Act One: The Prequel, starts in 2008 and ends with the publication of the Supplemental Generic Impact Statement.
The act begins with a wave of boilerplate drilling leases, the formation of landowner coalitions to counter those leases, the pushback by anti-drillers, and the Department of Environmental Conservation and Environmental Protection Agency hearings. Approaching the end of Act One, the anti-drillers control the narrative (gas drilling is bad; no good can come of it) and on the surface, they are in their ascendancy.
Act Two: The Empire State Strikes Back.
After three years of review, New York state issues the strictest set of guidelines in the nation for natural gas drilling. Since anti-drillers want to ban gas development, they will take to the courts. The court cases take time, but the anti-drillers inevitably lose.
Act Three: The Aftermath.
No one knows when the curtain rises on this act, but drilling comes slowly to New York. It starts in Broome and Tioga counties and slowly works its way north as infrastructure fills in. Otsego County is drilled because it has multiple gas plays estimated to contain at least 100 billion cubic feet per square mile. Otsego gas sells at $1 premium to Texas or Colorado gas because it's only 180 miles from the wellhead to a stove in Queens.
As gas flows out and money flows in, the loss of farmland in Otsego County stabilizes. Farmers don't have to work two jobs or sell of roadside parcels to survive. School (and general) populations start to rise as young families are once again able to find good-paying local jobs. School and town taxes stabilize and, hopefully, trend lower. Each well is a business, taxed separately, contributing to the community.
More jobs accrue as local businesses use local energy, giving them a competitive advantage. Plans for the use of Coventry gas for Bainbridge and Sidney businesses and residents are in the pipeline (pun intended).
As welders, truck drivers, gravel pit operators, carpenters and dozens of other businesses and occupations experience an uptick in activity, more jobs are created. Workers and landowners buy goods and services, thus creating more jobs. That's how it works.
There will be no wholesale degradation of the environment. Accidents will happen and there will be inconveniences, but no post-apocalyptic nightmare that the antis are predicting. Twenty years from now, people will wonder what the fuss was about.
In optimistic moments, I see people on both sides of the issue joining together to monitor and consult with industry to ensure safety and convenience, to suggest modifications for a flexible SGEIS, and to advocate for ample staff at the DEC for monitoring and enforcement.
Probably won't happen as long as the hardcore leadership pushes for renewables and sees cheap, plentiful, local natural gas as an obstacle to their goals.
A renewable energy future is an admirable goal, perhaps even attainable in some far-distant time. However, nationally and locally, we need a mix of energy sources and we need it now. We also need a basic understanding of TANSTAAFL _ There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch.
Currently, a little more than 5 percent of our national energy mix is renewables. Roughly 3½ percent is hydroelectric. Wind and solar (less than 2 percent) have problems. Biggest problem _ sometimes the wind doesn't blow; the sun doesn't shine. When it does blow and shine, it's often in inconvenient places needing huge infrastructure investments. Wind and solar need market-distorting subsidies and mandates just to be marginally competitive. These subsidies usually support existing technologies rather than cutting-edge advances that might one day make renewables competitive.
A renewable such as hydroelectric needs 250 square miles of man-made Lake Mead behind a Hoover Dam. Goodbye, environment. Replacing just one of the two 1,000-megawatt reactors at Indian Point would require lining the Hudson River from New York City to Albany with 45-story windmills one-quarter mile apart. That's 600 windmills. But there's a catch _ the 600 windmills would only generate electricity one-third of the time, when the wind is blowing.
For solar, let's go local. Let's fill the fields across from the Clark Foundation building on state Route 28 with solar panels. Cooperstown would be provided with clean energy, but at what cost to the viewshed? Plus, panels have to be cleaned with water. Easy in Cooperstown; environmentally difficult in Arizona. TANSTAAFL, anyone?
Finally, what can renewables do for global trade? Diesel engines power 94 percent of trade, from oceangoing vessels to trains and trucks. It dominates because of cost, efficiency, reliability and durability. What kind of battery pack would be needed to power a container ship across an ocean? What's in the renewable pipeline to replace the gas turbine that has shrunk our world through transoceanic flight? There's nothing even remotely comparable.
As the Gas Wars unfold, no matter what the regs or how strictly they are enforced, accidents will inevitably occur. Just as inevitably, these accidents will be addressed and remediated, and life will go on. Otsego County could be on the cusp of an economic opportunity that, if managed wisely, will far outlast all of us who are at each other's throats. Misinformation, fear and emotion are no substitutes for reason and reality.
Dick Downey of Otego is a founding member of the Unatego Area Landowners Association.
Act One: The Prequel, starts in 2008 and ends with the publication of the Supplemental Generic Impact Statement.
