Streams

Long Lines Expected as Fracking Hearings Come to Manhattan

Monday, November 28, 2011

Anti-fracking sign (Maria Scarvalone/WNYC)

Thousands are expected to attend public hearings this week in Manhattan and the Catskills, on the controversial subject of hydraulic fracturing, otherwise known as fracking. 

Last summer, the Cuomo administration released a draft environmental impact statement on fracking that was more than 1,000 pages long. Draft regulations have also been proposed. Both the EIS and the regulations must undergo a public review process before being finalized. 

Fracking could offer a boost to gas-rich areas of the state stretching from the Catskills to western New York. But it has also been linked with water contamination and other problems.

Katherine Nadeau, water and natural resources program director Environmental Advocates of New York, said that earlier hearings she attended in Dansville and Binghamton offered the public the chance to speak directly to regulators, and to fellow citizens.

"While people were speaking there were some folks who were listening very very closely to what was being said. There were people who were cheering for their side when someone spoke up on an issue they particularly cared about," Nadeau said. "And there were outbursts from time to time because this is an issue that people are just absolutely passionate about, when it comes down to water, to their homes and their communities." 

The New York Department of Environmental Conservation has recorded more than 8,450 so far, and all of them must be considered before regulators move ahead with plans to issue natural gas drilling permits.

HEARINGS THIS WEEK:

- Tuesday 11/29, 1-4 pm and 6-9 pm

Sullivan County Community College, Seelig Theatre, 112 College Road, Loch Sheldrake, NY 12759

- Wednesday 11/30, 1-4 pm and 6-9 pm/p>

Tribeca Performing Arts Center, 199 Chambers Street, New York, NY 10007

Anyone is allowed to speak for up to three minutes after their name has been called from a sign-in sheet. Those wishing to speak are encouraged to show up early.

Comments can also be submitted by mail or email. Click here to enter an electronic comment. The comment period ends December 12. 

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Comments [21]

Chris from New York

I believe that Fracking is dangerous to the Environment and only benefits the special interests of oil companies. Other than those who lease their plots of land to the oil companies, the benefits of Fracking are temporary at best. The money earned form Fracking goes mostly to upper class who own the largest amounts of land and those who need the jobs and money the most do not receive the benefit because they do not own land. In addition, the majority of the profits will go to the oil companies and this does not benefit anyone, as these are already the most profitable companies in the world. The impact fracking does have is to pollute the drinking water supply of the countries largest city and leave a path of chemicals across upstate New York. In addition, the gas that we get from Fracking contributes to global warming and it should not be our goal to create jobs using dirty technology. The clean air and water of upstate New York are much more valuable resources than the gas because these resources are becoming ever more scarce. Fracking also divides communities, as there are fights over leases and who has the right to drill under land a certain depths. There have been lawsuits filed about being lead into contracts on false pretences. For an example of how deceptive the oil industry can be, just look at the ads regarding fracking. They have been paid for almost exclusively by oil companies and have misinformed countless people with their simple generalities and false optimism. By banning Fracking, New York can set its self apart from other states and fight the interests of big oil.

Nov. 30 2011 06:20 PM
Alex from bville

Fracturing is the process of pumping chemicals and water thousands of feet underground in order to extract natural gas. The method causes small earthquakes, which break rocks in order to release the oil. Thousands of tons of water are required in addition to chemicals that poison ground water. Although the process has created jobs and will decrease our dependency on foreign oil, it is not worth the environmental consequences. If this process were to be legalized in New York, it could pollute the Delaware River Basin, which would affect over 15 million people.

Nov. 30 2011 09:17 AM
Robert from New York

I would like to preface this by saying that I think that the natural gas industry needs to be investigated more and the effects of the hydraulic fracturing process should be tested on a smaller scale before this process is brought into a region where it could pose the potential problem of destroying the water supply for a hugely populated area. That being said if there is a way to extract a resource that would reduce our dependence on foreign energy sources and be cheaper in a time many Americans are struggling to make ends meet. I think that opportunity could not be passed up. By accessing natural gas we not only provide a cleaner source of energy but from an economic standpoint natural gas is much cheaper than the fossil fuels which we currently use. 1 million btus of natural gas costs around five dollars whereas 1 million btus of gasoline costs around thirty dollars. Even though there are clear economic and environmental benefits of switching to natural gas, it needs to be done safely and needs to be researched before it is introduced into a region where it could be potentially hazardous to millions of people.

