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Guest Column

September 28, 2013

Some considerations on shale gas


The industry and its proponents contend that there has never been contamination, but there are documented cases and untold numbers of cases which have been settled on the condition of non-disclosure “gag” orders on the plaintiffs,  to obtain any financial relief for the harm they’ve experienced.

Drilling companies have also put gag orders on physicians, trying to treat people who have been harmed by chemicals from drilling accidents, before they will provide those practitioners the information they need to adequately treat the afflicted. Does this smack of obfuscation and outright lying on the part of the industry and its defenders? Decide for yourself.

If, not when, high volume horizontal hydraulic fracturing is approved in New York State, by bought-and-sold politicians and their revolving-door appointees in Albany and Washington, ask yourself how the gas will be brought to market from the widely spaced drilling pads. It won’t get there magically. I am anticipating that eminent domain will be exercised to force property owners, receiving little or no economic compensation, to allow collecting pipelines to be put on their properties along with noisy compressor stations to help move the gas from one point to another.

This prospect will merely add insult to the injury of compulsory integration, which landowners unwilling to lease their properties for drilling purposes will be subjected to.

Boom-bust economics is inevitable, as these wells typically only produce for two to three years, leaving in their wake a bunch of capped but pressurized wells which will over time deteriorate and predictably contaminate the aquifers we rely on. The drillers will be long gone, having laughed all the way to their banks.

TOM PRITCHARD, a Hartwick resident, is the president of the Arnold Lake Association and vice chairman of the the Capital Region Energy Forum.

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