Florence Carnahan, November 22, 2014

Title

Florence Carnahan, November 22, 2014

Subject

Hydraulic Fracturing
Environment
Energy Audit
Concerned Burlington Neighbors

Description

Florence Carnahan is an environmentalist living in Burlington Flats, New York and a friend of the Cooperstown Graduate Program. After living everywhere from Orange County, Pennsylvania to Barrow, Alaska, Carnahan has seen the effects of oil drilling on communities. Carnahan became active in the anti-hydraulic fracturing movement in Burlington, New York in 2011 when she cofounded Concerned Burlington Neighbors. Concerned Burlington Neighbors raised awareness about the effects of hydraulic fracturing on the environment through activities like participating in Town Board meetings and creating an informational website.
Hydraulic fracturing is a process by which fluid is injected into horizontally drilled wells to fracture rock so that natural gases are more easily accessible. Hydraulic fracturing is currently a contentious issue in communities throughout the United States. Those in favor of hydraulic fracturing argue that it is both an energy source and a catalyst for economic development. Those against hydraulic fracturing cite its potential dangers for the water supply, human health, and human safety. There is currently a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing in the state of New York.
Carnahan’s recollections range from explanations of how she conserves energy in her home to an analysis of the hydraulic fracturing debate. Some of the most interesting material in the interview concerns strained community relations in Burlington as a result of this debate. I interviewed Mrs. Carnahan at her home in Burlington Flats, New York. The hydraulic fracturing debate has become less heated since the founding of Concerned Burlington Neighbors in 2011 so she is able to speak to the challenges and successes of the organization. Carnahan is still involved in environmental organizations.
Mrs. Carnahan speaks in a clear, concise manner. I have fixed some grammatical and acronymic errors but have otherwise directly transcribed her speech. Researchers are encouraged, however, to consult the audio recordings to hear Carnahan speak in her own voice.

Creator

Carly Faison

Publisher

Cooperstown Graduate Program, State University of New York-College at Oneonta

Date

2014-11-22

Rights

New York State Historical Association Library, Cooperstown, NY

Format

audio/mp3
28.8 mB
audio/mp3
28 mB
image/jpeg
49 KB

Language

en-US

Type

Sound
Image

Identifier

14-020

Coverage

Upstate, New York
Burlington Flats, New York

Interviewer

Carly Faison

Interviewee

Florence Carnahan

Location

5626 State Highway 51
Burlington Flats, NY

Transcription

Cooperstown Graduate Program
Oral History Project Fall 2014

FC=Florence Carnahan
CF=Carly M. Faison

[START OF TRACK 1, 0:00]

