Over the past few years I have written frequently about the environmental hazards of hydrofracking for natural gas in the Marcellus shale directly below the Finger Lakes watershed. A few weeks ago I sent a letter to Governor Cuomo asking a single question that I have not heard answered by the Governor nor the DEC supplemental environmental impact statement (dGEIS) on gas drilling.
The question is, “Why would New York State allow natural gas hydrofracking in a clean watershed like the Finger Lakes?” The cities of New York and Syracuse have said no to hydrofracking in the Catskill watershed and in Onondaga County. Both vicinities recognize the potential danger of polluting their primary water source and hydrofracking has been banned in those areas. Why aren’t state and local governments standing up to ban gas drilling in the Finger Lakes watershed that supplies 550,000 lakeside residents with drinking water and nearly 2 million people live in the 14 counties that bound the lake? 22 million tourists visits the Finger Lakes each year and contribute $2 billion to the New York’s state economy, and that figure is growing as more people unable to travel worldwide are seeking vacations closer to home that require less expense to travel. The growing Finger Lakes wine industry contribute $3.75 billion to the NYS economy in 2009 and is growing. Over the past decades small agricultural farms have begun to return to the area. Locally grown farm produce is being marketed in the local communities and also sent to more highly populated cities. Property values in the region have held constant in spite of the 2008 sub prime mortgage crash in the national real estate market. Does that economic description of our region sound like it needs to be industrialized by gas drilling so it will gain more income for the state? What justification for drilling in a region that for several decades has grown to be a self sustaining part of the NYS economy?
From a technical side has there been a statistical analysis on the Pennsylvania experience of actual methane emissions released into the environment, amount of flow-back into local streams and farm areas, and the amount of liquid and solid disposal? Has the NYS government or the drilling industry presented a simple factual cost benefit analysis to the citizenry that includes the pluses and the minuses for drilling in the Finger Lakes over a short and long term time frame of 5 to 50 years? That analysis I believe should include not only the physical parameters of drilling but also an assessment of the impact to human health, natural environment, road and bridge infrastructure, farming, tourism and real estate values over the long haul. With todays computers this should be an easy task that would greatly clarify and make clear to the FL region citizenry the logic behind hydrofracking in the FL region. This may have already been done but I am not aware of it and right now the path seems muddy, unclear and beneath the cover of daylight. Not having an answer to my question would be terribly unfair to future generations that would be living and enjoying the Finger Lakes.
I am aware that NYS and the national economy are experiencing hugh debt issues but the Finger Lakes region has shown itself to be a self sustaining part of the NYS economy. My question is why change from something that has grown to be successful with lots of hard work by local people and replace it with an unproven hazardous industrial technology that has over the years used its financial arm to pave the way toward drilling by enticing congress to weaken the regulations of the 1972 Clean Air and Clean Waters acts that were put in place to protect us from harm. Why put a clean water shed in harms way when the other areas of our country and the world are screaming for clean water and would pay more that the price of an barrel of oil for it? Water was placed upon the Earth 5 billion years ago in the creation of the universe. It makes our planet unique in the entire solar system be cause we have water. With out it there would be no photosynthesis and there would be no life on planet Earth. We all need to be more grateful for the miracle of clean water and more respectful for its continuing to nourish future generations. Please contact our local DEC regional director at 585-226-5366 to make your opinion known.