Another recent op-ed in the Binghamton Press & Sun attempted to support Fracking, this time by criticizing Fracking opponents, but it also only told part of the story. Again its authors gas leasing land owners who would personally profit from Fracking. They objected to the Park Foundation spending three million dollars against efforts to bring Fracking to NYS. What they didn’t explain was that much of the money was spent on research into health and public safety dangers of Fracking and campaigns by community based groups statewide to educate NY residents about these dangers. Some Park money has also gone towards mostly volunteer lobbying efforts for a Fracking moratorium or ban.
But while decrying anti-Fracking money, the article omitted mentioning the massive pro-Fracking lobbying and advertising campaigns funded by Big Gas & Oil, amounting to hundreds of millions of dollars; dwarfing Park’s funding of grass roots opposition.
The claim that anti-Fracking efforts were a problem for “farmers” and other “stewards of the land” also left out significant details. Many of the largest tracks of land that have been leased to Big G & O are owned by non-local investor/speculators that have no connection to the land; other than hoped for profits. Many other coalition members own small pieces of land in residential areas where they hope Fracking is impractical and an ugly public relations disaster and counting on pocketing the lease money and maybe some small royalties; but never seeing a drilling rig across the street. They are included to pump up coalition numbers; so it doesn’t look like just a big landowner’s game. Most small landowners received much less in lease fees than their property is worth, but are financially libel when things go wrong. They have assurances from local attorneys, (self named “power brokers”), that they are protected. But does anybody really believe that local attorneys have the knowhow, experience or resources to successfully battle with the world’s largest law firms, with thousands of employees who earn their multi-million dollar retainers from Big G & O, fighting and beating small landowners and their local attorneys’ every day? Many large speculators have protected their personal assets by making their property corporations or LLCs; a legal ruse not easily accessed by individual homeowners; whose potential liability is far greater than any potential profit.
The number of active “farmers” is actually very small compared to people who have property that was once farmed, but is not now income producing, which they want to keep in hopes of getting lucky in a lease deal. In fact the total number of local people who will benefit if Fracking is allowed in NYS is only a few thousand. However the number of NYS citizens who run the risk of having their air and water contaminated, property values devastated, local taxes for infrastructure and HazMet costs skyrocket, and all the other dangers of Fracking befall them; number in the hundreds of thousands in the Southern Tier alone. The almost 99% of New Yorkers not benefitting yet at risk from Fracking must tell Albany; we have more votes than Fracking money can buy.