By now, it seems like New York’s debate over hydraulic fracturing, a process of drilling for natural gas that involves shooting jets of sand, water and chemicals into Marcellus Shale rock deposits, has been simmering since ancient, teensy-tiny marine animals roamed the seas, biodegraded and started this whole damn process. For the past three years, New York state has held a moratorium on fracking, one that could be removed this year if the Department of Environmental Conservation passes regulations to allow the drilling of New York’s major supply of gas-rich rock. Back in November, the DEC attempted to draft policies that would make this feasible, but proceedings were halted by a fierce public response, and the period of public comment was extended to Jan. 11, i.e. tomorrow. That means that now is the last chance for anyone to get in his or her two cents about this highly contentious process, one that has already caused serious issues for drinking water in Pennsylvania and Wyoming.
Many New York residents and environmentalists are split over the issue, with some arguing that there’s no safe way to frack, while others think that (with appropriate and stringent regulation) drilling could work. The weight of evidence against is fairly damning, as exposés like Gasland have pointed out how careless and destructive hydraulic fracturing can lead to poisoned drinking water. Much attention has also been paid to Pennsylvania, the land where fracking fluid runs free. Residents of Dimock, Pennsylvania, who draw from wells in the heart of drilling country, have been complaining of tainted drinking water from Cabot Oil & Gas Corporation’s hydrofracking industry for years. The EPA has yet to provide water for Dimock, despite methane contamination in the wells, but in the meantime the area has become a national symbol of fracking’s threat to human health. Mark Ruffalo, who has become the main celebrity voice of the anti-fracking movement, has rallied for delivering clean water to the town.
It’s no small beans that New York’s Marcellus Shale formation happens to sit in the Delaware River Basin, which supplies drinking water to 15.6 million people. Meanwhile, as deliberations are pulling to a close in Albany, opponents are delivering thousands of last-minute comments to the DEC. On Monday, the comment count tallied to 21,000. If you have something to say about fracking, pro, anti, or even a bit of both, submit your comment on the DEC website, here.
Follow Sydney Brownstone on Twitter @sydbrownstone