Raise the curtain on the second act of Gas Wars.
The SGEIS allows access to 85 percent of the shale gas beneath our state. The hardcore environmental lobby has lost to the science and the multi-state research of the three-year study by the state Department of Environmental Conservation. All that is left is the hoopla surrounding the 60-day comment period. The DEC then presents the final document to the governor for release. Then gas development begins in New York.
The development will start in Broome and Tioga counties, the natural geographical progression from West Virginia and Pennsylvania. The proximity to the Millenium Pipeline gives easy access to the Northeast markets. In the development, there will be spills and accidents. The accidents will be remedied; the spills, cleaned up. New Yorkers will see that the world as we know it will not come to an end.
Slowly, as the money from sign-on bonuses and royalties filters into the communities, as good-paying jobs support young families, as tax rates are tamped down and tax revenues bumped up with the infusion of money from productive wells, and as individuals and institutions take advantage of new opportunities, the Southern Tier will finally begin to recover and prosper. At last, that talk will start to become a reality.
But don't expect any of this anytime soon in Otsego County. Two reasons: one economic and one based on the politics of fear.
On the economic side, since development depends on access to markets, infrastructure needs to be built. Also, the much-studied and prolific Marcellus formation is shallow in Otsego County, thus more economically difficult to extract and possibly excluded by regulation in the northern parts of the county. The Utica shale will be the main target formation. Its potential is largely an unknown.
Politically, those opposed to drilling in Otsego, with the help of a friendly press, have painted a picture of a nightmare industrial wasteland of poisoned water, ruined roads, plummeting property values, etc. An organized and dedicated core following believes this scenario.
Gas companies aren't stupid. What company wants a posting on YouTube of some retiree in Lands End gear and Gucci loafers handcuffing himself to its rig? What company wants to go to court to argue over restrictive ordinances a la Cherry Valley?
There are other areas in the Southern Tier with equal reward and fewer hassles. Drillers will eventually develop Otsego after the fear subsides and the lawsuits are over, but for some folks who are just hanging on, that will be too late.
Most people opposed to drilling are sincere. However, they are largely unaware of the exaggerations, the tactics and the agenda of their leaders. The opposition of some of these leaders to drilling stems from their fear that this newly abundant, cheap natural gas will delay the adoption of wind and solar energy. Their aversion to fossil fuels impels them to attack natural gas even if these attacks help bolster coal in the near term and continues our dependence on foreign energy. Natural gas, the game-changer, is the big threat to their larger agenda.
Adrian Kuzminski of Sustainable Otsego asks, "Is natural gas a transition fuel until renewables are economically competitive? Hardly. In fact, it's a big roadblock to our future; it perpetuates our polluting habits, externalizes its costs onto society and taxpayers, and sucks up investment capital that should be going to renewables instead."
Let me ask a question. With 97 percent of our transportation powered by fossil fuel, how does Mr. Kuzminski suggest we get ourselves and our goods around? What is the replacement for diesel, which powers the bulk of our truck, rail and ship traffic? Where is the renewable-powered substitute for the turbine engines that make commercial air traffic possible? What do we do while we wait for these replacements? Walk? Swim? Paraglide? Ride a mule?
And that's just transportation. How do we power our industries and our homes, which support our way of life, which, in turn, is the economic engine for much of the rest of the world? We live in the real world, Mr. Kuzminski, not a theoretical one. If we go to renewable energy, there has to be a transition. Shale gas must be part of the mix leading to that transition.
With shale gas, we have an opportunity to have local energy serve local needs, an opportunity for our region and our state to emerge from the economic doldrums, and an opportunity for our nation to become less dependent on foreign oil. Gas development is a jump-start for New York. And some day, it WILL come to Otsego County.
Dick Downey of Otego is a founding member of the Unatego Area Landowners Association.
Raise the curtain on the second act of Gas Wars.
- Guest Column
A closer look at the Oneonta town survey
The Town of Oneonta conducted a survey of town residents during February and March of this year. The survey indicated that generally town residents are satisfied with the quality of services provided and they are happy to live here. They want to balance the quiet, rural way of life we have with additional commercial development and environmentally sound practices.
