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Issue Home September 22, 2010 Site Home

Letters to the Editor Policy

Chill In The Air

It's been a long, hot summer, and yet there's been a chill in the air. The kind of chill that aleays causes monsters to come out of the sewers. And so we see people complaining about "lazy bums who refuse to work," when there aren't even enough jobs. These mythical welfare leeches, not fat-cat bankers, get primary blame for the budget deficit when welfare is an insignificant part of the budget. We see an obsession with immigration, and an animosity toward immigrants who do the jobs people don't want, for a pay we wouldn't accept. And we see a festering rancor toward Muslims - all Muslims, smeared collectively with a broad brush - that we didn't see in the wake of 9/11. People are consciously vowing to be just as rotten as they accuse Muslims of being. That'll sure teach them to be considerate!

All this malignance gets stewed together in the recesses of malcontent minds. And all of it is clearly the product of economic uncertainty. I can understand that, but I can neither understand nor accept the misdirected rage, the ugliness, and the fact that the self-righteous haters aren't even trying to heed the better angels of their nature. It's like they've killed everything decent inside. They shouldn't wonder, then, that some people don't see them as the quintessence of true Americanism they present themselves to be. That's not the America the rest of us want. Is it?


Stephen Van Eck

Rushville, PA

I’m A County Fat Cat?

Did it really take Arthur Wermann five months to comment on the Montrose Tea Party of April 21 or was his letter lost in the mail? I guess since I was at the Tea Party I must be one of the "County Fat Cats" he referred to.

Unfortunately I didn't see any of them when I surveyed the more than 300 "citizens" I saw there. What I did see were average Americans who decided to take their country back from the politicians and dedicated socialists.

I will admit I was in favor of the Bush tax cuts which cut "everyone’s" taxes. I was opposed to the bail-out of Wall Street and Big Banks, as well as all the stimulus packages, and I didn't have my "hands in the sand" when I made my opposition known to the Washington establishment. Most of those at the Tea Party did the same.

I was also opposed to prisoner torture, trillion dollar national debts and no bid contracts.

Unlike Mr. Wermann, I did not approve of the Trillion dollar Obamacare which takes $500 million away from us senior citizen's Medicare, nor did I approve of bailing out the union-destroyed auto companies, or for the failed $850 million stimulus package.

That doesn't make us "Fat Cats." It makes us responsible citizens. We are going to be responsible voters this fall.


John P. Kameen

Forest City, PA

An Open Letter To

Representative Garth Everett

Dear Representative Everett,

Thank you for sending me a copy of your forced-pooling position paper. I have a few questions and some concerns I would like you to keep in mind as you consider this legislation:

1. Before my husband and I purchased our property in 1977, we hired an attorney to research the mineral rights. We did this because we wanted to be certain that, in addition to the products above the soil surface (such as trees), we would own all products beneath the surface (such as bluestone). If the mineral rights had not been included in the purchase price of the property, we would not have bought the acreage. Now we discover that, in addition to bluestone and other products beneath the soil surface, we own Marcellus shale, which can be chemically mined for natural gas. That gas belongs to my husband and me just as much as do the trees growing on the surface of our property or the bluestone beneath it. When to harvest the gas that we own, who we choose to partner with to mine the gas, how much we get paid to have the gas mined, and whether to mine the gas at all are all decisions we have the right to make without interference by the state.

2. My husband and I currently operate Mountain Meadows Orchard and Produce (an organic business) on our acreage. Our customers might be reluctant to purchase the fruits and vegetables we produce if toxic chemicals are injected beneath our orchards and gardens. For us, whether or not to proceed with a gas lease is a business as well as a personal decision. The state of Pennsylvania has no right to interfere in that business and personal decision.

3. Most of the acreage in the township we live in has been leased to gas companies. Since my husband and I have not signed a gas lease, the value of our property has risen. This is because anyone who purchased our property would have the option of signing a gas lease. The moment you pass forced-pooling legislation, you will drive down the value of our acreage. How will we be fairly compensated for this lost value caused by the state?

4. In our capitalist system, as the supply of a commodity becomes more limited, that resource becomes more valuable. Thus, the value of gas leases on the remaining unleased Marcellus shale acreage should be increasing, and it was, until the discussion of forced-pooling legislation began. The threat of forced-pooling legislation is interfering with our capitalist system. It is curtailing gas-lease offers as gas companies wait to see if the state will hand over subsurface-only rights for $0 per acre and 12 1/2 % royalties rather than the $5000+ per acre and 20% royalties they had been paying for subsurface-only rights.

5. Because state interference has already negatively impacted land owners by driving down the price of subsurface-only gas leases, if this un-American forced-pooling legislation is passed, true “fair-market value” should be based on the highest per-acre prices and royalty percentages paid by gas companies for subsurface-only rights, not on current prices that have been driven down by the threat of forced-pooling legislation.

