Why This Capitalist Opposes Fracking

J Philip Faranda July 2, 2012

As I read the discussions online regarding hydrofracking upstate, I find the resulting polarization and pigeonholing to undermine the dialogue. I do not believe that people who are against fracking to be only tree-hugging left wingers, and I hold myself up as the counter point. My street cred as a free market capitalist is not half bad. I run my own company that I started in a spare bedroom in 2005, and have grown it to an enterprise that provides full and part time income to 32 people. And in a depressed industry like real estate, where government bailouts to brokers are unheard of and regulation the norm, that doesn't happen by accident. I am against hydrofracking. One of the things you learn in business is that corporations are amoral. Not IMmoral- amoral. They are unencumbered by conscience. They simply have to abide by rule of law, and if the law doesn't support more profits, then they seek to change the law, which is what we are witnessing now. I consider Governor Cuomo, who has earned my respect in other areas, to have failed protecting upstate's long term well being in exchange for a percieved short term economic "upper"  fracking promises. Another thing you learn in business is that when principals hide behind confidentiality or proprietary secret, as we are witnessing with the energy company's refusal to divulge what exactly they'll be putting in the ground forever, that they are often avoiding self incrimination. There was a time when asbestos was extolled by industry as the miracle compound. It was put in homes, schools and even hairdryers. It didn't take decades to know asbestos could kill you, but it did takes decades to eradicate its use, and even then it took lawsuits to make a difference. I sold real estate in Rochester, NY in the 1990s and the city blocks that suffered contamination by Eastman Kodak's activities will be forever stigmatized, and rightly so. What Kodak did to property values, the environment and the unfortunate residents was a crime. I could cite example after example of Big Industry selling poison, such as  tobacco, lead paint and fast food to name just a few, where the argument in favor of slowly killing us was "jobs." It is a short term obfuscation of an unsustainable economic model. Hydrofracking is no different. The capitalist argument against hydrofracking looks past the immediate and the short term into what a sustainable model would be, and that would mean non fossil fuel alternatives that keep us from ruining the earth, the ground water, and the ecosystem. We have the technology to develop more sustainable power from wind, water (Croton Gorge anyone?), solar and renewable sources, but lack the economy of scale to do so because the established industries refuse to re-tool. This has to stop. The reasons Asian companies are eating our lunch is because they have 100 year plans. We evaluate quarterly. Think about that the next time you see a Toyota. Or a Pontiac. We are seduced by the short term profit because our society's short attention span doesn't have the backbone or patience to think long term. And in the long term, there is no science that supports what fracking will do to us or our grandchildren. Follow the money. The scientists who argue in favor of hydrofracking who are not on payroll are chicken's teeth. The science is a secret because it is profitable to keep it so. The stuff dissolves rock-DUH. And we scream "jobs" in the short term while ignoring the many, many lessons of history at the risk of our own. We need to pull the bandaid off and devote our resources to energy that will sustain future generations and protect our environment, because if the ecosystem goes, we aren't far behind. The first line of the REALTOR code of ethics, adopted a century ago, states "Under all is the land." We should listen.

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