No laughing matter

As much as most people enjoy getting the last laugh, I must admit I’m more than a little afraid that will be me at some point in the (possibly near) future. And if things go as badly as I’m predicting they will following Governor Cuomo’s recent lift of the state’s ban on hydraulic fracturing, let’s just say that – while I certainly won’t be laughing – I will be one of the first to say I told you so.

I suppose you could say (it’s really no secret) I’m what the pro-drillers around here like to call an enviro-whacko, NIMBY and all around fan of the environment, the planet and its natural resources (the renewable ones, at least). And yes, I do find the name calling to be completely unnecessary, but I guess some people never really paid too much attention in kindergarten. Regardless, the fact of the matter is quite simple. History tells us that – at some point down the road – our lust for quick money and cheap, accessible energy is going to get us in deep trouble.

As the saying goes, it’s happened before, it’ll happen again. What can I say? We – as a nation – have an unfortunate tendency not to learn from our mistakes.

Obviously, my biggest fear is the possible (and probable) contamination of our city, town, county and state water supply, which many parts of our country truly envy. And while we’ve been told over and over again just how safe the hydraulic fracturing process is, you’ll just have to forgive me if I don’t have a whole lot of trust (or confidence) in these wealthy energy corporations and their supposed concern for our well being. Put simply, they’re in it for the money, not a clean, healthy environment (or those who rely on it). On top of that – if the process is so damn safe – why propose to prohibit hydraulic fracturing in and around the New York City and Syracuse watersheds, not to mention within 500 feet of any and all primary aquifers? It just doesn’t add up. Is the process safe or isn’t it?

As for the ban on drilling on state land, parks, forests and such, well, that’s a no-brainer if you ask me. Of course, nothing about this situation reeks of intelligence as far as I’m concerned. A little foresight goes a long way, if you ask me, especially when you’re talking about one of our area’s most precious natural resources.

And then, of course, there are the “little things,” like the probable damage to our local roadways when these gas companies really get things going. And before you pro-drillers start sputtering over my lack of faith, yes, I understand that drilling outfits typically fix any damage they leave behind (when it comes to our roads). Yet I seriously doubt they’ll be repairing them on a daily, weekly or even monthly basis. I’m guessing there will be damage and – while it will eventually be mended – it will still be a problem (in addition to the increase in traffic and pollution of our air).

Lastly, though – and perhaps most importantly – don’t expect our area to get rich overnight; it’s simply not going to happen. Many landowners and leasees will certainly profit handsomely from the hydraulic fracturing process, yet the average Joe (like me) won’t see a penny. As for cheap natural gas for everybody? It’s a myth, in my opinion.

Again, these companies are here to make a profit, plain and simple.

It all comes down to risk versus reward, as usual. Unfortunately, in this case, the risk involves each and every person out there who enjoys our area’s priceless water supply. The reward? Well, that will go to a small percentage of our population, as well as the companies that will be drilling at will all across our county and state.

It is, without a doubt, one of those times I could wish I was wrong. I have a bad feeling, however, that simply won’t be the case. And that’s no laughing matter.

Follow me on Twitter ... @evesunbrian.

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