Is there natural gas in the Alabama Swamps?
natural gas was found in test wells at the site of a proposed quarry on
Fletcher Chapel Road in Shelby, according to a reported remark by John Helert
of Continental Placer, a consultant hired by the proposed quarry's operator, Frontier
Stone, to conduct the study.
In Japan, natural gas is extracted from a
Interestingly, a computer search of
Frontier's 7-volume Draft Environmental Impact Statement, reveals no mention of
natural gas, methane or CH4, the main component of natural gas,
despite Helert's admitting natural gas was found.
The study also never considers the effects of
climate change or global warming on future water tables. So even if the studies
were rock solid, they're moot considering the present situation. Fact is, no
one has any idea how much water will or will not fall in the years ahead.
Supposing it will be the same as the historical record suggests is stupid and/or
corrupt. The best chance many local farmers, including those producing corn for
ethanol, will have to survive climate upheaval is to maintain the refuge's
ability to help control flooding and manipulate water levels in a fair way
between farmers and wildlife. The quarry will be all about the quarry. Reading
the tone of the report proves it.
The company—Frontier Stone—says it wants to mine
dolomite and lime from the property, which lies just north of the Iroquois
National Wildlife Refuge, abutting The Iroquois Job Corps, whose
mission is to provide a peaceful living environment for disadvantaged youth and
teach them "the skills they need to become employable and independent and
placing them in meaningful jobs or further education."
I can tell you from personal experience,
having bumped into some of them occasionally on the trails, that these kids are
good people. They deserve a chance.
They now live in a peaceful, bucolic
environment. They're being given a chance to breathe and have a life, but
should the mine go in they will face frequent blasting, constant heavy
machinery and dust, to say the least. The machine will put these kids at risk
to make its money.
A search of the DEIS finds no mention of the
Iroquois Job Corps, which has nothing to do with its money. There's nothing
Frontier can do to "mitigate" the damage its operation will have on
I live about three miles east of LaFarge in
Lockport, and when they perform their monthly blasting the windows in my house
rattle. The neighbors of the Hinman Road quarry, once called Frontier Stone in
the 1970s, are up in arms about the operation's expansion to no avail. Their
battles are consistently lost. The legal and expert consultants used by LaFarge
are also employed by the new, not the old, Frontier Stone, though some of the
alleged investors in the new also invested in the old. Kind of like coming out
of retirement, using the same name, then claiming not to be the same person.
Now that's a sweet corporate person truth if I ever heard one.
Everyone seems in cahoots, according to the
finished DEIS submitted to the DEC and public.
Frontier's hired at least eight consultants
and law firms, including former Orleans County district attorney Conrad
Cropsey. For the most part, according to their self-descriptions on their firms'
web sites, these folks generally protect polluters who break the law and seek
loopholes in regulation, defending against class action lawsuits and such by
the sick and dying.
If it's just dolomite and lime they're after
for the local market throughout the quarry's alleged 75-year life expectancy, why
do they need so much assistance? Or maybe the assisters also have fingers in
the pie, which we'll never know thanks to strict privacy laws for corporate
persons. If we knew who and what they actually were it would be bad for their
corporate health…so the privacy laws are kind of like HIPPA. Obviously they
know the site's a very tough sell for too many valid reasons to list here. They
also smell a hell of a lot of money.
The property in question is now farmland
owned by Chet Zelazny, according to William
Albert, Media and Community Relations Manager for Harris Beach, a law firm that helps corporate people out with stuff
like energy and dealing with sentient biological persons—us—and the local
governments who, in the best case scenarios, really try to represent our
Furthermore, Citizens for Shelby Preservation
[CSP] checked local demand by surveying Orleans County's many quarries, and reported
a lime surplus on the local market,
which contradicts Mahar's statements
about the quarry's meeting an increased demand for lime due to the increasing
acreage of local cornfields destined for ethanol production [which is as close
as the study comes to mentioning global warming].
Why would Frontier Stone think a reasonable
profit could be made on the local market, as Mahar's stated, from such an
operation…especially considering its potential costs?
It seems the
American energy "boom" is feeding this insane idea [if it is indeed what they're thinking]. The profit plus
other benefits must be very high to destroy the swamps. I don't think
the state DEC or any level of government should allow this process to continue.
I asked Albert in a May 7 e-mail:
"Can you, Frontier Stone/Dave Mahar and/or any
entity Frontier Stone may later sell to, should it be permitted to operate a
quarry on the Shelby site, promise to never extract natural gas from it? I'm concerned the quarry may evolve into
something else, a project the public hadn't planned on."
