To the editor:
Gratitude and kudos to our town board in Skaneateles for its recent vote to extend a moratorium to prohibit horizontal hydraulic fracturing, or "hydrofracking," for an additional six months.
The board demonstrated its vision by calling for a six-month moratorium in 2010, which was due to expire. Throughout this time, the board has been actively researching the best ways to handle the impacts of this burgeoning industry.
And the impacts of industrial gas drilling are far-reaching. Large truck traffic stresses roads, impacting air quality and local traffic. The requisite compressor stations and condensate tanks outgas toxins continually, the engines running night and day the life of the well impacting air quality. Property values decline. Mortgages are increasingly denied outright on leased property (this has already happened in Skaneateles). Hotel rooms are booked long term by gas companies. (Where does that leave our summer visitors?) Rental rates on homes and apartments double and triple, displacing long-term renters, often families and the elderly, dividing neighborhoods. Crime increases. Emergency response calls stress local volunteer fire departments. Rural landscapes turn into industrial zones. 'Round the clock construction comes with stadium lighting and twenty four hour noise for the access roads, well pads, drill rigs, tanks, trailers, compressor stations and pipelines. Tourism declines drastically.
But the biggest concern is the integrity of the water quality of Skaneateles Lake. Millions of gallons of toxic, radioactive carcinogenic waste and chemical additives will be stored, handled and transported through our neighborhoods, in our fields, on our roads. The reality is that accidents, spills and explosions are impossible to entirely avoid, happen with alarming frequency. Aquifers are compromised, streams are polluted, water wells are ruined, gas migrates underground. Is the risk to our drinking water, to Skaneateles Lake, worth it?
Many communities are saying no. In New York, there is a moratorium on high volume horizontal drilling until July to review the antiquated permitting documents. In Maryland, a two-year moratorium is proposed. Drilling is being halted in Quebec. New Jersey may be the first state to enact a ban on the process. Across Europe, Canada, Australia and New Zealand scientists are issuing grave warnings on the dangers of hydrofracking for gas and oil. Closer to home, cities, towns, counties are saying no to industrial drilling - Buffalo, Onondaga County, our neighbor Camillus and countless other towns have enacted resolutions against hydrofracking. Many other town leaders, including our own, are in the process of organizing and exploring protections from the impacts of high volume gas drilling.
Please attend your town and planning board meetings to voice your opinion. Please check out fivetownwatershed.wordpress.com for information on local educational events, county lease maps and references. Please thank the Skaneateles Town Board for their enlightened and cautionary stance on hydrofracking so far.
Mary Menapace, Citizens' Hydrofracking Committee of Skaneateles