The Oxford Visionaries: Can Fracking and a Healthy Future Co-exist?

The Oxford Visionaries:  a Comprehensive Plan for the Future of Oxford’s residents of all ages.

The Oxford Visionaries, a grassroots organization formed in Oxford, NY, dedicates its full time efforts to fostering the participation of all Oxford residents, including young people, in the development of a joint Village-Town Comprehensive Plan affecting our future for generations to come.

The Plan must address the critical issue of whether to permit or prohibit high-volume hydrofracked gas drilling within Oxford. The 2013 town board election promises to determine which way the Oxford Community will prefer. We track the day by day progress of that election — the issues, the debates, and the developments — on a specially dedicated web page:

We Oxford Visionaries live in tiny (one square mile) Oxford Village and the Town of Oxford, a rural paradise in Chenango County, Upstate New York, located between Binghamton and Utica.  Settled in 1789 beside the Chenango River, Oxford is surrounded by idyllic lakes, streams, and farmland. 

According to many residents of Oxford, that paradise faces grave danger — the threat of high volume hydraulic fracturing (Fracking) to excavate methane gas, primarily for export.  The opposing view — also shared among many — is that large scale fracking 0perations will bring economic prosperity and jobs throughout the area.

Drilling the Marcellus: Thousands of feet below those pastures and lakes lies the methane-rich Marcellus Shale, which extends to Tennessee. Gas and oil companies  seek permission to frack every inch of shale to excavate the gas trapped there, impossible to reach before the advent of hydraulic fracturing, still barely ten years old.  Currently, however, New York State enforces a moratorium on drilling, pending results of scientific research on the effects of gas drilling on air and water contamination and upon health.

 This website explores basic questions: Will fracking bring major economic benefits to the area, as some landowners hope and gas companies have predicted? Will Oxford see an influx of highly-paid, permanent jobs? Or will invasions of temporary workers bring transient crime and lasting social disruption?  Will fracking bring pollution and irreversible contamination of air and water — or not? 

Explore this fundamental debate on our Web Page “Frackonomics” — a paper published by the Manhattan Institute’s Empire Center for New York State Policy and a critique by economist Jannette Barth, Ph.D.  Or take a bird’s eye look at nearby existing gas drilling operations in Pennsylvania. 

This website seeks to address all sides of the issue of gas drilling (we do not address fracked drilling for oil, only for methane).  We publish information from both sides of the issues:  environmentalists and investors in energy, for example.

We welcome and seek out responsible pro-industry information, research, and other evidence — including efforts to reach compromise between the gas industry and environmentalists.  

Recent Developments:  In November, 2013 an election will determine the composition of the Town Board, which has supported gas drilling since its passage of a controversial pro-drilling zoning law in 2007. 

Oxford Visionaries tracks the developments and debates surrounding this crucial election day by day.    

In February, 2013, the Oxford, NY Village Board achieved an historic victory over gas drilling, passing a law declaring Oxford Village a No Frack Zone! Oxford Village has joined Andes, NY in the Catskills to ban fracking, and neighboring Sydney, NY, along with Avon, NY has declared a moratorium. In May, 2013, the New York Appelate Court unanimously ruled that the constitutional principle of Home Rule allowed local governments to determine zoning laws as they see fit. 

The Oxford Visionaries’ focus has shifted to a new joint Village-Town Oxford Vision Plan (known as a Comprehensive Plan) to lay out a fresh vision of Oxford’s future — an essential step to prepare for new zoning laws — either in favor of or opposed to gas drilling, affecting generations to come.

Links to more than 100 other Web pages of stories, videos, interviews, opinions, photos, news articles, and answers to questions about fracking — are listed in the lower half of the graphic photograph above.

Whether you are a lease-holding landowner or actively oppose fracking, we designed this website for your benefit.


If fracking does arrive, how can the community prepare for the consequences? 

Can advanced technology and strict, enforceable regulations ensure that fracking can be safe?

Most rural communities are abysmally unprepared for the traumatic disruption, dislocation and utter transformation of the community and its natural resources — irreversible contamination of water, air, and land.

More questions:

What happens when hydrofracking changes a rural community into a massive industrial complex of gas factories?  

Is the industrialized environment dangerous to our water, to our air, to our animals, and, above all, to the health and well-being of all our residents, young and old?  Where is the evidence?

Is it possible to compromise: reach agreement among environmentalists and representatives of business and industry to regulate and discipline hydraulic fracturing to take advantage of recent improvements in technology and management?

Critics of flawed environmental and industrial regulations claim that an entire region suddenly becomes vulnerable to enormous amounts of toxic chemical waste, lethal amounts of radioactivity, water contamination, noxious air pollution and incessant earsplitting noise from huge trucks and compressor stations all day and night.  

How valid are these charges?   Will fracking operations turn the landscape for miles and miles around into a bleak, poisonous industrial wasteland?

Visions or nightmares?

Myths or realities?

Or exaggerations on both sides?  

The questions are fraught with emotion. Where does the truth lie? 


Scan the links more than 100  topics listed below the Home Page graphic and click on the ones that interest you. Follow the local issues on our election page.

 On one hand, watch some of the videos and view photographs that show fracking in practice. Watch and listen to landowners who signed gas leases in Pennsylvania.  Let Cornell Engineering Professor Tony Ingraffea explain the facts and science behind fracking, and the pro-fracking “The Facts on Fracking” summary of research findings. 

For a current overview of the debate in Oxford — a “Promised Land” microcosm of rural America,  read “Fracking: Environmental Battle of this Generation.”

Weigh the pros and cons.  

Then answer the fundamental question about fracking: Are the potential economic benefits worth the costs?  

What is the economic future of the natural gas industry in the United States? Is the gas boom about to go bust?   This website covers those topics as well.

The following 7-minute video in 3-D animation demonstrates what can go wrong with a fracked gas well. 



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