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

Chuck Pinkey

March 13, 2012

Anti-drilling activists wasting time on inevitable

As Otis Redding once sang, "I'm just sitting on the dock of the bay, wasting time." This pretty much sums up New York state and the gas drilling issue.

This entire hubbub is for naught. Drilling will come, because it's environmentally safe, economically necessary, and it will give us a higher degree of energy independence.

Sooner or later, we will have elected officials (male or female) with a degree of masculinity necessary to make the right decisions. Meanwhile, our gas deposits will not spoil. They have no expiration date. However, like Otis, we are missing the boat.

Two of the passengers on that cruise ship are David Dodge and his lovely bride, Jennifer. They reside near the northern Pennsylvania town of Meshoppen. That's pronounced "me — shoppin," a name to which my wife and daughters can relate.

It seems like only yesterday that my late mother-in-law was lamenting the condition of our mid-winter checkbook. January in the equipment business is generally quite slow, but to her credit she would rally the girls by saying, "When times get tough, the tough go shopping!"

Off they would go to the shopping malls in Albany for hours of perusing. I could never understand the attraction of going from store to store, hour upon hour, looking for bargains. It must be a gender thing from the caveman days, when the womenfolk would forage for nuts and berries.

Back to Dave and his bride. Meshoppen has a population of 459 people. It makes Worcester look like a big city. The signs "Entering Meshoppen" and "Leaving Meshoppen" are on the same pole.

I'm told they have two cemeteries: human and coon-dog. Meshoppen is not the end of the world, but you can see it from there. The median household income was $26,324. Not many residents were in the 1 percent targeted by the Occupy crowd.

The Dodges own about 90 acres and initially were offered $350, then $1,500, and finally agreed to $5,750 per acre, plus 20 percent royalty for their mineral rights. Now, Dave and Jennifer still own the land and continue to farm. Just their mineral rights were sold to the tune of $517,500.

I guess Sustainable Otsego and the rest of the sky-is-falling, environmentalist wacko, tree-hugging, carbon footprinting, anti-progress, for the-good-of-the-children, wring your hands in fear, run screaming into the night, anti-drilling crowd were wrong.

Are the Dodges suffering from deflated property values? Hardly! Just try buying property in Meshoppen!

Dave, a longtime Meshoppen area resident, has seen the gas industry from the onset. He doesn't have much good to say about the original drilling company. It seems the contracts were rather vague about payment schedules, placement of rigs, road maintenance, royalties and the quality of casings.

Interestingly though, he states that methane has been in the area forever and relatively close to the ground level. Some of the early casings could not hold the pressure, and methane did come to the surface. Wells were not tested before fracking, so it is impossible to know the extent of increase. However, any problems have been slight, rare and remedied.

Dave states, "With new technologies and modern casings made with 21st-century metallurgy, pressures can be easily held and any contamination appears to be a thing of the past.

"The newer companies, like Citrus, are great to work with! You pick the location of the well, payments and royalties are clearly spelled out, roads have been built and well-maintained, and if you need to call them, a very accommodating individual is there to answer your questions and sees that the necessary gets done."

Dave gives the example of gravel being needed on a back road. It was taken care of in no time.

To date, there is no well on the Dodge farm. However, next to Dave and Jennifer's land, there is an active well and 13 of their 90 acres receive royalties from it. The Dodges receive $1,000 per acre, per month from those 13 acres. That amounts to $13,000 per month or $156,000 per year from only 13 acres! Plus, they received $517,500 to initially lease their 90 acres!

There is a lot of unwarranted emotion and irrational fear surrounding the fracking issue. Richard Downey from Otego, Dave Parker from Worcester, many others, and I have received a good deal of grief over our stance on gas drilling and the fracking matter.

Personally, I love every minute of it. I've always felt that if people believe they're in the right, they should state their case and let the chips fall.

A good friend once said, "If you're taking flak, you're over the target."

Chuck Pinkey is the owner of River Valley New Holland Inc. in Otego. He can be reached at chuck.rvnewholland@gmail.com. The views expressed in this column do not necessarily reflect those of The Daily Star and its editorial board.

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