The Daily Star, Oneonta, NY - otsego county news, delaware county news, oneonta news, oneonta sports

Chuck Pinkey

May 10, 2011

Economic potential of gas fracking shouldn't be ignored

Congratulations to President Obama, President Bush, the U.S. military, and The United States Navy SEALS for putting an end to the life of Osama bin Laden. We find it particularly satisfying that his last moments were spent looking down the bore of an American weapon held by a U.S. serviceman. God bless the USA.

With one scourge to humanity ended, we must turn our attention to another. The ongoing Armageddon posed by fracking! This is, for those who have been hibernating for the last two years, a method where liquid, mainly water, is injected into "our Mother Earth" thousands of feet underground to shatter the shale, thereby loosening veins of natural gas.

Fracking sends methane, cancer-causing agents and poisons into our water supply, thereby killing every man, woman and child in a 100-mile radius. This carnage can be witnessed in western New York and northern Pennsylvania, where the death toll has reached into the thousands, and the landscape is decimated. Only ghost towns remain.

As crazy as it seems, many people believe this scenario. Contrary to "the sky is falling" crowd, all is alive and well with our neighbors to the west and south.

Did we say "neighbors"? That term used to mean something, but apparently no longer! If my neighbor has the opportunity to prosper, God bless him! I will encourage him, not stand in his way. His good fortune is a plus for the entire community and should not be envied or hampered. After all, he is my neighbor!

If he wishes to drill and if we are concerned about the condition of our water, a periodic check will ensure its safety. The National Energy Technology Laboratory states that new technologies are now on hand that will remove 99 percent of oil and grease from fracking water and over 90 percent of all other chemicals.

This silica technology may even make the water purer than before fracking!

Let us not forget that liquid fracking occurs thousands of feet below ground, much deeper than any well. It has been a common practice to increase homeowners' water well production, by sending explosives or dynamite down their well.

This explosion, at a few hundred feet and much more volatile than liquid fracking, shatters rock and shale and usually increases a well's output. Generally, other than a few dead worms, there is no down side.

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue, "The Drilling Industry has paid more than $1 billion in state taxes since 2006 and tax payments for the first quarter of 2011 already surpass 2010 levels. Those taxes come on top of the billions of dollars of infrastructure investments, royalty payments and permit fees paid by the industry."

The Revenue Department also identifies $214.2 million in personal income taxes paid since 2006, attributed to Marcellus shale drilling.

The same could happen here! The Evening Sun of Chenango County states, "Broome County, all by itself, holds enough natural gas reserves to leverage the creation of 16,000 good paying jobs, $793 million in wages, and $15.3 billion in total economic output ... "

Information from Corning Place Consulting states, "In West Virginia and Pennsylvania ... the gross regional product for these two states increased by $4.8 billion as a result of Marcellus production activities ... generating more than 57,357 jobs and $1.7 billion in local, state, and federal tax collections."

We live in Worcester and we asked Lenape Resources to project the economic impact on our town. It estimated that if it drilled on town property and the shale is comparable to northern Pennsylvania, it would take just 15 wells to offset the town's entire tax burden. It drills eight wells per pad and each pad is only six acres. Therefore, only 12 acres of the town's property would be involved. The annual royalty would total $10,113,698.68. More than $10 million from only 12 acres!!!

It has been discovered that China has the world's largest supply of gas from shale rock formations. Its reserves surpass those of the USA. The Chinese are buying our gas-drilling technology and will soon become the world's largest energy users. They are not afraid to act!

So, here we sit in the great state of New York, atop some of the finest Marcellus formations in America and the windfall could total in the billions. Are we moving toward prosperity like Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Texas or even China?

No! We worry, we moan and groan, and we scream loudly! Somehow we are better educated and more intelligent than our fellow Americans from "those" states.

Yes, sir! Just look around at our small towns and villages, our lack of jobs and commerce, and our dwindling agricultural base. The ghost towns won't be in Pennsylvania.

Chuck Pinkey is the owner of River Valley New Holland Inc. in Otego. He can be reached at chuck.rvnewholland@gmail.com.

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