CF:
This is Carly Faison interviewing Florence Carnahan at her home in Burlington Flats, New York on November 22, 2014 for the Cooperstown Graduate Program’s oral history project, which is part of the Research and Fieldwork course. Florence, what do you think about hydraulic fracturing?
FC:
Well, I’m definitely against it. I have signs all over the place that say that it’s something that I don’t like. It’s a whole process that I think we need to put in our past and not have to deal with anymore.
CF:
Do you consider yourself an environmentalist or conservationist?
FC:
Yes, I guess I do. I belong to a couple of environmental organizations and I support them with my activities and with donations either in-kind or money. As far as conservation, we have a windmill and solar panels and we’ve had a couple of energy audits done of our house. We’ve applied conservation measures to the house. We just have always been very careful about what we use and what we purchase and how we use the things that we have.
CF:
Now you mentioned that you’re in some environmental groups. Can you speak about those?
FC:
Broadly there’s the Sierra Club. At first they were not anti-fracking. That kind of upset me and I called them and they were just in a change from one head of the group to another one. The head of the group who was leaving was not against fracking. He spoke out about it being necessary as a bridge fuel to the future. The man who is now the head of the Sierra Club had a whole different feeling. They and all of their smaller groups are definitely against fracking. There’s a local one, which is the Atlantic Chapter, and it’s out of Syracuse. We went to one of their talks. That was I think the first one we ever went to on fracking. They were very convincing. They are very active. Then I support local groups who are conservation or environmentally supportive.
[TRACK 1, 2:48]
CF:
Can you tell me about those local groups?
FC:
Yes, well there’s one called the Otsego County Conservation Association or OCCA. They are concerned about the local environment. I’ve been involved with them for two reasons. One was to get people interested in energy conservation measures for their homes and their property and also in recycling. Those are two issues that are really important to me. Another one is Otsego 2000. They also are very anti-fracking. They’re also supportive of local farmers and they do the Farmer’s Market. Then there’s the Otsego County Land Trust and my husband is on the board so I’ve become involved with them through that. We don’t have a conservation easement ourselves because we don’t have much property. We don’t have anything that would necessarily be of interest to them as far as wetlands or any kind of water or interesting things on our property that would make it an appropriate choice for them to have us do an easement.
[TRACK 1, 4:13]
CF:
When you’re working with these groups, what do you do?
FC:
With the Otsego County Conservation Association, I have been active in something called terracycle, which is an alternative recycling process for the kinds of things you can’t recycle in the regular county waste system. Then also we set up a group called Energy Wise Otsego County. We developed some workshops to introduce the idea of energy audits to people for their homes and to try and just talk about how to conserve energy in their homes. We’ve donated books on climate change and organic gardening and sustainable lifestyles, I guess, to Otsego 2000 and the Land Trust and they have a resource room there with those books.
CF:
Can you tell me more about energy audits?
FC:
Yeah. An energy audit is actually something that is a program through New York State and other states have this as well. You can sign up for an energy audit and we have contractors who are on a list from NYSERDA, which is the [New York State Energy Research and Development Authority]. They come in and they test your house for leaking energy so that if you’re heating the outdoors you’re spending money that you don’t need to spend. You want to keep all that heat indoors. They come into the house with different kinds of equipment. They have an infrared camera so that they can see where the heat is leaking and also something called a blower door where they check to see where the energy is going out as well. Then you can hire them to come and remediate all of those things so that if you’ve got energy leaking through doors and windows, they will caulk those. We also had heat problems with our basement so they put extra insulation there. That then let’s our main part of our house be warmer in the winter. What else do they do? I guess there are a number of things that they do. The energy audit for most people is free and paid for by New York State so it’s a use for the taxes that we’re paying. You can have the work done, and depending on your income, some of it can be free. Some of it paid for with low-cost loans.
[TRACK 1, 8:04]
CF:
How do you get people interested in this or how do you tell them about it and make them aware of this opportunity?
FC:
Well, we set up some workshops that were an hour or two long and we had speakers. There are actually two groups in Otsego County. There are the Opportunities for Otsego out of Oneonta and Equity Energy out of Fly Creek. They came with their equipment and they provided speakers. We had a program through New York State with PowerPoint to address the energy conservation concerns. We actually had a lot of people show up when we had it in Oneonta. The other workshops, they were all free, and we were offering something to people for free and to also lower their energy bills. Not very many people showed up so we aren’t doing that program anymore. All of that information is available online anyway. I’m beginning to see commercials on television for that as well.
CF:
What is your approach to educating the public about environmental issues?
FC:
Well, my approach is probably not all that good. You really need to have a sense of humor and one of the people who we had speak at these energy workshops has a sense of humor and he was very good. He’s actually the one that convinced me to have the energy audit done, especially when he talked about the comfort in the house. As you get older, you want to have different kinds of comforts as well as the energy conservation. He also said that before you have solar panels installed, you should make sure that your house is not going to leak energy. The comfort and the conservation and something to do before we put in our solar panels was the important thing for me. I was hoping that those things would be important to other people too. I think it’s going to take a while for that message to get out to people.
[TRACK 1, 10:20]
CF:
Can you tell me about Concerned Burlington Neighbors?
FC:
Yes. In 2011, I found a letter in the mailbox from someone who I didn’t know. It was actually two people, a couple. They said that they were hoping to start a conversation about fracking in our town. They sent the letter to me because they saw that I had a “No Drill, No Spill” sign in my yard. They sent out letters to other people as well who also had signs. One of those people in that couple and I started the Concerned Burlington Neighbors right around this table as a matter of fact with her laptop computer. We printed out information that we needed and she had already talked to some other people. At that point, I was at a loss of what to do. I had first heard of fracking in about 2007 and I really didn’t understand what it was and I didn’t believe that this beautiful area here, that anything like that would come here and disturb the agriculture and the beauty of the valley and the surrounding towns. I didn’t really pay any attention; I had my head in the sand. By 2008, the town of Burlington started work on a comprehensive plan, which supposedly brings the town together so that they can talk about what they would like to see in the future of the town. A survey was sent out and we responded to that. There were actually a lot of responses. We have about 1100 people in the town. 430 people responded and that’s 46% of all residents. For most surveys they say about 7% is a good amount of surveys completed and returned. It came out that 48% of the group who responded were against fracking and 12% were for and there was no recorded result for people who were unsure or didn’t really know anything about it. That was defeated in our town, the comprehensive plan was, even after that survey.
[TRACK 1, 13:13]
At that time I also started attending meetings that were held in local towns where people came with their PowerPoints and their photographs of what it looked like where people had already fracked, especially in Pennsylvania. A lot of people attended and they had good people talking at all of these things. They had attorneys talking and geologists, people who were involved in the oil and gas field as their careers. They all talked about how it was going to impact an area like this and it was going to be a negative impact. I think about that time there was also a moratorium from the state. There are two things, you can have a ban or a moratorium. A ban stops the fracking or whatever industry or activity you want to have stopped and a moratorium puts it on hold. So far we’ve had one for a little over five years. Anyway, my husband and I attended rallies and we signed petitions and we wrote to our legislators and we read as much as we could about the fracking to decide whether it was really as dangerous as we were told.