Nov. 30 2011 09:12 AM
Ally from new york

Hydraulic fracturing places people between a rock and hard place. The economic opportunity fracking presents us cannot be ignored or denied. If America begins to exploit her own natural resources, she would place herself on a path of independence from dependence of foreign oil companies. However, on the other hand, the environmental and health concerns must be addressed as well. For example, certain cases of fracking have shown that it contaminates the surrounding water. Citizens become outraged at these companies when they can place a match to their tap and rightly so. However, it might be worth it for those people to put up with bottled water and be flexible for the general economic well being of their nation. It is a question of does ends justify the means and I do think the economic benefit outweighs the little bit of inconvenience.

Nov. 30 2011 09:10 AM
Julia J from New York

I am already weary of the idea of hydraulic fracturing in Upstate New York because of the obvious environmental concerns. However, I wouldn't have such a large problem with hydraulic fracturing if it wasn't for the way that the large corporations go about gaining this land. They mislead and prey on unknowing homeowners. In the end the companies are the only ones who truly benefit from these shady deals, and they know that going in. While i think we need to possibly consider the idea of fracking as an alternative in the future, we need to first do more research, and identify the amount of benefits fracking would bring, in comparison to the presently overwhelming costs. And again, we need to keep in mind the possible alterior motives of the companies behind hydraulic fracturing- and as of now, not allow hydraulic fracturing to come into New York.

Nov. 30 2011 09:07 AM
Rosalie from Bronxville, New York

I think it is important that the public is becoming involved in the issue of fracking and the conventions that are being held in order to raise public awareness and put the issues on the table. While tests are inconclusive as of yet, there is a very real possibility that hydraulic fracturing has detrimental effects on the environment. The documentary “Gassland” highlights some of these negative effects that harm people, their communities, and their water. In my opinion, the current course of action should be obvious. We need to know exactly what the effects of hydraulic fracturing are. These natural resources are not going anywhere, so therefore we should put fracking on hold until we have learned what problems and implications this process creates, and figure out a way to solve them. I believe that this course of action is the most beneficial for all parties involved. Natural gas can be extremely lucrative for our nation’s economy, but we need to protect our citizens and the environment as well. I believe that there is a middle ground between the two opposing viewpoints, and we just need time to establish this path.

Nov. 30 2011 09:04 AM
Jackie from New York

The process of Fracking needs to be tested and perfected before it should be is should be implemented in our country on a large scale. The idea of our country having its own source of energy would be monumental in terms of international relations and economic benefit, however more tests must be done to observe its effects on our water supply and more transparency in the system must be allowed. The resource of the gas reserves are not going anywhere, so why not perfect the process of the extraction before gambling on the its effects on our water supply, the environment, and the health of the citizens.

Nov. 30 2011 08:59 AM
S from New York

Hydraulic fracturing is a practice that can be viewed negatively and positively as it is beneficial, but also has adverse effects. The movies Gasland raises some very valid points about the dangers to the people living near the areas where it is occurring. However the practice is very beneficial to our natural gas supply, and can make us much more efficient as a nation. By relying less and less on foreign countries, we become more efficient as a country

Nov. 30 2011 08:41 AM
S from New York

Hydraulic fracturing is a practice that can be viewed negatively and positively as it is beneficial, but also has adverse effects. The movies Gasland raises some very valid points about the dangers to the people living near the areas where it is occurring. However the practice is very beneficial to our natural gas supply, and can make us much more efficient as a nation. By relying less and less on foreign countries, we become more efficient as a nature.

