I have spent most of my professional career as a computer science professor at SUNY Oneonta. But I have always been an avid outdoors-person. I have cycle raced and ski raced and rock climbed all over the northeast. Now, I am moving slower. We have a farm. My family and I ride horses and we raise beef. My love of nature and desire to protect my family, my livestock, and my neighbors, too, has drawn me into the fight in NYS over shale gas development.
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Well, as you know, there is a lot of this story that isn't making the news. There is the distortion of language by the industry so that a radioactive toxic waste pit is called a pond; and my wife and I, our four young kids, and thousands of ordinary New Yorkers, are characterized as radical environmentalists, or Commies, or worse.
There is a bait and switch game going on so one day we are drilling to bring our troops home from the Middle East, and another day we are permitting LNG facilities to save the Ukraine.
Governor Cuomo has told reporters that there is scientific evidence supporting the safety of fracking. (I am no journalist but this statement seems to beg for a followup question, like "Really, Governor? Which scientific articles are you talking about?") I have read an awful lot of the literature. Except for industry websites, politicians, and reports coming out of oil/gas-industry funded universities and think tanks, I have seen nothing that says HVHF is safe. Industry's own websites give rates of well failures (single digits in year one to 100% failure of all wells over time).
Even the Pennsylvania DEP, hardly a robust defender of the environment, has had to acknowledge hundreds of cases of water contamination. And now, they've had to own up to fudging air pollution studies, as well. The drilling is linked to earthquakes where they never had earthquakes. In drought-plagued California, we see that a poorly regulated industry has contaminated precious clean water aquifers.
There are dozens of peer-reviewed, independent scientific papers chronicling the dangers of shale gas development to human and animal health, environmental degradation, and global warming. So where is this Holy Grail of independent scientific research that Governor Cuomo keeps referring to, the paper that will exonerate what otherwise seems to be a criminal industry supported by paid-off politicians? Where is the peer-reviewed paper that says hydro-fracking is safe?
I am waiting for someone to take up the real story. I know it is hard, with everyone on both sides of the aisle, from President Obama down to our New York senators and congressman working to frack the whole US.
I am reminded of the children's tale, The Emperor's New Clothes. There are a hundred news reports out there, waiting for someone brave enough to cover them. For some reason, there does not seem to be a journalist willing to say that the Emperor has no clothes. I keep hearing that balanced reporting tells both sides of a story. Are there really two sides here? Are the two sides the industry's spin, and the environment? I wonder if the hard-hitting journalists at OpEdNews could be the ones to tell this tale.
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