Fracking: Can New York Stop It?
by Kelly Abbruzzese
Feb 19, 2013 | 14536 views | 7 7 comments | 539 539 recommendations | email to a friend | print
High volume horizontal fracking is one of the most significant threats in the history of the State of New York. Across the state and in New York City, a battle is currently being waged ( to protect communities from fracking, as international gas corporations have their eyes on the Marcellus and Utica shale formations which underlie areas of the state.

Communities are being torn apart by the growing divide between the minority of citizens who are hoping to profit from fracking and the majority of New York residents (recent Siena poll) who oppose it based on health and environmental concerns.

Fracking has become “the elephant in the room,” dominating thought and discussion in cities and towns, both large and small. Many are asking, “Is it worth the risk?”

Those who support fracking will tell you that the “natural” gas (shale gas) to be extracted is one of the cleanest burning fossil fuels, and that by burning these fuels we may perhaps reduce fossil fuel emissions and vastly improve the general quality of air, thereby slowing global warming.

Shale gas supporters also claim that we as a nation will thus become less dependent upon foreign energy and that there will be more jobs created in an economy that is in desperate need of a boost.

These claims have already been disproven and shown to be little more than “industry hype” designed to advance corporate agendas.

There is mounting evidence of the detrimental effects of fracking on the environment, human health and sociological aspects of communities wherever it has been permitted. According to the website, “Over 500 chemicals – many which have been identified as toxic or carcinogenic - are pumped into the ground during fracking procedures.”

The drillers claim they do not use toxic chemicals, only a benign mixture of mud, sand and some guar gum, and the industry continues to refuse to disclose the identity and chemical nature of many of their fracking compounds, claiming them to be “proprietary” products.

However, the evaporation pits where the liquids are contained after drilling prove differently. It has been documented that these liquids can contain heavy metals like arsenic and radioactivity from the shale.

The effects on the environment are irreversible. Fracking chemicals can leech into aquifers and water wells, leading to the contamination of household water supplies. And though water contamination should be of great concern to everyone, the EPA is actually barred from regulating the impact of fracking on groundwater.

Congress, in 2005, exempted fracking from the Clean Water and the Safe Drinking Water Acts. How is it that an agency that should be protecting the environment is actually barred from regulating and testing water that could become contaminated as the result of unsafe industry practices?

It is apparent to everyone that the drilling industry plans were laid well in advance of today, as in 2005 Congress not only exempted the industry from Superfund (environmental cleanup) laws, but also exempted the gas industry from the Clean Air Act.

Beyond the health and environmental concerns, there are negative sociological repercussions in communities being threatened with fracking. Neighbors and families who once concentrated their energies on farming and livestock are now fighting over gas leases and land rights.

The proliferation of “pro-drilling” and “anti-fracking” lawn signs found on roads throughout New York State further pit neighbors against neighbors.

In other parts of the U.S. where fracking is already permitted, there has been an influx of out-of-state drilling workers; strangers who invade communities, deplete resources, overburden the infrastructure, including hospitals and law enforcement, taking the jobs that the locals were promised would be theirs and driving long-term residents from their rental properties.

As recently as last week, there was discussion among the state’s legislators about shipping frack waste products to Long Island for disposal. Frack waste is not only toxic, it’s radioactive. Add to this concern proposals to construct large (30”) pipelines to transport the shale gas to ports for export to foreign lands.

We cannot allow the agendas of profit-seeking corporations to threaten our safety and well being or alter our way of life, whether we live upstate, in the city, or on Long Island. And as a nation we cannot continue to ignore the damage caused by fracking.

The Great Law of the Iroquois Confederacy states that “in every deliberation, we must consider the impact on the seventh generation.” We must all hope for the day when we pick up our newspapers and the front page headlines read, “New York State Bans Hydrofracking!” Then we can be assured that the quest to take care of our seventh generation has begun.

Kelly Abbruzzese is a resident of Middle Village.

