Sunday, November 29, 2009

To Frack or Not To Frack? That Is Our Question

The word "frack" has several meanings.  One of them is as a replacement word for a certain four letter word.  Some people in our area would like to say that about something called hydro-fracking.

Not too long ago, the discovery of natural gas in our region (in our Marcellus Shale rock) made a lot of rural land owners very happy.  How could you go wrong, leasing your land, making money off the lease and helping our country attain a degree of energy independence at the same time?

In August of 2008 I was shopping one Saturday at the Union Square Farmers Market in Manhattan, and saw a vendor from Ithaca.  Of course I had to strike up a conversation with him, wondering what he was doing in Manhattan.  But soon our conversation passed from pleasantries to a discussion of natural gas drilling in Tompkins County (where Ithaca is located).  He warned me that this process had ruined drinking water and polluted land in other regions where it had been tried, and he and other rural landowners in his area were trying to warn people of the "other side of the story".

Other people are now coming around to a realization that we may be in for more than  we had thought.

Particularly hard hit is Dimock Township right across the border in Susquehanna County, PA.

While visiting the Susquehanna "Art Trail" in October, I passed one of these rural operations:


The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has online resources for landowners approached to sign one of these leases.

I am not taking a stand on this, given that this blog does not delve into "controversal" issues. (however, I think you can tell where I stand from some of the links I have posted.) But I think we all can agree that  certain things that look great on paper can have "unintended consequences".

Fracking definitely needs to be studied more before we proceed.

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