Friday, October 14, 2011

Follow the Money: "Get out your checkbook"

Excerpt from Testimony given at the Oct. 6, 2011 public Hearing in Albany

Bruce Ferguson - Catskill Citizens for Safe Energy, an all-volunteer organization with over seven thousand members.

Note: Clink on the above link to see the entire testimony and footnotes. 

New York’s plan to permit high-volume hydraulic fracturing is a scandal in the making. And as we learned from an earlier scandal, if you want to understand what’s happening, follow the money.
According to the Christian Science Monitor, the oil and gas industry receives 41 billion dollars a year in taxpayer subsidies. Just a fraction of that money is sufficient to buy a free pass from our politicians. Last year the industry spent $150 million lobbying national politicians, and the FRAC Act was never brought to a vote.  Industry lobbyists doled out $1.5 million in Albany, and New York has failed to enact a single piece of legislation regulating high-volume fracking? 
Forty-one billion dollars in corporate welfare is only part of what the oil and gas industry picks from the pocket of the taxpayer; there are also the expenses associated with playing host to big oil and big gas.
It has been estimated that the DEC will need to employ an additional 226 employees over the next five years and you can be sure that the taxpayers, not the industry, will foot the bill for this departmental build out.
A few months ago the state Department of Transportation estimated that it will cost up to 378 million dollars a year to reconstruct roads and bridges if shale gas extraction goes forward in New York. It also said “There is no mechanism in place allowing State and local governments to absorb these additional transportation costs without major impacts to other programs and municipalities in the State.”
The DEC has made no effort to determine what it costs to ameliorate the health impacts of fracking.
Finally how much will the taxpayers have to shell out to clean up the inevitable environmental disasters that are part and parcel of high-volume fracking? Here’s a clue: United States Geological Survey hydrologist William J. Kappel recently said that we can expect an environmental accident for one in one hundred wells, and we can expect a major environmental accident every three to four hundred wells. Tens of thousands of gas wells in New York may mean thousands of environmental accidents and hundreds of major environmental accidental.
So to all the New Yorkers who want to benefit from the prosperity that high-volume fracking will bring, I have one piece of advice: Get out your checkbook.