Wednesday, May 30, 2012

SUNY Buffalo’s fracking report erodes industry credibility Officials reconsider “peer review” stamp of approval

Timothy Considine and Robert Watson: Do those names ring a bell?

If you follow the natural gas drilling industry in Pennsylvania, the answer is probably yes. Both academicians are well known within drilling circles as industry consultants, proponents and, when the occasion requires, PR front men. Considine, formerly of Penn State and now with the University of Wyoming, has received funding from industry groups including the Marcellus Shale Coalition, the Wyoming Mining Association, the American Iron and Steel Institute, and the American Petroleum Institute. Watson – an associate professor emeritus of Penn State whose build his career around industry interests -- also sits on a board that advises officials of the Pennsylvania state Department of Environmental Conservation on policy issues related to natural gas production. There’s nothing wrong with any of that, of course; certain fields of academics have long overlapped with and served interests of various industries. But it becomes a problem when people such as Considine and Watson, and their colleagues, use their positions to disguise industry public relations campaigns as independent “peer reviewed” science.

That charge was recently directed at the State University of New York at Buffalo, which published an industry funded report by Considine, Watson, and others, as an independent and neutral work of scholarship showing that regulations are effectively reducing environmental problems related to Marcellus shale gas development. And it’s an example of how academia is becoming another important front in the national controversy over the safety and merits of fracking. The SUNY Buffalo report, titled Environmental Impacts During Shale Gas Drilling: Causes, Impacts and Remedies, provides an analysis of violations levied by the Pennsylvania DEP on the gas industry. It found that serious violations were rapidly decreasing, many others were inconsequential to begin with, and that oversight was working just fine. “The report suggests that Pennsylvania's regulatory approach has been effective at maintaining a low probability of serious environmental events and in reducing the frequency of environmental violations,” states a press release by the University summarizing the work.

The report immediately drew the ire of watchdog groups that had university administrators back pedaling in a hurry. This week, the university published a correction casting doubt on the credibility of the entire report by noting that the initial claim -- that the report stood up to the rigors of the peer-review process -- "may have given readers an incorrect impression."

It’s not the first time Constidine and Watson have been caught dressing up an industry claim in an academic cloak. The authors were reproached by Penn State administrators for a report they authored in 2009, originally published by the university as an independent and objective analysis, and later found by investigating university officials to “cross the line” between analysis and advocacy. The 2009 Penn State “study,” titled An Emerging Giant: Prospects and Economic Impacts of Developing the Marcellus Shale Natural Gas Play - projected that the industry would generate more than 175,000 jobs over the course of a decade, 10 times the number projected by the Pennsylvania Department of Labor. But that’s not what brought an eventual renouncement from the university.

More on that in a minute. First some background: The release of the Penn State report came at a critical time, as the Pennsylvania legislature debated how to manage oversight of the rapidly expanding industry. As the industry began to take off, top officials at the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection under Gov. Ed Rendell’s administration, complained they lacked the wherewithal to inspect wells first hand and otherwise keep up with the industry’s growth. Instead, they were left to rely on industry reports and logs, which often ended up incomplete or missing altogether. Rendell’s administration was seeking a tax, like that imposed on the industry in Texas, to fund inspections and permitting operations and otherwise keep up with an industry with an unprecedented growth curve and regional impacts on land use, waste disposal, water consumption, and municipal infrastructure. Constidine and Watson’s “independent” assessment at Penn State, presented as scholarship, warned that any taxes would create a serious decline in jobs and economic activity, and offered this explicit advice for lawmakers: “As the Pennsylvania Marcellus shale industry develops, policymakers should keep in mind the trade-offs between any short-term gains from taxation or regulation with the long-term effects on industry development.” (The tax proposal was eventually defeated.)

As with the SUNY Buffalo report, the funding source and slant of the Penn State report was pointed out to university officials by enraged advocacy groups, prompting a subsequent review by the university that “found flaws in the way the report was written and presented to the public.” The fact that the report failed to identify its sponsor – an industry group called the Marcellus Shale Coalition -- was a “clear error.” Further, “The authors could and probably should have been more circumspect in connecting their findings to policy implications for Pennsylvania, and may have well crossed the line between policy analysis and policy advocacy.” A disclaimer was added to subsequent versions of the report, noting the role of the Marcellus Shale Coalition and stating that no parties from the university warranted its accuracy, completeness, or usefulness.