The Concerned Burlington Neighbors, when the other person who sent the letter around to see if we were interested in being part of something against fracking in our town, when she and I talked about it and she had already talked to other people in the area, she found out that a survey was a good thing to have. We decided to do one even though our town had done one. This was about two and a half, three years later. It was still an issue. We got a mailbox in the town, we did a website, we bought materials for the survey, stamps, we had it printed. We did it all locally because we felt that it was important if we were going to be talking about our town that it should be something that was as local as we could make it. We sent the survey out. We did it by a list of registered voters and property owners. It actually was a lot of work and we paid for it ourselves. It was just very important to us. We kept all the information we had confidential. That was in July of 2011, at the very beginning. At the middle of the month when we had our Town Board meeting, we attended that and we told the Town Board what we were doing. We had a few other people who came along with us who decided they wanted to be part of this as well. We told the board that it would be kept confidential and that we would give them the results of the survey.
[TRACK 1, 16:37]
A lot of people signed. We had 1100 people here but we had a better response than the Town Board survey did. Nobody knew who we were. Nobody knew who was doing the survey. Some people thought it was the oil and gas industry that were doing the survey and they didn’t answer it. There were some people who thought it was the “anti’s” as they call us and they didn’t answer it. We still had a lot of results and 61% came through as against drilling, 28% for drilling, and 11% unsure. We know now, although we didn’t know it then, that some of the people who signed with us actually signed because they thought that they would be able to get some information about what we were doing. They were not necessarily against it. They just wanted to know what was happening, maybe sort of to keep an eye on us.

