|They say a picture is worth 1,000 words, but — knowing me — this one will probably take me nearly that, just to tell you why I find it so interesting. (And infuriating!)|
This is a page from Revised Exhibit I — Part 9, filed with the New York State Public Service Commission on Nov. 9, 2011 (along with much additional material, all of it certain to be ignored by the one-angle-only reporters at Gannett's Binghamton Press). It may not look like much, but it's by a Michigan-based environmental consultant (URS), working for a Michigan-based pipeline company (Bluestone), which is going through all the necessary bureaucratic hoops, so as to win official permission to build a pipeline right through this spot.
Industry needs to move natural gas from Marcellus shale gas production zones in the Northern Tier of Pennsylvania, into the Southern Tier of New York State. This is where they want to go with the natgas, up into New York State, because that's where one of the bigger long-distance pipelines is, the so-called Millennium Pipeline. Even before the Marcellus shale boom boomed, the Millennium had already been installed, and enlarged, so as to move lots of supply easterly to the big, high-paying demand — New York City and environs.
So this photo is simply an out-of-state environmental professional's documentation of part of the proposed Bluestone route, as it sat on a summer day in 2010, in the intervening Town of Sanford, Broome County — which is a rural outpost south of Binghamton, NY.
Pretty dull stuff, except when you consider this: Just look at the sorry state of this guy's property! Junkers galore! And there has obviously not been any livestock grazing in this area for some time. (Nor, for that matter, any John Deeres, or the ambition to run them.) It's funny, but it's also sad — and it reminds me a lot of many, many, many rural scenes in and around my hometown, Whitney Point, NY (also nestled in Broome County).
The situational contrast is blinding.
This natural gas would be originating, a few short miles to the south, out of Pennsylvania, where landowners are getting paid bonus, rental, royalty, and pipeline footage fees, and where people are getting put to work, right and left (some of them New Yorkers, and some of them colleagues of mine) — mostly because state government down there is balanced enough to know how to let the private sector do its job already!
Downstream, this natural gas would be consumed — for heat, or electricity, or both, and at a significant discount lately, due to the supply glut caused by the shale gas revolution — by the well-meaning (but-often-clueless) denizens of Greater New York City. These are a lot of the same folks who have been so easily freaked out about the dangers of upstate fracking, due to outlandish persuasive pressure from intellectually unprincipled environmental activists — generally working full-time out of New York's well-monied Hudson Valley.
Stuck in the middle is the owner of the upstate land in this photograph — some poor sucker out of Broome County, NY, who maybe (if this pipeline ever goes through), will receive so many dollars per linear foot for letting it be buried beneath his pastoral junkyard. But the lion's share of his land value — with minerals alone reportedly worth upwards of $5,000 per acre, just to get ink on a lease (based on values just over the border in Susquehanna County, PA) — remains threatened with permanent lockup, at the hands of manufactured fear, willful ignorance, colossal cynicism, and the exercise of pure economic and political power, one class of citizens against the rest.
And this part of New York just stays junked-up, run-down, and poor — forever-more?
See, this — this is what kills me.
It's not right.
It's just not right.