Tough fracking choices ahead for Deposit

With speculation flying about what the state's next move on hydraulic fracturing will be, the spotlight is on New York's Southern Tier, where the richest Marcellus Shale gas deposits lie.

WSKG's Matt Richmond has a terrific radio documentary out today about Deposit, a place on the border of Delaware and Broome Counties where the drillers are likely to be headed soon. On the website of Innovation Trail, a magazine that covers the economy and technology in upstate New York, readers can listen to an excerpt and read the transcript of the piece.

Richmond's story doesn't dwell on all the Albany insider baseball going on about when the state will act on hydrofracking, and what the plan will look like. Instead, he talks to ordinary people in Deposit, and what gas drilling means to them:

After four years, there are some well-established camps on both sides that prowl the halls of Albany and make the rounds of the political programs. One side focuses on the economic benefits. The other has a laundry list of concerns.

But this story isn't going to get into those particular weeds.

Instead we're going to take a look at what all these delays and bickering and political pressure mean for people in the Southern Tier, whose lives would be most directly affected by fracking in New York.

Included in the story are Richard Axtell, president of the Deposit Historical Society; sawmill owner Larry Schaeffer; Long Island transplant Melissa Bishop; and Sanford supervisor and retired dairy farmer Dewey Decker.

Decker tells Richmond, memorably, that he wouldn't have a farm today if he hadn't signed a gas lease back in 2008. But it's Schaeffer, who is looking forward to the arrival of the drill rigs, who has the money quote:

“Everyone is going to win," says Deposit resident Larry Schaeffer.

"The only way we wouldn’t win is if this is a horrible, big mistake and we’ve been tricked and they’re going to ruin our water and they’re going to ruin our land," says Schaeffer.

Sounds like a pretty apt description of what New Yorkers on the opposite side of the issue from Schaeffer are worried about.