July 21, 2011

"Preserves far more property rights than it takes"

These were my comments at last night's public hearing, though I dropped the italicized sentence for time.

There's been a lot of talk lately about "confiscating property rights" with a ban on gas drilling. That discussion seems to focus on one small sliver of "property rights", the right to extract as much money as you can from a place, at the expense of everything else.

If hydrofracking is allowed in Dryden there will be wholesale confiscation of property rights. Some of it will be formal, through compulsory integration, in which the state can force citizens to hand over their mineral rights to private interests. If you oppose eminent domain for private benefit, you really should take a look at compulsory integration.

Spreading industrial work sites throughout the Town, and connecting them with barrages of heavy trucks, is also going to confiscate a lot of property rights. Air pollution from those trucks and the rest of the equipment will make the countryside feel strangely urban. It may be difficult to transfer the peace and quiet of someone's yard and house, but there's a reason that "quiet enjoyment" is a legal term.

Those are just the problems that are 100% certain to come with hydrofracking. The environmental risks are real and demonstrated regularly. It's a gamble, one we all hope we win, but watching and waiting to see if your well water is going to remain drinkable isn't exactly a comfortable exercise of property rights.

I ask the board to pass the proposed ban on gas drilling. It preserves far more property rights than it takes.

Posted by simon at July 21, 2011 8:15 AM in
Note on photos