Cornell Student Publishes “Study” Warning Marcellus Drilling in NY Will Impact Tourism in Finger Lakes

Yet another study from Cornell University about the effects of shale gas drilling. The Appalacian Regional Commission awarded a $7,000 grant to Cornell doctoral student Andrew Rumbach to write a term paper author a study on the potential impact of drilling on the tourism industry in the Southern Tier of New York—specifically in the Finger Lakes region of the state. The “study” predictably warns about heavy truck traffic, scenic destruction and the “industrialization” of our little piece of paradise. One of the the biggest threats? Our tourism “brand” will be tarnished.

The report, called “Natural Gas Drilling in the Marcellus Shale: Potential Impacts on the Tourism Economy of the Southern Tier,” was prepared for the Southern Tier Central Regional Planning and Development Board, with $7,000 in support from the Appalacian Regional Commission.

Rumbach said his study focuses on Schuyler, Steuben and Chemung Counties. He said the comparative Pennsylvanian information came from published reports, studies, and interviews with agencies, officials, and experts on natural gas drilling and Marcellus Shale.

Rumbach said all aspects of Marcellus Shale drilling combined “threaten to do serious damage to the tourism sector by degrading visitor experiences and creating an industrial landscape.” The focus of the study was not on whether drilling will hurt the tourism economy in general, but if it will damage the region’s “brand” as a “pristine and picturesque destination for wine lovers, outdoor enthusiasts, and budget-conscious travelers.” Rumbach said drilling will benefit hotels, restaurants, and stores during the initial surge of drilling employees.

…The study went on to say the visual aspects of drilling will impact Southern Tier tourism. Rumbach pointed out the drilling rigs can reach heights of 150 feet or more and are the most visible aspects of drilling activity. He said drilling transportation and storage facilities add to the long-term visual impacts. Rumbach said all components of drilling will combine to create an industrial landscape instead of a scenic one.

Outdoor recreation is another draw for the Finger Lakes. The study said activities like fishing and hunting would be impacted. Rumbach said the chief concern is water contamination from blowouts. He added just clearing thousands of well pads could impact water runoff patterns and aquatic habitats.*

Read the entire 35-page study below.

*The Observer Review & Express (Jul 13, 2011) – Study says hydrofracking will ‘threaten’ tourism