Peter Coleman presented a thoughtful and metered presentation to North Shore Rotary concerning the proliferation of fracking across New York State.
Although fracking is a common practice used in conventional oil drilling and even for accessing the water table and increasing the water pressure and providing safe drinking water to homes across the county, horizontal hydraulic fracking has altered the energy acquisition model of the country, potentially jeopardizing clean water, air, and local communities, which in NYS has led to widespread community activism and bans or moratoriums in over 140 cities and towns throughout the state.
Horizontal hydraulic fracturing is a new process that has been exempted from all environmental laws that enables the capture of natural gas deep below the earth’s surface. These reserves were previously thought to be unrecoverable.
Although the technology has advanced to allow this deep-earth extraction, which penetrates 5,000-10,000 feet before turning horizontal and creating an underground web with up to a four-mile diameter surrounding the insertion point, detractors say the process does not take the long-term health and environmental consequences of the impact into effect, thereby questioning the moral and philosophical underpinnings of the process.
The fossil fuel industry claims the process is the answer to our energy needs, promising 100 year supplies, energy independence, job creation, and everyone benefiting from lowered energy costs.
According to Coleman, “These claims are deceptive and overstated, and with drilling underway in 31 states there exists a growing body of evidence that fracking is a hazardous, high risk activity that is polluting air and massive amounts of water, turning rural areas into industrial zones, radically changing landscapes, and negatively affecting the health, welfare and sustainability of local communities.”
Fracking in NYS is currently on hold but with over 70,000 wells projected by NYS DEC, which will result in over 420,000 fracking operations requiring the use of 2.2 trillion gallons of fresh water, 2.1 billion truck trips, thousands of miles of pipelines and infrastructure, and the generation of huge amounts of toxic wastes over a 15-30 year period, the impact and potential ramifications are serious.
In response to these impacts and potential threats, many grassroots organizations have sprung up across upstate NY to protect their local communities and way of life and their efforts have resulted in bans or moratoriums in over 140 cities and towns, an unprecedented 70,000 comments to DEC’s draft environmental impact statement, and world-wide attention to the outcome in NYS.
“Gas is a global commodity that is not the clean energy being promoted, and the choice before us should not be the degree of destruction and pollution that will be allowed in NYS by our continued reliance on fossil fuels but rather a dialogue and process of informed decision-making that fully considers what is at stake and moves us to the future while protecting the health, resources and way of life of all communities across our great state,” Coleman concludes.
Peter Coleman is an Island resident and upstate landowner. His home is heated with inexpensive natural gas, but believes the ultimate cost to our country, and particularly New York State, is too high.