November 30, 2010

Hard questions on hydrofracking

Dryden Daily KAZ has posted some hard questions about banning hydrofracking after reading a Dryden Resource Awareness Coalition petition.

It's well worth reading - go read it before reading more of this.

Breaking down the issue using the same categories:


Yes, it is unfortunate that "the US really has no coherent energy policy, and NYS is basically corrupt." This has an effect that goes well beyond problems with incentives - it means that the shepherds do a lousy job of defending the sheep lately.

The industries with the worst business records - energy, subprime lending, and similar cheerful things - shove the hardest against regulation of any kind, and they've gotten used to it being just a "cost of business".

That situation makes me think we need government to push back harder against these folks, not just negotiate sort of kind of what we're allowed to beseech of their noble wealthy selves.

On the more deeply cynical side, there's also a decent chance that this gold rush isn't what it's cracked up to be.


Yes, I use natural gas for heating, water heating, and cooking. Living on 366, it was actually already here. I have pretty much zero control over where Iberdrola gets their gas, and haven't yet seen a provider offer environmentally more tolerable gas.

The path to dealing with this isn't, however, worrying about "condemning small towns in Texas and Oklahoma and Louisiana to lives of unsightliness, disease, and misery" or thinking that "My own NIMBY attitude, if it is not accompanied by a refusal to use fossil fuels, is harmful to others." The way to deal with it is to use less, to focus on other fuel possibilities and reduce consumption. I cut my home's gas bill by 2/3 a few years ago, and I'm looking for ways to do that again.

As much as I'd like to think a delegation of New Yorkers could convince Oklahomans that their views on oil and gas drilling aren't environmentally wise, there are some real limits to those possiblities. We have separate states for a reason, and one of those reasons is to make it possible to focus on our own back yards.


Yep - power lines and phone lines are ugly. So are cell phone towers and roads and a lot of the strange environments humans build, old and new.

I'd like to see huge changes in our expectations of what the world should look like - but to be honest, I don't think this has much of an impact on my views of hydrofracking. It's certainly a smaller visual impact than 100-meter wind farms.


Yep. I live downhill from leased land. I do have city water, but appreciate my far cheaper well water for gardening and taking care of the animals. And 366 really doesn't need any more trucks.


Yep. Pretty much all of the good jobs go to imported expertise, not to locals. From what I understand, it's largely specialty work. I did see the boost XtraMart on 366 got from the many contract workers NYSEG brought in to work on the powerline expansion to the Etna Substation, but it's not remotely clear that the local economic benefits outweigh the local economic costs.


I'm not sure there's a nice way to deal with this. A petition that says "please allow fracking only under certain kind circumstances" just isn't going to have an impact, especially in the face of an industry with huge resources and a reputation for not really caring about its reputation. I signed the petition happily because I think this is what has to happen. New York State is a corrupt place that's only slightly held in check by the opinions of its electorate.

State those opinions boldly at the Town level, where government is actually responsive to citizen input, and you might have some small chance of ending up in a better place.

I know there are folks around here dreaming of windfall profits and shocked by their neighbors' resistance, but that's a hard conversation we need to have. Taking the time to have it might even ensure that those windfall profits are higher, in the event those of us who'd prefer to ban fracking lose.

Posted by simon at November 30, 2010 12:43 PM in ,
Note on photos