I have good news and bad news. First the good news: The elected representatives of Painted Post (population 1,847) recently agreed to sell 314 million gallons of water for an astounding $4 million per year to a gas-drilling company in Pennsylvania. The money would have enabled them to upgrade the village’s aging water system and more.
The Wellsboro and Corning Railroad leased the long-vacated Ingersoll Rand Foundry from the village and agreed to build the needed infrastructure to ship the water.
The bad news is that local anti-fracking organizations are fanatically opposed to hydraulic fracturing, to economic development, and to prosperity, anywhere. Now enter the environmental lobbying Goliath, the Sierra Club, which is based in California.
The Sierra Club, along with two local anti-fracking organizations and five local plaintiffs, filed suit to stop the water sale. Their stated reasons: the trains are noisy, the engines pollute the air and might pollute the water. A state Supreme Court judge has halted the project.
Like many upstate communities, Painted Post is dying, a victim of government policies that destroy business and jobs. They’re losing population, leaving an older, poorer tax base behind. Then the Sierra Club comes to town and uses its bully tactics to slap tiny Painted Post around.
The anti-frackers can’t just say no to the gas and oil revolution which is creating prosperity everywhere gas drilling is permitted. They must offer an alternative: theirs is a fossil fuel-free New York by 2030. All we have to do is build 4,020 onshore wind turbines, 12,770 offshore wind turbines and 5 million rooftop photovoltaic (PV) systems statewide. It’s a plan only a Stalinist could love: force everyone to buy expensive energy (wind and solar) while squashing the development of affordable energy (gas and oil). Even with massive taxpayer subsidies, rooftop PV systems are still expensive and take many years to pay for themselves; that’s why they don’t sell. Just look at the rooftops in your neighborhood. See any solar panels?
We need jobs and growth right now, not sunshine fantasies or winded dreams. The economies of Ohio and Pennsylvania are booming because of gas drilling, and providing real jobs today. That could be us — it should be us.
Painted Post is a microcosm of the fracking debate: prosperity versus poverty, jobs versus unemployment, affordable and accessible energy versus a fantasy. The unemployment numbers peal like a funeral bell for upstate: Steuben County at 11.9 percent, Chemung County at 10.5 percent, Schuyler County at 10.5 percent. Yet the anti-frackers squash prosperity wherever they see it, even in tiny struggling Painted Post. They’re on a search-and-destroy mission. Find commerce — stop it. Find jobs — kill them. Find hope — kill that, too.