Our view: A chance for Syracuse to take the lead

— More than two and a half years ago, Ami Olson (then the editor of the Camillus Advocate) broke the news that hydraulic fracturing may be headed for the Syracuse area, after New York Shale Gas Vice President of Exploration Dan Carson pitched a land purchase offer to the Elbridge Town Board.

Read Ami Olson's story, "Will Elbridge be the next Texas," originally printed in February 2009.

We predicted then that gas drilling, particularly hydrofracking, was going to be a big deal.

In December 2010, Gov. David Paterson banned hydrofracking in New York — until July 2011, that is, and now Gov. Andrew Cuomo is pushing to allow the process with strict supervision and in select areas of the state.

We’ve watched as the opposition geared up to fight hydrofracking, grabbing any statistics available that even remotely implied the process destroys drinking water and contaminates the environment. Often, whatever “proof” these activists produced was presented with such fervor and hysteria that we instinctively backed away, hoping to gather enough scientific evidence from both sides to take an educated stance on the issue.

Well, we’ve waited long enough.

Cuomo’s approach may prohibit the process in the Syracuse watershed, but that’s water that primarily hydrates New York City. There are plenty of other water sources north of Manhattan, and citizens who drink that water, which deserve equal protection from possible contamination.

So it looks like if we want to be protected from any potential hazards, we’ll have to do it ourselves.

The Syracuse Common Council is in the process of considering how it should regulate hydrofracking within the city limits, if at all.

Syracuse, of all places, should be looking forward to greener, cleaner technologies, not sucked into debate whether a process that might irreversibly contaminate our water supply is a practical venture. Remember back when we decided we’d start calling our city a leader in green tech? Well, here’s an opportunity to put that self-imposed title into action.

We urge Common Councilors to ban the process of hydraulic fracturing for gas drilling from city properties. Employing a new-ish way of burning up more fossil fuels, faster, is not the way this state should be funding the future, and any more time spent arguing the safety or appropriateness of hydrofracking is time not spent developing new, environmentally-safe energy sources.

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