September 13, 2011

Not remotely a "Balanced Middle Way"

It gets harder and harder to report on the Dryden Safe Energy Coalition's continuous claim that they're the middle way, since it's so excruciatingly obvious that they're the local representatives of the industry line.

The piece, written by Henry Kramer, starts as a complaint about last week's forum, which he tried and failed to cancel at the last minute when his preferred speakers couldn't make it.

Kramer seems to think that people who call him pro-drilling haven't spent much time considering options other than a ban:

Some of those who would totally ban energy development in our area have called DSEC "pro-drilling." The problem with this description is that it divides the world of opinion on energy into just two camps. Either, like them, you are opposed to all energy development or you are their enemy and are assigned the label "pro-drilling." For them, there is no room for a middle position.

Kramer is completely wrong, at least about most of the people I've talked with who support a ban. A ban is one of the very few things that is possible at the local level. There are lots of other options that could help, but thanks to the design of state law, they mostly happen at the state level. There certainly is room for a plausible "balanced middle way", but it doesn't happen to be Henry's. I'd suggest looking at State Senator Greg Ball's proposal, which isn't a ban but includes enforceable safeguards for drilling. Even Chip Northrup, who Kramer complained about earlier in the piece, spoke about regulations that are taken for granted in Texas but aren't in the New York proposals.

(And if he'd stayed to listen to the speaker he'd invited instead of storming out, Kramer might even have known that.)

Kramer continues that:

DSEC believes the world is divided into three parts, not two: those for bans; those for immediate production; and those, such as DSEC, who conclude that energy development requires careful regulation to protect the public.

The basic problem here that while there are many many more than two positions, "those for immediate production" is not a lobby that's even remotely plausible. Yes, there's a house on Route 13 near Alpine Junction with a "Fracking OK. Start Here." sign. Does that sign make a pro-industry anti-ban position the "Balanced Middle Way"? Does it help that the article was cross-posted at the drilling industry's Energy in Depth PR site?

No, it doesn't. Not at all.

The natural gas industry would like to come to New York. They're willing to accept regulation - as little as they can get away with - because they recognize that the New York public actually demands some regulation for what are obviously hazardous activities.

It's been very strange to me to watch our local Republicans, the conservative wing at that, suddenly cheering on the amazing powers of the DEC and EPA. Instead of cursing these organizations for daring to regulate, they seem to be hoping that they'll regulate just enough to make this politically palatable without disturbing their industry friends.

It's not the middle way, not by a longshot.

Posted by simon at September 13, 2011 8:02 AM in ,
Note on photos