Preservation League New York’s Newest Anti-Drilling Group

Surprise! There’s a new anti-drilling organization in New York State (where new anti-drilling organizations pop up like flies). You can now add the Preservation League of New York State to the list of those who want to strip away property rights from individuals in order to enforce their worldview on others. From the New York Times Green blog:

The Preservation League of New York State plans to announce this week that it will list swaths of land in drilling regions upstate as endangered historic and cultural resources and seek drilling restrictions around the properties. League officials argue that proposed state rules that would govern hydrofracking once this type of drilling is green-lighted by the Cuomo administration do not take many historic resources in the Marcellus or Utica Shale regions into account. As a result, they say, some valuable properties would be vulnerable to damage from industrial activity.

The officials say they are trying to protect buildings and agricultural landscapes dating back to the 1700s and 1800s in 30 counties. These include Greek Revival-style houses, barns and field patterns.

“You’re in effect seeing landscapes that existed 150 years ago,” said Daniel Mackay, the league’s director of public policy. “That type of setting is at risk of having its character transformed by the drilling, support traffic, pipelines and water withdrawals.”

In their comments to the state Department of Environmental Conservation, which is currently reviewing the proposed fracking regulations and an environmental impact study, preservationists are urging state officials to require a survey of historic and cultural resources as a condition of granting a drilling permit application. Once such resources are identified, buffer zones should be created to protect those sites, they say.

In the meantime, the league, a nonprofit member-based organization based in Albany, is adding all historic and cultural sites in the Marcellus and Utica Shale gas regions to its endangered properties program, known as Seven to Save. The goal is to make those sites a priority for the next two years and raise public awareness about them.*

MDN’s view: The Preservation League’s statement is silly and maddening at the same time. Drilling doesn’t destroy old barns and houses. Pipelines get buried and six months later you can’t even tell where they are located. Note to preservationists: The landscapes you see today don’t look like they did 150 years ago. They didn’t have paved roads back then. Or road signs. Or utility poles dotting the landscape. And fences and “field patterns” have changed too. Stone fences back then, barbed wire now. A stand of trees or entire forest cut here for a new field, and letting what was a field go to seed and regrow trees there. Nature, and man’s interaction with it, changes things over time. And what’s wrong with things changing anyway? What makes 150 years ago so special? Why not go back to oh, the Stone Age. Yeah, let’s preserve it the way it was then!

These are people with too much time on their hands—people who like to interfere in other peoples’ business. Just say “no thanks” to the Preservation League of New York.

*New York Times (Mar 30, 2012) – A New Weapon in the Fracking Wars

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