Residents of others states are issuing words of warning for New Yorkers who may soon allow companies to use the "fracking" process to drill for natural gas.
I live and work in Marcellus shale ground zero -- central New York State, just south of the Finger Lakes, one of the biggest and best watersheds in the hemisphere. My home is in economically challenged, mostly rural Tioga County, and I work in Tompkins County. Almost all our neighbors for several miles around have signed gas leases. I participate regularly and actively as a client, colleague, patient, or volunteer with businesses, organizations, and institutions in 19 other New York counties.
I have been economically poor and landless, economically comfortable and landless, comfortable and landed, and poor and landed. I've been rural, suburban, and urban. And I've spent most of my adult life paying state and local taxes in New York State (and a whole lot of national taxes, most of which have gone toward things I do not condone).
Writer Maura Stephens lives in the hills outside Spencer, New York. She wrote this using voice recognition software.
Truthout is a source of independent journalism focusing on under-covered issues and uncoventional thinking.
In papers everywhere we hear arguments such as the one that appeared recently in the Rochester (NY) Business Journal, in an article by economist Raymond J. Keating, under the heading "N.Y. is missing out on economic opportunity."
Keating wrote, "Environmentalists are claiming that hydraulic fracturing threatens groundwater supplies and are using anecdotal evidence to support their claims. Yet years of evidence have demonstrated that the fracking process is safe."
This is not just misleading; it's artful misuse of the language. Or, as my mother would have put it in her habitually blunt way, it's a lie...
...If they have nothing to hide, and there is no danger, why do they keep the ingredients of their toxic fracking stews a secret? Why does the public not know what's in them? How can Keating or anyone else claim it's "safe" if we don't know what they're using? Do we want New York to be the next Gulf? Do we want to just trust the drilling companies to do the right thing, as we seemed to trust BP to manage a spill without adverse consequences?
Furthermore, do New Yorkers want their beautiful state turned into an industrial zone, a la eastern Colorado, huge swaths of Wyoming, much of Texas and Louisiana, and West Virginia? Take a drive to Northeastern Pennsylvania and see what the countryside looks like just a few years after horizontal fracking began there.
Well over half of these United States are in peril from fracking. This is simply nuts. It's not a local or regional, but a national issue (international now, as big gas deposits have been located, and in some cases are already being developed, in Poland, Austria, Hungary, Sweden, Ukraine, the United Kingdom, in Canada, China, and India. (Japan and other countries are buying into gas-drilling rights in the USA and elsewhere.)
See: World of Shale
This weekend, as 10,000 energetic, bright young people are converging on Washington, DC, for PowerShift 2011, a geezer* is waging an all-out assault on their future.
Eighty-two-year-old Texas fossil-fuel-pushing megabillionaire T. Boone Pickens has, incredibly, essentially written a bill called the NAT GAS Act (“New Alternative Transportation to Give Americans Solutions,” H.R. 1380), to switch fleet vehicles such as buses and interstate trucks to “natural” gas.
Pickens has been working the Hill, White House, airwaves, and editorial boardrooms for some time. He’s got buddies like MSNBC’s Dylan Ratigan gushing over him and Joe Nocera writing oily op-ed odes to nat gas in the New York Times. And Pickens has somehow managed to sell President Obama and an astonishing number of Congress members on the myth that nat-gas is a homegrown wonder fuel “bridge” from dirty foreign oil to a clean energy future...