LETTERS

Response to Reed’s position on drilling

Staff Writer
The Chronicle Express

We disagree with first-term Congressman Tom Reed’s call for exploiting the natural gas found in New York’s Marcellus shale formation underlying the Southern Tier and Finger Lakes regions.

His short-sighted but perhaps well-intentioned position skips over well-documented, significant risks to residents, business interests, and land values in areas where natural gas drilling has occurred. He also ignores the danger of watershed devastation that drilling has caused elsewhere.

High-pressure, slickwater, horizontal hydrofracturing (“fracking”) is the highly controversial technology for mining the gas. This technique is fraught with perils that the scientific and medical communities are citing with increasing alarm. Fracking poses serious threats to our environment, our health, and our existing economic base. Three of our largest local industries — tourism, agriculture, and viniculture — are at risk.

If drilling is permitted in sensitive watersheds, irreversible contamination of our wells and aquifers is all but certain.

While Mr. Reed mentions the need for the development of “safe, reliable and affordable domestic forms of energy” and later cites Pennsylvania as a model for drilling to produce economic well-being, he overlooks the voluminous evidence of the devastation of agriculture, land values and pure water usage in the Keystone State.

Perhaps Mr. Reed’s documented receipt of major campaign contributions from energy companies, or their PACs, has clouded his objectivity on the ill effects of what actually is happening to our neighbors to the south due to rampant abuse by the drilling companies.

Mr. Reed says drilling has “created thousands of direct and indirect jobs.” The reality is that drilling creates temporary jobs and that the majority of jobs are for out-of-state residents who follow the drilling rigs and haul materials to the wellhead.

Seventy-five percent of the gas from a well pad is mined after two years. A drilling-distorted economy will relapse when temporary jobs evaporate after drillers depart. Reductions in revenue from drilling’s impact on agriculture and tourism are expected to surpass whatever tax benefits are derived from drilling.  Jobs in agriculture and tourism and the “quality of life” in the Finger Lakes region cannot be sacrificed for questionable economic benefit.

Increasingly, area residents are discovering that the promise and the reality of hydrofrack drilling in the Marcellus Shale deposits are worlds apart. We need just look to the Queen City of Buffalo, whose Common Council unanimously passed an ordinance banning hydrofrack drilling for natural gas in their city last week. Similar bans and moratoria are being enacted into law by far-sighted communities throughout western New York.

All of us look to our leaders for substance in guiding our best interests on both short and long term bases. While we hope for energy independence and a restoration of a strong jobs market and economy, Mr. Reed’s narrow focus could lead us down a path where our economy, our health and our environment are all at risk. Mr. Reed - reconsider your position carefully… we cannot jeopardize the health and safety of our citizens for a technology that can irreversibly devastate what we most value.

Our waters, environment and the health of our neighbors both in the Rochester region (where Hemlock and Canadice Lakes provide the drinking water for hundreds of thousands) and the pristine beauty of the Finger Lakes are sacrosanct to all of us.

Congressman Reed, you are wrong.

Joseph Hoff EdD, Anthony Lipani, John May PhD, Edward Seus PhD *

* Hoff (chairman) and the other signers are members of Keuka Citizens Against Hydrofracturing, one of many like-minded organizations in New York State, e.g., www.preservethefingerlakes.com/ and www.unnaturalgas.org/.