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Sierra Club: We Need A Million Fracking Letters

by George Klein

TODAY is the LAST DAY to submit public comments to the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) on the the Revised Draft SGEIS on hydrofracking. It is imperative to demonstrate to the NYSDEC and Governor Cuomo the strength of the opposition to hydrofracking by New Yorkers.

Please do everything you can to make your voice heard louder than ever and to Governor Cuomo and the NYSDEC by visiting www.amillionfrackingletters.com and taking one minute to use the automated letter writer which will put together a letter for you that will be hand delivered to the Governor’s office in Albany and if you wish, a copy will also be delivered to the NYSDEC for the public comment period which ends this Wed, January 11, 2012.

If you would like a reminder about what’s wrong with hydrofracking and why residents you should be concerned, here are a few reasons why.

What’s Wrong with Hydrofracking?

Horizontal, slick-water hydraulic fracturing, also know as “hydrofracking” or “fracking, is a relatively new technology developed to extract natural gas trapped in bedrock below the surface.  The technique involves injecting millions of gallons of water mixed with thousands of gallons of highly toxic chemicals and sand which is then forced under high pressure down and across into horizontally drilled wells, thousands of feet below the surface and then sucking the toxic wastewater (or flowback fluid) back to the surface along with the gas and other contaminants, including radioactive materials.

According to the Chesapeake Energy Company, the possible complications resulting from fracking include “well blow-outs, craterings, explosions, pipe failures, fires and uncontrollable flows of natural gas or well fluids.”

This inherently dangerous and destructive form of energy exploration is an environmental and public health disaster.  It will pollute our air, threaten our drinking water, contaminate our soil, our food, negatively impact tourism, agriculture, and other local businesses, and raise our taxes.

Here are the top reasons why we should oppose hydrofracking in New York:

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  • Air pollution is a certainty with fracking.
  • Protections for our drinking water are inadequate.  Insufficient setbacks from NYC watershed and infrastructure would enable horizontal drilling under the watershed.
  • Accidents happen.  Even with safegurards, the process of fracking is so dangerous that it can never be considered safe.
  • Other states have learned the hard way.  Families in Pennsylvania and other states with fracking have lost their water supplies forever. The air quality in Wyoming near fracking operations is worse than in downtown Los Angeles.
  • There is no comprehensive disposal plan for the billions of gallons of toxic fracking wastewater which contains radioactive elements and other toxic materials that cannot be adequately or safely handled by water treatment facilities. Fifty-nine international scientists have warned in a letter to Governor Cuomo in September 2011 that municipal drinking water filtration systems are not designed to remove radioactive materials, toxic chemicals and other contaminants found in fracking wastewater.
  • Fracking companies have applied for export permits to ship the gas overseas.  There is no guarantee New York State will get any of the gas.
  • Fracking operations are exempt from the federal Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act and the Safe Drinking Water Act.  When accidents happen, taxpayers will be on the hook.
  • Diesel tractor-trailers carrying toxic chemicals or radioactive wastewater will fill New York highways for years.  One thousand truck trips are required to frack a single well. Many tens of thousands of hydrofracking wells are expected in New York State.
  • Natural gas may burn cleaner than other fuels, but the total pollution from all phases of fracking makes it environmentally unsound.  During production it emits large quantities of methane, a greenhouse gas that is 30 times more potent than carbon dioxide.
  • There is no plan to identify areas prone to seismic activity in New York and steps to prevent earthquakes that may be associated with hydrofracking.
  • No health impact assessment of public health impacts of hydrofracking as requested by more than 250 physicians and medical groups including the American Academy of Pediatrics in a letter to Governor Cuomo, the New York State Department of Health and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation in October 2011.
  • No evaluation of cumulative impacts of hydrofracking in New York State on air, water, roads and public infrastructure.
  • Diminished staffing and resources within the NYSDEC over the last few years and by admission of its own employees NYSDEC cannot possibly provide adequate oversight of hydrofracking industry in NYS.
  • Economic benefits inflated; job projections inflated-most workers are out-of-state company employees. Unaccounted economic costs of job displacement from negative impacts of hydrofracking on agriculture, tourism, hunting, fishing, wineries and other local New York State industries.
  • In the risk-benefit equation, citizens take all the risks, and the benefits go to the giant oil and gas companies.

Please make your voice heard loud and clear now by visiting www.amillionfrackingletters.com and please forward this message widely.

George Klein is the Chairman of the Sierra Club of the Lower Hudson Valley

Cartoon “Hydro Fracking Explained,” Copyright 2012, Kipp Jarden

See also: Fearing Frackenstein, 4/6/2011




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