Letter to the Editor: Disconnect between public opinion, elected officials


A recent survey of Hamilton and Lebanon, NY residents conducted by the Colgate University Upstate Institute in cooperation with Madison County Citizens for Safe Energy found that almost 70% of them trusted the gas industry not at all, half expected quality to life to get worse, 53% expected property values will decrease, 60% expected quality of drinking water will get worse, 68% expected that the natural environment will get worse, 52% are not optimistic about the future with natural gas development, 56% do not believe that the negative impacts of natural gas can be fixed, 56% agree that gas development will create long-term environmental problems, 61% disagree that any gas development benefits outweigh any costs. Only 34% believe that natural gas development should be encouraged.

In June of this year a Pulse Opinion Research Poll of Chenango County residents found that a majority of 48% to 38% want their towns to support local moratoriums or bans. Another June poll by Public Policy Polling found that 56% to 42% opposed Cuomo’s plan to frack the southern tier first and 49% to 36% favored local moratoriums or bans and 57% were very concerned about fracking in Chenango County.

But a majority of Chenango County Town elected officials still seem to favor high volume fracking. Why is there this strange disconnect between Chenango County public opinion and their politicians? Why do our County’s supervisors continue to employ a gas consultant who says in a public meeting that all popular press stories about gas well accidents and water contaminations are inaccurate and that only gas industry geologists can be trusted for genuine science? Could it possibly be that those geologists being employed by the industry are biased in favor of keeping their jobs?

When studies have shown that water wells are impacted not only with methane from nearby gas wells but also with drilling chemicals and heavy metals and salts from the shale, when the air is polluted from the wells, the fracking, the frack waste pits and the compressor stations and when people living close by suffer documented health effects why do so many Chenango County town officials keep pretending that they are not aware of what is going on in the rest of the country, wherever there is intensive drilling and fracking?

I can tell you that people are still concerned in Plymouth. We’ve asked Mary Menapeace, a registered nurse, to come in from the Skaneatles area to tell us some of what she knows about fracking related health problems. She has also observed that two landowners living close to gas wells in her area now use imported water and have signed nondisclosure agreements with Chesapeake. “A dairy farmer up there has 4 wells. One of the wells had a gauge that started rising ... the farmer called CHK who came next day and removed the gauge! And another friend had a lease recorded that was not what he signed ... clear fraud. He took it to the assistant Attorney General in Binghamton and became the first landowner in Onondaga County to be released from his lease. None those wells are hooked to pipelines.” Incredibly, these wells were drilled as long ago as 2006.

Our Plymouth Town Board Meeting will be at 6:30 p.m., September 10.

Peter Hudiburg

Plymouth Friends of Clean Water

South Plymouth

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