Raul Larios

New Yorkers, do you think hydro-fracking is bad for your health?

Mr. Richard Gottfried, New York State Assembly Member – 75th District

I recently had the pleasure of meeting New York State (NYS) Assemblyman Richard Gottfried, who represents the 75th district (Chelsea, Hell’s Kitchen and the Upper West Side of Manhattan). Mr. Gottfried has been serving in the NYS Assembly for over forty years, which makes him the longest serving member of that all-important institution. Being that he is the current Chair of the Committee on Health, I took the opportunity to ask him about the moratorium of natural gas extraction based on alleged health risks.

At first glance, the moratorium looked to me like yet another example of government over-regulation of a domestic industry that could help on so many levels: not only reduce pollution, energy prices, and our addiction to foreign oil, but also increase employment.

But after talking to Mr. Gottfried, I’ve come to realize that I was wrong. His Health Committee heard countless hours of scientific testimony from both industry and opponents. The conclusion? He is convinced that the extraction technique known as hydraulic fracturing (or “hydro-fracking”) is a real menace to New York City’s water supply by way of leaks, seepage and other potential problems. Our watershed spans roughly 3 counties in upstate New York (Greene, Delaware and Ulster) and sits atop the northeast corner of the Marcellus Shale, home to all the natural gas in question. Please keep in mind that Mr. Gottfried is not opposed to traditional extraction methods, just fracking.

So I did a little research.  Gottfried’s concerns were corroborated by the City’s Bureau of Water Supply deputy commissioner, Paul Rush, who recently testified before the NYS Dept. of Environmental Conservation that there is risk not only to the quality of the water, but also to the infrastructure (the dams and tunnels) that serve as the passageways of our drinking water. The body of evidence was uncovered by 3 independent firms (Hazen & Sawyers/Leggette, Brashears & Graham/and Hager-Richter Geosciences), after analyzing the potential impact of microseismicity and reactivation of dormant faults. You see, fracking can trigger small earthquakes deep underground!!

Higher up at the groundwater level, there is plenty of evidence that drinking wells are getting contaminated by nearby fracking stations. To get a good idea of what that contamination looks like (and the impact to animal and human life), I recommend a compelling documentary entitled ‘Gasland‘ written and directed by Josh Fox.

To make matters even worse, the health risks from fracking are not limited to just our drinking water. It turns out that this extraction process would actually increase air pollution in New York City because to get a fracking well up and running, you’re talking about the emissions of thousands upon thousands of heavy-duty truckloads back and forth to every single well site, which when combined with the volatile organic compounds released during the drilling process, you get massive amounts of ground-level ozone and smog. Winds blowing from the northwest would easily bring it to the City and we’d be reversing any of the benefits from “clean” natural-gas cars, buses and boilers.

Then there’s the problem of the waste produced by the fracking process. You see, millions of gallons of clean, fresh water (from 2 to 7 million gallons per typical 4,000-foot lateral wellbore) must be used to pump over 500 chemical compounds deep underground to break the shale and force the gas out. This water becomes contaminated with all those chemicals and it flows back out. It must be captured, cleaned up and disposed of. And guess what? There is a lot of controversy as to whether that can be done safely.

In conclusion, Mr. Gottfried believes that hydraulic fracturing must not be allowed in New York. Otherwise, we could have another Love Canal on our hands. It’s that dangerous!!

Be aware that the New York moratorium on hydro-fracking expires this year. So be sure to contact your senator and/or assembly-member to express your concerns.

Thank you, Mr. Gottfried, for protecting the health of all New Yorkers!!


January 12, 2012 - Posted by | New York | , ,

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