Fracking issues misunderstood

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To The Editor:
In response to Henry C. Blaufox in his letter to the Catskill Mountain News 3/13/2012. The get rich gas drilling tale that you spin is based on false and misleading fracking industry-funded studies providing “facts” and promises which distort the truth, minimizing costs and exaggerating benefits.

The money is appealing until you face reality. Only a rare few might benefit financially while there are tragic long-term  costs for almost everyone else. The only winners in the long run are the gas companies who take the lion’s share, followed by just a few large landowners. Most others will pay the price of lost property value and environmental havoc.

In fact, the vast majority of the gas per well is produced in the first few years. The decades of production per well and the reserves themselves are grossly exaggerated.  The gas industry is financially unstable, producing gas below cost, borrowing operating funds based on their own bloated reserve estimates. There is another “bubble” in the making. I would not want them as partners.

This region will be worse off in the long run if we allow drilling here. Dr. Christopherson of Cornell University says that the gas industry is “a speculative, high risk, short term industry” and that the shale play is likely to create a short-term boom followed by a long-term bust. A study published in Sociological Inquiry concluded that unemployment and poverty worsened in mining counties in non-metropolitan regions. The studies funded by the gas industry ignore declines in other industries that are likely to result from a combination of pollution, a shift to an industrial landscape and “crowding out.” Examples of industries likely to be negatively affected include agriculture, tourism, organic farming, wine making, hunting, fishing and water recreation.

The frackers don’t address what happens when the gas is soon gone, leaving the costs of mitigation and repair to the local towns, drinking water contamination, land, stream, noise and air pollution, failing  health, damaged roads, an industrial landscape, and vanished employment opportunities.

 These and other costs to communities are ignored, such as the increased demand on hospitals, police, fire departments and emergency health services.  None of these economic costs are dealt with in any of their biased, flawed economic impact studies.

Fracking brings major declines to local land, property and home prices. How can one sell a house if a buyer can’t get a mortgage or title insurance or if the house has contaminated drinking water or is located next to a permanent compressor station? Many insurance companies refuse to issue liability policies on homes with gas wells, pipelines both classified as a commercial activity. Potential property buyers fear getting sick from toxic fracking and flowback fluids, air pollution, radioactivity, damaged roads and round the clock noise. They are not going to take the chance of moving to an area where property prices are dropping.

If you lease your land, I doubt you would still want to live here after it becomes a blighted industrial zone.  And if you find out over time that you want to get out, take the money and run, how will you be able to sell your home and land?

Bill Feldman,
Andes