Nov. 30 2011 08:39 AM
Peter from New York

Natural gas is a resource that the American government and public cannot ignore. We have an available resource in our backyards that will help us become less dependent on foreign oil. It would be irresponsible for us to ignore this economic opportunity which we hold in the palm of our hands. With that being said we need to address the health concerns. Unfortunately, certain cases have shown that the fracking process has detrimental side effects to humans. As unfortunate as this fact is I believe that the economic value outweighs the physical side effects. We have been handed a huge opportunity and to turn this away would be irresponsible. Overall fracking may or may not be detrimental to the human race, but with the current economic situation our country is facing we need to take this opportunity and run.

Nov. 30 2011 08:39 AM
Emily K. from Bronxville

Fracking should be banned due to the harmful outcome. The process of fracking means injecting millions of gallons of water, chemicals and sand into shale rock formations at high pressures to break open the rock and release the gas. Near fracking sites, there is evidence of extreme water contamination. When fracking occurs, a very toxic waste is produced putting both humans and animals in danger. The water is not drinkable and it cannot be refreshed by standard treatment plants. In one specific case coming from a documentary, a woman lived near one of these fracking sites. She had no idea what was going on so she continued to drink her what she thought was "normal" tap water. After a few months she began feeling intense headaches and stomach ulcers. She later learned that this stemmed from the contaminated water and it would be something she had to live with for the rest of her life. Thousands of other indivduals are dealing with similar problems. Fracking should definitely be banned especially because drillers are rushing to use the technique in new areas of the country without fully evaluating the effects on human health and the environment, and without adequate government oversight.

Nov. 30 2011 08:33 AM
Brewster from New York

After watching the documentary Gasland, I am very afraid of hydraulic fracturing. Being a citizen of New York, the threats that are posed by hydraulic fracturing far outweigh the benefits. Our water and our land and most importantly our peace of mind are threatened by greedy corporations. We must stand up to them and fight for our rights.

Nov. 30 2011 08:24 AM
Paige from New York

It is imperative that the process of hydraulic fracturing is not currently brought into New York. As documented in the movie Gasland, fracking has been linked to many water contamination problems. There are approximately 500 different chemicals found in the water that is used in the fracking process. This includes many carcinogens. This water is pumped into the ground and then comes back up. Oil companies need to store this contaminated water somewhere. It is often kept in retention ponds (where it can leak into water sheds). Widespread fracking would leave us with billions of gallons of contaminated water that would have to be stored somewhere. Along with using and contaminating drinking water, fracking also releases more pollution into the air. Since we are not desperate for oil today, the natural gas reserves do not need to be accessed quickly. Trying to tap into them without further investigation could lead to the contamination of the water used by people all across New York and other neighboring states. It is logical that the process is tested and deemed safe before we start implementing it in our state. Oil and gas companies need to be regulated and responsible for any problems that fracking may cause (such as removing the contaminants from waste water). Though the economies of certain areas of New York do need to be boosted, we do not need to sacrifice our health and quality of life to do so.

Nov. 29 2011 11:33 PM
Amelia from New York

Hydraulic fracturing is the process of extracting natural gas underground using a method of pumping chemicals and water thousands of feet underground, causing mini earthquakes or openings in the rock that release the oil. The process requires thousands of tons of water with harmful chemicals that have been shown to poison water supplies. However, the process has led to thousands of job openings in a tough economy and has contributed to alleviating some of our dependence on foreign oil. Although there appear to be economic benefits to the process, they are greatly overshadowed by the harmful effects to the natural environment and the water supply that affects millions of families. If this process were to be legal in New York, the fracking process could pollute the Delaware River basin, which pumps water to Philadelphia, New York, New Jersey, and Maryland, which supplies 15.6 million people. The fracking process would poison the largest unfiltered water supply in the world.

Nov. 29 2011 10:42 PM
Elizabeth Murphy from Cooperstown

This comment below was posted erroneously with my name. It does not represent my views, I am only in favor of an outright ban.

