Friday, June 24, 2011

My Take on Gas Drilling

In conjunction with the “strategic release” of some of our oil reserves this week, as well as the propaganda filled viral YouTube video (I Love My NY Water) that is being bandied about Facebook. I have decided to weigh in for a minute or two on the gas drilling debate that has been raging here in Sullivan County for over three years. (Actually for over two decades on and off.)

I am fairly certain that anyone reading this is pretty familiar with the debate. But for those who aren’t, I will give you the cliff notes. About two miles below us, there is a bunch (although how much is debated) of natural gas among the Marcellus Shale.

Well halfway through the 2000’s, gas companies like Chesapeake, and Exco Petroleum began quietly approaching landowners of large chunks here in Sulllivan County, and offering them leases, which would give these companies the right to drill down to retrieve the fossil fuel, via a process called fracking. Fracking is a procedure where they force pressurized water and other ingredients down the well, forcing open fissures which will release the gas. Thanks to our fearless leader at that point (George Walker) the environmental laws were relaxed enough so these companies expected to come in and set up shop with little trouble.

Well I think they under estimated the land owners here a little bit. The residents formed a coalition, and held out for better terms on the leases. Some of the higher numbers I have heard are $3,000 an acre. However, this coalition brought attention, and with that attention people began to do some research, and some of the things that they found were troubling. Gas drilling has potential negative side effects on the environment. The gas companies are somewhat vague as to the “other ingredients” in the fracking process, and stories began to emerge from other areas. Suddenly Sullivan County was slated to be the next Chernobyl.

There was a series of town hall type meeting put on by the gas companies, which attempted to assuage all fears, but over the last few years there is a growing movement of anti-drillers, and they have pretty successfully halted the process while environmental impact studies are performed.

Let me first say that I get why the anti-drillers are doing what they are doing. No-one wants to see Sullivan County turned into a wasteland dotted with discarded pools of fracking fluid. These gas companies cannot be allowed to operate with impunity. There needs to be accountability.

However what I don’t get is the across the board attitude that drilling is evil, and must be stopped at all costs. This growing number of anti-drillers, led by their celebrity Lorax Mark Ruffalo, has continued to amass, until it almost seems like that is the general sentiment here in Sullivan County.

I can tell you that it is not the general sentiment. There are an equally large number of people who are, if not welcoming, at least understanding that gas drilling may be a way for Sullivan to emerge from a two decade long decline. Natural gas drilling could pump more money into our local economy than it has ever seen. Our ridiculous property taxes would be lowered, and jobs would be created. Many argue that the gas companies would be all take and no give, however there are ways to assure that that won’t happen.

I suppose the “not in my backyard” attitude has always bothered me, and in this instance it takes it a step further. Many of these anti gas drillers are second homeowners, so it is more like “not in my play yard.” Mark Ruffalo’s presence in Sullivan County does little to boost its economy. And I doubt if Ethan Hawke has ever even been here. We all drive cars, use electricity, drink from plastic and ride on rubber tires. That fossil fuel was harvested from somebody's backyard.

I suppose some need a cause, and self righteous indignation feels good. I just think it is all a bit much. Other areas have been drilled for natural gas, and the community has survived and even thrived. There is not a Dr. Evil out there intent on poisoning the children of Sullivan County. Let’s all just relax for a minute, and see what is best for our county.

There were twelve properties reported sold on the Sullivan County MLS this week. Click Here for Listings
My pick of the week is new lakefront listing on Tennanah. I think it is priced pretty middle of the road. There was a much bigger house that went for less on that lake just last month, but I really like Tennanah Lake. And I think this is one of the better lakefront listings for under a million. Its funny, it seems like there has to be one house for sale on Crowley Road. And this is the new one. Click Here


  1. Now we have a Dr. Suess reference. Nice!

  2. I can't wait to see the comments that are generated from this! :)

  3. stir the pot john!!!!!!!!!!!!

  4. Nicely articulated view!!

  5. Very well said, John. Thanks for the showing that you can articulate an opinion without calling the other side "evil" or "ignorant".

  6. Proud Landowner with no leaseJune 26, 2011 at 4:01 PM

    What about what happened in the Gulf John? Didn't BP assure everyone that it was safe? It is the attitude that we should trust these people which is hurting us. They do not want to help us.

  7. Bravo John! These perpetual scare tactics that are being used to scare the people that might actually benefit is nauseating. There is not enough vocal rebuttal in these myths and lies that are being spread aounrd.