There is a debate in New York State that has been quietly gathering steam in the past several months.
Hydro-fracturing, or fracking, as it’s commonly called, has been steadily chewing away at the borders of our state, following the lucrative trail of natural gas in the shale that runs deep under the ground.
To hear large companies like ExxonMobil tell it, hydro-fracking is environmentally sound because the influx of harvested natural gas has reduced U.S. carbon dioxide emissions by 1.7 percent in 2011. This is according to Ken Cohen, vice president of public and government affairs for Exxon Mobil Corporation.
It seems like there is a lot more wrong with hydro-fracking than what is right.
There have been reports all over the country of increases in earthquakes, ruined water sources, and damage to wetlands and watersheds.
The Town of Colden recently put a moratorium in place against fracking. It was voted in unanimously during a town board meeting in April. There is enough concern about the dangers of fracking that people are worried that it will happen here.
What is hydro-fracking anyway? To tell the truth, I wasn’t exactly sure, so I’ve been researching it.
According to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, hydraulic fracturing involves drilling through the shale layer of the earth horizontally, using water, sand and chemicals, at high pressure, to crack the shale and release the natural gas and oil trapped within.
Just that definition alone is enough to see that bad things can happen with this process. The DEC states that huge amounts of fresh water are needed to make the “slick water” for the drilling. This involves taking the water from rivers, lakes, and streams, mixing it with chemicals, and blasting it into the earth. Does it seem feasible to do this with our water supply?
Add that to other environmental hazards that have been addressed by the CDC, in a paper documenting public health concerns about air and water contamination in Garfield County, Colorado.
It states, “Methane and fracking chemicals can also migrate into shallow aquifers used for drinking water wells. Benzene, toluene, ethyl benzene, and xylenes are naturally present in many hydrocarbon deposits, and may be present in drilling and fracking chemicals.”
What kinds of health problems will occur if these chemicals are unleashed into our air and water? What happens when our water supplies are depleted or contaminated? Being informed is the best weapon any of us have when it comes to protecting our health and the health of our children, and someday their children.
Fracking may be profitable in the short term, but the long-term environmental damage it will create will be irreparable.