The SUNY Buffalo report released this month purports that, of 2,988 violations tabulated by the Pennsylvania DEP from 2008 through 2011, only 25 were “major.” Further, “In all but six cases, the resulting environmental impacts from major events have been mitigated.” It dismissed 1,844 violations, or 62 percent, vaguely attributed to “administrative or preventative reasons.” Accounting for these and other factors, the authors concluded, the Marcellus shale operators have cut the number of environmental violations by more than half in three years, an achievement it characterized as “a notable indicator of improvement by the industry and oversight by the regulators.” Beyond the obvious lack of transparency, it’s easy to find glaring problems with this report, even ignoring errors of logic and math and accepting the numbers as the authors present them. Perhaps the most egregious problem is their dismissal of 1,844 “administrative” violations. These are not only significant, they are in fact at the center of the problem regulators face in holding industry accountable for problems it causes. When operators fail to file paperwork and logs documenting the goings on at a given site, this is considered an administrative offense. And it’s important because the self-reported paper trail the industry leaves is a primary tool inspectors have in checking for problems. Without it, documenting problems becomes difficult. As recounted in my book, Under the Surface, that was the case in the Dimock, Pa. where methane from nearby shale gas operations contaminated an aquifer supplying residents on Carter Road. DEP regulators were unaware of the problems (eventually traced to mechanical complications, stuck drill bits, and faulty casings) until after the explosion of Norma Fiorentino’s water on January 1, 2009 triggered an investigation. The DEP’s subsequent search of Cabot’s records and well logs found many of them incomplete and missing, greatly complicating a resolution to the problem and obviously doing nothing to prevent it.

Beyond its spotty environmental track record, which is hard to completely track without objective, accurate, and comprehensive record keeping, the industry faces a lack of credibility with a population that values accountability over obfuscation. Holding forth the type of analysis in both the Penn State and SUNY Buffalo reports as independent and objective hurts the industry’s PR efforts far more than it helps them.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Pipelines serve as harbingers of shale gas development Major projects quietly taking shape in New York, Pa.

While the immediate future of shale gas development in New York state remains unclear, plans to develop pipelines through the heart of the Marcellus Country to major northeastern markets offer explicit benchmarks for the industry’s long-term ambitions.

Notably, a network of projects are taking shape to get shale gas from under the rural countryside of the Twin Tiers of New York and Pennsylvania to markets in Boston, Albany, New York City, and cities in New Jersey. The Laser Pipeline is a midstream line connecting gas fields being developed in Susquehanna County, Pennsylvania to the Millennium Pipeline, a major transmission line that bisects New York’s Southern Tier.

Both the Laser and the Millennium are key to development plans for a rich section of the Marcellus in New York, and both will be able to accommodate connections to infrastructure serving conventional and unconventional gas fields in upstate New York. Additionally, the Millennium, which runs west to east, intersects with previously developed well fields in western New York. These depleted conventional wells, including the Stage Coach field and others, serve the economics of shale gas development in the northeast by providing a place close to markets to store gas when prices drop and ship it when they increase.

Late last year, the Laser line was bought by Williams Partners, a Houston company that has since partnered with Cabot Oil & Gas to build another line called the Constitution. Like the Laser, the Constitution will extend from Susquehanna County into upstate New York through the prime part the shale gas drilling fairway. But rather than ending at the Millennium, it would continue north and then east to the Capitol Region, where it would connect to a hub distributing gas to New England, as well as points north and south.

Not surprisingly, these pipeline routes cross some of the richest sections of the Marcellus Shale along New York’s border with Pennsylvania. And while the mechanics of securing land for pipeline development differs somewhat from leasing land for gas wells, there is a familiar theme: Surveyors, landman and prospectors need to acquire rights to the land, and landowners need to be educated about the consequences dealing with pipeline representatives. Land holds on and around pipeline routes are strategically critical for any party seeking to control access to the market.

Infrastructure for gas wells varies from the local gathering lines, to midstream lines, to transmission lines, each following different jurisdictional protocols and policies regarding easements and rights of way. Land for interstate projects may be acquired through eminent domain. Routes for smaller projects are typically (but not always) subject to contracts with landowners. There are exceptions, loopholes, complications and interpreations, and the industry has plenty of lawyers and experience to navigate them.

Jim Worden is a dairy farmer from Windsor, New York, a community in the heart of the shale gas fairway with stakes in both the Laser and the Constitution pipelines, as well as regional drilling prospects. Worden formed a coalition of landowners to leverage bargaining power with drilling companies seeking rights to the land, and he is now advising landowners to consult with each other and with informed parties before allowing pipeline crews or surveyors access. Worden is among those who see shale gas development as inevitable, and he is urging residents to stick together to protect their interests. “There will be a lot of pipelines, in our lifetime and our children’s lifetime, as this gets developed,” he said. “How we go about it is very important.” Landowners can call Worden’s at 607-760-9459 for more information.

The pipelines are a key strategic element to shale gas production that are often under the radar of the mainstream press and overshadowed by the contentious issues of the merits and risks of hydraulic fracturing. But the feasibility of shale gas development will depend on a robust expansion of pipelines, big and small, throughout New York and Pennsylvania.

Williams, working with Cabot, is investing $750 million in the Constitution project -- a sign of their bullish outlook. Even if prices remain low and shale gas remains off limits in New York, due to a market glut and strong opposition from those concerned about environmental and health impacts, the pipeline will provide more avenues for gas in Pennsylvania to get to the substantial energy markets in the northeast. Ensuring a product in steady and cheap supply is one way to increase demand, especially for electric generating power plants now burning coal. Increasing demand is one way to increase political pressure to open up new shale gas frontiers in upstate New York that continue to be off limits.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Fracking battle rages as NY legislative session nears end

The influences that distinguish New York’s approach to Shale Gas from Pennsylvania’s were again on full display this week in Albany.

I visited the Capitol on Tuesday, the day that New Yorker’s Against Fracking held a rally on the Million Dollar Stair Case, the structure rising through the soaring arches, pillars, and buttresses of the Capitol building. With the rally leaders directing action to the protesters clustered in the open space on and between the landings and adjoining hallways, the protest could be felt and heard on several floors at once. The chants and cheers echoed through the chambers, forcing several staffers to close the doors of nearby offices of both Assembly and Senate quarters.

Rallies are not uncommon in Albany of course – and both those against and for hydraulic fracturing have been working to make their voices heard here. But the spirit of this rally was especially intense, and so was the star power. It was, in effect, a prelude for the day’s main event – a three-hour performance at The Egg featuring a host of New York celebrities railing against fracking. They included Natalie Merchant, Joan Osborne, Mark Ruffalo, Melissa Leo, among other actors, authors, and public figures working with a coalition of groups seeking a permanent ban on shale gas development in New York. Part concert, part rally, part speech making, it reminded me of events iconic of the No Nukes movement of the 1980s, lead by a host of celebrities contributing hugely to public disfavor of nuclear power.

Frackers proponents rally, too, of course, and they are also engaged on battles on other fronts. Industry groups like Energy In Depth are attacking the credibility of high profile activists, like Julie and Craig Sautner, who have been among the most visible residents of Dimock, Pa., trying to hold Cabot Oil & Gas accountable for pollution of water wells in the Carter Road area. There are companies like Chevron, who are battling public perception with full-page adds in the New Yorker Magazine touting the social consciousness and morality of drilling companies. And some farmers and landowners – mostly from the drilling fairway in Broome and Tioga Counties -- have gone to Albany themselves to rally in favor or shale gas development, which they portray as nothing short of economic salvation.

Still, when it comes down gauging the reach of grass roots activism, landowners in Broome, Tioga and other parts of the Marcellus and Utica drilling fairway desirous of leases tend to be outnumbered by activists who don’t want to see their state become like Pennsylvania or Texas, with long and mixed legacies of mineral extraction. Both Pennsylvania and Texas have readily welcomed the industry’s push to exploit shale reserves with the controversial practice of fracking, and Pennsylvania governor Tom Corbett has campaigned to minimize regulations and taxes on the industry.

Between New York’s pro and anti-fracking groups is a large bunch of people yet to take a firm stance. And if the issue were somehow left to a popular vote, polls suggest it would be too close to call. According to a recent poll by Siena College Research Institute, 37 percent of the respondents were in favor of allowing fracking on private lands outside of zones that provide drinking water to Syracuse, New York City and other urban areas, while 36 percent opposed. (It’s worth noting that in September, 2011, the poll found 44 percent in favor and 40 percent opposed, suggesting a growing degree of uncertainty.)

