Sunday, June 12, 2011

Risking a fracking mess in southern NY

One of the important debates in the New York relates to hydrofracking (“fracking”), a natural gas extraction technique that’s incredibly destructive and threatening to the safe drinking water supply. Fracking companies are salivating over the possibility of operating in southern New York’s Marcellus Shale, which also extends into Pennsylvania where it’s already been very damaging.

The public radio show On Point had a good discussion about the basics of fracking.

Then-New York governor David Paterson issued an executive order imposing a temporary moratorium on fracking. Planet Albany blog reports that the state Assembly wants to extend that ban until June 1 of next year, so that the state Department of Environmental Conservation can complete a study into its damage to the environment and drinking water. It is unclear if the Senate will follow suit. The deputy majority leader, Republican Tom Libous, is from Binghamton, in southern New York, where some officials want the jobs that fracking would bring.

This is also called into a question by a Rochester Democrat and Chronicle report that the state’s pension fund has over $217 million invested into natural gas and fracking companies and $1 billion in total invested in the energy industry. "The main objective [of the pension fund] is to make money, so that's always a primary concern,” said state comptroller Tom DiNapoli, who is sole trustee of the fund.

The great non-profit journalistic website Pro Publica had a telling story on the fracking industry’s well-funded and –organized opposition to any safety disclosure requirements whatsoever. ProPublic has done a series of articles on hydrofracking and the natural gas industry.


PlanetAlbany said...

I guess I'm not convinced that fracking is necessarily "incredibly destructive and threatening to the safe drinking water supply," and fall into the boring camp of needing more information. The DEC is doing a study to be released soon, and other forms of energy production also have their problems, and upstate could actually use productive industry such as natural gas, so I am reluctant to rule it out.

Brian F said...

There's plenty of evidence in Pennsylvania (and in some of the Pro Publica reports I've linked to) about serious, unaddressed problems. I'm willing to wait for the study and what I'm talking about is not a permanent ban but a temporary moratorium. That said, a lot of questions need to be answered and we're not really hearing any so far.