Two years ago, Denise Dennis delivered a dramatic denunciation of Marcellus Shale natural gas development at a Philadelphia City Council hearing. She equated drilling to the tobacco industry, and said that "Pennsylvanians are the lab rats" for a massive shale gas experiment.
The Philadelphia resident had a powerful story: Her family owned a historic 153-acre farm in Susquehanna County, where her ancestors were among the first freed African Americans to settle in Pennsylvania just after the Revolutionary War. She became a potent symbol in the shale gas wars.
"The process for extracting natural gas from shale is as dirty as coal mining," she testified to thunderous applause at the 2010 council meeting.
"Wow," said Councilman Curtis Jones Jr., who sponsored the hearing.
But Dennis' fervor has subsided in the last two years, undone by the financial need of preserving her family's deteriorating historic farm, and by the salesmanship of the Cabot Oil & Gas Corp.
Last week Dennis signed a lease allowing the Houston company to extract the shale gas beneath her family's farm, which the National Trust for Historic Preservation has called a "rare and highly significant African American cultural landscape."
I don't know if I would have been so willing to pose for this human interest story highlighting my ignorance. Two years ago, Ms. Dennis was spouting the talking points of the environmentalist nitwits out there and feeling the power of defiance. Then she took a closer look and noted that not only were the environmental nitwits mistaken on how detrimental shale harvesting was to the their precious Gaia, it was a finacially sound opportunity. She had to be realistic."I decided to stop demonizing the industry and to start negotiating with individuals," said Dennis. "I had to be realistic."
The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.
H. L. Mencken