And while the future of fracking will not be left to referendum, it’s an issue that might effectively be determined in the next general election. Rally goers in Albany were calling for an outright ban in New York, like the one recently enacted in Vermont. There is no chance of that happening with this legislature session, even if it didn’t end June 21. My sources in Albany tell me there is little expectation that the DEC will begin permitting shale gas wells in coming months due to the amount of work the agency has left to finalize its environmental review through the Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement (SGIES). Beyond that, any legislative action now on the table to ban or further delay permitting pending review of the health impacts would depend on the outcome of the DEC’s pending environmental review. When that comes – and don’t be surprised if it’s after elections -- legislative legal battles will quickly intensify.

If the issue were to come before lawmakers tomorrow, however, the Democrat lead Assembly would likely have the votes for a moratorium. But the measure would be hard pressed to pass in the Senate. That’s because Deputy Majority Leader Tom Libous, a Republican who represents landowners in Broome County desirous of gas leases, and Libous’s many political allies, would present formidable hurdles. The only way this would change is if Democrats gained control of both chambers. The other factor, of course, is Andrew Cuomo, who has proven to be a powerful and popular governor who could break the gridlock if he got behind one side or the other. (The governor was the main target of the anti-fracking rally.) So far, Cuomo has publically deferred to the DEC, lead by Joe Martens, a land-preservationist who appears in no hurry to rush the process along. The political winds could quickly change, of course, if the price of natural gas rises, along with the corresponding money staked to development.

In the meantime, events like Tuesday’s concert continue to raise the profile and position of anti-frackers another notch coming into the meat of the election year. And they continue to raise money for their cause – Concert tickets to the 1,000-seat venue sold for between $40 and $150. Anti-frackers will need it to keep the fight close. They are up against an opponent with deep pockets and a long history of know-how to get things done both in Albany and Washington.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Latest EPA tests show high methane level in Dimock well Official: No need for action after emergency crews notified

In its latest round of water tests in Dimock, Pa., the EPA found one residential well with high methane concentrations, but no need for further action in others.

The EPA report issued this morning considered analytical data from 12 wells in the area where shale gas development has been linked to water pollution. The agency reported the results of the well with a high concentration of methane to the resident, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection and the Susquehanna County Emergency Management Agency, said EPA spokesman Roy Seneca. The other results did not show levels of contaminants that gave agency officials reason to take further action.

The quality of the water in Dimock has been the matter of scientific study and public scrutiny since Norma Fiorentino’s well exploded on January 1, 2009. The Pennsylvania DEP traced the problem to methane migrating from nearby Marcellus Shale gas wells into the aquifer that supplies homes along Carter Road.

Including the test results released today, the EPA has completed analysis of 61 wells in the area. It began the tests earlier this year after data provided to the agency by the state DEP and by Cabot Oil & Gas showed levels of contaminants in four wells that posed a health concern. Those wells have been taken offline and the EPA is providing water to those households. Since then, the agency’s tests have shown the water to be potable in most wells. But some wells showed traces of sodium, methane, arsenic, chromium, and lithium and other elements at or near “action levels,” which are flags for more analysis.

The federal agency will resample the four wells with a history of contamination, Seneca said, although the agency’s initial tests of those wells found no need for action. The agency is also following-up with three homeowners who expressed interest in initial sampling but have not yet scheduled a time, he said.

Comprehensively analyzing the impact of drilling on ground water is tricky, because problems can come and go in certain places over time, owing to the complexity and dynamics of the water table, and the transient nature of drilling operations.

When the sampling is complete, Senaca said, the agency will “conduct a comprehensive review to determine if there are any trends or patterns in the data as it relates to home well water quality.”

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Industry expects public to mistake rhetoric for science

Hydraulic fracturing is problem free. The science says so. Those who ignore this science are hysterical fear mongers.