We know that there are reasons that people signed one way or another. Economics is a big thing. We don’t have very much economic development in our town. People were very concerned about jobs and their income. There had always been some kind of leases in the area for gas but it was a different kind of drilling. People didn’t understand that that had changed. It used to be just a vertical drilling straight down but this new kind of thing called fracking they would go straight down but then they go out in all different directions and it could go under other people’s property, whether they wanted the fracking done on their property or not. It’s very hard to get that information out but we scheduled a meeting at the Pathfinder Village in the next town where we knew we could have seating for a lot of people and we actually had eighty-five people show up. Some were for and some were against and some didn’t know anything about it. We had three speakers who had spoken at many of the meetings around here. We had a lot of local people come and ask questions, tell why they were for or against it. We handed out a lot of material to show people what the impacts would be on their property values on hunting because in Pennsylvania people had already discovered that the fracking was disturbing hunting. Hunting is a big thing here. People come from elsewhere and local people hunt. That was an important issue. What it could do for water, health, and safety. We kept on. We did ads, every week we had an ad in the Penny Saver trying to inform people about what was happening. We took information from different places, articles in newspapers, articles that were written by attorneys about things like the property values. We did that out of our own pockets, too. We gathered enough people. By that time we had about forty people in our group. People were willing to help us do this because they also didn’t want fracking in the town. Many of them showed up at the Town Board meetings. We had this website as I said that we were hoping would inform people. We sent out letters to tell people about it. As far as we know, a lot of people looked at it. Other towns around us were banning or having moratoriums at that time. We were never successful.
[TRACK 1, 20:40]
CF:
What was the climate of the community like at the time that you were starting this in 2011 I think you said?
FC:
Well, most of the people who were against it were people from outside. We had moved here from all kinds of places, New Jersey, there were people from New York City, we moved up here from Orange County although we’ve lived all around the country. People didn’t know us very well and I think that they made some assumptions about who we were and perhaps we made assumptions as well about the community that we didn’t know as well. Although some of the people who were in our group had lived here as long as 35 years and were important members of the community: schoolteachers, business people. We were not just all from one political point of view. We had people who signed who we know were conservatives, Republicans, and Democrats. We may not all have agreed on every issue but this was one issue that we did agree on. We were not well received. Maybe we came on too strong because in the past the Town Board meetings were not as well attended as when we started bringing our twenty to forty people at a meeting. It was overwhelming for the Town Board. We were there really speaking on one issue and it probably seemed like we only had one issue that we found important, but that one was just the one that was most important to us at that time. The Town Board at that time was mostly people who had been on the board for many years or I guess had maybe been off of the board and came back on and they knew each other very well. We were all getting to know each other in our group so it was a new thing for us. I have a feeling we didn’t find out as much information as we should have about the local community, although some of the people who had lived here for many years already were established parts of the community. Some people lived here part time and threatening things were said to them. I know that we had comments on our surveys and some of the comments that were put on the surveys were very personal and not very nice. I was told to go back where I came from, although nobody knew where I came from. That didn’t really matter, I’m a New Yorker by birth and my father grew up on a farm in upstate New York. I think that we were all looked at as outsiders and different. That was kind of hard. I think things have changed somewhat.
[TRACK 1, 24:27]
CF:
Can you speak to how things have changed?
FC:
Yes. We don’t come in great numbers to the Town Board meetings anymore and we have become involved in other issues. I think all around we might be a little bit better accepted by the Town Board. We were able to back someone who is on the Town Board now who felt, at least about this issue, the same way we did, anti-fracking. I think generally everybody really wants to have the same thing. We want to live in a safe place, in good health, if not prosper, at least do well, more than just survive. I think we all like this area, certainly the people who live here and those of us who’ve moved here. People who live here may have lived here for generations and may have felt that they wanted to stay here or they didn’t have a choice to leave. The rest of us who moved here chose the place because of what we saw and what appeared to us to be the values that we were interested in living with.
