Is natural gas drilling in Central NY a good idea?

Gas drilling is being considered for many parts of Central New York. Leases have been issued and approved. Marcellus shale, the bedrock which comprises much of the area, has been found to hold considerable deposits of natural gas. Municipalities in the counties of Chenango, Madison, and Otsego have been informed that they need to prepare their communities for this new venture.

What do they have to prepare for? Well, for one, the main way to access the natural gas is through the process referred to as hydrofracking. Apparently this entails forcing substances, including toxic ones, into the shale to force the gas out. So this means that many municipalities, and individuals who rely on well water, have to worry about the very water supply that they depend upon.

Of course, the people who allowed the leases on their property weren’t strong armed to permit the drilling. But now that the dam has been opened a crack, and with resources becoming rarer and rarer, how soon will it be before eminent domain prevails? Private citizens might be forced to allow this mining to take place, regardless of the damage to water supply, air, or other environmental factors.

Another factor is the sheer amount of mechanics needed to harvest this natural resource. Huge rigs going from site to site will now be part of the landscape, and this is not an area which is used to large scale mechanics such as this. With this comes noise pollution, of course, and the fact that the pastoral landscape which many have come to enjoy is going to be crawling with rigs. In fact, I have seen a placard which protests the drilling, and this is exactly the image they feature. The “before” picture is a quaint scene of cows grazing in the rolling green hills. The “after” is a hill denuded, with huge rigs excavating into its bowels. Rhetoric it may be, but it does show what will happen in the long run if gas leases are just handed out like lollipops in a pediatrician’s office.

I am very concerned about this natural gas drilling that is being proposed. Although it seems in the short run to be a great idea for the economy and for harvesting natural resources, I think in the long run it will be detrimental for the environment, property values, and most importantly, health. The safeguards put in place by the gas drilling do not seem foolproof enough from preventing water contamination and air pollution. Not to mention the blight that it will cause in an environment that is renowned for its bucolic environment.

But if this practice has to take place, residents of Central New York need to be ensured that basic necessities such as air and water are protected. It certainly makes no sense to harvest the earth for our needs when in the process we kill ourselves doing so.