Groups rally at Capitol to protest fracking for gas in state

Environmental groups from across New York rallied at the state Capitol on Monday, calling on lawmake

Environmental groups from across New York rallied at the state Capitol on Monday, calling on lawmakers to protect the environment and the public against potential hazards related to high-volume hydraulic fracturing for natural gas in the Marcellus Shale region that spans the southern half of New York and parts of Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia.

The technology, commonly called “fracking,” involves the high-pressure injection of chemically treated water into a gas well to crack shale about 8,000 feet underground to release trapped natural gas. The industry says fracking is well-regulated and safe but opponents fear it could contaminate water supplies. The Environmental Protection Agency is conducting a scientific review of the practice.

Meanwhile, the Independent Oil & Gas Association of New York is calling on Gov. Andrew Cuomo to expedite the Department of Environmental Conservation’s review of fracking and allow permitting for gas exploration to proceed.

The gas industry group wants Cuomo to direct the state Department of Environmental Conservation to complete its revised Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement addressing Marcellus Shale issues by July 1.

“Nearly three years has gone by since the state essentially halted the permitting of natural gas drilling in the Southern Tier,” wrote Brad Gill, IOGA of NY executive director. “During that time we have watched people, jobs, businesses and opportunity flee our state for Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia, where those economies are rebounding strongly as a result of increased natural gas development.”

At Monday’s rally on the Capitol lawn, Josh Fox, director of the anti-gas-industry documentary “Gasland,” called New York “the center of sanity in the gas-drilling world” for putting Marcellus permits on hold until it completes its environmental review.

“We in New York have to say no more drilling for fossil fuels,” said Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton of the Southern Tier, the sweet spot of the Marcellus Shale natural gas region in the state.

Natalie Brant, a mother of eight children from Springville, near Buffalo, pulled bottles of cloudy yellow water from a tote bag and told the crowd it was her tap water. Brant said her children have suffered headaches and respiratory troubles and their tap water has been flammable and murky since an energy company drilled and fracked two wells within 1,000 feet of her home 21⁄2 years ago. Neighbors are also complaining of ruined water and reduced property value, she said.

“We need this banned immediately,” Brant said.

Cuomo’s DEC commissioner, Joe Martens, told The Associated Press in a recent interview that the environmental review would likely take until the end of summer, followed by a public comment period of at least 30 days, likely longer.

Categories: Schenectady County

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