Those with an eye on the energy sector hovered between condescension and outright hostility but the message was unmistakable.
Oil is in decline and there are precious few viable alternatives on the horizon: we must therefore scrape what oil we can find from every last nook and cranny on the planet, like an old curmudgeon with a breadknife, refusing to be deterred by a seemingly empty honeypot.
So take your fishing rods, your hiking boots and your birdwatching binoculars and run along, little Green people. Nice message you got going there but the big boys are in town now and there’s money to be made…
Every dissentient voice belonged to an idiot as this corporate bluster gathered momentum. Those who question the logic of killing parts of a planet to kickstart an economy? Buffoons. Those who dare quibble as thousand-year-old species are dismissed by businessmen here and gone in the blink of an eye? Out of touch. Bigtime.
If you’re not with the suits on this one -“singing from the same songsheet” as their puerile jargon would have it – then you’re an enemy of the State with flowers in your hair and treason in your heart.
Yet try making George Kutskel fit that stereotype.
He should: he’s a card-carrying member of Trout Unlimited‘s Allegheny Mountain Chapter and no doubt as fearful as anyone over what the Marcellus Shale gas well drilling programme in America’s Appalachian Mountain region could mean for local water quality if it goes wrong.
Here’s his view on it, as expressed at last night’s Chapter meeting.
“We are not here to stop it. We know it’s going to happen. We just want to make sure when it happens that we’re not left with the same legacy some of us know from 30-35 years ago. So, we want to make sure it’s done correctly. We know accidents happen but we want to make sure there are funds set aside to clean them up.”
Hysterical? Out of touch? Mean-spirited? Hardly. Just a man who wants Progress to tread as gently as possible and tidy up after itself.
I suspect that George Kutskel (and I don’t believe for a moment that this makes him unique among those in the environmental corner) realises that between the utopia of Nature untouched and the need for the lights to stay on, lies a happy medium wherein enterprise and ecology muddle along together without calamity.
When it comes to identifying that happy medium and – just as importantly – sticking to it, I’ll take his judgment over the sharpest knife on Wall Street any day of the week.