So say the mouth pieces of the gas industry. In New York, where shale gas is on hold pending the state’s scientific review, Brad Gill frequently expresses this industry line in public talks and interviews. Gill, executive director of the Independent Oil and Gas Association of New York, is on record testifying in front of New York state lawmakers that fracking uses only a “small amount of dilute, benign additives” similar to vegetable oil and ingredients found in personal care products. The public perception of drilling is being colored, according to Gill, by “those who have worked instill fear in the public … by spreading reckless misinformation in an attempt to block the expansion of natural gas exploration.” Last week, Gill told Jon Campbell, Gannett’s Albany reporter: "The discussions more often than not revolve around emotions and politics rather than science and facts. We have to rely on science, facts and track record here in New York."

The shale gas industry’s “track record” in New York is blemish free, of course, because it is non-existent. Permitting for the technique needed to effectively produce shale gas -- high volume hydraulic fracturing combined with horizontal drilling -- has been on hold for four years as state officials attempt to assess the environmental impact of the process. Gill is likely referring to the “track record” of the previous era of gas exploration in New York, which was altogether different from shale gas development, and also far from perfect. The record shows that because of the absence of reporting and disclosure requirements, landowners have been left to settle water pollution complaints on their own. Even so, there are places where water contamination has been documented related to conventional drilling. Additionally, counter to the industry’s claim in New York that fracking chemicals are “benign,” the DEC has listed more than hundreds of chemical additives in fracturing fluid that are toxic and carcinogenic.

Yet I have heard Gill’s frustration with the lack of “science based” information echoed by some drilling proponents who also want to “take the politics out” of the decision making process. It’s a rhetorical line that many industry supporters continue to embrace, despite its glaring logical shortcomings. If the industry wants to rely solely on facts and science, it can’t conveniently exclude science that refutes its claims that fracking is risk free. Just last month, for example, the online journal Groundwater published research indicating that fracking fluid can migrate from pay zones up through cracks into the aquifer in a matter of years. The author Tom Myers, a researcher from Reno, Nevada, has worked for conservation groups and governments on groundwater issues.

When the industry insists on “science based” information, it’s really insisting that information comes only from industry-employed scientists. When Gill and others urge the public to “take the politics out” of the debate, they are really asking to take the opposition’s politics out of the debate.

Regardless, scientists do not make policy in this country. Elected officials and their appointees do. Purely empirical assessments cannot account for moral and ethical factors or provide cultural reference points for our values. How does science gauge the overall character of a community, the wellbeing of it’s members, their tolerance for risk, their economic needs, and the utility and value citizens place on minerals extracted from the grown, and the aesthetics above?

Politicians make these kinds of calculations. And politicians (ideally) answer to the public that elects them. The public gets information for these choices through a free and open media, which in this day and age includes an unprecedented cornucopia of mainstream and alternative outlets. Not surprisingly, many of these outlets cite sources – some scientific and some not -- that challenge the industry’s bold and far-reaching claim that hydraulic fracturing is risk free.

Even if we were governed by a technocracy – a system ruled by scientists -- the process would likely be no less messy or contentious. There are respected scientists on both sides of the shale gas issue. (Tony Ingraffia, an engineering professor at Cornell University, and Terry Engelder, a geologist at Penn State, are former colleagues who have taken opposite sides of the debate. They are featured in my book, Under the Surface, and represent a few of many examples.)

Let these and other scientists – those with stakes tied to corporate ventures and those at arm’s length -- lead the discussion. But leave the decision making to politicians and the people who elect them. The public can accept a certain level of risk – it always has – in the name of the greater public good and free enterprise; as long as there is full disclosure.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Anti-fracking movement gains ground in New York state Both politics, demand for gas will influence drilling outcome

The drilling industry’s efforts to open New York state to shale gas development, stymied from the get go, is meeting even more resistance over time.

Contrary to public statements earlier this year by New York state governor Andrew Cuomo that suggested permitting for shale gas wells is imminent, there are compelling reasons to believe that it will continue to be on hold for the foreseeable future. Most visible among these is an anti-fracking movement that is growing louder and more organized each year. New York, which sits over one of the richest sections of the Marcellus Shale, has become a national showcase for activists trying to stop an on-shore drilling boom targeting shale gas formations in the northeast.

