Monday, April 12, 2010

Those Who Have the Shale Gas Want Drilling

Chris Oliver of Bainbridge is a chiropractor, a landowner and a member of the Central New York Landowners Coaltion.
April 11, 2010, 12:00 am
For as long as I can remember, upstate has taken a backseat to the interests of downstate. New Yorkers are being asked to wait to drill for natural gas in the Marcellus Shale until the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency completes yet another study analyzing the safety of hydraulic fracturing.We have already waited two years while the state has studied the environmental impacts and worked on revising drilling regulations. We have a virtual Saudi Arabia of energy underneath our feet and farms. The world has been safely developing natural gas for more than 100 years. The EPA, as recently as 2004, determined that hydraulic fracturing is safe, and Pennsylvania has been safely drilling the same Marcellus Shale for more than two years and has experienced billions of dollars in economic impact and thousands of jobs. Despite this success, upstate New Yorkers are being asked to wait.
We can wait until all of the fifth-generation farmers lose their land to investors who do not care about the upstate way of life due to jacked-up tax assessments and depressed agricultural prices. Wait until Pennsylvania fills the pipelines to the brim, rendering our natural gas unneeded. Wait until all of the energy companies and second-tier businesses throw in the towel and move operations permanently to Pennsylvania.
Without any credible evidence of harmful effects — from federal agencies such as the EPA, from private industry, from environmental organizations, from local and state government — the state imposed a moratorium on developing privately owned land using a tried and true, safe technology.
Think of the benefits of burning New York's own natural gas to run city buses and heat the apartment buildings of Manhattan. Think of the environmental benefits of using a fuel that is twice as clean as coal. Think of the tens of thousands of jobs that would become available and the long list of unemployed that gas exploration could relieve. How would dozens of thousands of jobs within commuting distance suit downstate's pocketbook?
The natural gas industry has one of the best safety records of any industry in the world. There are currently 498,000 natural gas wells being drilled in the U.S. today, and the state's water is completely unrelated to developing the Marcellus Shale, which exists 6,000 feet below the water supply.
The 70,000 members of the coalition of which I am a member are farmers, stonecutters, environmentalists, hunters and business owners. We live and love the land. None of us would risk our legacy for any industry or energy source. But it is time to put the myths, misinformation, extremist language and fear away. It is time to save New York. We cannot wait.

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