Callicoon, NY at Center of State’s Fracking Debate

Some farmers are hoping for <"http://www.yourlawyer.com/topics/overview/hydraulic_fracturing_fracking">fracking and that the shale gas on their land will be tapped and they can enjoy the financial bonuses and royalties, said USA Today; however, other landowners are fighting against the gas drilling, which many feel will contaminate their water and environment.

Gas drilling via a process called hydraulic fracturing has been the subject of controversy across the nation. Critics of hydraulic fracturing, also called fracking, claim the chemicals used in the process, coupled with a lack of regulation, are endangering both the environment and the health of people who live near such drilling operations. Indeed, water contamination, air quality problems, and an increase in health ailments have been reported in several communities where fracking operations are prevalent.

Fracking has begun in the Marcellus Shale, an enormous formation underneath the states of New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and West Virginia, noted USA Today. Of note, in New York, fracking has been particularly controversial. The state’s Marcellus shale region encompasses the entire Catskills watershed that provides New York City with all of its drinking water and residents there are worried that drilling could pollute the watershed. Of note, said USA Today, New York City’s is one of the few city systems not requiring water filtration.

Proponents of the controversial process feel that drilling will save upstate New York where farmers are negotiating so-called gas leases and hoping for tax revenues from the gas that could be tapped from their land, noted USA Today. Not everyone agrees.

We just wrote that the Governor of New York recently announced fracking will not occur in the state’s Marcellus shale region unless it can be proven that the procedure will not pollute water supplies. As we’ve previously written, fracking permits in the state have been on hold for two years as regulators complete an environmental review expected this year. PressConnects.com reports that a bill pending approval in the Assembly could be delayed until mid-May 2011.

Energy companies have been tempting landowners in New York state for some two years with promises of up to $2,000 per acre if they sign the gas leases that will allow exploration and drilling; additional monies can come in the form of royalties if gas is extracted, reported USA Today.

The economic benefit to New York could be “incredible,” said Brad Gill, executive director of the Independent Oil and Gas Association, quoted USA Today, which represents energy companies operating in New York. According to Gill, in Pennsylvania, where drilling has begun, “the motels are filled, the restaurants are filled. It’s flourishing,” wrote USA Today.

Gas drilling via fracking has been the subject of controversy nationwide. Critics claim chemicals used in the process, coupled with a lack of regulation, endanger the environment and the health of people who live near drilling operations. Indeed, water contamination, air quality problems, and an increase in health ailments have been reported in several communities where fracking operations are prevalent.

Fracking is now used in about 90 percent of US gas and oil wells and involves injecting water, sand, and a cocktail of chemicals at high pressure into rock formations thousands of feet below the surface. Because the federal Energy Policy Act of 2005 exempted fracking from regulation under the Safe Drinking Water Act, shale gas drillers don’t have to disclose what chemicals they use. According to a report issued by the Environmental Working Group, fracking has been linked to drinking water contamination and property damage in Colorado, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wyoming.

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