Many New Yorkers are looking to halt the march of natural-gas drilling in their vast watershed. Manhattan borough president Scott Stringer has the support of dozens of NYC organizations for his "Kill the Drill" campaign. Mayor Michael Bloomberg has been an outspoken opponent of drilling as well. Alarmed by the threat to their water supply, New Yorkers have flooded the DEC with comments, petitioned the Governor and protested in the streets.
Here's a tactic they haven't tried: Mobilizing millions of New York voters in support of dairy price reform.
In case the connection between catastrophic milk prices and hydrofracking isn't immediately obvious, a recent AP story about the gas battles along the Delaware River makes it crystal clear:
Back in northeastern Pennsylvania, Matoushek, 68, a semiretired farmer who signed a lease with Stone Energy three years ago, said he is counting on royalty checks from gas production to help fund his golden years and secure the land for future generations of his family. As far he's concerned, the benefits far outweigh any theoretical harm.
"Without the approval, you're depriving me of the opportunity to derive an income from my land," he said.
His neighbors, Amy and Chuck Theobald, straddle both sides of the debate.
The longtime dairy farmers — Amy is fourth-generation — take pride in running their 200-head operation in an environmentally sustainable way. They worry that drilling will ruin the water, and that state government doesn't have the resources to adequately police the industry. They believe landowners who signed up early got fleeced.
But Amy also sees the Marcellus gas field as a way to reduce the nation's reliance on foreign sources of energy. And, with dairy prices in freefall and the Theobald farm hemorrhaging $6,000 a month, the couple are thankful they signed a 5-year lease with Chesapeake Energy Corp. that paid them $1,850 an acre.
"I'm not sure what we would have done to keep our heads above water," she said.
Imagine doing hard physical work 7 days a week, 365 days a year for the privilege of losing $6,000 a month with no end in sight, and it's clear why upstate New York's remaining dairy farmers are having a hard time resisting the siren song of the landman.
Earlier: Certified gas-free food?