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October 17, 2013

Anti-fracking crowd still mystifies me

Cooperstown Crier

---- — We were quite surprised when we read an article, entitled “Some anti-drilling activists change tactics, tone,” which appeared in the October 7, 2013 edition of the Daily Star. It was an Associated Press article which evidently originated in Pittsburgh.

According to the article “A few weeks ago, Victoria Switzer and other activists from Dimock endorsed a candidate for governor [of Pennsylvania] who supports natural gas production from gigantic reserves like the Marcellus Shale, albeit with more regulation and new taxes.”

The article continues with the thought that. “we had to work with the industry. There is no magic wand to make this go away,” said Switzer, who recently formed a group that seeks to work with drillers on improved air quality standards. “Tunnel vision isn’t good. Realism is good.”

The article also noted that “...Pennsylvania residents concerned about drilling no longer have the luxury of simply calling for a ban, Switzer said. Not with the Pennsylvania and West Virginia portions of the Marcellus already yielding more than $10 billion worth of gas annually, making it the nation’s most prolific gas field.”

We must say we were stunned to learn that someone who had appeared in the movie Gasland Part II would have reassessed the issue of natural gas development and come to this conclusion that is seemingly 180 degrees from where she started. We were equally stunned to learn from this same article that the Governor of Vermont, Peter Shumlin, has also revised his stand on natural gas. It was Governor Shumlin who signed the first statewide ban on hydraulic fracturing in the country. However, now he appears to be at least in favor of using natural gas.

According to the article, “last month, Shumlin spoke out in favor of a $90 million expansion of the state’s natural gas pipeline system — which will transport fracked gas — saying the project was critical to industry, the environment and people who are struggling to pay energy bills.”

Of course, the governor can take his new position on natural gas without worrying that fracking will come to Vermont any time soon. As we understand it, Vermont is not known for its shale formations.

Unfortunately, if the current batch of letters to the editor against fracking are any indication, local anti attitudes on this topic have not changed greatly, if at all. In fact, in some ways we almost think they have gotten worse as there seems to be little willingness to even acknowledge that since the debate has begun, technology in the gas drilling industry has continued to evolve.

Plus the anti-natural gas campaign started out as one basically against natural gas development anywhere in New York State. Now those opposed to drilling have also taken up a hue and cry against even using natural gas in this part of New York State. It seems pipelines are now being thought to be every bit as evil as gas wells.

Thus we can but conclude that those so opposed to natural gas have no problem what so ever in having this part of New York in a state of perpetual pastoral poverty, leaving local governments unable to provide services, such as Otsego Manor, to the their residents. No doubt they seem not to care about the burden placed on schools, businesses and even residents by the cost of energy. Nor do they seem willing to acknowledge the fact that both gas wells and pipelines are taxed as real property which puts additional tax dollars in the school districts and local governments in which such undertakings are located. One has to wonder if those so opposed to natural gas are in a position of not having to worry about what it costs to live in the area.

Sadly, not everyone has the luxury of not worrying about the cost of living here. In fact, the real fear might not be natural gas but rather that the area might slip from perpetual pastoral poverty to an unending pastoral wasteland. It is not, we think, a pleasant thought.

Therefore, we find ourselves turning once again for something from our e-mail inbox to lighten our mood. As we trolled through our treasure trove of jokes, we found two possibilities. And, since we could not decide between them, we offer them both in hopes that at least one of them will produce a smile, if not an outright laugh.

The first, entitled “Yearly Exam,” explains a lot as far as we can tell. It reads: “I went to the doctor for my yearly physical. The nurse starts with certain basics. ‘How much do you weigh?’ she asks. ‘135,’ I say. The nurse puts me on the scale. It turns out my weight is 180. The nurse asks, ‘Your height?’ ‘5 foot 6,’ I say. The nurse checks and sees that I only measure 5’3’. She then takes my blood pressure and tells me it is very high. ‘Of course it’s high!’ I scream. ‘When I came in here I was tall and slender! Now I’m short and fat!’”

And then there is this one: “A Sunday school teacher was discussing the Ten Commandments with her five and six year olds. After explaining the commandment to ‘Honor thy father and thy mother,’ she asked, ‘Is there a commandment that teaches us how to treat our brothers and sisters?’ Without missing a beat, one little boy answered, ‘Thou shall not kill.’”

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