[TRACK 1, 26:08]
CF:
Why did you choose to move here?
FC:
My husband had gone to the Cooperstown Graduate Program in the 1970s. He really liked the area and we had friends here. We wanted to be in an area that we thought depended on agriculture as a good part of its economy. Small town. We’re small town people. We grew up in small towns. It’s just beautiful. The hills and the valleys here are beautiful. This is what we wanted to be surrounded by. We wanted to have a place where we thought we could have a garden. We grow all of our own food and buy what we can’t raise from our neighbors. Those things were important to us.
CF:
What’s your biggest concern about the environment, your greatest fear?
FC:
Well, climate change, I guess. I think that when you’ve lived a lot of places like we have, you see what kinds of things can happen when people are not really concerned enough about the environment that they live in, whether it’s the urban sprawl or suburban sprawl that people talk about. We’ve lived in areas where that’s happened. We’ve lived in cities, not big cities. I think Anchorage, Alaska was the largest one and that was less than 300,000 people. Living there also, we had a really good idea of what happened when Prudhoe Bay, the oil drilling was there. We lived in Barrow, Alaska, which is up on the Arctic Ocean. We knew what could happen with oil and gas development. We knew the negatives about that. Even living in Anchorage, all of the stories that were told at the meetings around here about the changes that you have in your local culture we knew could very easily happen because we had seen it in Alaska. We have no zoning here. I know that’s not a favorite topic of people here but I also know that if you live in places where there is no zoning, things can happen that you don’t want to have happen to your communities. It happened to us when we had a small farm in Pennsylvania and the farm across from us was developed. There was no zoning and it changed the area that we lived in. We left. We understood that you could move and we didn’t have family ties there so we could make that move but people who can’t are stuck with what happens. If you have some idea beforehand of what you want to have in the area where you live then you can better control what comes in. We had seen it
[START OF TRACK 2, 0:00]
in every community that we lived in. We lived in Orange County before here and after 9/11 a lot of people moved north. I don’t blame them at all, it’s just that small communities all of a sudden have too many people, too much traffic, and it takes awhile to figure out how to handle all of that. Those changes happen sometimes whether you want them to or not but if you have some way of controlling them then you can manage them better. I think that if you’ve never come across that before, and here I don’t think it’s really happened, you just don’t know that those things can happen. You think that it’s always going to be the way it is now and that you can live near your neighbors but not be bothered. Those things do change and make an impact on your life. Certainly fracking, with the horizontal drilling would do that. It already had divided families because some families were pro-fracking and some families were anti-fracking. Some parts of the family were anti-fracking and you might have elderly relatives who could be hurt by either their property, their mortgages, their health. Those kinds of things are impacted. You just don’t realize that can happen and then all of a sudden there it is confronting you. Certainly we have Pennsylvania and thirty-something other states that this is happening in. I think that if we can pay attention to that, we have more chance of keeping the places we like the way they are.
[TRACK 2, 2:06]
CF:
Can you tell me about how fracking would affect someone’s health? How does that happen?
FC:
Yes. There are a lot of chemicals that are used in fracking that could impact people’s health. Some of them are chemicals that cause breathing problems so if somebody already has emphysema or asthma that just is made worse. There are others that can cause birth defects. When you combine a lot of chemicals, they’re going to react in some way together so that I think it just makes it worse. Let’s see, what else can it do for health? Some of the chemicals are known carcinogens. The fracking industry has what they call proprietary mixtures that they use to do the fracking. Health professionals¬–nurses, doctors, EMTs–they don’t necessarily know what’s in the fracking fluid. If somebody comes to them who had some kind of contact with the chemicals, they don’t know how to treat them. That’s time lost in trying to get somebody past whatever the first danger is and to try and figure out how to help them.
[TRACK 2, 3:56]
CF:
Can you tell me about your relationship with your neighbors?
FC:
Yes, we have neighbors who are very friendly to us. We have neighbors who also probably are not happy with us because we are against the fracking. We were told that we were keeping them from making money if they were to lease their land. I guess that’s not a very good neighborly relationship.
CF:
How do you deal with that?
FC:
