Peter Applebome, the writer behind the New York Times's "Our Towns" column, reports from the Walton Theatre this week, where documentary filmmaker Josh Fox showed his anti-drilling film "Gasland" this Monday. (Too bad we missed Applebome at the screening. Love your column, sir.)
Many people have signed leases hoping to get rich. Not many of them were at the screening. Most of those on hand were more concerned with the environmental risks. Gas is not oil. The Catskills region is not the gulf. But that endless underwater gusher, the oil-soaked pelicans in full cry, seemed just outside the door.
A note on the contentious geography of gas drilling: Walton, in Delaware County, is in New York City's watershed. In April, the DEC stopped just short of an outright ban on gas drilling in the area, announcing a separate -- and far more onerous -- application process for gas permits inside New York City's million-acre watershed. To gas-drilling opponents whose backyards lie outside the watershed but still atop the Marcellus shale, it looked like an effort to fast-track drilling for the rest of the state.