Friday, April 16, 2010

Why NYC Gardeners Should Care About Fracking

I've reported on this once before, last summer, and much of what I linked to then remains the same. As I stated the last time, I do not consider myself alarmist, or overly emotional about most issues. Yet I believe that this issue, the issue of whether or not New York State should even allow natural gas drilling with hydraulic fracturing will be, will be, the environmental battle of the decade. Or it should be.

The extent of the Marcellus gas range in New York State

I went to a symposium on this issue at Cooper Union on Thursday night. I heard a few cool scientific heads speak, including Dr. Theo Colborn, who gave a lengthy presentation on the chemicals involved in the hydraulic fracturing process.

NYC Water Supply

A few facts for the people of New York City:
  • Ninety percent of our water comes from the Catskill and Delaware watersheds.
  • It is virtually unfiltered.
  • If it was filtered, it wouldn't be filtered for the chemicals used in fracking.
  • The Safe Drinking Water Act or Clean Water Act DOES NOT cover oil and gas drilling or production. Repeat it to your self. It's true.
  • Hundreds of chemicals are used in the hydraulic fracturing (fracking) process.
  • About 500 are known to the public, hundreds more are a mystery (proprietary) to the public.
  • These chemicals are injected under extremely high pressure into the ground or are used around the well pad and retainment ponds.
  • The gas wells will collectively use billions of gallons of water for drilling and pumping operations. They simply pump the water from local streams and rivers into tanker trucks.
  • The waste cocktail, known as "brine" because it is saltier than sea water, is usually left to evaporate and/or dumped at local municipal sewage plants never designed for much more than the municipal waste stream.
  • DEC tests show extremely high radioactivity in the NYS fracking brine and sludge.
  • One way or the other this water-chemical cocktail will migrate into the water table and our water supply.
My questions for New York City gardeners are:

Will you water your plants with: benzene, ethylbenzene, toluene, xylene, or naphthalene?
Will you wash your soiled hands with diesel fuel, methanol, formaldehyde, ethylene glycol, glycol ethers, hydrochloric acid, or sodium hydroxide?

You will because these will be in our water.

See this interview on NOW from PBS. See the Endocrine Disruption website for the health effects of many of the known chemicals used in fracking. Article in Scientific American about natural gas drilling. Splashdown PA is an in-depth Pennsylvania blog on the issue. You could sign this letter. Want to see what one of our watershed counties might look like in the near future -take a look at Bradford County, PA, adjacent to the NY border.

Inform yourself, New Yorker. Read the opposing points of view.

The OTHER SIDE can be read here. Another position can be read here.

There is so much information on the internet regarding easterners experience with fracking, you can be easily overwhelmed. It's pretty simply to me though. Let's call our representatives and tell them that even in these billion dollar shortfall budgetary years, we cannot accept this risk to our water and health for a few more tax bucks in the state coffer.

  • Write Governor Paterson -here's the link.
  • Use this handy dandy link to find your state senator, assemblyperson, and U.S. House Rep.
  • Then email your assemblyperson after finding their email here.
  • Find your state senator and write them here.
  • And, after all that, write Pete Grannis, Commisioner of the NYS DEC -you guessed it -here.
You could also write these guys:
780 Third Avenue, Suite 2601, New York, New York 10017 Tel. (212) 688-6262

Brine being punped into the on-site pond.


  1. OMG. Ignorance is bliss.

    Signed the letter and will read more. Thank you...

    Question: what is our (realistic)alternative to gas?

  2. You are right and I do not know.

    I think, ultimately that this is a line in the sand I want to draw. I love upstate NY and the last thing I want to think about is whether or not some fracking radioactive fluid is flowing down the stream I'm wading in.

    I guess I've just never grown up.And since this is the land of making wishes, I wish we could put the resources and resolve into solving energy problems the way we do into figuring out how to drill.

    I think nuclear is way better controlled than this industry, but then I'm sure there are those who say its not.

  3. Blogs are so informative where we get lots of information on any topic. Nice job keep it up!!

    Doctoral Dissertation

  4. More and More I think and read, the question simply is not "what is the alternative," but is really "why let the gas and oil operators operate with impunity, unaccountability, and responsibility to the communities they operate in?"

    It is a false dichotomy and one that always serves the faceless gas and oil industry, because there will always be a reasonable person who pitches in that we cannot live without the gas and oil so lets stop even talking about the subject. And that is true, but what I am talking about here is not the false dichotomy, but responsibility and accountability. Why is it that operating in an environmentally sound manner coalesced into no production? If these operators spent money on protection, then there would be less concern from those like me.

    A document from Chevron, circa 1960 gave me pause. In it the document discussed the difficulty in dealing with these open pits when heavy rain accumulates in them. They overflow.

    Is it so hard to imagine this scenario upstate or in PA? No, probably happens all the time.
    We are sick for valuing oil and gas at all costs, not for valuing oil and gas.


  6. Thanks Marie, I missed that. I think theres more to do, though I do agree that zero watershed drilling is a safe and sound solution and leaves regulatory energy to the other hot spots.

    More to come...

  7. BTW you said you had a spike. Blogspot gives you good stats from your dashboard. There you can see which posts are actually drawing the readers, and where they came from, geography and web address. As a blogger it is also interesting to see the unlikely things people find on our blogs. My fracking posts is still drawing steady readers, from both the USA and SA.


If I do not respond to your comment right away, it is only because I am busy pulling out buckthorn, creeping charlie, and garlic mustard...