Farmers markets are in full bloom
It's hard to believe that just a few short months ago the thermometer on our farm was reading 15 degrees Fahrenheit.
Records seizure is an insult to free press
Distrust of government secrecy has been elevated to an exceptional level with the disclosure the Justice Department covertly examined two months of Associated Press phone records to determine who leaked details to the AP about a foiled terrorist plot.
The evangelical view of same-sex marriage
The issue of same-sex marriage seems to appear on a daily basis in the media these days.
Manor's fate will be Otsego board's legacy
The Otsego County Boards (plural) of Representatives, more in the past than in the present, have negotiated the county into a financial corner leaving the present board between a rock â€" increased taxation and/or deficits â€" and a hard place â€" selling the Manor.
- Saturday, April 27, 2013
A closer look at our economy - Part II
We have talked about the public sector component of our economy. Now let's take a brief look at the manufacturing and retail/services sectors.
Use fracking to fill budget gaps
- Saturday, April 20, 2013
The kind of people we 'antis' are
In the controversy over the extraction of petroleum resources from shale, people who oppose this energy industry expansion have been called hypocrites. Claims have been made that practically every dollar diverted from petroleum development defaults to coal, and those who try to promote renewable energy resources wind up assisting that default. I am writing, not to dispute these allegations, but to lament them.
- Saturday, April 13, 2013
Social Security is a system worth saving
- Saturday, April 6, 2013
Gun column fuels lawlessness, paranoia
- Saturday, March 30, 2013
Here's how you fix the national debt
Presidents Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush, having scorned income taxes and budget-balancing, have left the U.S. in a desperate economic fix by unnecessarily selling national debt bonds.
- Saturday, March 23, 2013
The true meaning of the story of Easter
The weather for Easter 2013 promises to cooperate in helping us to ponder the real mystery of Easter more deeply.â€©Easter is not about fuzzy bunnies, bonnets, colored eggs or budding azalea bushes. Easter is not a way to mark the return of warmth and light after a long winter. Easter is the foundation rock of all that is Christian â€" the Gospel, the Church, the Sacraments, the Scriptures.
- Saturday, March 16, 2013
A flesh-and-blood expert won't hoodwink you
- Saturday, March 9, 2013
Let the markets determine our energy sources
In the Crime section of your local Barnes & Noble, you'll find Elmore Leonard's recent novel "Raylan." In it, Marshal Raylan Givens encounters with a pair of thieves who steal kidneys from the healthy, then sell those vital organs back to their victims. Talk about creating a market! Move down the aisle to economics and change the heist from organs to electricity, and Mr. Leonard could have a category-busting best seller.
- Saturday, March 2, 2013
Taking a closer look at our regional economy
- Saturday, February 9, 2013
Investment in DEC isinvestment in state's future
What is the relationship between Gov. Cuomo's proposed budget and your desire to protect New York's environment? What is the relationship between Gov. Cuomo's proposed budget and the economic potential of tourism to upstate? What is the relationship between Gov. Cuomo's proposed budget and the value you get back from your hunting or fishing license? What is the relationship between Gov. Cuomo's proposed budget and his claim that New York is once again business friendly?
We need to work toward living in love
Heads swirl, stomachs ache and hearts throb when violent thoughts rear their hideous heads and commit atrocious acts. Unfortunately, the aches and throbs only wane after follow-up regulatory efforts are made to stop the sadism, or after we seek solace in religion or spirituality. Itâ€™s not that the rules and religion are useless, but that the challenge to do better never goes away. Consciousness is constantly on the move to overcome its own challenges.
- Saturday, February 2, 2013
All downtown Oneonta lacks is you
- Saturday, January 26, 2013
America at a crossroads in 2013
Our country is at a crossroads. After four straight years of trillion-dollar deficits, our national debt now stands at over $16 trillion. If we don’t change course, based on the policies contained in President Barack Obama’s most recent budget proposal, we’ll continue to have trillion-dollar deficits as far as the eye can see.
- Saturday, January 12, 2013
Obamacare won't cure what ails our system
- A closer look at the Oneonta town survey