By Abbi Overfelt
December 10, 2013
We understand that the creation of energy is a necessary evil. With it will always come great cost — and not always the kind that can be measured by dollars and cents, but by the air we breathe, the water which we drink, and the soil in which we sink our feet.
These things are more precious than gold — or are they?
In the economic state of our city, our state and our country, is anything more valuable than the potential to create a few jobs, however short-term? Could anything be worth more than offering a few more dollars to a company that could bring those jobs, and potentially some additional revenue?
These are the bases of the arguments for and against “fracking” in our area — potential statewide economic incentives vs. the need to keep our rural lands clean, property values as high as possible, the air breathable and the water drinkable. These questions also comprise arguments seen with the proposed military training facility and solar farm, to which the resounding response has been, “not in my backyard.”
It’s an argument that’s not easily won by either team. If there are jobs, people will come. If there is money to provide corporations with incentives, they, too, may want to move in. Our land needs to stay clean and our property values high, of course, but if no one wants to come here, then what are we saving them for? We can have clean air and good water, but what is the good of that if no one is here to breathe it in? Then again, who will move in if our resources are tainted?
As Martin Farley said in Tuesday’s front page story, there will always be trade-offs. We have to be sure that we are not letting ourselves accept the short end of the stick, welcoming in anything that comes our way, while also being reasonable enough to accept that not every deal is going to be rosy to all involved.
Solar energy, in our minds, is one of the cleanest ways to generate electricity. All it takes is land, and we’ve got lots of it. However, it clogs up an otherwise natural landscape with its huge, chunky grids, which destroy habitats and can exert harmful emissions if not disposed of correctly. It has been suggested by local residents that solar farms lower the property values of nearby homes, and are not the economic boon promised by solar energy companies.
Fracking would bring far more negative impact to the area, with chemicals being pumped into rock, trucks rumbling up and down county roads, and residents miles away feeling the effects.
We would encourage the same voices who oppose bringing solar energy to the area to speak out against “fracking,” if the noisy, polluting operation would ever rear its head near Scotland County, though we hope that Farley is right, and there is little or no natural gas buried beneath our feet. While it is all about trade-offs, that would be one, we think, that would bear costs too great to recoup.