My experience and education offer a unique perspective on the potential of petroleum exploration and development. I retired from a major oil and gas company working on and offshore, drilled water wells for seven years, and studied the industry in college, including geology.
While I support hydrocarbon exploration and production where it can be done without negative impact to people or the environment, I also believe that some areas are unsuitable. The North Fork Valley is one such area.
My primary reason for this opinion is that thousands of people rely on these areas for their water sources, and my knowledge that mistakes, errors in judgment, or deliberate shortcuts, happen in this business and could easily pollute those water supplies. While in the business I saw all these and heard all the reasons as to why and how they occurred. They are actually very common.
Undesirable events in this industry can be and often are, catastrophic, to those causing them, those living in the areas impacted, and the environment. For example, if a mistake or variation from design is made on a casing cement job, and completion, reservoir, or frac fluids migrate outside the casing to ground water strata, that aquifer becomes unusable until some time in the distant future, maybe generations. Fluids can then flow miles through the aquifer, out springs, into surface waters, or into water wells.
If proper well design standards are followed, with modern technology, it is possible to drill and produce gas and crude with near zero environmental damage, providing everyone involved performs their work perfectly. However, "perfect" does not happen.
In the oil and gas business, the potential for extreme damage to the environment exists, everything from access roads, large volume surface releases of hydrocarbons and chemicals, to sub-surface issues. If it happens out where no one lives and drinks the water, it's just bad, the company will clean up as best as it can and decades will heal the land and ground water. If it happens in the North Fork Valley, where thousands live, breathe, drink, grow food, recreate, and appreciate the natural beauty, it's a tragedy for decades. It isn't worth the risk.
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