May 15, 2012


One of the pleasures of blogging is occasionally getting reamed by people who read the stuff you post. I have a friend who is not shy at all about kicking my butt when she thinks I need it. In yesterday's post, I implied that it might be possible, with greater documentation, regulation, taxation and all that to make the Marcellus Shale natural gas boom something closer to a win/win situation.

My friend argues, not unconvincingly, that

There is no way we could come out better than lose/lose/win. And that's impact on the environment/local residents/drillers. Especially in WV where we will not get decent regulations.
She might be right. In fact, she probably is.

All I can say is that, to use a favorite metaphor of a friend of mine, the train has already left the station. I don't think it's possible to stop shale gas drilling right now. But, as some local citizens on the ground where the boom is occurring argue,  it might be possible to minimize the damage, improve practices, advocate for better regulation and taxation and all that, and to document what is happening.

I think the documentation--from health impacts to roads to taxes to air and water quality to  social cost--together with public education, is going to be critical to getting any kind of decent or even less bad outcomes out of this.

Some lines by Leonard  Cohen come to my mind (and they may have shown up here before):

"Everybody knows the dice are loaded/
everybody rolls with their fingers crossed
/everybody knows the war is over/
everybody knows the good guys lost."
But, as the eminent philosopher Tom Petty observed, "Even the losers get lucky sometimes." I don't necessarily believe that good is bound to prevail in the end, but I do believe that we live in an open and unpredictable universe where all kinds of things are possible and that, with luck, cunning, and technique, we might be able to make things a little better than they might have been for a little while anyway.

I'm not sure whether that makes me a pessimistic optimist or an optimistic pessimist.

READ MORE here and here.


1 comment:

Hollowdweller said...

The homicidal bitchin going down in every kitchen to determine who will serve and who will eat.

I think WV should be able to at least do as good at skimming some bucks off of the gas industry as "Sarah Palin's Alaska" does the oil industry.

Also if we would legalize prostitution, weed, and moonshine along with the gambling we've already embraced maybe the local hillbillies in the shale area could separate all the out of state people who are getting the jobs with some of their cashola as well.