On death row at the Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, a condemned man begins his final walk from Cell Block 1. The death chamber awaits. His feet are heavy, his legs are weak, and his breath is short.
As Albert Camus once said: "A man is undone by waiting for capital punishment long before he dies. Two deaths are inflicted upon him, the first being worse than the second."
His time is at hand, all appeals have been exhausted. As he passes the cells of other condemned men, they shout and call out their goodbyes. His thoughts are of home, his family and of his victim.
Little does he know as he enters the death chamber and awaits the injections of sodium thiopental, pancuronium bromide and potassium chloride, that the current budget crunch in New York has called for simpler measures.
After giving his last confession, nodding goodbyes to his family and making a final statement of remorse for a wasted life, he is forced to drink a quart bottle of tap water, fresh from the fracked fields of Montrose, Pa. Death is instantaneous.
It would be an understatement to say that much has been written on gas drilling and fracking. Volumes of articles and countless opinions have been given in print, emails and over the airwaves. Seldom has there been an issue so volatile or polarizing in New York state.
Both sides claim that the facts support their opinion, but they see the "truth" very differently. Can their agendas possibly be separated from the truth? I doubt it.
There is a barrage of emotions ranging from exasperation to all-out rage. To write or speak on the subject is like backing into a buzz saw; you're never sure which tooth cut you!
But, what are the facts? Are we to believe the anti-drillers who quote documentaries like "Gasland"? Do we trust websites recommended by environmental groups, which are historically against any industrial expansion?
How much consideration do we give those who scream the loudest, calling the other side greedy, disgusting, ignorant and willing to poison their wives, children and grandchildren for the almighty dollar? (By the way, in a previous life I was not a guard in a Nazi death camp!)
Are we to believe that the energy companies are run by Satan and their only purpose is the pursuit of money? Are these people somehow different from us? Do they not have morals or families of their own? For the sake of profit, are they willing to cause the death and destruction of men, women and children and then joyously move on to the next town, like a swarm of locusts?
Are we to have confidence in those who warn that contamination from fracking is certain and accidents will abound?
So, what are the facts? Do we trust advocates, who pose a scenario of instant wealth and prosperity never before seen? Are we to accept their word that all precautions will be taken and any contaminations or accidents will be at a minimum?
Are we to believe that any environmental impact will be slight? Are we to accept as gospel that new technologies and fracking fluids are safe?
I believe these advocates, but let me ask a favor. Just sit back, relax and think! With the mainstream media leaning left and very sympathetic with all environmental causes, you can be sure, if fracking was dangerous and had caused the damage and contamination many feared, there would be a nightly parade of sick people, remote reports from every contamination site and live feeds at every accident or spill, interviewing the widows and children of each victim.
The panorama of body bags, the crowds swarming into emergency rooms and any spill or environmental occurrence would be the subject of all headlines, websites, and TV news broadcasts ad nauseam. It hasn't happened! Please, drive to northern Pennsylvania and simply look around. You will be surprised!
On a side note, many have suggested a vote or referendum to decide the issue. You know, good old democracy! However, we are a republic, and that is for a good reason. As Benjamin Franklin said many years ago, "Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch."
Chuck Pinkey is the owner of River Valley New Holland Inc. in Otego. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.