Report from DFNYC member Dan Jacoby:
Across the southern tier of New York, from the Hudson River to Lake Erie – including the New York City watershed – and extending through Pennsylvania, West Virginia and part of Ohio, 7,000 feet underground, is a rock layer called “Marcellus shale.” This rock layer contains enough natural gas in New York alone to meet current U.S. demand for 20 years, and gas drillers want it.
The process drillers use to get the natural gas is called hydraulic fracturing, or “hydrofracing.” They pump huge amounts of water, sand and chemicals into the ground, opening fractures in the rock and pulling the natural gas out. Unfortunately, at best they only reclaim about 70% of the fluid. The rest is left behind – and it gets into the water supply. There is also new information showing that drilling may be putting toxic chemicals into the air.
In other states where hydrofracing has been used in various rock formations, far less of the fluid is used, and the health of local residents is still permanently damaged. Their symptoms are consistent with multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, and other diseases.
In addition, natural gas also gets into the water supply. Earlier this year, NBC News did a story about a Colorado couple who could literally light their tap water on fire. On New Year’s Day, in Dimock, PA, a water well exploded from natural gas buildup – that natural gas has been traced to drilling in the Marcellus shale layer there.
New York City’s water supply is one of only five nationwide that doesn’t require a filtration plant. Allowing gas drilling in our watershed will change that, will probably cost upward of $20 billion – and still may not adequately protect our water supply.
Earlier this year, Councilmember James Gennaro introduced Resolution 1850, which calls on the state legislature to ban hydrofracing in the New York City watershed. On September 30, Councilmember Tony Avella introduced Resolution 2191, which calls on the state legislature to ban hydrofracing statewide. Co-sponsors to date are: Charles Barron, Gale Brewer, Letitia James, Melissa Mark-Viverito, Rosie Mendez.
As New York moves closer to beginning hydrofracing, Pennsylvania has put a moratorium on the process, due to the environmental ha
Meanwhile, the NY state Dept. of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has released a draft report on this issue (http://www.dec.ny.gov/energy/58440.html ). It’s long, complex – and often avoids the real problems associated with hydrofracing. ProPublica describes it at: http://www.propublica.org/feature/new-york-state-paves-way-for-gas-drilling-with-release-of-review-930
DFNYC members may soon be asked to comment on this issue. Meanwhile, feel free to call your council member in support ofResolution 2191. A 60-day comment period is now open on the DEC report at:http://www.dec.ny.gov/cfmx/extapps/SGEISComments/ . You can also ask for an extension of the comment period: http://www.citizenscampaign.org/action_alerts/alert1009.htm
There are a lot of organizations involved in this issue. We want to provide links that help you find out about this and take action. Here are some of the ones we’ve found, but the fact that we’re providing these links does not mean that we endorse them or their actions. We’re just gathering information. Let us know what you find out as well.
Groups involved in the issue: