Friday, 19 November 2010 00:00
(Editors Note: The following is a letter sent to Andrew Cuomo and the Hicksville Illustrated News.)
Most New Yorkers do not know about hydrofracking. This letter, based upon my own reading and information from the Wilderness Society’s recent 2010-2011 issue, should make them understand that the human cost and the dangers it will unleash are reasons why we should not allow it. Called fracking, for short, it is the taking of natural gas buried within rocks and bringing it to the surface for use as energy. How? There is a rock formation called the Marcellus Shale. It lies within two-thirds of Pennsylvania and stretches from upstate New York into West Virginia. The problem is that it does tremendous damage to the land and water.
Currently, there has been a rush to drill for this so-called “bridge fuel” that can transition us to non-polluting, renewable resources like solar and wind energy. In New York, however, a moratorium has been imposed until the environmental impacts can be determined.
Imagine gas drilled vertically to a depth of about a mile, and then horizontal drilling over large areas. Millions of gallons of water, sand and chemical additions are used in this process. “Flowing back up with the gas is briny waste, 10 times saltier than sea water, plus chemicals known as fracking liquids.” The industry putting in these chemicals refuse to identify them, although some are known carcinogens. The waste also contains radioactive elements from the shale itself.
What happens to the water itself is that it flows to the surface and is stored in large pits awaiting disposal; leaks and spills have occurred at numerous sites. In addition, the impact upon the land is devastating: forested regions cleared for drilling pads, access roads, compressor stations, trucks hauling water and waste on rural roads, miles of pipeline snaking across the land for hook-ups. These are only a few of the risks imposed upon residents who live near to the drilling sites. Contaminated wells, polluted streams, sickened livestock, little or no regulation. In fact, “The 2005 Energy Policy Act exempted hydraulic fracturing from compliance with the Safe Drinking Water Act.” This was known as the “Halliburton loophole.”
This is a “no brainer:” there is no such thing as zero-impact drilling. New York State, its people, and its water system will be imperiled if we allow this fracking.
Money and jobs have influenced those who want it. But what will happen to our water and ecosystem when they are polluted and damaged? This cannot be measured in money. This cannot be undone. It will be measured in illness and suffering. When will we put our federal and state monies into progressive, safe energies? We hope we will find other paths to energy, but not drilling upstate into Marcellus Shale.