Comments-icon Post a Comment
February 20, 2013
You can keep the $14 an hour for a Starbuck's worker (wonder what that does to the price of a cup of coffee?)...we do quite well here ourselves WITHOUT the gas companies. Texas has little to lose as far as grassland, aquifers, and pristine rivers and waterways. Perhaps you perceive NY as a concrete jungle, but most of NY is not NY city...We have many of the best wineries in the country who rely on clean water to produce their product. Our agriculture is more important to our way of life than money. Our livestock eat GRASS not hay shipped in from somewhere else. Regardless of what you may have heard, the MAJORITY of NYers Do NOT want fracking. And since this OUR state and the majority SHOULD rule...this should be a done deal. Fracking will produce many short-term gains including jobs in the legal, medical, and veterinarian fields...NYers are not trained in drilling like Texans, so many of the gas industry jobs will not be for the local folks (just ask Pennsylvania). Natural gas has been under our feet for millions of years...and it isn't going anywhere. It will still be there when someone can figure out a SAFE way to extract it without decimating the region they get it from and leaving the people holding the bag of an environmental clean-up project.
Texas Oil Man
February 20, 2013
This is a republic and not a democracy. The majority is subject to the law and individual freedoms are paramount, it does not "rule". I'm a Texan and my cows eat grass asshole. Quit mud slinging and face the facts, there are very few downsides to horizontal drilling. The only one I know of is that it can become an eyesore and cause limited disruption at the surface. Of course the mineral rights owner is so well compensated any disruption or eyesore is quickly overlooked. A pump jack is a beautiful sight to most landowners. By the way, we have good wineries down here too buddy.
John Nofrack
February 21, 2013
I never said we were a democracy…I never said the majority was not subject to the law or individual freedoms…What law says NYers have to disrupt our environment by fracking? And, what about the individual freedoms of all of those (the majority) who do not want to do something that is irreparable?

Looking at “beautiful” pump jacks is a way of life in Texas. And, to you it probably IS beautiful…it represents Texas culture, economy, and history. But, I think most NYers would agree with me that they would be an eyesore in our landscape…it just isn’t part of NYs way of life. Besides, I believe what we would end up with are well heads which are less obnoxious, but still unsightly.

Maybe we have a difference of opinion on the word limited. Limited disruption at the surface to me would be digging a small hole, not a 5 plus acre pad, noise, heavy equipment traffic on roads not built for that purpose, increase in population and crime, an overload on community services and housing, decrease in home resale values, limited (or expensive) availability of homeowners insurance…the list of “surface disruptions” goes on and on and no amount of money can help overlook these effects.

There are wineries in just about all 50 states…I never said Texas wineries weren’t good…with over $4 billion revenue for NY state (compared to Texas’ $1.76 billion)…I think this is one agricultural impact that needs to be studied more in MY state.

Since you felt the need to explain the definition of a republic to me…let me enlighten you on the word mudslinging…mudslinging is the act of “making hateful statements or comments about someone, usually a political opponent”. I don’t believe I did that in my post. However, I think that is precisely what you did when you called me an asshole…

Why is it you oil and gas supporters personally attack others debating the merits of fracking? It appears when you folks have nothing else to support your claims of how great fracking is, that is just what you do.

As far as being an asshole...let's face it...everything's bigger in Texas. In your original post you say you don't care if we frack why don't you find your way off this forum and keep your opinions in Texas?

I don't argue there would be short-term benefits for SOME people...We just don't want the long-term consequences for ALL. Horizontal slickwater fracturing has only been around since 1998 ( I don't think anyone is qualified to talk about the LONG-term effects this method of extraction will have on your community. Where there is a boom, there will be a bust.

Here is something interesting to read:

Texas Oil Man
February 19, 2013
Wow, what a bunch of BS. I wonder at what point you decided to stop trying to write an article and instead went for full on mouth diarrhea. I could care less if NY allows horizontal drilling but if they refuse it because of some made up health concerns I feel sorry for the people and communities that stood to gain.
Brenda R
February 19, 2013
Yeah, Texas is a showplace for environmental responsibility.
February 20, 2013
Texas Oil Man
February 20, 2013
Visit Midland, Texas or any other town in the Permian Basin and you will quickly learn what there is to gain. They are paying Starbucks workers 14 bucks an hour because they have to compete with the oilfield. Unemployment is virtually unheard of. Moreover, there are farms everywhere and on a lot of them there are wells and pump jacks, but you'll never hear a farmer complain, especially not about health concerns.