Raise the curtain on the second act of Gas Wars.
The SGEIS allows access to 85 percent of the shale gas beneath our state. The hardcore environmental lobby has lost to the science and the multi-state research of the three-year study by the state Department of Environmental Conservation. All that is left is the hoopla surrounding the 60-day comment period. The DEC then presents the final document to the governor for release. Then gas development begins in New York.
The development will start in Broome and Tioga counties, the natural geographical progression from West Virginia and Pennsylvania. The proximity to the Millenium Pipeline gives easy access to the Northeast markets. In the development, there will be spills and accidents. The accidents will be remedied; the spills, cleaned up. New Yorkers will see that the world as we know it will not come to an end.
Slowly, as the money from sign-on bonuses and royalties filters into the communities, as good-paying jobs support young families, as tax rates are tamped down and tax revenues bumped up with the infusion of money from productive wells, and as individuals and institutions take advantage of new opportunities, the Southern Tier will finally begin to recover and prosper. At last, that talk will start to become a reality.
But don't expect any of this anytime soon in Otsego County. Two reasons: one economic and one based on the politics of fear.
On the economic side, since development depends on access to markets, infrastructure needs to be built. Also, the much-studied and prolific Marcellus formation is shallow in Otsego County, thus more economically difficult to extract and possibly excluded by regulation in the northern parts of the county. The Utica shale will be the main target formation. Its potential is largely an unknown.
Politically, those opposed to drilling in Otsego, with the help of a friendly press, have painted a picture of a nightmare industrial wasteland of poisoned water, ruined roads, plummeting property values, etc. An organized and dedicated core following believes this scenario.
Gas companies aren't stupid. What company wants a posting on YouTube of some retiree in Lands End gear and Gucci loafers handcuffing himself to its rig? What company wants to go to court to argue over restrictive ordinances a la Cherry Valley?
There are other areas in the Southern Tier with equal reward and fewer hassles. Drillers will eventually develop Otsego after the fear subsides and the lawsuits are over, but for some folks who are just hanging on, that will be too late.
Most people opposed to drilling are sincere. However, they are largely unaware of the exaggerations, the tactics and the agenda of their leaders. The opposition of some of these leaders to drilling stems from their fear that this newly abundant, cheap natural gas will delay the adoption of wind and solar energy. Their aversion to fossil fuels impels them to attack natural gas even if these attacks help bolster coal in the near term and continues our dependence on foreign energy. Natural gas, the game-changer, is the big threat to their larger agenda.
Adrian Kuzminski of Sustainable Otsego asks, "Is natural gas a transition fuel until renewables are economically competitive? Hardly. In fact, it's a big roadblock to our future; it perpetuates our polluting habits, externalizes its costs onto society and taxpayers, and sucks up investment capital that should be going to renewables instead."
Let me ask a question. With 97 percent of our transportation powered by fossil fuel, how does Mr. Kuzminski suggest we get ourselves and our goods around? What is the replacement for diesel, which powers the bulk of our truck, rail and ship traffic? Where is the renewable-powered substitute for the turbine engines that make commercial air traffic possible? What do we do while we wait for these replacements? Walk? Swim? Paraglide? Ride a mule?
And that's just transportation. How do we power our industries and our homes, which support our way of life, which, in turn, is the economic engine for much of the rest of the world? We live in the real world, Mr. Kuzminski, not a theoretical one. If we go to renewable energy, there has to be a transition. Shale gas must be part of the mix leading to that transition.
With shale gas, we have an opportunity to have local energy serve local needs, an opportunity for our region and our state to emerge from the economic doldrums, and an opportunity for our nation to become less dependent on foreign oil. Gas development is a jump-start for New York. And some day, it WILL come to Otsego County.
Dick Downey of Otego is a founding member of the Unatego Area Landowners Association.
Raise the curtain on the second act of Gas Wars.
- 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