Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The other side has Vera Scroggins and Yoko Ono. Thank God that we have Vic Furman on ours.

Governor Cuomo – Stop Taking Our Land and Lead Posted on July 9, 2013 by Natural Gas Now Guest Blogger FrackmanFurmanVictor Furman Chenango County, NY, Landowner Shale Gas Activist Governor Cuomo is following, not leading, in the battle over natural gas and he’s taking our land in the process. It’s time to start acting on behalf of upstate New York State rather than the shrill condescending voices of those who would use the gas without developing it. When I was a small boy growing up on Leroy Street in the City of Binghamton, I spent the long hot summers on the farm of my best friend’s family. The farm was 400+ acres in Brookdale, Pennsylvania. The property to me was an unexplored New World where I would spend all my free time after the chores were done exploring the rock formations on top of the mountains, where the black bears lived in caves and wild turkeys would scurry away as the dried autumn twigs would snap under the soles of my boots. You could drink the water running off the mountain simply by scooping it up in your hands and quench your thirst as you spent the better part of the day with nature in her very own living room. Perhaps it was these long summers as a youth that inspired my dreams of owning land and building my home upon it. I would lay in my bed in a bedroom shared with my two brothers sharing my dreams about how someday I was going to make my dream a reality. Being from a poor family who rented the three bedroom apartment in which seven of us lived in this dream of mine seemed, to the members of my family, well out of reach, and there were no qualms with anyone about telling me that. I learned a lot on that farm as I grew up, I learned important things about forestry and how you should always drink water where it was moving, not still. I learned you don’t shoot a bird or squirrel for the fun of it and that when you hunt for meat you never take a shot that will allow the animal to run off and suffer. Johnny was the man who ran the farm, the uncle of my friend, and he taught me how to sight in my rifle and the importance of a clean kill as well as hunter safety. The owners of this farm were, in fact, my second family. Let’s fast forward a few years, past my service in the Army during the Vietnam War Era, a time when many of us young men were asked to go in service to our country. As I think about it, the seed of my patriotism for America may have been planted by my experiences as I grew up on that farm, but my love for America was fostered in basic training in Fort Dix, New Jersey, where I took an oath to honor our flag and protect our country from all foreign and domestic enemies. I promised to God and to all those who took that oath with me to sacrifice my life, if need be, so that we as citizens of this great country could remain free and follow our dreams no matter how small or big they may be. My pay in the military was $184 a month, but the lessons I learned as I traveled in foreign Asian countries and saw the poverty and oppression of the people was priceless. I told myself that when I got home I would buy land of my own and build my own house. Well, I fell in love with a woman named Barbara and for some reason these kids just started showing up and, man, did they cost to raise, though they were everything to me. I still had the dream but I realized making it a reality would take longer then I originally expected. It wasn’t until 1992, in fact, that I bought some acreage in Chenango Forks, New York. It was one of 16 parcels of land that used to be part of a larger farm but, like many farms in New York, it had gone out of business because of the highest taxes in the country and landed at the auction block. The land I ended up with had to be cleared of briars, other brush and stones. I did it myself with a hand sickle and stone sled. From the ground up I built my 48 foot ranch home with the help of my wife and “How To” books purchased at the local home improvement store, as my home was the first thing I have ever built with wood. It took me three years. There was no one there to help me clear the land, cut the lumber, drive the nails and lay the roof, there was no one there to hang the windows, the doors or set the toilet and build a kitchen, no one but my wife who got sick and died before the completion of our home. Now, here it is 2013, fourteen years after my wife’s death and 20 years after buying the land she and I developed and loved like no other person could ever understand. It is in this home we built together that I feel sometimes my wife’s arms, wrapped around me in the structure we built together. Now people who don’t know me or my history with this land are telling me what I can do or can’t do with it; people who have never cleared a field or swung a hammer or improved a piece of the land of their own. I bought that land with all the property rights attached. Nevertheless, I am now accused, because I want to exercise those rights given to me by the Constitution of the United States, of being greedy and having no concern about my own environment, or that of my neighbors. Being called greedy by complete strangers and told Upstate New Yorkers are too stupid to understand what gas drilling is about as infuriating as it gets. Yet, these were the arrogant words of a lady from New York City who testified at the Assembly hearing on January 10th of this year in Albany. She said, in so many words, ” I am an educated woman who felt the need to get involved against fracking because the average upstate landowner is too stupid to be a good land steward.” This is the condescending attitude landowners like me too often receive from spoiled down-staters who know nothing of the land and little beyond their own little cocoon world of Manhattan. When I was approached to lease my land to a gas company in 2006, I didn’t holler at the moon and claim to be a redneck millionaire. I said “no” because I knew nothing about leasing contracts, nothing about gas drilling or what was involved, or what, if I signed the contract, my property rights be or what would happen to the visual beauty of my property. What would protect my water? These were not only my concerns, but the concerns of my neighbors as well. I was approached again in 2008 with an offer of $3,000 per acre, an offer extended to many of my neighbors as well. We got lawyers involved and created a landowners coalition with contracts that would offer the greatest protections to our lands and water as well as that of our neighbors. We insisted the best technology be used, after self-educating ourselves, and we still would not sign unless all the members of the coalition agreed to the contracts by vote. This might have surprised that city lady who said upstate land owners need protection from themselves, but, in the Sapbush Road Group Coalition, many of our members were holders of degrees in science, geology, math, etc. We have members who are lawyers, doctors, firemen, first responders and teachers. We also have people like me who have a great knowledge of the land and an even greater respect for the nature by which we are surrounded. I still cannot comprehend the argument from those who have no land, yet benefit from natural gas in so many ways living in an apartment building in a city, telling a landowner 200 miles away they can not drill for gas… something we have been doing very successfully here in New York for well over 150 years. Governor Cuomo was recently quoted as saying natural gas is the better choice, but what about the fracking? Well, I have an answer for him. Governor Cuomo, you need to tell the dozens of other states already drilling what you know, because those states and New York have been drilling and hydraulic fracturing gas wells for decades. Moreover, those other state governors have advised you to open the door further to this great opportunity, relying upon your experience if not theirs. Governor Cuomo, you apparently choose not only to ignore these other governors, but to be his own scientist. So, whatever is holding your decision up must be shared, Governor. If there is some imminent threat of which you are aware, then it is your responsibility to share that knowledge and get this country to stop drilling for gas now! But, Governor Cuomo, if you’re holding this up because of the loud, well funded minority, then stop pretending it’s the science when it’s really just ugly special interest politics. You are sacrificing the economic opportunity of a lifetime for upstate New York to regain its financial footing. You are trashing the creation of tens of thousands of well paying jobs to appease the very individuals who live in the cities and use 70 percent of all fracked gas in the United States. Maybe it’s time you led, instead of followed, Governor Cuomo. In the meantime, stop taking my land.

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