Monday, November 19, 2012

Reality Check- Are We Guinea Pigs for Hydrocarbon Development?

Opponents of hydrocarbon development say that we should wait until gas development can be done 100 percent safely. 

Reality check:  If we had waited for transportation to be 100% safe, we would still be waiting. No automobiles, no trains, no planes… nothing. Opponents also claim that companies and regulators that support the development of hydrocarbons treat communities as a giant lab experiment with the residents being guinea pigs.
Experience shows that regulations, safety and best practices evolve with technology,knowledge and experience. Did anyone complain about being a guinea pig when they were little as they rode in the back of a car standing on the hump between the seats… with no seat belt and a solid metal dash board? Were we guinea pigs for future generations or victims of time?

1960 Child Car Seat

The big question .... "Who defines safe?" The industry says its safe, opponents say it is not, and soon the New York State DEC will release the sGEIS  that will allow for their version of safe gas development. I doubt opponents will ever agree that natural gas development can be safe. So, when I asked a lady at a Town Board meeting in Otsego County after her lament about waiting for safer technology, her response to my "who defines safe" question, both saddened and perplexed me. “The Doctors of course!”  Since when does a physician have the knowhow and knowledge of a petroleum engineer, the background of an Environmental Health and Safety expert and the experience in risk management and regulatory development to determine the safety of this very technical process?  If you follow this line of thinking,  people should be asking Petroleum Engineers about the safety of their upcoming brain tumor surgeries.  

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