Response to Mike Knapp: Best not to call me an “Elderly Hippy”

Mike Knapp sitting on a panel for a”Truthland,” screening.  A documentary funded by Energy in Depth to counter Josh Fox’s “Gasland.”

The following is an exchange included in a rather longish thread on Energy in Depth–a fracking propaganda website who sends its “field directors” to events such as the direct action shut-down of the Schlumberger Compound in Horseheads, new York, 8.11.12. The original post is written by Frank Maines, the proprietor of the Redwood Inn, Horseheads, New York in response to the anti-fracking protesters that he claims trespassed on his property. The accusation–like much of the thread that follows–is a deeply faulty one. A few protesters did wander momentarily on his lawn (the lawn of a motel), and when asked to leave, did so–promptly and without incident. Maines was then apparently approached by one of the EID “field directors,” and posted a rather hyperbolic account of what transpired calculated, it seems, to bolster the visibility of the motel and to invite particularly fracking industry guests.

You can find that thread here:

Mike Knapp, landman and now VP for Land and Public Relations for the drilling firm, MDS Energy, is a frequent flier on these blogs, and posted the following:

Mike Knapp:

I think I should feel sorry for Wendy Lee after reading her long-winded “I love the sound of my own voice” self-righteous diatribes, but for some reason I always just end up being amused. It’s like arguing with a toddler that INSISTS 1+1=247. She really should have her own reality show. She meets all the prerequisites: delusional, comically over-inflated sense of self-worth, mouth that runs a mile a minute, craves attention like a junkie craves a needle. Perfect for reality television. We could call it “Long Winded Wendy – An Elderly Hippie Tries to Be Relevant”.

Nonetheless, it’s extremely satisfying to see that this is the best that anti’s can come up with. Protests that look like a bongo-drum concert barely lasting long enough to get the whole way through “Kumbaya” and plans to “Frack The Phone Lines” by getting a bunch of people to tie up the phone lines of REAL professors at REAL academic institutions that have REAL degrees that make REAL contributions to society.

Can’t wait to see drilling open up in New York! Hang in there for just a bit longer folks!

Mike Knapp

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I then responded with the following:

Dear Mr. Knapp:

“Elderly hippy”: I’ll make sure to tell the race directors at the Boston Marathon next time I run it. I’m sure they’ll be even more excited about my race times–and this IS a marathon for which one must qualify.

But let’s talk about you, or rather, the company for which you were just proudly appointed VP of Land and Public Relations at MDS Energy, LTD, now MDS Energy Development, LLC. Congratulations, you are no longer a mere landman–you are now a fully-fledged fracker and propagandist.

In 2010 MDS managed to score an impressive number of nasty violations, for which there were a number of fines:

For 2010 -MDS ENERGY had 6 violations and 3 Fines

4/6/2010- MDS ENERGY LTD in Armstrong County- VIOLATION #584594

Code 78.56FRBRD Failure to maintain 2′ freeboard in an impoundment

4/07/2010 Consent Assessment of Civil Penalty Fine: $ 26,000.00

5/14/2010- MDS ENERGY in Armstrong County VIOLATION ID #587171

VIOLATION Code 102.4 Failure to minimize accelerated erosion, implement E&S plan, maintain E&S controls. Failure to stabilize site until total site restoration under OGA Sec 206(c)(d)

Violations noted:

1- Failure to minimize accelerated erosion and sedimentation.

2- Inadequate E&S plan.

3- Discharge of Industrial Waste to the Waters of the Commonwealth.

Culverts not properly stabilized which resulted in sediment entering culverts and eventually entering nearby stream.

Consent Assessment of Civil Penalty FINED $5,000.00 Aug.31, 2010.

5/14/2010 -MDS ENERGY LTD Armstrong County VIOLATION ID #587172

VIOLATION CODE 102.4 INADPLN Failure to minimize accelerated erosion, implement E&S plan, maintain E&S controls. Failure to stabilize site until total site restoration under OGA Sec

5/14/2010 -MDS ENERGY LTD Armstrong County VIOLATION ID #587173

VIOLATION CODE- 401CSL Discharge of Pollution Material into waters of the Commonwealth.

