October 22, 2011

Henry Kramer as a Prophet of Doom

I have a certain sympathy for doom-sayers. I've been called a Cassandra myself, for example.

Henry Kramer, though, is a prophet of a different sort. Cassandra was a prophet of doom, yes, but one who was always ignored, always powerless to change the situation, and always right.

Kramer seems only to think that he's always right. His voice certainly echoes through local media, and he's working very hard to make sure his prophecies actually come true.

Kramer, a leader of the Dryden Safe Energy Coalition, a member of the Dryden Republican Committee, and Tompkins County Republican Party counsel, is making the rounds of the papers this week. He turned up first in Tompkins Weekly and then the Journal In Tompkins Weekly, he complains:

Henry Kramer, spokesperson of the pro-drilling group Dryden Safe Energy Coalition (DSEC), says that Dryden could have avoided the cost of a lawsuit if it had postponed passing the ban. "As no permits for hydraulic fracturing are currently being issued by the DEC, and none are expected before mid- to late-2012, the board invited the suit by taking the point and acting prematurely to ban something that hasn't happened yet and which they could have deferred and acted on later. The board knowingly dared lawsuit lightning and now it has struck," he says.

Kramer, of course, can't be troubled to mention that he and the DSEC worked with the gas industry before the suit was filed, effectively putting up a huge lightning rod in Dryden.

Why just wait for things to happen, when you can encourage your prophecies to come true?

Kramer also notes the possible costs involved with defending such a lawsuit. "Even assuming the board successfully defends the ban, DSEC anticipates Anschutz will then sue for $5 million in damages, while landowners may file yet a third suit and seek $100 million to $200 million dollars in damages. Each suit will cost the town's taxpayers $100,000 to $200,000 apiece to defend," says Kramer.

"DSEC anticipates" ?? I don't think so. This time he's celebrating the giant lightning rod, and hoping residents will be suitably terrified.

Meanwhile, in the Journal, he tries to suggest that we should have let Middlefield take all of the heat:

Because of a similar lawsuit brought against the Town of Middlefield, N.Y., Dryden should have waited to see the outcome of that case before committing to a ban and the possibility of lawsuits, Kramer said.

"It didn't need to happen, we could have gotten the answer to the legal question by watching Middlefield," he said.

Kramer somehow forgets that the Middlefield and Dryden cases are both test cases, each meant to explore a different aspect of the issue. The Middlefield suit is a landowner suing their municipality about the supposed loss of their gas leasing values. The Dryden suit is a gas company suing over a prohibition on their drilling. Dryden should certainly pay attention to the Middlefield suit, but it's actually addressing a very different question. (And for PR purposes, it's nicer for the gas companies to have them in different parts of the state.)

Kramer has been shouting that the Town would get sued from the beginning of this conversation. It's a lot easier to make your prophecies of a lawsuit come true, though, when you do things like:

DSEC moderator Henry S. Kramer said, "We are bringing together landowners, farmers, and industry in common cause to overturn bans and unpaid takings."

Personally, I think Kramer's a lousy prophet who badly overplays his hand. His recent interviews and public statements are pretty much an endless campaign to terrify town residents into submission to the gas companies. I don't think that's either great political strategy or the powerful moral stance Kramer seems to think it is.

Posted by simon at October 22, 2011 7:34 AM in , ,
Note on photos


Hilary Lambert said:

Below is part of the conversation that I had with Henry Kramer after the TB voted to pass the gas drilling zoning ordinance amendment on 8/2/11.

I asked, “Do you really want to frack and drill on your land?”
Henry: “I have not leased my land and I do not intend to.”
“So why are you threatening to sue?”
“For the RIGHT to develop our gas resource.”

So, ol' Henry will sacrifice MY water, air and land rights -- and those of the rest of us -- to let the gas companies in the door.

And this clownish figure is counsel for the Tompkins County Republican Party?

Chip G said:

I think this information really needs to be made very public, quote from Robert Kennedy Jr.:

"the [fracking] industry now acknowledges that it absolutely cannot afford to pay localities the costs of roads damaged from the thousands of truck trips per wellhead, leaving those ruinous costs to local taxpayers"

This is from an article by Robert Kennedy Jr, who's been on the Governor's High Volume Hydraulic Fracturing Advisory Panel. He originally was a strong booster of more natural gas. Then he started dealing with the gas industry and finding out more about the fracking process. Read the details here:

" The Fracking Industry's War On The New York Times -- And The Truth"

Given the facts we know from Pennsylvania and other places, and evidence like this from people dealing with this industry, I don't understand how anyone who actually cares about Dryden would be in favor of allowing fracking in the town...

Hilary Lambert said:

Given the facts, we also know that Bruno Schickel, the Dryden Republican Town Bd Supervisor candidate (often seen in Henry Kramer's company), made numerous public statements in favor of gas drilling and fracking before he suddenly became coy and shy about his position.

I say - it is better to be safe than sorry - vote for Sumner, Solomon and Lavine on November 8.