On April 23, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) announced that there cannot be any hydraulic fracturing (drilling) in the Marcellus shale region that might affect the water supply in New York City and Syracuse. This was a smart move, and it was applauded loudly by Comptroller John Liu. What some should bear in mind as they push back on this process, however, is that drilling for natural gas can ultimately result in a much-needed energy resource for New York and Pennsylvania.
The issue as it relates to New York City’s water supply is serious. So Liu, Councilman James Gennaro, Speaker Christine Quinn, and others are right to question the potential outcomes. The amount of money to clean the city’s water supply, if it were contaminated, would hover around $1 billion. There was also no real regulation set up after Governor Paterson gave the green light on drilling.
But the general idea of drilling, which is called hydrofracking, for natural gas is not entirely a bad thing as long as it is regulated properly. Natural gas, which is methane gas, is a greenhouse gas, but since it gets released in small quantities, it is less of a risk to the environment than oil or coal. That risk will rise with advanced hydrofracking, but if checked, it could at the very least be a supplemental energy supply until alternatives like wind and solar are better developed.
So applause to politicians for exercising caution on drilling in certain areas, but the language toward drilling for natural gas should not be altogether negative, as it is toward drilling for oil or mining for coal. As long as drilling companies are forced to fully disclose what chemicals they use in the process and no drilling happens where it can damage a city’s water supply, it is an option that can ultimately be combined with biofuels, solar, and wind energy. This can help us eventually get away from dirtier burning fuel sources and all that comes with them.
FedSpace, the Predecessor to…Fritter?
The Federal Government is now starting its own version of Facebook, called FedSpace. FedSpace will only be for federal employees to make communications better, according to the Federal Times.
Since everything is online anyway, the general purpose of the site is a good idea. Too often government employees are not in touch with sister agencies. If this helps them, it is a huge plus. The money that needs to be spent is on safeguards and keeping hackers out. If federal employees are more efficient with FedSpace, then more power (uh..less power?) to them. People should not mind this kind of communication, since that is why NASA developed it in the first place, as long as they are not playing Mafia Wars games on our dime.
The Goldsmith Standard
Mayor Bloomberg choosing Stephen Goldsmith as new deputy mayor was a very wise decision. Goldsmith, when you get past the general uneasiness of not having a New Yorker in that post, is an innovative politician. This is a person that can run the city, should the mayor be out of town.
Being mayor of Indianapolis is not the same as being mayor of New York City, but it still means that he has managed a city budget, and has navigated similar waters with state and federal government. Not hiring within the city or the party is nothing new. David Dinkins went out of state for a schools’ chancellor, and Bloomberg has gone out of state before. At the end of the day, the mayor needs to see the faces that he wants to see every day. If that face belongs to a former mayor of Indianapolis, so be it.
What we will likely see from Goldsmith as a chief advisor is language about privatization and development in under-served areas; he likes new construction and development. The city gets a good man with Goldsmith.