Guest Opinion: Fracking and Destination Erie

Category:  Opinion
Wednesday, June 11th, 2014 at 6:19 AM

Having served as the Chair of the Environment Committee for the Destination Erie project for the past two and a half years, I’ve experienced some ups and downs as we have struggled to envision Erie thirty to forty years down the road. Our committee has worked hard to identify needs and policy to protect our natural resources that will make Erie County a cleaner, greener, and healthier community.

At times, it’s been frustrating to work with consultants and others who want to sugar-coat things like sprawl by calling it something else – even though land use has been a major problem over the past fifty years, with us developing over half of the land we had with no population growth.

But we have identified policy and action ideas that could protect and even enhance our quality of life, which could attract new business and people to the area as well as slow what we call the “brain drain.” Some of these ideas were brought up early in the process and others have been discussed more recently – things such as completing and complying with a Climate Action Plan and getting an Open Space Referendum on the County ballot for voters to decide if we should have a dedicated funding source for protecting more open space.

We’ve also found consensus on encouraging and promoting renewable energy, which would contribute to a greener economy, a need to focus on RE-development rather than development (as in using more open space), preserving agricultural land, making walkable neighborhoods, and improving public transportation. It should be obvious to most that environmental issues are threaded through most of the other focus areas of Destination Erie, such as Economy and Workforce, Housing and Neighborhoods, Transportation and Infrastructure, and Community Facilities.

But some issues have just recently been acknowledged, such as a ban on fracking in at least the Lake Erie watershed portion of Erie County. At a recent Consortium Leadership meeting, which included committee chairs and the leadership team, I brought up this idea and it was a pleasant surprise that our new County Executive, Kathy Dahlkemper, immediately embraced the idea and had the courage and vision to say so publicly. She needs to be commended for taking a stand on a controversial issue and we can only hope that her leadership will carry over to other elected officials. I have been outspoken all along that any ideas, actions, or policies coming from Destination Erie will need political will to get accomplished.

So your last chance as a community is this week to let your voices be heard on the issues mentioned here or on any of the other issues or actions recommended by the other committees. Meetings are being held throughout the County and a schedule can be found on the County’s website.

This is your plan. Most of us Baby Boomers who are working on this project will be gone by the time many of the action items that come from this plan will be implemented or results accomplished. But this is the future, this is your future.

If you would like to contact me, send me an email at and your phone number. 

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