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Predictable arguments against hydrofracking

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Posted: Tuesday, May 21, 2013 10:27 am

Glenn Wahl’s objections to hydrofracking (“We Can Do Better Than Fracking,” in Wednesday’s edition of the Olean Times Herald) clearly illustrate why states like New York, Illinois and California are struggling, and states that have embraced hydrofracking are enjoying the economic windfall and near full employment.

In reading his opinion piece, I found a rather predictable template emerging:

1. Compare natural resource harvesting (oil, gas, coal, etc.) to the tobacco industry, smoking and cigarettes.

2. Blame wealth because it is unfair and it poses a risk.

3. Caterwaul that fracking is bad, that more regulations are needed.

4. Indicate that 1 mile of solid rock has cracks in it, but it’s still solid.

5. Bury the admitted error in logic that, hey, hydrofracking creates jobs and economic benefit.

6. Declare the oil industry’s idea that resources are available to be grossly overestimated, a Paul Ehrlich-esque approach.

7. It’s a conspiracy! The politicians are in with the gas companies and against you!

8. Moral superiority of New York declaring a 2-year ban on drilling so state agencies can waste money studying other states’ economic liberty, while taking no measure to ensure that similar economic liberty occurs in New York.

9. Praise towns and governments that have made bans on bringing more energy resources to its people.

10. Cite polls that say generally people are opposed to drilling, and provide alternative energy sources as the complete substitute for oil/gas/coal.

I would ask some critical questions of Mr. Wahl to see where he would stand:

Combination Question 1: Do you drive a car? Have you ever tried to put wind in the gas tank to get the car up and going? Or water to lubricate the engine? After all, if oil and gas are bad, wind and water are two alternatives.

Question 2: How would you put the sun in New York homes during the times (like winter) that the sun doesn’t shine to capture the energy?

Question 3: If you believe that regulations and government are the keys to wider prosperity, New York, California, Illinois, Massachusetts, and New Jersey would be the most prosperous states in the United States, and places like Detroit would be model cities. Yet, they are not even close to it. Can you determine why?

Question 4: We live in an area that has long rejected any notions of economic benefits coming to them, without the various governments butting in and saying, “Me first!” while we hold on to vestiges and decaying buildings. Do you think that drilling and hydrofracking would be able to reverse the economic downturn that places like the Olean area have been in for nearly 40 years?

Combination Question 5: Renewables are often called “alternative energy sources” because their yield is much lower than current sources provided by oil, natural gas, coal and now oil shale. Indeed, the Marcellus Shale is one of the largest shale fields in the U.S. First, do you know what alternative means? (It means not as good, or not optimal).

Second, to ask a question based upon a parable, would you bury your talent in the ground to keep it safe, or would you seek to use it and provide benefit for many more people than just yourself?  

Just things to consider about the hydrofracking argument.

(Mr. Boser lives in Allegany.)

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