A current example involves a coordinated effort by a group of high profile artists and performers from the Empire State organizing a rally and concert in Albany on May 15. The event – New Yorkers Against Fracking – features Natalie Merchant, Joan Osborne, Mark Ruffalo, Melissa Leo, and others sure to have inspirational appeal to large, mainstream audiences. Merchant, a fracking critic who performed in Binghamton in March, is a primary organizer of the event. She and a coalition of artists who live throughout the state are collaborating “to raise awareness about the potential environmental and health impacts of fracking,” she said. “We are working to create a concert that will inform as well as inspire.” The group has recruited acts from a mix of genres, ranging from Dan Zane, a popular children’s folk artist, to the jazz trio Medeski, Martin and Wood. The rally will also feature speeches and performances by authors, actors, scholars and politicians.

Activists cite unacceptable risks to health and ecology from high volume hydraulic fracturing, used to stimulate gas well production, which is exempt from the federal Safe Drinking Water Act and hazardous waste regulations. The process, known as fracking, injects large volumes of fresh water mixed with chemicals into well bores to fracture bedrock and release gas. Permitting for shale gas development in New York has been on hold since the Marcellus Shale boom began in 2008 as the state revises its policy to account for the environmental impacts of hydraulic fracturing through a document called the Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement (SGEIS). Finalizing that document has been an uncertain and contentious process, and the activists have essentially used the state’s public review of the issue as a vehicle to highlight the extent of fracking opposition.

“The bottom line is that until the DEC fulfills the onerous requirements … Governor Cuomo will have an extremely hard time adopting a Final SGEIS that permits shale gas fracking in New York,” said Walter Hang, an activist and protest organizer from Ithaca, New York. Hang sent the assessment today as part of a renewed call to action for activists in an email titled “Hallelujah: No Final Fracking Decision Yet.”

Politicians are a sound gauge of public sentiment, especially during an election year. A true test of the anti-fracking movement will be pending legislation in Albany that could derail any attempt by the DEC to begin permitting shale wells anytime soon. Bills in both houses would extend a moratorium to allow the state Department of Health to conduct its own extensive review of the impact of fracking. The bills are supported, among others, by downstate politicians answering to votes of people who get their water from the Delaware River watershed – which happens to extend over a lucrative pay zone of the Marcellus Shale. The Assembly bill was introduced by Robert Sweeney, of Suffolk County, who is chair of the Assembly’s Environmental Conservation Committee. Supporters in the Senate include Republican Greg Ball, whose district includes parts of Dutchess, Putnam, and Westchester counties, and Toney Avella, a Democrat from Queens.

Shale gas supporters in Albany, meanwhile, have been keeping a relatively low public profile on the issue since prospecting has eased in their districts with the falling price of natural gas. Senator Tom Libous, who represents farmers living over a prospective drilling fairway in Broome County, was once an outspoken champion for the drill-here-drill-now contingent during Gov. David Paterson’s administration. Perhaps owing to the low natural gas prices (coupled with the give-and-take of doing business in Albany under Cuomo) Libous now defers to the DEC’s judgment to determine “if and when” drilling should start.

As Gannett’s Albany reporter Jon Campbell reported today, the regular persistence of protesters active in legislative halls and the executive mansion is hard to miss. The pressure has slowed the state’s review or permitting guidelines “to a crawl” Avella told Campbell. “I absolutely think we are winning this battle.” Brad Gill, executive director of the Independent Oil and Gas Association of New York, agreed that protests have had an impact on the process, which he characterized as “unfortunate for the state of New York and the people.”

The grass roots anti-fracking movement, which in four years has matured into a political force to be reckoned with, is certainly a factor in the outcome for the foreseeable future. Thanks to strong push back from the grass roots activists, the Sierra Club – one of the world’s largest mainstream environmental organizations -- recently switched its position on natural gas. The group that once supported natural gas development as a clean-burning alternative to coal now opposes it as another carbon polluter. (Sierra Club’s announcement today of its “Beyond Natural Gas” campaign was a clear signal from the agency, which has been historically very unclear on its position on fracking.)

Perhaps the biggest influence of all on the future of shale gas development, however, is the low price of natural gas caused by a market glut. Natural gas prices move in cycles. If and when demand again pushes prices up, you can bet you will see renewed political urgency from those representing the industry and people with landholdings who can gain financially from lease agreements. Big money has a way of motivating both politicians and the people who vote for them. When this happens, anti-fracking activists would be well advised to have a feasible plan to push for an energy policy that can economically displace the demand for fossil fuel.