Violations noted:

1- Failure to minimize accelerated erosion and sedimentation.

2- Inadequate E&S plan.

3- Discharge of Industrial Waste to the Waters of the Commonwealth.

5/14/2010 -MDS ENERGY LTD Armstrong County VIOLATION ID #587174

401CSL Stream discharge of IW, includes drill cuttings, oil, brine and/or silt.

Violations noted:

1- Failure to minimize accelerated erosion and sedimentation.

2- Inadequate E&S plan.

3- Discharge of Industrial Waste to the Waters of the Commonwealth.

5/14/2010 MDS ENERGY LTD Armstrong County VIOLATION ID #587175

VIOLATION CODE 691.401WPD Failure to prevent sediment or other pollutant discharge into waters of the Commonwealth.

Violations noted:

1- Failure to minimize accelerated erosion and sedimentation.

2- Inadequate E&S plan.

3- Discharge of Industrial Waste to the Waters of the Commonwealth.

Steady flow of sediment laden water exiting the culvert and entering directly into the stream.

05/24/2010 MDS ENERGY LTD Armstrong County VIOLATION ID #587943 VIOLATION CODE – 78.56FRBRD Failure to maintain 2′ freeboard in an impoundment; freeboard limit exceeded in pit. Water level closer than 2′ from top of pit.

5/24/2010 Consent Assessment of Civil Penalty Fine: $ 26,000.00

8/20/2010 MDS ENERGY LTD Armstrong County VIOLATION ID #598511

VIOLATION CODE 78.60B Tophole water discharged improperly.

Discharge to stream Channel. Violation of 78.60(b)(5)

2008/2009 were also very impressive years for violations for MDS–you must be so proud:

For 2009 MDS ENERGY VIOLATIONS:

6/3/09- MDS ENERGY LTD Armstrong County VIOLATION ID #564197

VIOLATION CODE-102.4 Failure to minimize accelerated erosion, implement E&S plan, maintain E&S controls. Failure to stabilize site until total site restoration under OGA Sec 206(c)(d)

6/3/09- MDS ENERGY LTD Armstrong County VIOLATION ID #564198

VIOLATION CODE 102.4INADPLN E&S Plan not adequate

6/3/09- MDS ENERGY LTD Armstrong County VIOLATION ID #564199

VIOLATION CODE 78.83GRNDWTR Improper casing to protect fresh groundwater

E&S and casing violations

12/30/09- MDS ENERGY LTD Armstrong County VIOLATION ID #579096

VIOLATION CODE 205A Drilling w/in 200 ft of building or water well w/o variance

12/30/09- MDS ENERGY LTD Armstrong County VIOLATION ID #579097

VIOLATION CODE 207B Failure to case and cement to prevent migrations into fresh groundwater

12/30/09- MDS ENERGY LTD Armstrong County VIOLATION ID #579098

VIOLATION CODE 210UNPLUG Failure to plug a well upon abandonment

No bldg. waiver, abandoned & Incorrect casg. & cement

VIOLATIONS for MDS ENERGY in 2008:

1/22/08- MDS ENERGY LTD Armstrong County VIOLATION ID #531304

VIOLATION CODE: 201F Failure to notify DEP, landowner, political subdivision, or coal owner 24 hrs prior to commencement of drilling

2/01/08- MDS ENERGY LTD Armstrong County VIOLATION ID #534649

VIOLATION CODE: 201F Failure to notify DEP, landowner, political subdivision, or coal owner 24 hrs prior to commencement of drilling

4/29/08- MDS ENERGY LTD Armstrong County VIOLATION ID #537870

VIOLATION CODE: 78.56FRBRD Failure to maintain 2′ freeboard in an impoundment

9/11/08- MDS ENERGY LTD Clarion County VIOLATION ID #548244

VIOLATION CODE: 205B Drilling w/in 100 ft of surface water or wetland w/o variance

