The time for the public to submit their comments on the controversial method of extracting natural gas from underground, known as fracking, is coming to an end, ushering in the process of deciding whether or not to permit the practice in upstate New York.
Twenty Thousand Comments
Wednesday, January 11, 2012 is the date when all reasons, pro and con, to develop fracking in New York will no longer be accepted, and the process of sorting through over 20,000 comments which have been received since September will be commenced by the Department of Environmental Conservation of New York. Local communities, environmental groups and the energy industry all submitted their opinions of this highly controversial process.
Elsewhere in the United States fracking has made available supplies of natural gas which could last decades, but has also been blamed for polluting underground water sources.
“If high-volume hydraulic fracturing moves forward in New York, it will move forward with the strictest standards in the nation to ensure New York’s drinking water and other natural resources are thoroughly protected,” said DEC Commissioner Joe Martens in a statement.
Environmentalists Not Reassured
Reassurances such as Marten’s have not calmed the nerves of many in New York concerned with safety and the environment. Public hearings which were held throughout the state in November were filled with loud, frenzied disagreements. Especially in the small towns where the drilling will most likely take place, people voiced deep concern.
New York State sits above the Marcellus shale formation, known to be richly supplied with natural gas. But instead of just going in and retrieving the gas, New York instead placed a moratorium on the process which extracts the gas, known as fracking, until in could assess the impact of the process on the environment. Fracking involves pumping millions of gallons of water laced with chemicals deep underground to extract the gas.
EPA Finds Fracking Problematic
A study conducted recently by the Environmental Protection Agency showed that the dangerous chemicals used in fracking most likely leeched out into a Wyoming aquifer. This accusation however has been vehemently denied by Encana Corp, which drills in the area. In other locations gas has escaped from poorly built wells, resulting in the contamination of drinking water.
Environmental groups are concerned that fracking could pollute water not only for residents in rural upstate New York, where the drilling will be, but for people as far away as New York City.
Energy companies are threatening to leave New York if the ban on fracking is not lifted. They insist that the process can be done safely. In addition they say that fracking will bring jobs and money into New York’s troubled economy.
“The opportunity to develop one of the world’s largest resources of clean burning natural gas is too great to be lost, or left off-limits to responsible development,” said Michael Doyle, executive director of the American Petroleum Institute.