I’m worried there’s going to be a mad dash to natural gas now that people have been reminded how dangerous nuclear power is by the nuclear disaster in Japan. I’m not a fan of nuclear power, but don’t want to see us jump from the frying pan into the fire either — particularly the “fire” known as fracking (aka hydrofracking or horizontal hydraulic fracturing).
With easy-to-get gas supplies dwindling, the gas industry has hit upon this new mix of technologies to get at less accessible deposits buried deep in the ground, trapped as bubbles between layers of shale. The method involves building an L-shaped well and injecting millions of gallons of highly pressurized water mixed with thousands of gallons of chemicals into it to cause underground explosions that release the gas from the rock. The gas flows back up the well along with much of the fracturing fluid and additional toxic substances picked up along the way, including radioactive materials.
Industry claims fracking is safe, gas is clean and using more gas to fuel our economy is a solution to global warming.
But that’s a fairy tale. Fracking has been linked to drinking water contamination, air pollution and adverse health effects to people and animals around the country — from Wyoming to Colorado to Texas to Pennsylvania. And a new assessment by the Environmental Protection Agency finds that gas’ advantage over coal in terms of greenhouse gas emissions is vastly lower than previously thought.
Now the gas industry wants to frack in the New York segment of the Marcellus Shale, including in the New York City watershed and Delaware River Basin. Not only is this a beautiful natural area, encompassing both small rural communities and wilderness, it is the source of drinking water for more than 15 million people. A moratorium on new wells is in place through the spring but then the fracking could begin. If you’re a New Yorker, write Governor Cuomo to ask for a full evaluation of the risks before fracking can proceed.
And wherever you live, keep up with the issue and support better regulation because fracking is affecting people across the U.S.