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Producing energy close to home

May 21, 2014

Clarity burst forth when I happened upon the large and patriotic funeral procession of a young, dead soldier in Accord last week—a soldier who sacrificed his life in Afghanistan for reasons that always have to do with oil and gas politics.

Domestic energy production is a call to national sacrifice, a call that hasn’t been heard in more than a generation. Does anyone argue that energy production—here or there—comes with real impacts in the extraction areas, be it environmental degradation, traffic congestion, water usage, train derailments, pipeline spills or a disruption of one’s accustomed lifestyle?

A sacrifice fundamentally means disruption, discomfort and uncertainty. There is no such thing as a comfortable non-disruptive sacrifice.

But given the chance to produce the energy we use, as we are now, should we really be asking the poorest members of the earth’s community to pay the consequences of our energy addiction?

Given the chance to produce the energy we use, as we are now, should we really continue to ask young soldiers to die many miles from home?

Given the chance to produce the energy we use, as we are now, to maturely and responsibly supply our own needs, should we really be letting our most radical and liberal neighbors convince us to irresponsibly shift the burdens and sacrifices of our addiction to someone else?

Alternative energy may or may not be quickly forthcoming, but one fact became very clear during the last six years of the fracking fights—the closer the inconvenience of energy addiction is to our homes, the faster the average person will participate in developing and using alternative resources. The massive and effective grassroots crusade of the group that fought against energy production in New York State proved how fast people can act when their lifestyles are threatened.

So, for those who want to reduce the use of fossil fuels, pray that the extraction, production and transportation of said energy happens right here in our backyard where the impacts can be seen and not some faraway place where the impacts are easy to ignore or miss.

Charles Petersheim
Eldred, NY