Albert's response: "This project
involves the development of the property into a limestone mining operation and does
not propose to extract natural gas."
That's about as close to an admission a PR guy will ever make at this
stage of a project.
The nightmare scenario for me is that "This project," if
approved, will have dissolved natural gas in the water it's pumping from the
quarry. It would be Frontier's responsibility as a corporate person to
profit from it. And everyone will approve, as the mine's already in place. But people
will then have a fit that natural gas is being dumped into Oak Orchard Creek
[among other things]. People will be outraged that NYS doesn't regulate such
waste. Frontier Stone will swoop in and solve the problem…it will be a PR coup
with the payoff the owners planned all along. It's the only way
"this" project makes sense. I mean, why the hell is the ex-DA on
I'm not paranoid. That's how these things work. It's a "gitter
done" attitude without the tattoos and sleeveless shirts.
I'm totally against "this" project as it is, but the
possibility of natural gas extraction is terrifying. A limestone and dolomite
quarry in the swamps would be the equivalent to shock and awe on the wildlife
and its protected habitat. The sound studies they did were on structures and
human beings. They omitted the effects on the acute sight, sound, smell, taste
and touch of wildlife. Nature doesn't
really equate with corporate people as they're currently operating. Natural gas
extraction ups that atrocity by introducing WMD to the shock and awe.
project" would be a grave assault on not only the regional, but also the
Great Lakes and continental ecosystems should it be allowed to happen.
What kind of human
beings destroy nature preserves for the chump change of dolomite and lime? How
many of the corporate ilk can resist the lure of gas money during a boom? Are they even allowed to?
A second Frontier Stone
consultant, Continental Placer, was
formed with the mining industry as its primary focus," with
its "original objective [being] greatly expanded to offer a full range of
services and specialties," its web site says. This is what scares me about the Fletcher Chapel quarry.
Helert, Continental Placer's CEO, reportedly told those
attending a May 2007 hearing at Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge headquarters
that "Water produced from the test
wells…contained salt brine,
dissolved natural gas and hydrogen sulfide…"
So where is
it in the DEIS? It might be there written in a different way, but I visually
scanned all seven volumes and then ran the Acrobat search on the document for
the terms and found zilch. Of course, if I were an "expert," I'd use
language that someone like me would miss.
According to the "Biographies and Expertise" page on Continental's
web site, Helert has, "explored for…black sands and feldspars,"
which are associated with gas exploration and extraction.
A brief summary gleaned from local media, CSP, "Frontier Stone,"
average of 1.44 million gallons of aquifer water will be pumped from the quarry
*The state DEC has never turned
down a mining permit.
*The potential area of influence for water
drawdown is 9,000 feet from the quarry, and would
include Ringneck Marsh on Sour Springs Road and the creek itself, which seams
together the refuge's wetlands.
*Frontier Stone did not consider the effects of blasting on the nesting bald eagles and other wildlife.
A brief scan of the entire document reveals profound disinterest in nature and
INWR. They're at best ignorant of what's happening right next door. It really
doesn't interest them.
*The DEC said Frontier Stone "failed to address many key issues regarding
Can we let private interests destroy the 20,000-acre
INWR-state conservation area complex?
Just look at Niagara Falls…Is this, our last best piece of
"wilderness" in these parts, to be surrendered to corporate people whose
inhuman values and priorities are alien to anything even remotely good?
The news, however, isn't all bad. On
Thursday, May 8, the DEC extended the public comment period from May 12 to June 9
due to the amount of interest. It refused, however, to hold a second public
hearing for more comment where questions could be asked of and answered by
"paid experts." The last one was overflowing and many were turned
away without having had their say. The vast majority of speakers were against
Please check out the links below and do your
own research. Don't trust me. Correct me where I'm wrong. And please share your
findings and opinions by June 9 with the
Administrator Scott Sheeley at the DEC’s Region 8 Office, 6274
East Avon-Lima Road, Avon, NY 14414.
please send opinions via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
View the Draft Environmental Impact Statement
and permit application materials at continentalplacer.com.
Over the next couple weeks I'll be closely
reading the DEIS, focusing particularly on the effects of wildlife habitat. I'll
let you know what I find.
And please do read the DEIS for
yourself, focusing on what affects you most, and share your results. It's actually
quite readable...and it's so easy to look things up that you don't know just by
googling, or beginning at Wikipedia, etc.
Maybe we can even start a FB page to
efficiently share information and help spread the word.
& Further Reading:
321-page report on Frontier Stone's proposal.
Fontier Stone's environmental impact study: