One Region: Two Visions of Upstate New York
Tracy Marisa and Henry Kramer
Dryden Safe Energy Coalition
The Dryden Safe Energy Coalition (DSEC) posted an interesting piece recently comparing two visions of New York State; one an intolerant static vision of pastoral poverty for the upstate region and the other being a dynamic one of economic freedom that might actually improve the quality of life in the region.
Tracy Marisa, contributor on the DSEC website and webmaster at her own site, One Piece at a Time, posted an article this week contrasting a vision best described by the following painting with another offered by DSEC’s Henry Kramer, a local attorney:
Well, some people consider Dryden the Garden of Eden.
The Protection Racket Vision
This cringeworthy, over-the-top guest viewpoint appeared in the Ithaca Journal recently:
On a cold and sunny day, I enjoy the peace winter seems to bring. The glistening of sunlight on the new-fallen snow is a welcome sight. As I walk out to feed the goats, I chuckle at the cat as she backtracks to the barn in the same prints she left as she trotted out to meet me. I gaze around at the blue sky, breathe the clean air and exhale a sigh of relief.
My town is abundantly blessed and ever thankful for our ban on fracking. A ban means I will be able to keep good health, finish the home I began building and resume investing in my community. Without a ban, the effects of fracking would have forced me to move. My American dream will remain intact. I won’t be forced to give up my gas rights by compulsory integration, or forced out by eminent domain.
I conducted thousands of hours of independent study and traveled the country to investigate the far-reaching effects of fracking. A process of extreme extractive mining is eating up rural America’s food producing farmlands like Pac-Man. In New York, enormous scale is planned, conquering entire regions of peaceful rural neighborhoods filled with unsuspecting residents, unaware of industrial takeover. Knowing neighboring wells will likely ruin the farm I was raised on leaves me sleepless.
Each phase of extreme extraction brings a certainty of pollution, damage and a measure of high-risk chemical exposure.
I grew up in Greene, in the so-called “sacrifice zone.” Industry cannot restrain toxic air nor confine the damages to only the drill pad. Neighboring dairies and croplands will be exposed to lethal venting causing air pollution. My hometown remains a target without a protective ban and can suffer from drilling upstream, beyond its borders. My friend, biologist Sandra Steingraber, teaches that the known effects of environmental illnesses and cancers produced by fracking pads are unacceptable.
Cornell engineer Tony Ingraffea states that 6 percent of all horizontal gas wells leak initially; all eventually fail. Fracking produces billions of gallons of chemical and radioactive waste stored in injection wells. No monetary fine can cover the incalculable collective toll to health, air, water and farming that fracking produces.
The Marcellus shale is not a viable source of fuel according to the evidence provided by scientists to New York’s Department of Environmental Conservation detailing costs. The DEC’s mission is to ensure a healthy environment and also to exploit natural resources, an inherent conflict.
Americans from Wyoming, Texas, Colorado and Pennsylvania are sharing their experiences; New Yorkers are acting. A tenacious Ron Gulla shouted at EPA, “Is Pennsylvania worth fighting for? Yes! Worth dying for? Hell, yes! But not from a glass of water!”
The Community Environmental Defense Counsel of Ithaca helps towns protect their schools, parks and cemeteries from fracking. The people of Greene are unprotected. Coming together can save a town; silence results industry takeover. Action by a small group of residents to proclaim their community be protected by law from industrial takeover is now critical to keep Greene clean. The Trojans should mount up.
The Freedom Vision
But, not everyone wants another’s world view imposed on them in the guise of protection from threat, real or imagined. For Henry Kramer, freedom trumps “protection”:
In her February 15 guest column, DRAC member Joanne Cipolla-Dennis recites the most extreme claims made by energy development opponents as facts, rather than opinions. This is the “big lie technique.” If you repeat allegations often enough as fact, people believe them.
Regarding the “big lie” see Mein Kampf, “In the big lie there is always a certain force of credibility; because the broad masses of a nation are always more easily corrupted in the deeper strata of their emotional nature than consciously or voluntarily …. They would not believe that others could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously.”
Cipolla-Dennis lauds the Town of Dryden for “protecting Dryden” and enforcing the type of town and life style Cipolla-Dennis loves. But, not all of us want or need to be “protected,” nor do we share Cipolla-Dennis’ pessimistic view of development and change. We prefer to have freedom of choice of action on what we do and how we live, without being “protected” and stripped of our freedoms via Dryden enacting Cipolla-Dennis’ world view into law.
Cipolla-Dennis overlooks individual freedom and individual rights to choose how to live and how to husband one’s own property. Natural gas opponents say they favor “home rule,” yet stop the principle of home rule at the town board level. Why should a town board make decisions for all residents and landowners? What special expertise do town boards have? Why shouldn’t each home owner be free to make individual decisions on issues on which the public in our state is about evenly divided?
Sadly, many of the people who would ban energy development, keep it out of their own back yard, and deplore everything about it, still use its products. Until they abandon the use of all fossil fuels, including gasoline, and live off the grid, they are morally bound to bear their share of the risks of production.
The Dryden Safe Energy Coalition supports energy development with careful safeguards. Development is not risk free. But, development offers a chance for high paying jobs, capital for land rich but cash poor farmers, new tax base to support and improve our schools, and perhaps most critically energy independence for our nation, freeing us from potential wars and being beholden to other countries. Why is it that natural gas opponents rarely consider or admit there can be any positives from development? We at DSEC think risks can be safely managed, but DRAC seems to admit no positive values in development. A sense of balance is needed.
It should not take five years to determine the safety of hydraulic fracturing. Fracturing of vertical wells has been done in New York for decades and with horizontal wells in other states for years. It is not for more information, we delay, but to kill development. Meanwhile, New York residents, among the highest taxed in the nation, lack new sources of revenue to pay for our safety nets.
Freedom is precious. “Protecting Dryden” is a code phrase covering another transfer of power to government. Choose freedom over “protection.”