Hydraulic fracturing is a controversial drilling technique that injects millions of tons of highly toxic chemical fluids into the ground to break apart shale and release natural gas. Even while scientists believe these chemicals may already be poisoning America’s drinking water, the natural gas industry has unleashed a massive 34-state drilling campaign. So here are the top ten reasons why NOT to frack in New York, or anywhere.
10. The Old Paradigm
If we just drill for more fossil fuels, we are only putting off the inevitable, and destroying the environment for short-term gains and profits. We need to develop affordable and sustainable forms of energy; simply finding another finite substitute for oil will only continue the old paradigm and drill us deeper into this insane hole of unsustainability. “Clean” natural gas, during harvesting or use, is a lie!
9. Experts Say Beware
“Over the last decade, operators in the natural gas industry have developed highly sophisticated methods and materials for the exploration and production of methane from unconventional reservoirs. In spite of the technological advances made to date, these activities pose significant chemical and biological hazards to human health and ecosystem stability.”
This is from Dr. Bishops January 2011 “draft” paper Chemical and Biological Risk Assessment for Natural Gas Extraction in New York. France is on track to ban hydraulic fracturing altogether for reasons just like these.
8. Well Pads of Destruction
When hydrofracked and drilled horizontally, wells require large, industrial pad sites, this includes new roads to each well, compressor, and any other access points (such as water). Depending on how many wellheads it will contain, a pad will need to range from 5-15 acres, and of course anything in the way gets destroyed.
7. Noise Pollution
With natural gas production wells have temporary noise pollution from drilling and fracking that will last about a month per well. After the well is set, compressor stations will be needed for every 100 or so wells in order to bring the gas pressure. Compressor stations are permanent, extremely noisy, and run day and night. Not to mention the next category, traffic.
The considerable amount of trucks needed, 800 to 1500 (avg of 960) loads of water, materials, chemicals, and equipment will ruin small towns and take a huge toll on public roads. The large scale of development planned for the Marcellus, and the fact that it must be fracked, translates to dramatic increases in traffic compared to that generated by drilling conventional wells.
5. Toxic Waste
The “produced water” from the Marcellus Shale is toxic waste. “Produced Water” is the industry term to sanitize this noxious, polluted water. This is a separate category from the fracking fluids because besides the added chemicals, the water picks up hydrocarbons, heavy metals like arsenic, and radioactivity from the shale and becomes even worse than the mix that goes in. In fact a study at the University of Buffalo found hydraulic fracturing causes uranium that is naturally trapped inside Marcellus shale to be released. According to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, billions of gallons of waste water will be “produced” and will need to be trucked to a disposal site. The most common method of dumping will be Deep Well Injection Disposal, where the waste is forced underground at high pressure into dry gas wells. We take gas out and pump toxic, radioactive waste back in.
4. Air Pollution
Each well site emits constant and signifigant air pollution. Pollution comes from diesel generators, drill rigs, trucks and other equipment, condensate tanks and the flaring of wells. These are all significant sources of VOC’s and nitrogen oxide, which react with sunlight to form ozone. Proposed Marcellus Shale drilling in New York will be high density. In high-density drilling areas in Colorado and Wyoming, rural communities that were once pristine now have ozone levels higher than Los Angeles. Ozone can cause a range of respiratory health problems and lung disease.
3. Danger of Explosions and Spills
A fracking well in Canton, Pennsylvania exploded, spilling thousands of gallons of toxic chemicals over farms, fields and the private property of local families for about 48 hours. The chemicals even flowed into a creek that connects to the Susquehanna River. Unfortunately, because of Dick Cheney’s “Halliburton loophole” for the oil and gas industry, the corporation that runs the well, Chesapeake Energy Corporation, is under no legal obligation to pay for their mess or for the medical expenses of the people that may suffer health problems as a result.
2. Fracking Fluids
Fluid technology for shale gas recovery is mostly owned by Halliburton, you know the guys that messed up the concrete on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico and helped cause one of the largest environmental disasters in the world.
Halliburton classifies the fracking fluids as proprietary, this means it’s a trade secret, so they cant be disclosed without damaging the company. Except those in Halliburton involved in fracking, nobody knows for sure what is in these chemicals. Just the ones we do know are horrible and possibly catastrophic. Samples from well blowouts and fluids pits in Colorado, Wyoming and New Mexico found fluids to contain diesel fuel and more than 200 different kinds of chemicals, over 95% of which have adverse side effects including brain damage, birth defects and cancer.
1. Water Usage
Fracking requires extremely large quantities of fresh water, which the world is running out of. It is feasible that son water could be just as valuable as natural gas or oil. Fracking the requires many billions of gallons of water over decades. It takes 2 to 9 MILLION gallons per frack, and each well can be fractured 4 to 10 times (avg. of 6). This water can be withdrawn from lakes, rivers, streams, wetlands, ponds, and wells. Because the water becomes contaminated, it may never be returned to the watershed, rain cycle, or the water supply for some of America’s largest population centers. And there is always the chance of water contamination; Halliburton and Trans Ocean said it would not happen in the Gulf of Mexico too. Fracking is exempt from the Clean Water Act, due to the aforementioned “Halliburton loophole”
How to help:
We have been on the fracking issue a lot here lately, that is because in our state of New York there has been a temporary ban on horizontal hydrofracking pending an environmental review, that ban is about to either end, or be renewed, so the fight is going strong here. The environmental report does not come out until 2012, so the moratorium is needed until at least then, we hope forever. We are up against millions of dollars in energy company advertisements and bribes, so donations are always welcome.
But even if you have no money, please write to, President Obama, your Governor, Senators, Congresspeople, and even your state Senators and local representatives, and tell them that you aren’t willing to sacrifice Americas water supply for a scant number of temporary jobs, a tiny share of the of money, and a whole lot of hot air from the energy companies. The State Senate and Gov. Cuomo renewing the temporary ban on horizontal hydraulic fracturing in New York is a big chance to deal a gigantic blow to fracking in America, and gain enough time to put a permanent ban in place. It also shows that everyone in any state CAN win.
If you fill out this form, we will print the letter on FSC certified recycled paper and send it to Gov. Cuomo, your Senator, Congressperson, or President Obama, for you, for free.
If you live in New York State:
You may also contact the Governor’s office by phone (518) 474-8390
The Honorable Andrew M. Cuomo
Governor of New York State
NYS State Capitol Building
Albany, NY 12224
State Senators can be contacted here:
Please see your states website for more information outside of NY.