Well, we tried to talk to people about how this could impact them. We have a neighbor who values his land and he said if it could be done safely, he would like to have it done and he would also like to have the kind of job that comes with it because that’s good for family finances. He said if he thought it would injure his family in any way, he would be against it. But the oil and gas industry has a lot of their own information out saying that that’s not going to happen, that it is safe and that nobody is going to get hurt. Unless people do the reading and pay attention to the information about it, they really don’t know because they are just listening to one side of the story.
CF:
Where do you get your information?
FC:
News, for one thing. On the Internet there’s a lot of information and there are studies being done that talk about what the chemicals are and what they do. All of that information is available to anybody who wants to look. I think a lot of people are really afraid of finding out the information and they might not look. Because I’m interested, I do look. I really don’t want to have a future where people have to worry about their health or their property values or their safety. I’m interested and I look. There are studies that are done by attorneys about how this will impact whether you can get insurance or not for your property, whether a bank will give you a mortgage, about property values. There are studies done by health professionals about what this could do to your health. There are a lot of websites. Just about every town around here has one like the one we had. We all gather information from so many different places and put it in one place for people to read if they’d like. I’ve also read the information from the oil and gas industry and the things that come from our government about fracking.
[TRACK 2, 7:49]
CF:
Now you spoke earlier about the Town Board meetings that you attended. Can you tell me more about those?
FC:
Yes, I wish that I had started attending Town Board meetings years ago in places that I lived in because I really was so involved in my own life, raising a child and growing our food or at work because work takes up a lot of your time. Now that I’m retired I have a lot more time and I can pay attention to these things. Town Board meetings are really informational. You find out how the town is spending your tax money that you give them every January or whenever. You hear about everything from stray dogs to what’s going on in the local court, how the different people’s properties are assessed. People come and talk about local issues. A couple of meetings I’ve been to people have talked about different things having to do with local cemeteries, whether somebody can be buried in the cemetery or who’s taking care of the cemetery. We don’t have our own fire department or our own school or our own library in this town so those are issues that don’t usually come up. There are different people on the board who talk about issues as they come up. Most of what goes on at our town meetings has to do with highway and road maintenance, which is very important in a small town. We have state roads, we have county roads, but we also have town roads. That’s a big subject. When we were attending the meetings at first and we were bringing our information to try and inform people, there was one particular instance that came up. There were a couple of meetings where people came who had a different opinion about the fracking than we did and at one of those meetings an attorney came from the Finger Lakes area and he spoke about fracking. He was threatened at the end of that meeting. Someone drew a gun on him. We now have a new ordinance, or I’m not exactly sure what it’s called, but you can’t come into the town building with a weapon anymore. Whether people did ordinarily anyway I don’t think so but certainly that night was sort of a wake up call for the board. The board also brought people who they thought they wanted to listen to about fracking. We had asked for several people to come. They did have this one attorney come. We had asked for some other people to come talk about it and how it would impact our town in relationship to the other towns, too. People can come and get on the agenda to inform the town about an issue that they are particularly interested in. I find it very interesting. Our relationship with the board has changed somewhat in that only about four or five us come [to the meetings.] They have allowed us time to speak our piece and have also listened to us on other issues besides the fracking. I think we’ve all come to the meeting now interested in other issues as well because it’s our town. I wish more people would come and do that.
[TRACK 2, 11:50]
CF:
What kind of other issues are you talking about now?
FC:
As I’ve said, there’s the highway. Different issues about roads, it’s not just the maintenance of roads but it’s whether certain roads should be kept open to the public or whether they should have a different designation. The cemeteries I had mentioned. Whether we should have a sign to inform people about the meetings and when they are and what the subjects are. I can’t think of any others right now but there have been others. Oh, I know, trash. We have had in the past a contract with a nearby town so that we all bring our trash to the same dump. We’ve been cut loose from that and so a bunch of meetings have been on how to handle that issue and how to make it a town-centered issue. There’s also an electrical line that would be going from upstate to New York City and it already came through Burlington once and that was the last big issue I think before fracking. I wasn’t here for that. It was some of the same people and also a different set of people who were concerned about that. Another issue is that a lot of people don’t have the Internet here. We’re lucky we’re on this state road where Time Warner Cable goes through and we have cable and Internet but most people don’t. That’s been an issue as well. Cell phone towers, different things like that.
