Marcellus Shale

Why Is New York Rejecting Pennsylvania Shale Gas Prosperity?

Kimberly More
Otego, New York, Farmer and Landowner 

It has been almost five years since natural gas exploration involving high volume hydraulic fracturing in New York was put on hold.  Meanwhile, Pennsylvania has remained open for business. Since that time, natural gas development in Pennsylvania has created thousands of jobs, and millions of dollars paid in leases, royalties and other income to the people of Pennsylvania.  New York’s “leaders” have, in contrast, continued to drive businesses and residents out of the Empire State.

We are finally at a point, with the DEC finishing the SGEIS, where natural gas development can potentially resume in New York.  We, at long last, see an opportunity to reap the benefits Pennsylvania, and now Ohio, are enjoying. But, then along come a few wealthy, anti-everything individuals within certain towns in New York who are threatening to make it so difficult gas companies may decide not come to the state at all.

The Park Foundation in Ithaca/Dryden and the Clark Foundation in Cooperstown/Middlefield are trying to push bans and moratoriums throughout New York.  Allowing town board members to take over the regulation and planning of natural gas development, will effectively drive natural gas development out of New York along with existing businesses while preventing other businesses from locating here.

No natural gas company is going to invest  in New York, when the town boards can flip-flop every couple of years as to whether or not they want to “allow” natural gas drilling. There are such obvious intergovernmental conflicts between municipalities, and even counties, regarding the development of natural gas that it cannot be left to the local governments.  We simply can’t have a single town within a given natural gas field preventing its development by telling companies they cannot drive trucks of water, pipes, and equipment through that jurisdiction, or stop the development of pipelines at its border, as some towns have attempted.  It is simply not feasible, let alone efficient.  It is, in fact, an absurd concept.

The landowners of every town have property rights, including the right to develop their minerals and resources. When the DEC and EPA state that natural gas can be developed safely, than how can a couple of people on a town board tell the tax-paying property owners that they are not allowed to develop their land? If it wasn’t safe, then it shouldn’t be done anywhere, but if it is deemed safe, than it should be allowed to be developed wherever the state, natural gas companies, and landowners can develop it.  Natural gas doesn’t follow property lines and it’s not restricted to small areas like other forms of mining.

When the anti-prosperity people of Cooperstown, who have made their money elsewhere and re-located here to their third-home estates, want to tell the fourth generation farmers they can’t develop their land because it goes against their “vision” of what they think the area should “look” like, there is a big problem.

Now that the EPA has tested the water wells in Pennsylvania and said that there is no contamination, they have lost a key battle, so they have called in the “preservation league” – to preserve the poverty of New York. It is shameful the hard working people who have protected their land for generations, and who are the true environmentalists,  are denied the opportunity to develop a clean burning resource from their land.

Chip Northrup and friends are prime examples of this NIMBY group. They have all stated they don’t care where their energy comes from, as long as it is not from here, because it creates “dirty” jobs!   One local doctor even told me he “is perfectly happy paying for his fuel to come from half way around the world, as long as it doesn’t disrupt his environment!” Well, it’s fine to have an opinion, even if it makes no sense, but we need those jobs!! And they are not, in fact, dirty.

"Clean Air" Advocate at SGEIS Hearing with Cigarette in Hand

Now that gasoline and diesel are over $4 and $5 a gallon, the farmers who lost almost everything in the flooding last year could lose anything they have left.  At this point, some can’t even afford to plow their fields, but our doctor friend can sit on his porch next to a “No Drill” sign propped against his propane tank for the fuel that he heats and cooks with, without having any traffic on the road, because everyone has left for jobs in Pennsylvania and Ohio.  This hypocrisy reminds me so much of what we saw at the SGEIS hearing in Binghamton as a prominent opponent of natural gas marched for “clean air” while enjoying a cigarette. You literally can’t make this stuff up.

I hope Governor Cuomo understands individual towns cannot be left to decide the fate of natural gas development in New York, or New York will be a ghost state!  We need the state to step-up to the plate and take control of the regulation and development of natural gas. Our farmers can’t make it through another summer with excessive expenses and no hope for their economic future.  I say, “Governor Cuomo, please don’t reject prosperity!  Please don’t reject our future!

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