OK, let’s cut to the quick. We live in a hydrocarbon based world. Unless you are standing naked in the woods, you are 5 feet away from at least 10 items that are hydrocarbon based or milled, planed or molded by hydrocarbon power. Even the elastic in your shorts is hydrocarbon based.

We all have been told solar, geothermal, hydroelectric, and wind (except in Meredith) – GOOD. Hydrocarbon and nuclear – BAD. Well, try to live in that GOOD world. Unless you give up the comforts of the 21st century like the monks on Mount Athos, some Mennonite sects, certain “mountain men” in Alaska, you’re in a hydrocarbon world, even if you drive a Prius.

Oil is in the news these days, so let’s talk oil. There is no “easy” oil in the United States. There is “hard” oil in difficult and delicate environments.
That’s why we spend billions on rigs 40 miles offshore, a mile above the sea bed, with a string of pipes three miles long. The “easy” oil is elsewhere; in the hands of our “friends,” the Saudis (260 billion barrels known reserves), the mullahs of Iran and their genocidal puppet (136 billion barrels) and a tyrant in Venezuela (100 billion barrels).
In context, ExxonMobil, the largest free-market energy company, has 8 billion barrels.
The kleptocrats of Russia also have huge oil reserves and, through appropriation ( ie., stealing), Russia’s Gazprom now controls one quarter of the world’s known gas reserves.
These countries use state capitalism (another definition for fascism?) for political goals. None of those goals are good for America.


But something happened. Technology advanced to a point where we can extract gas from shale. These shale formations are prevalent in the United States and Eastern Europe. The largest known reserves is right in our backyard.
This could be a game changer. We can now extract gas for our energy needs, a relatively clean hydrocarbon, without supporting thugs (let’s throw in Nigeria) and all the usual suspects mentioned above.

What’s stopping us? Prudently, our Department of Environmental Conservation withheld permits on the relatively new practice of horizontal drilling with hydrofracking until they reexamined their regulations.
They have worked for two years, researched the best practices of 10 leading gas producing states, held public hearings, solicited comments, and are now in the process of finalizing the SGEIS.

But apparently that’s not enough for those opposed to drilling. Frankly, I don’t think anything would be enough for them.
In any enterprise of this nature, there is risk. In some future column, I’ll be glad to share my research in this regard. The risks, however, are minimal when balanced against the economical and political rewards.

Never mentioned are the risks of doing nothing. These risks can’t be captured in a photo shoot or a propaganda film. The risks of doing nothing is the further slow slide towards energy dependence on those who hate our country and the extraction of hydrocarbons from ever more difficult environments.

Anyone who thinks solar, geothermal, hydroelectric, or wind (even in Meredith) is going to replace our current energy mix in the near future is living in Lala Land.
We have an abundance of a fuel that is 30 percent less carbon intensive than oil and 50 percent less than coal. This could be the transition fuel until a time when the renewables are economically competitive.

So wake up and smell the coffee. Brewed, perked, or nuked, we’re going to be using hydrocarbons for this and other purposes for a long, long time.

Dick Downey, Otego, is with the Unatego Area Landowners

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