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Source: The Auburn Citizen

Bill Balyszak: State needs to slow down on fracking


Posted: March 4, 2010
Originally Published: March 2, 2010

Hydraulic fracturing, often called “fracking” or “hydro-fracking,” involves the injection of 2 to 7 million gallons of water, sand and chemicals at high pressure down and across into a horizontally drilled well as far as 10,000 feet below the surface. The pressurized mixture causes the rock layer - in regional cases, that would be the Marcellus and Utica Shale - to crack. These fissures are held open by the sand particles so that natural gas from the shale can flow up the well - as well as about 30 percent of the highly contaminated frack fluid.

So what's wrong with this, one may ask?

A few weeks ago, I watched a documentary called “Split Estate” on the negative environmental and health effects that fracking has caused in Colorado. Truly a disturbing film. People's drinking water turned very salty and stayed that way; people were getting sicknesses that doctors couldn't figure out; extremely loud and constant 24/7 drilling noise; huge truck traffic problems; depleting water levels; stench from the contaminated wastewater holding ponds, etc., etc.

An ER nurse in Durango, Colo., almost died from multiple organ failures after only treating a wildcatter who had been splashed by a stimulation fracking fluid spill at a BP natural gas rig. Another Colorado individual turned his faucet on and lit the gas that came out along with his drinking water. One woman decided to move out of Colorado and her deadly symptoms disappeared.

Drilling companies in Pennsylvania are running out of ways to dispose of millions of gallons of their wastewater. Chesapeake Energy Corp.'s proposed solution was to bring and store up to 663 million gallons of wastewater to New York's Finger Lakes. Nice try.

According to Citizens Campaign for the Environment, much bigger questions loom here: Why are these gas drilling companies exempt from the Clean Water Act, Safe Drinking Water Act, Superfund and the Energy Policy Act of 2005, which ended the polluter-pays responsibility for the hydro-fracking industry?

It seems the only thing these outfits aren't exempt from is making huge profits. These exemptions are outrageous #- no, criminal - and threaten the health of millions of New Yorkers - and our environment, especially our drinking water supplies.

After receiving around 14,000 comments, the state Department of Environmental Conservation is preparing to issue regulations that would allow hydro-fracking throughout New York. Hopefully, these new regulations will take into account the overriding priorities of the safety of our health and environment and not cave in to the greed and political influences of these drilling companies.

It's time to remove the “Big Oil Thumbs” from these scales of injustice and make these fracking companies be 100 percent liable for their actions before we give them the green light or even a short yellow one.

A moratorium would be the wiser choice, Albany.

It's your health.