Skaneateles: the economy versus the environment

Money often talks the loudest when it comes to this fight.

We saw it in Shepard Settlement when residents banned together to ask for new mining to stop. They were concerned that the DEC wasn't regulating mining operations and their quality of life in the longtime settlement was being compromised. The town board heard their concerns, but recognized the economic value in mining the aggregate material left behind by the ice age in that section of Skaneateles.

Now we have out-of-state gas companies holding leases on a lot of CNY land including Skaneateles to drill for natural gas in the Marcellus Shale bedrock. Most of the leases were negotiated several years back before hydrofracking technology was talked about. Citizens are concerned about the environmental impact of this method based on reports from other states where the practice has fouled groundwater and wreaked havoc on many municipalities' infrastructures.

Skaneateles residents came out in droves not to stop drilling or to demonize lease holders, but to ask for more study and to proceed with caution because of the possible effects on the Skaneateles Watershed. There is concern that hydrofracking is under-regulated.

To illustrate their concern all we have to do is look to Skaneateles Falls and the on-going Super Fund clean up of the former Stauffer Chemical Plant (now Honeywell), but instead of fouled land left on one site with a connection to the creek, consider the number of wells that are scattered throughout CNY.

The owners of the gas companies don't live here. They don't have a stake in this community or this county or the state of New York. Superfund clean ups take years, even decades, maybe forever, as it has seemed with the case of the once beautiful salt lake called Onondaga.

But still how do we heat and cool our homes in a clean, efficient, affordable way?

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