9/11/08- MDS ENERGY LTD Clarion County VIOLATION ID #548245

VIOLATION CODE: 102.4 Failure to minimize accelerated erosion, implement E&S plan, maintain E&S controls. Failure to stabilize site until total site restoration under OGA Sec 206(c)(d)

9/11/08- MDS ENERGY LTD Clarion County VIOLATION ID #548246

VIOLATION CODE: 102.4INADPLN E&S Plan not adequate

9/11/08- MDS ENERGY LTD Clarion County VIOLATION ID #548247

VIOLATION CODE: 78.56FRBRD Failure to maintain 2′ freeboard in an impoundment

Source: Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection and Pennsylvania NPR State Impact.

WOW! The Dep also reports six violations on two wells for 2010–and this is the DEP under Michael Krancer–an agency that make as well be renamed as a public relations firm for the natural gas industry.

Your company is responsible for violating the PA Clean Stream Law, the Discharger of Industrial Waste laws, and the proper well-casings statutes. You’re guilty of improper construction of wastewater impoundments and a variety of permitting violations.

So, here’s my question:

Why would anyone in their right mind even take you seriously with respect to your acquisition of a “deteriorating pipeline system in Indiana County, PA”? What exactly could you claim to “sweat equity” mean given this history of negligence–especially with respect to well-casings?

How deteriorated was this system? How old was it?

How long was it before you put it back in production?

Was it in any way intended for the internal pressure it will now endure?

Are there populations of people nearby?

Indiana is a town with one of the largest state universities in the commonwealth: IUP–approx 18,000 students.

You claim that “[w]hile KAP has managed MDS Energy’s land efforts since 2009,  we are excited to officially integrate our efforts into MDS so that we can work even closer to ensure the quality of our work does not suffer as we continue to grow.”

I’ll bet!

With an environmental and health hazard violation record like yours, it’s certainly important the MDS work on it’s PR–that is, its campaign to make sure the public doesn’t know it’s real record.

Perhaps your PR efforts will be as successful in the future as they’ve been in the past, say, your completely foiled (not to mention snarky) endeavor to discredit Josh Fox:

“It was reported recently in the news that a trailer on the land of the family of Josh Fox, (the director of the Oscar nominated film Gasland) was burned. You can read more about the incident here: (Watershed Post and at Record Online)

“The Pennsylvania DEP gave the Fox family a citation for “un-permitted disposal/burning of solid waste”. The fire, however is being investigated by police, and Pennsylvania State Police Fire Marshall Russ Andress stated that the trailer was burned while Fox was on the road and “There’s nothing to suggest either he or his family had anything to do with it”. The fire is still under investigation but that has not stopped the people that are looking to profit from gas drilling in Pennsylvania to wage a media slur campaign to discredit Josh Fox…In addition to the usual snarky campaigns waged on supposed misdeeds of the anti-drilling crowd offered up by Energy In Depth—the gas industry’s biggest buffoonery of misinformation; a newcomer on the scene by the name of Mike Knapp, the sole proprietor of Knapp Acquisitions, (working out out of Armstrong, Butler, Clarion, Indiana and Jefferson Counties in Western Pa) has taken up the mission to add to this flurry of pro-fracking flotsam by discrediting the Fox family on Twitter and on his company website by offering up the following “letter” that spells out the grave hypocrisy that Fox has supposedly perpetrated on us all. Knapp writes the following: (you can download the original here)”

Wow! That’s quite a lot of work to go to to discredit your opposition. Mr. Knapp. There was no evidence at all that Fox or any member of his family had anything to do with the fire you try to burn him with–and you knew it! No wonder MDS is thrilled to have you on-board.

Thing is, it gets even better. Did you see how awesome you come off here?

Uncertainty remains as landowners band together:

“Aaron Davis has been trying for months to get in on the state’s natural gas boom and turn a profit from his 19 acres of hunting land in Clarion County.

But with such a small plot in a county relatively ignored by scores of drillers descending on Pennsylvania, Davis hasn’t been able to draw the kind of get-rich-quick deals that some others have. He’s hoping that in about a year he’ll at least have a piece of a deal.

