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

Guest Column

December 7, 2013

Attitudes are changing on gas drilling


New York will build new gas-fired generators. Rest assured they won’t be built in the city’s suburbs. The plants will be built upstate (Mohawk, Hudson valleys?) and the electricity will flow along existing routes (Marcy South, Hudson Valley?) The lawyers are looking at 2018 as a realistic date for the legal framework to be in place. Construction will follow.

Natural gas will provide local power and generate it on a regional basis. Why not utilize our upstate universities’ nanotech advantage to enhance gas production and safety? That is what Rice University is doing for Texas. At the Smalley Institute for Nanoscale Science and Technology, Rice is exploring a host of nanotech applications for the oil and gas industry in building lighter, stronger, more resistant equipment and in creating “smart” fluids that resist drag, bind sand, and provide anticorrosive coatings. Nano-sensors are being engineered for improved temperature and pressure ratings in deep wells. New nanotech imaging allows better discovery, sizing and characterization of reservoirs as well as pipeline monitoring and repair.

How appropriate that our upstate SUNY college consortium of Albany, Binghamton, and Utica be the Center for Nanotech Development in the Utica Shale? This won’t happen if gas continues to be the pariah.

November’s election may have changed that. Gas was the underlying central issue in Otsego and the results favored gas drilling. Maybe it’s the research coming out to the Water Resources Institute at Cornell (no water well contamination in the Marcellus because of hydraulic fracturing) or the ongoing seven-year surface-water study from the Susquehanna River Basin Commission (no change in water quality over that period.)

Maybe people have realized that Pennsylvania hasn’t descended into an abyss. Things are going pretty well down there. Maybe people are just tired of the hyperbolic demonizing of the product and the process. We all use hydrocarbons. Over 90% of domestic wells drilled are hydrofracked. Whatever it is, attitudes are changing.

There is one thing for sure, in economics as well as life — if you do what you’ve done, you get what you got. In Otsego, we’ve got a lot of For Sale signs, declining school populations, young families leaving. With work to do, it’s time to change attitudes, put aside the fear, and be open to opportunity.

DICK DOWNEY is a member of the Unatego Area Landowners Association.

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