEast Pipeline Project not only will deliver a safe, reliable, affordable supply of natural gas, it will do so with a $1.6 billion economic benefit during its design and construction and provide annual energy savings of close to $900 million per year to Pennsylvania and New Jersey consumers. These are major economic benefits for many of our local and regional families, communities and businesses.

As someone who knows firsthand the benefits of all that natural gas makes possible, I ask you to approve the PennEast Project. Thank you.

I suppose if you read the above opinion in a vacuum it would be pretty impressive. Hey, we should safely and diligently work to exploit this resource to our best abilities, and the boon to the region will be absolutely incredible! Let’s ignore those few pesky whiners out there and focus on all the good this project will do for us!

Sounds good, right?

Except of course we don’t live in a vacuum, and a lot of Dustin’s words will seem eerily familiar to those who have been following the PennEast news closely.

He opens by saying “The vocal opposition of a few should not be generalized as the common opinion of many”. This is eerily similar to what Patricia Kornick, PennEast spokes person, said in a recent article in Kornick said: “The vocal voices of a few should not be construed as the overall perception” (the full article is here

The “1.6 billion” deal is of course referring to PennEast’s bogus Drexel study from a few months ago that was thoroughly debunked by multiple sources. The “energy savings of close to $900 million per year” is a gross perversion of the more recent PennEast study where they claimed they could have saved the region $890 million if they were able to take a time machine back 3 years, magically build the pipeline and have it ready for the polar vortex winter of 2013/2014.

So what’s Dustin’s deal here?

Well it’s pretty simple. Dustin is a Vice President for the firm Civil & Environmental Consultants, Inc. (CEC):

A big part of his firms business is to hire themselves out as high priced consultants to the fracking industry.

You see, Dustin overseas the consulting group within CEC that focuses on the natural gas industry. His group has grown their revenue from fracking operations from $2 million in 2007 to $32 million last year.

There’s also Frank Jeanson. He wrote an identical comment to the FERC. Here’s his linkedin profile:

From there we see he works for Shell Oil Company as “Community Relations / Non-Technical Risk Manager for Shell’s Appalachia project which includes over 1 million acres in 4 distinct project areas across the State of Pennsylvania”.

And there’s Devesh Mittal, also with the same identical submission. Here’s his linked in profile:

He’s a Vice President and General Manager at a company called Aquatech. He’s in charge of their shale gas division. They do water treatment of the contaminated water that comes out of fracking wells. Another company who make tens of millions from fracking.

Jennifer McDonough? She did the same. And guess what industry she works in?

She’s a “Senior Vice President, General Counsel and Corporate Secretary for Rex Energy Corporation”, a big time fracking company.

Amber Benzon. Ditto:

She works for the Marcellus Shale coalition and is a “Director of Government Affairs”.

None off these people disclosed their employment in the fracking industry. Not a single one.

So, just like the UGI employees commenting on the FERC docket without identifying their conflict of interest to the government, we have multiple people cheerleading the pipeline without disclosing that their companies makes tens of millions of dollars from the fracking industry.

I have no problem with fracking industry leaders voicing their opinions in a public forum. It’s a free company and we’re all entitled to our opinion. But people who have a financial stake in the outcome of a project should disclose their conflict of interest as a matter of course to keep the debate honest. To fail to do so exposes the deep level of deception and lack of ethics that you see in the shale gas boom’s darker corners.

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Mike Spille

I'm a thinker, an analyzer, a synthesizer. Maybe not in that order. I live in West Amwell NJ with my wife Kristina, our two kids Day and Z, our two dogs Fern and Cinna, and three cats Ponce de Leon, Oliver, and Doolittle.

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