20 December 2011

Buy A House

I'm a little blue. Circumstances have conspired so that I must leave a house that I love. We have all been there. And of course, the consolation is that this is a great time to buy a house, or so they say. I want to stay in New York State, and Westchester is too expensive, so I am looking north. There are some great places on the market: nice houses, large properties, old farms. I look at the listings and imagine myself there - a beautiful picture. Then I look them up on the map, and my heart sinks, as I cross-reference each location against a map of the existing gas drilling leases in New York State. The sad fact is that much of New York State has been leased for gas drilling, and as a prospective buyer of property, there is no way I would buy something that might have hydro-fracking near it.

Admittedly I have a good understanding of the process, and thus the risks inherent. But even for the layman, all one needs to know can be summarized in this editorial by an environmental engineering technician: “Hydraulic fracturing as it’s practiced today will contaminate our aquifers.” Why would I, as a home buyer looking to invest life savings in a property, buy something that will have poisoned water?

The question arises whether I should believe this technician or the glowing industry reports (from an industry that has wheedled exemptions from the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts, and hopes to get in and profit and get out). I will err on the side of caution, thank you very much. And of course I feel badly for those who were duped into signing leases for their land, and even worse for those that live adjacent to leased land. Caveat emptor.

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