6. I’ve heard some legislators say forced pooling “will only affect landowners who have refused to sign gas leases.” As this legislation is considered, I would like our state legislators to realize that those citizens being referred to as “landowners who have refused to sign gas leases” also include the following: a. landowners who have never been offered any gas contract; b. landowners who have never been offered a subsurface-only contract; c. landowners who have never been offered a fair contract; d. landowners whose attorney advised them not to sign the contract they were offered; e. landowners who currently operate businesses that will be negatively impacted by natural gas drilling on or near those businesses; f. landowners who realize the current low prices being paid for natural gas will not produce the amount of royalty income they will receive if their gas is mined and sold at a later date; g. landowners who have carefully weighed the potential income against the environmental risk and decided they do not wish to take that environmental risk; h. and landowners who want a contract that adequately addresses well-water pollution.

7. Will forced-pooling legislation restrict gas companies to no more than one well pad per 640-acre unit? Without such a restriction, this legislation offers no guaranteed minimization of well pads.

8. In your position paper, you say you do not “intend to allow this legislation to allow the mandatory pooling of any property of ‘significant size’ - that negotiation is the business of the property owner and the gas company.” How large does a property have to be for you to consider it “of significant size?” Why should Pennsylvania citizens who own property you do not deem to be “of significant size” be treated less fairly than owners of larger properties?

I consider this legislation to be outside the American ideals of freedom and property ownership. Should it pass, I hope there is an attorney out there who is willing to take on a class-action suit against this overstepping of bounds by the Pennsylvania state legislators.


Joyce Libal

Little Meadows, PA

Hold-Outs To Solution

I read today where the state may force an industry to build a pipe-line from Montrose to Dimock. I think it’s a good idea for a community to have sewer and water. What I think is highly irregular is that it will be funded by a company from the private sector. I, of course, can't read a local paper without reading about the contaminated water in Dimock. My sensibility is further insulted by the idea that this person(s) are hold-outs to solution, and instead want to "punish," for lack of a better word, a company who appears to be acting responsibly in cleaning up the mess.

I realize water is very important. I also think the idea isn't to remedy the situation as it appears to be a 15 minute of fame deal. I have heard the sarcasm that a Kennedy couldn't find his way back to Dimock, and a very good question, why doesn't one of these agencies take those offered jugs of water and run a rudimentary sample test on the water right there?

Instead an arm of the state government, at a loss of what to really do to bring mutual satisfaction to the injured parties, would even suggest a 10 million dollar project to build a 6 mile water line to Dimock, from Montrose. I read where the professionals acknowledge that it naturally occurs around large gas deposits. How can they legally defend an act of mother nature, and the science of it? Since I think that water and sanitary are important to everyone in the county, as the drilling comes east to the county will government be here to bring everyone in every town the same benefits? Or will they use the government trick of eminent domain?

I do want to say that I am a steward of the Earth, not to be confused with the environmental society that is a false store front to a Dept. of Interior sponsored club.

The fact that American citizens expect to have energy sources and most think now just American energy resources, you know, to stop supporting middle eastern society, tells me that there will be no stopping it now. The question is, are these people from Dimock really interested in clean water, or is it a way to be a paid environmentalist?

If it is the former, I'll protest with you, the latter, seems too socialistic for me.

By nature the system of government is not efficient, and often not effective, throwing the lot with them makes me think you have 10 more years before the lawsuits are over, and your water issues are addressed. That is too long for anything. But it will fit the grant requirements, the project will be shovel ready.

My intention is not to insult, nor diminish this very important issue, it just seems to me now to be more self-serving than to do the work at finding a solution. Unless it is to bring in more government.

I myself have a water well, I work where the water is town water, I'd rather have those boys drill a new water well for me than to have to wait for the smell of the added chemicals to "air" out, before I can drink it.


Cynthia Allen

Summersville, PA

It Is Insanity

I sometimes wonder how we can be so incredibly stupid. We have too long entrusted our country to the politicians that we keep re-electing, over and over. We now stand faced with entitlement spending, which is bankrupting us and out of control Federal spending. This is being done not for the good of the people but to ensure re-election. It dawned on me a few days ago that we can actually get out of this dilemma without the civil unrest and rioting that we are seeing in the UK, France and Greece. The problems seem insurmountable but, we can fix it and here is how:

1. Turn out all the politicians, Republican and Democrat, who are voting with Obama, Pelosi and Reed. Replace them with conservative representatives (of either party) who will enact term limits on Senators and Congressmen and who will hold true to the principles of our Founders.

2. Freeze all entitlements at their current levels for the indefinite future. Freeze retirement packages for teachers and all government employees, federal, state and municipal, and make it clear, no union bailouts. Torpedo Cap and Trade. Repeal Obamacare and reject all the stupid green initiatives which are bleeding us dry and getting us nowhere. I don’t go for paying 51 cents subsidy on every gallon of corrosive ethanol. Most of us now realize that Al Gore and the IPCC are disingenuous and are motivated by goals which are not in our best interest. Build nuclear power plants and burn coal to produce electricity until biofuels, solar energy and wind power can pay their own way. Fund research until they are reasonably perfected and cheap, but no subsidies on any of that stuff. Demand that industry be prudent in their emissions. The Earth is not going to burn up in the interim.

