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September 4, 2013

Risks of gas drilling are too great

The Daily Star

---- — Gas drilling is an industrial use that comes with great risks. There is much more to consider than short-term economic benefits, and anyone who claims that drilling is safe is either misinformed or a liar.

Why else would the New York City watershed be exempted? Economic development should be planned to be long-term and to raise the quality of life for everyone. Gas drilling does neither.

If “home rule” is struck down by the state Supreme Court, under the proposed regulations, a DEC bureaucrat could sign a permit to drill in a residential area, 500 feet from any home. The town or county planning board isn’t involved. Small government is trumped by big government. There is more local oversight to build a shed than would be required to drill a gas well.

Industrial uses should be restricted to areas set aside for that purpose, not scattered across the countryside. We need industrial development, but local government should be involved and environmental reviews need to be specific, not generic as proposed for gas drilling. One size doesn’t fit all.

Perhaps the most worrisome risks from gas drilling are the long-term environmental effects. After 20 or 50 years, how will the steel well casing and the cement grout seal stand up? Corrosion and earth movement could compromise both, allowing gas or contaminated water into an aquifer. Who will be monitoring these inactive wells? The DEC can’t even check the current ones, and you can bet that the well drillers will be long gone, just like the economic boom that dried up when the gas did.

By the way, Chuck Pinkey, I’ve been heating with biofuel for 21 years. It’s called firewood. There’s a winner.

Greg Crowell