[TRACK 2, 13:50]
CF:
What do you feel was your place in the community when you first moved here, and what do you think your place in the community is now?
FC:
Well, when we first moved here we were working in Cooperstown and we bought an older house and we fixed it up. We didn’t attend anything in town. We didn’t know very much about the town and we didn’t spend as much time as we should have trying to find out more about how things were going, including Town Board meetings. Mostly we were centered with our job in Cooperstown and that’s where our friends were. We weren’t here very often. Once I retired and became involved in the Concerned Burlington Neighbors and the anti-fracking, I became more aware of what was going on in town and who people were and how important it is to be a part of your town. I’ll never be accepted because while we’ve lived here ten years we’re outsiders and we always will be. This has happened to us in other communities too so it’s not something that we were unaware of. We really like the town, we like our house, we like the people that we have met. We feel good about living here. We thought when the fracking came about that we would move, we would go someplace where there was no fracking. We looked at Vermont. Actually when you start looking around every state has its issues. Maybe it’s just good to stick with what you have and if you feel it needs to be changed, try and change it. If it doesn’t need to be changed, live comfortably.
[TRACK 2, 15:50]
CF:
What do you think your greatest success has been in dealing with these environmental issues around town?
FC:
I think just making people aware. There was actually another survey done. The town did another survey so it was the third survey. That was in 2012. That was really very close to what we had figured out. We pushed for this thing called a comprehensive plan. Before we moved here I had no idea what it was or that it was important. What it does is that it sets out on paper a series of issues that people are concerned about and that they feel need to be either kept the same or changed. My husband had a lot of experience with that because when we lived in Barrow, Alaska he was the Deputy Director of the Planning Department there and he had to deal with comprehensive plans, and planning boards, and meetings like that. He knew all about those kinds of things but he was still working in town when I retired and did all of these things so he wasn’t as involved. He’s now on the local planning board. I think that that comprehensive plan is probably the thing that we did that we pressed for. I think they were willing to do it, I don’t think that we brought that up. It was before we even started. It’s just that we really kind of pushed hard for it. It doesn’t ban or even give a moratorium to fracking but it does deal with issues that are important to a small community and to the residents.
[TRACK 2, 18:11]
CF:
Would you have done anything differently looking back now?
FC:
Yes. [Laughs] I think we came on very strong and I think that that wasn’t the right thing to do. We were all scared of the fracking and I still am. I think it’s very dangerous and not only that, but as time has gone on it’s showed itself to be just as dangerous as we thought it would be. There is a lot of science behind the health issue, which I think is a really important one, because we’re exposed to so many chemicals anyway. This just would add more. It has already damaged lives in the other thirty-four states I think that already have fracking. I think it would have been good if we hadn’t been so frightened and we had been able to figure out a way to say things differently and come across in not such a forceful way I guess. I’m not even sure that’s the right word. Just found another way to get our message across.
[TRACK 2, 19:51]
CF:
What do you think the greatest challenge is coming up in the next few years regarding this issue?
FC:
We’re still waiting for the governor to decide whether there will be a statewide ban for fracking. He has an idea that it could just be done in a small part of New York State and that would make everybody happy, and it wouldn’t. Because the people who would be exposed to the fracking who don’t want it in that area, it’s called the Southern Tier of New York State, they don’t want it anymore than we want it here. We really have no idea. We still have this moratorium that’s going on its sixth year. Mostly it’s waiting for the governor to make his decision. He’s says he’s waiting on a health study. There have been a lot of health studies done and this one probably could have been done before. In a way, maybe it’s good that it hasn’t come out yet because they have a lot more information that’s negative about fracking that could be exposed in the health study. We really need to wait for the governor to come up with whether he’s going to allow the fracking or not, I guess.
[TRACK 2, 21:20]
CF:
What’s your greatest hope for the Burlington community?