- Guest Column
Like it or not, the curriculum needed reform
When we first examined the new Common Core Regents exams this June, we felt a sense of relief, not the distress or feeling of doom that has been played up in the media. "Exciting" is the word that comes to mind to describe how we felt about an exam that attempts to more accurately measure the real-world skills our students practice in class.
Police must crack down on motorcycle noise
Motorcycle noise in New York state is out of control. Most conversations about this end with the comment, "How do they get away with it?"
SAFE Act won't help get the lead out
When legislation is passed in a hurry, there are bound to be unintended consequences. I'm sure the governor and legislators who passed the New York SAFE Act under cover of darkness had good intentions. They wanted to make New York a safer place. In one way, they clearly failed.
Sessions' betrayal should live in infamy
On June 13, the Senate passed a bill designed to remedy the long delays veterans endure at the Veterans Administration by giving it extra funds for more clinics and medical personnel.
Drilling's future is at stake in state's high court
Last week Jennifer Huntington's request to heat her barns with gas from her own property was heard at the Court of Appeals in Albany.
- Saturday, May 31, 2014
Universal pre-k? Let's work with what we've got
The more education the better right? This is true not just for graduate or Ph.D programs, but at the other end of the spectrum: universal pre-kindergarten.
- Saturday, May 17, 2014
The pipeline is just part of a larger problem
I am opposed to the Constitution Pipeline because if we are to mitigate the worst effects of climate change, we need to stop building yet more infrastructure for fossil fuels.
- Saturday, May 3, 2014
Do all you can to prevent falls for seniors
Falls are a common problem for older adults. Every year one in three adults age 65 and older falls, but less than half of the adults who fall talk to their health-care providers about their falls.
- Monday, April 28, 2014
From the Chief's Desk: Best part of this job is helping others
With this interview below of officer Jeffrey D. Galluser, Oneonta Police Chief Dennis Nayor begins a series of talks with members of the Oneonta Police Department. Gallusser is assigned to the patrol division.
- Saturday, April 12, 2014
The anti-pipeline crowd won't win
At the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's hearing in Oneonta on April 1, the antis continued their obstruction of anything fossil-fuel related.
Not the 'most perfect village' for the mentally ill
Just when I thought it couldn't get any worse, it did. On April 5, in these pages, I read the sorry tale -- the Bassett Medical Center's 10-bed Inpatient Psychiatry Unit in Cooperstown is closing.
- Saturday, March 29, 2014
The reality of our economy vs. 'what if'
The reality of our regional, indeed national, economy is that it is not sustainable. One has only to look at various indicators of economic health to reach that conclusion.
Don't opt-in for high-stakes testing
If you are the parent of a child in grades 3-8, then you know that the focus of education has shifted to the upcoming state tests in English Language Arts and Math, which start April 1. But did you know that you have the right to refuse these tests on your child's behalf?
- Saturday, March 22, 2014
Constitution will pipe money into local schools
The Constitution Pipeline project will be good for New York state because it will increase critical energy supply infrastructure to bring inexpensive natural gas from Pennsylvania to power homes and businesses. It will also be good for our region of New York state because it will bring natural gas to power Amphenol Aerospace in Sidney, the largest private sector employer between Albany and Binghamton -- with more than 1,000 jobs.
- Saturday, March 15, 2014
Get ready for more tall tales on natural gas
It's comment season again for the Constitution Pipeline. If past is any indication, expect at large, rowdy crowd ranting about exploding pipelines that incinerate kids, ravaged forests, scattered wildlife, spoiled streams and the inevitable apocalypse caused by hydraulic fracturing.
- Saturday, March 1, 2014
State's budget gimmick is hindering schools
Recently, the Margaretville and Roxbury boards of education joined their colleagues across the region and throughout the state in adopting a resolution calling on the state legislature to end the so-called "gap elimination adjustment."
- Saturday, January 25, 2014
The state Board of Regents deserves a shakeup
Last Saturday, despite a blanketing snowstorm, more than a hundred people showed up, some from as far away as Binghamton and Utica, at Oneonta High School for a forum titled, "On the State of Education in New York: Reform and Resistance."
It's no wonder businesses avoid us
Otsego County's gas potential was the subject of a Foothills symposium last Friday. Four gas activists/analysts shared their opinions on geology, production, and industry practice, with a side trip into the usual Doomsday Scenario.
- Saturday, January 11, 2014
How to bridge a widening wealth gap
If the governmentâ€™s figures are correct, the gap between the haves and the have-nots is growing. Two questions logically follow: should that be a surprise; and what are we going to do about it?
- Saturday, December 21, 2013
Nimbys, shills and celebs: A morality play for our times
As international corporations continue to ship U.S. jobs overseas, privatize water, track internet shopping and buy elections -- and argue that this improves our lives -- it's worth looking at how big oil's push to frack the earth is playing out in Otego.
- Like it or not, the curriculum needed reform