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Hydraulic fracturing, commonly known as “fracking,” is a process used to extract natural gas from underground shale deposits. The problem with the process is that it uses toxic, carcinogenic chemicals combined with huge amounts of water to facilitate the removal of the gas. These chemicals can reach into wells, waterways, reservoirs and underground aquifers, thereby contaminating our water supplies. Other states that allow fracking have had instances where wells and streams have become contaminated due to fracking.
Some of the fracking fluid remaining after drilling can be recovered, but then the problem arises as to its proper and safe disposal. Many community and environmental groups oppose fracking for a variety of reasons not only in New York, but in many states across the country.
The state Department of Environmental Conservation has recently released a revised statement regarding the possibility of allowing fracking in New York in certain areas. The document is more than 1,500 pages long and is being reviewed by concerned citizens and groups throughout our state and beyond.
There is only a 90-day window for public input regarding this document — a time period seen as too short for proper understanding of the document’s components and ramifications. The input period ends Dec. 12. Many are calling for a 180-day public review period.
Also, only four public hearings are scheduled for people to voice their opinions on this matter. Only one of those hearings is in New York City. This is inadequate and unacceptable. Gov. Andrew Cuomo must insist that the DEC extend the public input period and that more hearings must be held in more locations in our state on this crucial issue.
It is my understanding that state Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside) is proposing legislation that would ban fracking in New York state. There is much evidence that fracking is too dangerous to allow, especially in our watershed areas. The gas and oil companies are waging huge public relations campaigns to convince New Yorkers that fracking is safe, but obviously the financial bonanza that they would reap if fracking were to be sanctioned is their priority.
Our country needs to be concentrating on finding and implementing cleaner, greener ways of producing energy. Perhaps a method for extracting natural gas can be developed that would not threaten our water supplies. The dangerous, polluting technologies of the past must be replaced by renewable sources such as solar and wind power. These advances will create jobs. Nuclear power, so-called clean coal, biomass incineration and tracking should be phased out and taxpayer-funded subsidies to help these industries should be discontinued.
There is much information online about fracking, including details about the DEC statement and public input period. If you believe strongly about this issue, submit a statement to the DEC or contact Cuomo’s office or your local elected officials’ offices.
They need to hear from the public on this most important issue.
©2011 Community Newspaper Group
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