FC:
There are things that I would like to see that I know won’t happen. The fracking issue I hope will be resolved in a statewide ban. There are also other things that are here. The kind of farming that’s done here is conventional farming and it’s done with a lot of chemicals. There are already cancer problems here that, from my reading of studies, some of those cancers are caused by the chemicals being used in farming. I would like to see something happen that would convince people that they can do another kind of farming. There are already small farmers moving in here, some have lived here for a long time, that are actually making a living at farming in a more healthful way. The organic farming, I know that’s not everybody’s idea of how farming should be done, but these people are actually making a living. It’s not an extraordinary living but they are making enough to live on and they are treating the land in a better way than dumping chemicals on it. I’d like to see some way for there to be jobs for the area that would be good for the community, that would employ people, and that wouldn’t hurt the environment. Those are the things that I would like to see.
[TRACK 2, 23:21]
CF:
You spoke a little bit earlier and just now about economic development and the environment. It seems that they are kind of at odds. Can you speak to that a little bit?
FC:
Some of the industries that are done in the area are not good for the environment because of the chemicals. Not necessarily industries because I don’t necessarily consider agriculture an industry, although in some ways it is because of the equipment that’s used and the chemicals. So that’s something that’s at odds. I’m not sure how to answer that one. Well, in a way I can. Without certain things in a comprehensive plan, there are certain industries that can move in. You can have a landfill, which is not good for the environment. When I was first doing some research on comprehensive plans, one of the communities around here, not one of the ones right next to us but still one of the ones in the county, said that they started developing a comprehensive plan because they were approached by a medical waste company to have an incinerator in their community. They didn’t have a comprehensive plan so they were open to anything that could come in. When they started looking into what a medical waste facility would bring to their community, they decided they didn’t want to have it. There were health and safety issues that they were concerned about. That’s what spurred them on to do the comprehensive plan. There’s another aspect of the fracking which doesn’t actually mean that you have to have fracking in your community, but they bring pipelines in. We already have one nearby here and there was already an explosion, not a major explosion. That’s only about fifteen miles from where we live. One of the activities that has to do with fracking is they have to have a way to get that fracked gas places so they build pipelines. There are several pipelines that are being considered now. That could change a community too. They bring in these things called a compressor and the noise from a compressor is very loud. It also emits other things into the atmosphere that you don’t want to have but it’s necessary to move the gas through the pipeline. Those are things that we call the ancillary activities that happen around fracking. That wouldn’t be good for the environment. I think the idea of having small industries that don’t impact the environment in a negative way is good and farming that wouldn’t harm the environment as well.
[TRACK 2, 27:11]
CF:
Is there anything on your timeline that you’d like to illuminate before we conclude our conversation?
FC:
I haven’t thought about that. No, I guess not. I’d have to think about that one a little bit more. Do you have any other questions?
CF:
Is there anything that you’d like to add before we’re done?
FC:
Yeah, I guess actually what I would like to see happen also is to have more alternative energy in town. I know that there are people who are against the large wind farms and I totally understand that. I would like to see something happen so that people can have their own energy generated on their own piece of property. There are ways that people can do that who have money and there are ways that people can do that that don’t have as much money. You can lease solar panels and you don’t have to put money up front for that but you do really well with your energy generation. I think that there will be more programs like that in the future. I think the state is working on that, trying to figure out how to make it so that people can make their own energy themselves through geothermal or solar energy or the wind. So I guess that’s probably it.
CF:
Thank you so much, Florence, for talking to me today.
FC:
You’re welcome.

Duration

30:00 - Part 1
29:12 - Part 2

Time Summary

Track 1 2:48 - Otsego County Conservation Association
Track 1 10:20 - Concerned Burlington Neighbors
Track 1 20:40 - Burlington Flats
Track 2 2:06 - Fracking
Track 2 3:56 - Neighbors
Track 2 7:49 - Town Board Meetings
Track 2 15:50 - Environmental Awareness
Track 2 19:51 - New York State Fracking Ban
Track 2 27:11 - Alternative Energy

Files

Carnahan_Faison_11222014_Photo.jpg

Citation

Carly Faison, “Florence Carnahan, November 22, 2014,” CGP Community Stories, accessed May 21, 2022, http://cgpcommunitystories.org/items/show/195.