3. Drill for oil and gas wherever we can find it in the US, onshore and off. Hold the Federal Government accountable for seeing to it that it is done responsibly. The Marcellus Shale alone can provide power for all the electricity needs of the entire Northeast US. Stop buying foreign oil as soon as we are able, so we stop funding countries that hate us. Let them go back to riding camels instead of building ICBMs. The production of domestic oil and gas will employ hundreds of thousands and the revenue will actually allow us to pay down our national debt, if we stop piling it on.

It is not necessary to destroy our environment to once again be a global powerhouse. Returning to strength is returning to safety. It just takes politicians accountable to the people, a smaller federal government and a government which actually does its job, which is not to get bigger as the current politicians seem to believe.

It is a known fact that insanity can be defined as doing the same thing over and over, while expecting a different result. If we re-elect the current elected politicians in our district and state and then expect a different result in Washington, we must be insane. Remember that November 2. One last thought - Gold, God and Guns are good!


Joe McCann

Elk Lake, PA

A Splendid War

It was the 4th of July that 21st of March, 2003. We gathered 'round the TV and waited expectantly for the spectacle to start. Finally, the fireworks illuminated the night sky. It was an awesome sight.

The show lasted two days as 800 cruise missiles rained down on Iraq, many falling on its capital, Baghdad. At the time, few gave any thought to the fact that these missiles would explode in a city crowded with five million men, women, children. But that's the price of freedom and we were willing to pay it.

Though the bombardment was intense, it did not indiscriminate; each missile was precisely targeted. But even if they can hit the bottom of a teacup, a warhead packed with 1,000 pounds of high explosives will probably do more than just wake-up the neighbors. In military-speak it's called “collateral damage,” a phrase that describes unintended death and destruction. It became a familiar phrase.

Of course we won the war easily. Winning the peace (such as it is) would take a little longer. Only weeks ago, August 31, did the combat phase of our troops change to something like drill instructors to the nascent Iraqi army. Troop withdrawal, or rather troop transfer, moved from Iraq to the other war, Afghanistan.

Now after seven years we can look back and assess the cost of bringing democracy to the grateful citizens of Iraq.

In lives, we begin with the greatest number, 655,000 Iraqis killed. No one knows the number of wounded, but two million is a conservative estimate.

In US lives, 4,226 to date (they're still dying) and 31,210 seriously wounded.

The phrase, “seriously wounded” - American or Iraqi - takes a little explanation. It means having a limb or two or three blown off (one soldier lost all four) and other body parts blasted away denying young men the chance of ever becoming a father.

Seriously wounded means severe facial disfigurement, permanent brain injury due to blast effect, loss of sight, a life sentence in a wheelchair, flashbacks of gruesome scenes that are always just a thought away. The wounds are horrific. But we're not talking about the bumps and bruises from playing a game of football.

The cost to the US in dollars? About $3 trillion. However, this is being revised upwards by a trillion or two as the life-long cost of caring for wounded veterans is factored in. War is expensive. One soldier for one year costs $400,000 and we currently have 50,000 troops in Iraq. Multiply that out.

The cost to Iraq is measured differently. Two million are refugees. Four million are homeless. Several million are widows and orphans. Unemployment: between 25-50 percent. Electricity: in Baghdad five hours a day on a good day. Sanitation: 80 percent of the population does not have in-house potable water or toilet facilities. Poverty: 10 million live in “absolute poverty,” a technical term which is defined as living on 25 cents a day or less. But that's the cost of freedom.

And who are the men responsible for freeing Iraq from Saddam Hussein, the dictator whom we supported for forty-four years?

President George Bush.: “I am driven with a mission from God. God would tell me, 'George, go and end the tyranny in Iraq,' and I did.”

Vice President Dick Cheney: There are “proven links” connecting the Iraqi leadership to September 11.

Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld: We acted on “dramatic new evidence” linking Iraq with 9/11.

Assistant Secretary of Defense Richard Perle: “We do know, for example, that Saddam Hussein has ties to Osama Bin Laden.”

Secretary of State Colin Powell (2001-2005): Before the UN Security Council he unleashed multiple accusations against Iraq including reviving their nuclear bomb project.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice (2005-2009): She warned, “We don't want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud.”

Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz: He estimated the cost of the entire enterprise would not exceed $2 billion and even that would be paid with Iraq's oil revenues.

Not a word of it is true. There were no links between Iraq and 9/11. Neither were there any weapons of mass destruction. As for the President's divine instructions, either God or Mr. Bush had it wrong. The war was based on exaggerated claims and misconceived notions. A cynic might say lies and deceptions.

The Iraqi people did not welcome us as liberators. Iraq is anything but the beacon of democracy in the Middle East. The nation is in shambles. But there is one bright spot.

The West gets back the oilfields that Hussein nationalized 38 years ago (his biggest mistake). Exxon, BP, Chevron, and Shell are once again pumping Iraqi oil. It was a splendid war.


Bob Scroggins

New Milford, PA

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