Economists call this process import replacement, a proven path to wealth creation. The more dollars circulate locally, beginning with harvesting raw materials, to transporting, processing, distributing and consuming them, the better off we all are. This is the ultimate boost to the local economy and a real energy independence!
Unfortunately, big business dominates Washington and Albany. As a result, current public policy promotes fossil fuels, including shale gas, at the expense of renewables.
Shale gas is no mom-&-pop operation. It is produced by national and global corporations to benefit distant investors. Although initially this might be a locally derived product, it would be available to us only after circulating through a complex national and increasingly global system of distribution, storage, refining, pricing and redistribution.
We are told that we will reap great savings in heating costs for homes, businesses, and schools. But what gas company is going to write a contract for 30 years of gas at current prices?
We are told that natural gas will be a boost to local industry. Yet the availability of natural gas for decades in parts of our county – Oneonta and Richfield Springs – has failed to spark any significant economic development. The traditional gas-producing counties of Western New York are among the poorest in the state.
Finally, it is the ultimate NIMBY argument to be against fracking but in favor of drawing gas from the proposed Constitution pipeline. It is still fracked gas. Is it okay to accept the devastation of other communities to get their gas?
It’s time to look seriously at renewables, especially biomass, in Otsego County. This is not a panacea for national and global problems; we and others rich in biomass cannot supply the world.
Adrian Kuzminski is the moderator of Sustainable Otsego.