Appalachian Basin

The Natural Gas Truth Shall Set Ye Free!

Some clergy have come out against natural gas development in Dick Downey’s neighborhood and he gently and humorously challenges them to search a little harder for the truth before seeking to convert or condemn an industry.

The “Blessing Aimed At Fracking – Count Clean Water a Gift, Clergy Say” article in the Sept. 6th Freeman‘s Journal (front page, above the fold) reported that three local clergy blessed the waters of Lake Otsego. They then chastised natural gas development, condemned its environmental and human harm, and castigated “a political system in which rules are written by industry and corporate profits are put before people.”  This is “not consistent with God’s word,” they said.

Like all citizens, the clergy are entitled to their opinions. However, perhaps Mark 12:17 applies here — “Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar, and to God the things that are God’s.”  After over four years of study, two sets of public hearings, tens of thousands of comments, I think the State’s DEC is the higher authority in these matters.

While they’re thumbing through The Book, they should check out John 18:38. “What is Truth?” asks Pontius Pilate.  Always a good question. I suggest our friends of the cloth won’t find truth in the fevered epistles on the fractivist blogosphere.  Nor should they fully trust the industry.  They could be wolves in sheep’s clothing (Matthew 7:15).  However, the data is out there, longitudinally from Western New York and more recently from Pennsylvania.  They will find that, while natural gas development doesn’t come with zero risk, the actual risks are minimal. “Seek, and ye shall find.” (Matthew 7:7)

As seekers of truth, maybe the reverends will open their eyes and look around.  Why are there so many empty stores in our towns and so many “For Sale” signs along the road?  Why are farmers selling land for taxes?  Why are the schools emptying out?  Do most of the parishioners have gray hair?  Sure, Otsego is a nice place for pensioners and civil servants, but can a young family thrive here?  The young are giving us their answer.  Without opportunity and good jobs, they’re looking for a Promised Land, anywhere but Otsego County.

With a little soul searching, maybe we can talk. In that spirit, I invite the clergy to take a trip with us to Pennsylvania to visit a working rig and a compressor station.  Talk to the crew, the “company man” in charge of operations. Check out some completions.  Talk to an engineer, a local banker, the gal serving coffee at Dunkin Donuts.  I don’t expect a conversion (Paul at Tarsus) but, after they bear witness, maybe we can sit at the table and talk truthfully.

“The Truth shall set ye free.” (John 8:32)

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