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NYS Fracking hiatus presents Rochester media with an opportunity

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Governor Cuomo’s suggestion that a decision on “…hydraulic fracturing for natural gas might not come before November…” has annoyed a lot of folks. Some pro-Fracking people, furious that the six-year delay will be extended yet again, have decided to sue:

“A group of Southern Tier landowners are suing Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) and the State of New York for five years of delays in making a decision on high volume hydraulic fracturing. The first of its kind lawsuit says the state is not following the law by repeatedly delaying its decision, and the losses suffered by landowners due to the moratorium violates their Fifth Amendment rights.”Landowners sue Gov. Cuomo for delays in fracking decision (11/ 13/ 2013, WBNG)

Rochester’s media, despite the almost-certain link between Climate Change and humanity’s use of fossil fuels for energy, continually frames our energy issue around their obsession with Fracking.

It is interesting that the media in Rochester and around the world keeps framing the Fracking issue incorrectly. The issue the media should be reporting on is how we can get energy to fuel our way of life as Climate Change continues to radically change our environment. Long before Fracking should have been considered as an energy option, all other renewable energy options, their infrastructures, energy conservation, and energy efficiency should have been given a chance. Instead, the media has allowed the fossil fuel industry to hijack our options during a time of warming. Consequently, from now until sometime in the fall there will continue to be a media focus on Fracking, reporting only when they can find some Fracking scraps to feed upon, instead of addressing Climate Change.

It doesn’t have to be this way. It doesn’t have to be the cases that in discussions about Fracking, pro-frackers can get away with “I don't buy the "Climate change" rhetoric”. By default, when our local media finds itself incapable of properly reporting on the science and the accumulating evidence of Climate Change, the public dialogue on this world crisis leap-frogs over the main issue. Suddenly, we find ourselves only capable of talking about only one of the possible solutions. Talking about Fracking without talking about Climate Change is like talking about fishing without talking about water.

Essentially, the press has already given up on the public before the public has had a full chance to understand what the issue is. The media already assumes that the public doesn’t know or care about the grave implications of Climate Change and their way of life. They assume the public won’t act in their children’s best interests if given all the facts about Climate Change. They assume the only way forward the public will approve is to continue on the same trajectory that got us in this mess in the first place.

When our media doesn’t validate the projections of climate studies in our region by reporting on them, the public begins to believe that we here in New York need not concern ourselves with our energy needs and climate. And yet the whole issue of Climate Change is about our energy use—it’s what got us in this crisis in the first place. How we got our energy to fuel our way of life caused Climate Change, so how we use energy in the future becomes a moral decision that we should be making. But we are not making that moral decision about our future. We are throwing Fracking facts back and forth.

Until November, or whenever the governor makes his decision on Fracking, our local media should step back from their self- generated fracas and see the big picture, the one they’ve been avoiding for some time now. We could have a thorough examination of the moral and practical problems of how we should get energy without further increasing greenhouse gases. More jobs can be part of that discussion and, yes, there is a possibility that those jobs won’t be Fracking jobs. There’s also the possibility that those who got Fracking leases had been counting their chickens before they hatched. There is also the possibility that our generation will take up our responsibilities on energy use. But that is unlikely to occur if the media treats the public as only a blood-thirsty crowd at the fights.

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