there is a proposal in our state to allow for the drilling of natural gas deposits in the Marcellus and Utica Shale underground geological formations that exist throughout a large portion of New York State.
This includes areas in watershed lands that supply water to over 9 million people in New York City and adjacent areas.
the trouble with this proposal is that oil and gas companies dig using a process called hydraulic fracturing. The process involved pumping huge amounts of water into wells in order to facilitate the extraction of the natural gas deposits. This water is reportedly laced with toxic material including benzene and other poisonous and carcinogenic substances.
Some of the fluid employed can be recovered, however, much of the fluid is left to seep into the ground which can leach down into aquifers that feed into our wells, streams, rivers, lakes and reservoirs. This would threaten the purity and safety of our water supply. The fluid that is reclaimed has to be stored and eventually disposed of, but how and where are very problematic.
A document was prepared seeking permission to drill in our state using hydraulic fracturing technology. The state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is considering this document for approval. Some public hearings were held across the state and the public comment period was extended an additional 30 days expiring on December 31, 2009.
A decision by the DEC is expected soon.
Several environmental organizations have spoken out against hydraulic fracturing including Environmental Advocates of new York, Riverkeeper and the Atlantic Chapter of the Sierra Club. The New York City Department of Environmental Protection has taken a strong stance against drilling in watershed areas using this process. Many elected officials have voiced opposition as well.
Hydraulic fracturing has already poisoned some wells and waterways in other states where it is allowed. Some fish kills have been reported. Yet despite all of this evidence and opposition, the drilling lobby is calling for thousands of wells to be drilled throughout New York State using hydraulic fracturing.
These wells use diesel burning drill equipment that run 24/7. Habitat and wildlife are disturbed because land has to be cleared around each well. Truck traffic to and from these wells disturbs the quality of life for residents living near these sites.
There are experts who feel that technologies can be developed to extract natural gas deposits safely without the use of harmful chemicals that can contaminate our water supply. the other problems associated with drilling may also be able to be mitigated. These options should be studied and pursued.
There are just so many reasons not to use the hydraulic fracturing process. If the city water supply ever became contaminated, a filtration system would have to be built, costing billions. It would probably take years to construct. What would be the toll on our health and on our economy?
Please take the time to contact the governor and your state representatives to ask for their help in preventing the use of hydraulic fracturing in New York State.