Davis, 20, a sheet metal worker from Donegal in Butler County, is planning to sign what its backers call the biggest gas-land deal in Western Pennsylvania.

Officials at MDS Energy Inc. in Kittanning are spearheading a group with about a dozen drilling companies and maybe hundreds of land owners, trying to leverage a package of 500,000 acres into big payouts from a multibillion-dollar auction.

“It’s still a little uncertain, but I’m willing to at least give it a try,” Davis said of the deal scheduled to go to bid next year. “It fits really well (for me) because even though I would only have 20 acres, I’d still be able to join this great big group and get the high rate because I’m in this big group.”

Whether MDS’s agents can get the price they’re suggesting — $8,000 to $12,000 an acre — is far from certain. There are other red flags, said gas industry experts who are following or have been briefed on the deal. The company is offering a 10-year lease and will take a 15 percent cut from a sale, and both are about twice the industry standard, the experts said.

“This is creating a service you don’t need (to lease your land),” said Kent Moors, director of Duquesne University’s Energy Policy Research Group. “And you’ve got no guarantee they’re going to develop your land. You’re preventing yourself from negotiating with everybody for an 18-month period. If their deal goes through, but then they never develop your land, you’re out cold.”

Landowners have been banding together in groups called “compacts” across the gas-rich Marcellus shale region. It is a mile-deep layer of shale rock, stretching underground from New York to Tennessee. Usually they’re farm owners or neighbors trying to strike a leasing deal by banding together with 25,000 or 35,000 acres. They want to profit from leases and production royalties that can come from offering larger packages of land, while protecting themselves in negotiations with big drilling companies.

The MDS group was started by about a dozen small oil-and-gas companies working with Knapp Acquisitions & Production LLC for a way to cash in on their landholdings. Multinational energy companies have paid for three multibillion-dollar deals in the state since December.

MDS controls about 50,000 acres, President Michael Snyder said. With its partners it has about 300,000 combined, mostly in Armstrong, Indiana, Clarion and Jefferson counties. More landowners will lead to a higher premium for every seller, said executives at MDS and Knapp.

“We feel pretty confident and so does our marketing company that we’ll get $8,000 per year if not more,” Snyder said. “We are an ambitious young group, and we are trying to grow the project. Our entire entourage involved in this sale feels the more acreage the better to get a better payout for everybody.”

The deal will be cancelled and landowners will be freed from the agreement within a year if the highest bid is lower than $4,000 per acre, MDS and Knapp said. Royal Bank of Canada is brokering the deal and has agreed to take no commission if the sale goes through at less than $6,000 per acre, they added.

MDS and Knapp have used that claim to advertise the deal. Their agents told a crowd of about 50 at the MDS garage in Kittanning last month that with RBC’s support, the large quantity of land being offered and the recent deals statewide, the sale price could rise to $12,000 or $14,000 an acre.

That high of a price is unlikely, said Anthony Scott, senior energy analyst at Bentek Energy LLC. The land they’re offering is on the fringe of Marcellus development, and drillers may not want to risk the chance it will turn out to be outside the sweet spot.

“You would need a huge amount of information before I would join that group.” said James McCune, a Washington County lawyer who specializes in gas leases. “It might be a good thing, but just saying, ‘We’re big,’ in and of itself, doesn’t carry the day.”

A Royal Bank of Canada spokesman could not be reached. Snyder declined to name his agent at the Toronto-based bank, saying bank officials can’t comment on the deal until they finalize another they’re working on.

Without the bank confirming the details, it’s hard to analyze how good the deal will be for small parcel owners, Moors said. People interested in the deal should be skeptical until they hear from the broker, he added.

Landowners should always consult lawyers with gas industry expertise before signing any lease, Moors and several other industry experts said.”

