Posted (Steven) in News

The movie Gasland is opening at the IFC Center on September 15 running through September 23.  The film maker documented his own investigation of hydraulic-fracturing after he asked to lease his land for drilling.

Hydraulic-fracturing, or hydro-fracking, is a process by which water is injected at high pressure into holes bored through rock in order to stimulate greater well output by fracturing the rock.  In recent years a variation of this method has emerged where a combination of a water and chemicals are injected to harvest natural gas pools.  However the fracturing process leaves a certain level of unpredictability as to where the gas and hydro-fracking fluids can end up.  At present, companies are purchasing drilling rights to extract natural gas by fracturing shale in upstate NY.  Opponents of the project cite an absence of strong environmental protections to keep toxic materials out of NY State water supplies including the New York City watershed.

Because of the moneyed interests involved, large scale hydro-fracking may start in the watershed as early as this year.  As a critically important issue to the community, take some time to understand both sides of the issue and let your elected representatives know your thoughts.  Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver’s office number is 212 312 1420.

Elizabeth Manus on September 12th, 2010 at 8:33 pm #

From Sandra Steingraber’s article in the May/June 2010 issue of _Orion_ magazine (Steingraber lives near Ithaca):

A single fracking operation requires drill rigs, a compressor station, a network of pipelines, an access road, 2 to 8 million gallons of fresh water, 10 to 30 tons of chemicals, and about 1,000 tanker truckloads of water and toxic waste. About 4,000 wells are envisioned for my county alone.

The environmental story goes like this: In New York state, fracking represents the industrialization of a rural landscape and foodshed. If it goes forward, fracking will usher in the biggest ecological change since the original forests here were cleared. Road-building and pipe-laying will accelerate habitat fragmentation. Spills and seepage of toxic contaminants, including methane, into drinking-water supplies have been documented in other states and will certainly be an ever-present threat in the Finger Lakes region as well. Beyond this lie the unknowns.

The chemicals found in fracking fluid are unknowns both because their formulations are proprietary (Halliburton et al.) and because radioactive materials, heavy metals, and brine, freed at last from their subterranean chambers, combine with the chemicals in the flowback water. Where will it be treated? How will it be stored? We do know that fracking fluid contains benzene, a known carcinogen. Of the 300 other chemicals that are suspected ingredients of fracking fluid, 40 percent are endocrine disrupters and a third are suspected carcinogens.

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