Statewide, New York college students concerned with hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, provided Governor Andrew Cuomoâ€™s office with petitions urging for increased study of the controversial natural gas extraction practice.
Fracking is a drilling technique that involves injecting water, sand, and a cocktail of chemicals at high pressure into rock formations thousands of feet below the surface. Once a well has been fracked, the used fracking fluid that comes back up from the well has to be dealt with. In Pennsylvania for example, this waste is frequently hauled to wastewater treatment plants where it is diluted and dumped into rivers and streams that serve as sources of drinking water.
Meanwhile, the students, who were organized by the New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG), collected some 10,000 signatures from New Yorkers concerned about potential fracking in the Marcellus Shale, said WXXI. New York State sits atop the Marcellus shale, a gas-rich formation that spans from New York to Maryland
Brendan Woodruff, NYPIRG’s Hydrofracking Campaign Organizer, is hoping that Governor Cuomo and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation conduct a “comprehensive” review of fracking during its updated review, which is scheduled for later this year, said WXXI. “The DEC has yet to prove that horizontal hydro fracking is safe,” said Woodruff, quoted WXXI. Last year, former NY Governor David Paterson issued an executive order calling for increased review of fracking; the order was continued by Governor Cuomo, said WXXI.
Woodruff pointed out that earlier versions of the DEC study did not fully review the overall impacts of drilling, for instance from where all the millions of gallons of water are taken and how to dispose of the chemical-laden water safely, given that the water may contain toxins, wrote WXXI. The review also did not cover the broadening degradation of the rural landscape and the increase in noise pollution due to increased large vehicle traffic. The students also seek disclosure from industry on specific chemicals used in fracking.
Recently, a well blowout near the town of Canton, Pennsylvania allowed thousands of gallons of chemical-laced fracking fluid to spew from the damaged well. The spilled fluid breached its containment, and spilled out onto adjacent farmland and into a tributary of Towanda Creek. Seven families were evacuated for hours after the blowout, and a local farmer was told not to allow cows to drink from water on his farm.
Also, earlier this week, we wrote that Pennsylvania environmental regulators announced that natural gas drillers are close to ending one of the most controversial practices associated with fracking. According to the Associated Press, the stateâ€™s Marcellus shale natural gas drillers promised, by May 19, to stop sending fracking wastewater, which often contains toxic chemicals, to sewage treatment plants that discharge into the streams and rivers that provide drinking water to millions of Pennsylvanianâ€™s. Right now, Pennsylvania is the only state that allows most of its fracking wastewater to be treated and dumped in rivers and streams.