Saturday, September 3, 2011

Should Communities Ban Fracking?

In this week's Tuesday edition of the Sullivan County Democrat there was an article on the front page of the paper on Bethel's possible banning of the unsafe and controversial Natural Gas drilling technique known as fracking. Seems that at least one group of politicians have a clue, are waking up to the very real dangers of Hydraulic Fracturing. Bethel town supervisor Dan Sturm announced that the community will be exploring the town's authority over drilling, will be considering an amendment to the town's zoning rules and regulations to protect the town's citizens, environment and water from the very serious dangers associated with Natural Gas Drilling.

Most in attendance at the special Saturday meeting last weekend supported this direction in Bethel, but a very small minority spoke up for the Natural Gas industry's desire to frack our lands. One local property owner, Jack Danchak was quoted, "What you're trying to tell me is what I can or can't do with my mineral rights, and this is wrong." This is a simplistic selfish view of the situation. One has to wonder if Jack Danchak has weighed the costs should there be a problem with a Natural Gas Well on his land that poisons the drinking water supply of all of his cannot put that cat back in the bag. Furthermore, Jack Danchak fails to state another very scary reality...landowners can be FORCED TO ALLOW FRACKING under their lands.

A Natural Gas driller such as Chesapeake Energy or Exxon can package parcels in a way that forces those against fracking to surrender their mineral rights, would force these landowners to become unwilling participants in the raping of their own lands. Take 1000 acres in a given area, all strategically tied together (touching). Property owners that own 600 acres have sold their rights to the Natural Gas Landman, signed contracts, but the owners of the other 400 acres have not. Those owners of 400 acres will be put in with the six hundred acres and have no choice in the matter of having their land fracked. New York legally is a FORCED POOLING state, and this allows the Natural Gas companies to pretty well frack anywhere they want to, with the rights of the land owners subservient to their wishes and greed.

"As the shale gas boom sweeps across the United States, drillers are turning to a controversial legal tool called forced pooling to gain access to minerals beneath private property--in many cases, without the landowners' permission."

Governor Cuomo has shown his hand...he has sold out to the Natural Gas industry, and is prepared to clear the path to wide spread fracking in the state of New York...that means local communities are going to have to make the fight a local one, and that is going to be an uphill battle with little chance of success short of wide spread civil disobedience to keep these companies out of our communities. Much like every aspect of America right now, Hydraulic Fracturing is a very divisive political issue with no acceptable middle ground to be found. The Natural Gas industry, despite evidence to the contrary, is going to claim this drilling technique can be deployed safely. Those in opposition know better, and sadly natural gas industry lobbyist are carrying in the day in Albany, the voice of reason and truth drown out by dollars doled out to politicians, couple with a public propaganda campaign that is assaulting us on almost every local TV station on both Cable and Satellite.

The town of Bethel, it's board should be applauded for their stand, and other communities need to swiftly follow suit before it is too late. Government officials at every level of government, for the most part have lost their way, forgotten their number one responsibility as a elected official, which is to protect the health, safety and quality of life of a community, county or state's citizens. Fracking risks our safe drinking water supplies, and without safe, clean, healthy, pure drinking water, citizens, their health, safety and quality of life are placed at risk. Is it wise to risk this most precious of natural resources (safe drinking water) for what, at best is nothing more than a transitional energy who's supplies will be rapidly drained and used up, leaving our communities, our environment destroyed for a few years of energy convenience? Bethel is taking a stand on the side of right and justice...what other communities here in Sullivan County are prepared to do the right thing, and stand with them in demanding a full and complete ban on Natural Gas Hydraulic Fracturing?