Natural Gas Development is Safe and Must Occur Soon
Town of Worcester Town Board Member and Otsego County Landowner
Natural gas development is safe if controlled with sensible regulation and that’s what New York needs, sooner rather than later. Unfortunately, a number of communities seem to think it cannot be done. They don’t trust the Department of Environmental Conservation to do what it has been doing for decades – ensuring the responsible development of natural gas resources. Instead they have been imposing irresponsible bans and moratoriums on natural gas development we desperately need in New York.
Why are moratoria/zone-out/ban actions inadvisable and undesirable from both short and long-term perspectives? There are several reasons:
- The hydraulic fracturing process at this point is definable as conventional for shale gas extraction and is proven safe on a daily basis.
- The positive local economic impact of natural gas development is proven, in communities of similar rural demographics, to generate both skilled and unskilled jobs in construction, fabrication, excavation, trucking, logging, retail, service, etc., compared to baseline economy prior to development.
- The direct financial impact of natural gas development on local budgeting, via the property tax levy, is significantly positive. The wellhead production (ad valorem) tax is applied directly to the burden on property owners in funding the school, town highway, town general, fire district and library among other services. The effect is to benefit all taxpayers, regardless of size or location of property owned. The effect is also positive irrespective of number of producing wells or commodity prices.
- Local road damage is both mitigated and controllable via local law and road-use agreements that put the financial burden of road construction/reconstruction directly on the developer.
- Lifestyle disruption during individual well and distribution infrastructure development is temporary and localized. Permanent impacts on developed properties and the environment are minimal.
- Natural gas point sources and interconnecting infrastructure are utilities, demanding inter-municipal boundary crossovers. Local municipal prohibitions effectively diminish efficiency to the point of effectively prohibiting all natural gas development in a region, which, of course, is the point of those advocating such measures, though they don’t say it.
- Local legislation driven by petition, survey or poll invariably results in controversy, animosity, local conflict and division within a community. This is especially so when the decision is based on the “possibility of” or “prediction of” disaster predicated by environmental ideology and the result is far from he “grassroots democracy” advocates claim.
Deprivation of private property rights without compensation leaves an everlasting bad taste in the mouths of those affected and should warn all that it could happen to them.
Natural gas bans and moratoria are offensive to constitutional rights and must be countered and opposed wherever such initiatives arise. The Constitution guarantees our property rights against unreasonable regulation.
We all want responsible regulation but what we are seeing from some communities and all advocates of these bans and moratoriums is nothing less than attempted takings of others rights simply because they can.
That’s not democracy or the republic that we are all so proud to live under and call our own. Rather, it’s simply a new form of an old dangerous idea – tyranny. It must be stopped (for the sake of the next generation pictured with me below) and all indications are it will be.