The following article was published in the Energy In Depth Marcellus Initiative:
Marcellus Shale gas development (hydraulic fracturing, frac’ing, or “fracking”) is a hot subject amongst most New Yorkers. While the controversies hover around potential environmental impacts of the technology, the real issue is actually centered on private property rights. This public debate on the permitted uses of private land is a manifestation of the struggle between affluent urbanites who want to dominate land use policies in the rural areas, versus farmers who want to use their land to make a living.
The rural areas of upstate New York have been hard hit by the financial crisis. Many of the farmers and rural population are at the verge of financial disaster. The development of shale gas would bring economic prosperity to these communities, and prevent the farmers from having to suffer the indignities of bank foreclosures or tax sales.
The urban elite, on the other hand, are more interested in preserving scenic beauty and tranquility of the rural areas than allowing the farmers to make a living. Environmental preservation is a perfect excuse for imposing restrictions on private land use. Accordingly, many rumors of pollution caused by drilling were propagated. As soon as one is debunked, another is invented. The objective is clear, to stop development of the mineral resources underneath these farmlands, thus preserving the wilderness, or “view shed” sought after by the urban elite.
Hydraulic fracturing is just one battlefront for the attack on private property rights. The development restrictions placed by NYC on the private properties in the reservoir watershed areas has already exerted its damage on the local economy. Similarly, private properties in the Adirondacks, and in the Delaware River Basin, are all suffering the same fate.
Based on careful studies conducted over the last five years, shale gas development is the safest and cleanest form of energy production we have today outside of hydro electricity. Of the thousands of Superfund sites caused by various industrial activities, none were caused by hydraulic fracturing. Of a million wells frac’ed to date, none has resulted in any frac fluid migration. Case after case of false drilling pollution reports have been debunked by environmental agencies such as the EPA, the NYS DEC, and PA DEP, and the current Administration has declared hydraulic fracturing can be done safely.
Many may be surprised to learn that shale gas development has already helped reduce air pollution in the US over the last three years. It has help reduce the heating bill of the average NYC resident significantly. It has created large number of jobs in Pennsylvania where drilling is allowed. New York State would benefit from such jobs creation and the added tax revenues.
To protect private property rights, and to educate the public on the truth behind shale gas development, the Landowner Advocates of New York was formed. In addition to protecting the farmers right to use their land to make a living, we aim to correct the injustice of special interest groups using their political influence to zone out legitimate economic uses of the private properties of individuals, or declaring areas with environmental restrictions without just compensation. Our mission is to uphold the US Constitution, as stated in the Fifth Amendment of the Bill of Rights, which stated: “…nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.”