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Chuck Pinkey

September 27, 2011

Obama to push for oil, gas drilling fees, tax increase

A Sept. 19 Fox News article on the proposed Obama administration's fees and tax increases states: "Another proposal would charge $4 an acre on non-producing oil and gas leases on federal lands, raising $1 billion over a decade. The idea is to prod energy companies to get their leases into production or give them up and allow others to develop them."

Say it isn't so! How could this be? Barack Obama, my president, pushing for oil and gas drilling to balance the budget! Is our President "drilling for dollars?" I have been told that only the greedy, self-centered, right wing, rape and pillage the environment, capitalistic landowners were for drilling. Has he become the poster child for the "Drill, baby, drill" crowd? Is this the "hope and change" we voted for? Good grief!

If that's not bad enough, the Town of Middlefield is the target of a lawsuit by a farmer to overturn its ban on gas drilling. The nerve of these people! Who do these taxpayers think they are? Similar bans have been overturned in West Virginia, and with more than 14,000 gas wells in New York.

Do we hear the dominos falling? What to do?

We all know that hydrofracking fluids contain more chemicals than a quart jar of Ragu, and if taken in excess, can cause health problems in those prone to health problems. A significant amount of these chemicals remain underground, and people with health problems should avoid going underground.

In just the past year, Texas, Arkansas and Oklahoma have been hit by hundreds of small earthquakes.

Letter writers have cried that the waters from Hurricane Irene would have flooded the gas wells and brought fracking chemicals to the surface. Alas, one might think that the 20,000-pounds-per-square-inch pressure rating of a wellhead would withstand a flood, but how can we be 110 percent sure?

Many are concerned about falling property values because of contamination that will last for hundreds of years.

I have a plan. Let us be proactive. We all know the dangers of fracking fluids and how easily they escape the wellheads. It happens all the time. The potential for increased earthquake activity, explosions and decaying property values is beyond debate.

Those of us who care, the truly enlightened, should plan a rescue mission to northern Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Texas. Little do these backward-state boobs realize the danger they're in.

We will save them from a pain-filled life, agonizing death, economic ruin and their own ignorance. Once we educate the "great unwashed" and inform them of their horrendous mistake in judgment, we will be welcomed as heroes.

If we truly believe these dangers are real, how can we ignore areas where gas drilling and fracking are taking place? If we are truly concerned about the environment and future children's health, shouldn't we broaden our horizons from upstate New York and try to help save those folks in Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Texas?

Aren't we being selfish, just being concerned about "our own backyard"?

But wait! What if we are not welcomed? What if these "indigenous peoples" are safe and prospering? What if there is no groundswell of support for our rescue mission?

Special note: A word of thanks for Harry Wyckoff, his family and their equipment for helping the poor folks in Prattsville. Neighbor helping neighbor! It's an American and Wyckoff family tradition. Thank you, Harry!

I have received some emails about a sentence in our last column about the destruction of Prattsville by flooding from Hurricane Irene. I had spoken of neighborhoods being washed away, twisted hulks of homes where people had lived and raised their children, and possessions and memories littering the land like the pockmarks of war.

The sentence in question is: As I left the epicenter of destruction that was once the small farming town of Prattsville, I commented, "The best thing they can do is bulldoze the town and start all over again."

It was a reaction to the terrible pictures I had just witnessed. It was in no way a comment of condemnation. Having rebuilt homes that were damaged and barns that were destroyed by fire, I know that it is often quite better to bulldoze the site and build new.

Obviously Prattsville will rebuild. It is made up of hard-working people who will come back from this terrible disaster.

It was NOT some flippant remark of callousness, and I sincerely apologize for any misunderstanding.

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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