Jun 13, 2011 Jason Emerson Uncategorized
The arrival of hot weather, the approach of summer, the cool beauty of Skaneateles Lake, and the looming completion of a state DEC environmental review all make the issue of hydrofracking seem more prominent every day. This is a huge issue to Skaneateles, especially since there are, according to one group’s estimate, more than 150 hydrofracking leases already signed for land around the lake.
The science of hydraulic fracturing – drilling down to the shale, shooting high-powered, chemically-mixed fluids down the well to fracture apart the rocks to release the natural gas trapped there – and how much it may or may not be hazardous to our community is difficult to judge. Proponents call it perfectly safe; opponents call it the utter and irreversible destruction of nature. The truth is probably somewhere in the middle.
It is a fact that the water sprayed into the wells contains chemical elements – although the gas companies are not required to say which ones or in what amounts – and the technique generates vast amounts of liquid and solid waste that affects the water table.
It seems like common sense that pumping millions of gallons of chemically-tainted water into the ground will inevitably affect the lake as drinking water, recreation area and animal habitation. It is a fact that accidents have occurred in Pennsylvania, where hydrofracking is legal, that have done considerable damage.
The arguments on this point of environmental and health hazards have been and will continue to be loud and vociferous. But what concerns us is just as important as the scientific question – perhaps even more important.
Even if hydrofracking ultimately is proven to be 100 percent perfectly safe, it still will completely destroy this beautiful village and town as we know it.
There was an excellent and impressively objective cover story on hydrofracking in the April 11 issue of Time magazine which showed clearly the effects of opening a region up to massive drilling operations.
Noisy and sometimes smelly pumps will of course be set up at each drill site, but a central operating facility obviously will be necessary. This will generate thousands of new jobs in the area, which will mean vast amounts of new houses and apartments, more gas stations, cheap hotels, fast-food chains, perhaps even strip malls that always surround large industrial sites. The amount of car traffic will be immense, but so will the amount of tractor trailer traffic needed first to create and then to sustain the business of drilling – including the transportation of huge amounts of the chemicals needed for the process.
Imagine this deluge of noise, metal and mankind descending on our town and village; imagine the cultural destruction that all this industrial creation will generate.
Skaneateles as we know it will be gone.
Instead of the quaint, beautiful, treasured piece of Americana we are, where presidents have come to vacation, we will become just another has-been village, once idyllic, now dirty and pathetic, surrounded by gas fumes and industrial pumps, with rainbow-colored oil-water running in the gutters after a rain, and fast-food burger wrappers blowing in the gas-smelling breezes off the lake.
Jason Emerson is editor of the Cazenovia Republican and Eagle Bulletin newspapers.