Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Interview with the Dryden Safe Energy Coalition

Pundit Press is proud to present interview number 51 in our ongoing series. Today we're interviewing Tracy from the Dryden Safe Energy Coalition. The DSEC's mission is:
To offer balanced, data driven information on safe energy development, to logically and numerically evaluate benefit-to-risk ratios, free of emotional bias or ideology, and to bring together people interested in an analytical approach to energy issues.

1. When and why was the DSEC started?

In the summer of 2011, to bring data-driven, factual information to the public about energy development. We tend to favor drilling because of its economic benefits locally and nationally, but we expect adequate safeguards against factual environmental risks. We also try to bring people together who are interested in an analytical approach to energy issues.

2. How does the natural gas drilling experience in Pennsylvania affect the debate in New York?

Many of the early environmental problems in PA were incurred before the technology had evolved to its current state. However, many of the generalizations and mis- and dis-information are presented in the NYS debate as though nothing had changed from that time period in PA. This is disingenuous. One of the other results from the problems in PA is that NYS is formulating even stricter regulations than PA.

On the economic side, the explosion of growth in PA has even spilled over the boundary into the Southern Tier of NYS. The economic benefits are real and obvious, but the anti's are doing everything they can to marginalize these economic benefits.

3. Do you see widespread drilling in the Marcellus in the next five years?

Yes. We think that the lawsuits currently underway in NYS will uphold drilling. And it's clear that NYS's economy needs a shot in the arm that will benefit residents personally and will also provide the state and its local governments with new revenues, revenues based on growth rather than taxing New Yorkers more heavily.

But it's possible that state regulation may be so unnecessarily excessive that the industry is driven away.

4. How would you rate the local governments' responses to fracking in Pennsylvania and New York?

In contrast to the positions taken by the experts in the federal and state agencies charged with drilling oversight, local legislators with no expertise in gas regulation have overreacted by enacting bans and other excessive controls. If allowed to continue, this can result in different rules every ten miles, rules that potentially change with every election cycle. DSEC favors regulation at the state level through the DEC, as is already established in state laws and regulations.

5. How would natural gas drilling help or hurt these local communities?

We believe that with proper regulation, the inevitable risks associated with the gas industry are minimal, transient, and acceptable. And while economic growth carries with it its own problems as communities adapt, 22% of our Tompkins County population lives at or below the poverty line. Energy development with its high paying jobs (in contrast with other industries such as tourism) offers a way out of poverty. For landowners and farmers, it offers a new source of capital. Local schools and municipalities would benefit from increased tax revenue. And no state incentives would be necessary to jumpstart all of this.

6. Anything else you'd like to add?

The antis are trying to win the debate by instilling unreasoning fear. We urge people to get all the facts, evaluate the data carefully, avoid one-sided forums, and not succumb to irrational fear.

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  1. Good thing you shared this interview to us. I really learned a lot of things about the Dryden Safe Energy Coalition.
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