Hydraulic fracturing is a controversial topic in New York and other states. Better known as "hydrofracking," or "fracking," the process allows natural gas to be recovered from deep shale formations. The Marcellus Shale formation for this natural gas process runs through West Virginia, Ohio, Pennsylvania and New York.
In the struggle to reduce energy reliance on foreign fuel and carbon dioxide emissions, some politicians believe it to be a safe option as well as a revenue booster for the state. While New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo seeks to lift the ban on hydraulic fracturing that was passed by state lawmakers last year, we feel it is reckless.
Contrary to the view of some that it is safe and clean - aside from creating jobs and being extremely profitable - we feel this process of extracting natural gas has real danger for our fragile water supply. Pennsylvania is now dealing with toxic water problems due to lack of safeguard regulations in place.
The New York Times reviewed documents and reported in a series that the wastewater that comes back to the surface can be highly radioactive and inadequately treated and was then discharged back into rivers that supply drinking water. These downstream water supplies have not been required to test water sources for radioactivity, despite the known health threats and federal regulations.
In the documentary film "Gasland," families express frustration at irresponsible companies that purchased drilling rights on the property of private individuals. They testify that the companies have ignored their health issues from the gas fumes, that flames were shooting up in their backyards like torches and that they can light the water on fire from the kitchen faucet, as the gas and water flow as one out of all water supplies in the home.
You don't have to be an environmentalist to be upset with flames coming out of your tap water. You don't have to be a stakeholder to know it will affect everyone in the state. When it comes to our water supply, we can't take any chances. This subject goes beyond science and economics, and more into the ethical and moral values that could bring about earth-shattering, irreversible changes.
While we need to embrace opportunities that will give us safe energy for a sustainable future, we also need to avoid a potential dangerous scenario like the oil well blown out of control in the Gulf of Mexico or the nuclear meltdown caused by an earthquake/tsunami in Japan. If the water supply becomes toxic downstate, people will abandon their homes and run for the hills (or Adirondack Mountains).
Careful consideration and iron-clad safeguards need to be studied before issuing permits so we can make an educated decision before we rush into a tradeoff of domestically produced natural gas.