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In other words, you insert yourself into the middle of deals by promising would-be leasers that they’ll makes oodles more money than is realistic–by a factor of three or four times, and you tacitly discourage these landowners from consulting lawyers. You get them to sign up with you–and then they can’t negotiate a deal through any other representative for a YEAR. Here’s the important stuff:

1. If the actual deal is less than $4,000 per acre, the landowner is still stuck with you for that whole year.

2. But you used the big money claim to promote yourselves as middle-landmen–and to sucker potential property owners (and pressure their rightly skeptical neighbors).

3. But the big money was ALWAYS unlikely since the land was “on the fringe of the Marcellus,” and you knew it.

And all of this was brokered through a CANADIAN bank: ROYAL BANK OF CANADA! So much for waving the flag—at least an American one.

Kent Moor at Dusquesne probably said it best: The landman’s is a service a landowner does NOT need. His offer is for something that may never come to fruition, and if it doesn’t you’ve wasted 12 -18 months waiting for something that’s unlikely to pan out at all.

And it looks like it didn’t–at least for folks in Butler County:

“The game/bs they pulled with us — played dumb and basically said they had to get a surrender of lease from the previous lease we had recorded etc… When I have e-mails asking if they needed such and if so I could get them whatever they needed and have at lease signing and the land man said no as your old lease specifically says it expires dec.31 from the snyder/MDS deal that never materialized.  So basically they let our draft expire and said we would have to get another lease signed but Shell is not signing any new leases currently even though we signed ours 7 months ago it was not good do to the surrender of lease just being recorded from the old lease when again the old lease specifically said it was no good as of Dec. 31 last yr.  Plus again we asked and told them we could get them what ever they needed but they said we were good and they had the old lease high lighted where it said on  Dec. 31 it expires etc… Was told they would be leasing again once more funding was released but who knows when and to what terms etc… Just a shame for everyone that signed and then get the run around and or were told they were to sign and now not accepting any new leases.  To sign someone and then to never hold up your end is down right wrong and bad business.  When your a huge company the little people you manipulate and bs means nothing unfortunately.  Typical corporate bs.  They seemed like good honest people and company and some were paid but the ones that they backed out on have a real bad taste and the word is not good from alot of the local land owners who have yet to sign or did and the lease was not honored.”

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Doesn’t make you look good, Mr. Knapp.

Plus, just sticking for the moment with Butler County (A Butler County Republican, Brian Ellis, was a sponsor of unconstitutional ACT 13–and who received $23,000 in gas money donations for his campaign) , it looks like not only did folks not make the big bucks you promised, the destruction to their properties and health has generated opposition to ACT 13 in the form of resolutions–including Butler Township:

“Butler Township supervisors adopted a resolution to support other Pennsylvania communities in challenging Act 13, the Oil and Gas Act, at their meeting Thursday night.

Township resident Marguerite Woelfel addressed the supervisors during their work session earlier in the week regarding Act 13, which she said stripped municipalities’ zoning authority in regard to the oil and gas industries and gagged physicians who may be treating an illness related to industry drilling.

“It’s totally appalling,” she said.

Woelfel asked the township to write a letter or pass a resolution supporting the challenge, because the act allows the oil and gas industry to locate operations within a few hundred feet of homes in a residential district, she said.

“It almost sounds unconstitutional,” Supervisor Brian Kisenwether said.”

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You got that right!

And all this for gas not an iota of which is intended for American customers, but is headed for Cove Point, MD–and then out to the global markets where we can expect to be paying the same inflated prices as the Chinese to buy it back:

This does not seem to square with your website PR, Mr. Knapp:

“Our country is in dire need of a cheap, domestically produced, clean burning and abundant fuel. The key to our energy independence lies right below your very feet, here in Western Pennsylvania.”

There’s a key under your foot, alright, Mr. Knapp, and it’s a golden one. But the reason it’s so golden isn’t because you’ve done a service for your country–far from it. It’s because you’ll be making money off of the sale of gas to the global market–all the while you’re waving the flag.

What a patriot.

Sorry this is so long, Mr. Knapp–but while propagandizing can be done in sound bytes, the undistorted truth takes some time to spell out.

Sincerely,

“Elderly Hippy,” Wendy Lynne Lee

 

 

 

 

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