Nov. 28 2011 06:27 PM
Elizabeth Murphy from Cooperstown

I have also read that there is a lot of natural gas that escapes from the wells into the air at every single well. I have given up hope that there will be an outright ban on the industry. But, I would like to have certain conditions required of any natural gas well. For example, drillers should be made responsible for removing all pollutants from their wastewater. I would like to see the chairman of Chesapeake energy drink a tall glass of water from each and every truck before the truck empties it's wastewater into the Hudson River. I would like an independent company to monitor the groundwater and air quality around all fracked areas (at the gas companies expense). I would like each driller to make known the full list of toxic carcinogenic chemicals they are using. I feel the companies have tricked owners in certain instances into these contracts, so I would like there to be a state wide mandate allowing escape provisions for land owners who were mislead into these contracts. I would like an independent committee to monitor certain quality of life issues which may affect communities or neighbors of properties that are being cracked. Adjacent landowners of a gas well have a legitimate concern if suddenly there are hundreds of trucks rolling down the dirt road that runs by their house. I would like the state to put a large tax on the industry for the gas that is extracted from each and every well. I am not a liberal, I just want to make sure that the industry is no dirtier than they say they are, and I want an ironclad system of accountability, because I have my doubts that this industry is as benign as it claims to be, and I furthermore, I doubt that they are capable of policing themselves. The gas is not gonna go anywhere, so I have no problem keeping it in the ground until we are all certain that fracking is as great as the industry claims it to be, and the industry has developed methods which independent scientists have signed off on. if the industry does cause environmental damage, then I believe both the landowner and the companies involved should be required to pay cleanup costs and substantial penalties. I say this because there was a time when individual property owners were not allowed to open up toxic waste dumps on their property

Nov. 28 2011 04:42 PM
Joseph Nicholas from NYC

I think the industry is only profitable because they have been able to buy (that means bribe enough politicians, (get used to it, the practice is only going to become more and more common as a result of the Supreme Court decision in Citizens United)) waivers which exempt them from provisions of the clean air and water act. They inject millions of gallons of water, mixed with a small percentage of toxic chemicals (which they do not have to detail because they call this "proprietary information". They then suck most of this toxic slew up (or so they say, can we really assume that they can really be sure they are pulling out the same liquid that they injected miles into the earth?). When it comes out, this water contains other toxins which occur naturally deep within the earth, one of which is known as cesium 134 and is radioactive.. This is a known carcinogenic. How do the oil companies dispose of millions of gallons of this polluted (aka radioactive) water? Well, in the state of New York they bring it to small water treatment plants that are designed to treat sewage. They dump this toxic soup at treatment plants that are not designed to treat radioactive waste water. The water is then put back into the water system by these sewage treatment plants, and it is quite common for the water to be released right into the Hudson River! Obviously it is still radioactive. For me it is hard to believe that the DEC needs so much input to decide whether or not to allow this industry. It is testament to how much the industry has been bribing politicians.

Nov. 28 2011 04:40 PM
Rebecca Kaiser from Delaware Water Basin

Hydrofracking is one of the biggest corporate lies now being sold to small town land owners, and to greedy politicians who take their lobbying money. It is well documented that communities where this takes place are forever harmed, that the potential for poisoned water and land are great, that NO REAL new jobs come to the communities, that the corporations do not even use the gas they burn it off, and it is the 1% that is harming the 99% AGAIN.

Nov. 28 2011 01:40 PM
mel gerard from Dallas Texas

Gas drilling is not the obtrusive and "industrial" business that NY imagines it to be. I had hydrofracking around me (250 wells) for 12 years and never knew it until I read a magazine article about it. They try to drill the wells in places that are not very visible to the public, so you hardly know they are there. Also, there has never been any pollution or water issues. These claims are greatly exaggerated by the left. Remember, NY is an over-regulated liberal state that chases good businesses away; if you want the far-reaching prosperity of drilling, the industry can't be regulated to death. Don't miss the opportunity, because it's the only business with enough revenue to lift the entire state out of the doldrums.

Nov. 28 2011 01:29 PM
MFan from Staten Island

I would love to see WNYC do more real, constant coverage of this as its progressing. The fact that this has gotten so far is truly a crime and is yet another show of our shilling republican governor's true colors. There is so much to lose here for so many, and so little to gain for such a small number.

Seriously. This is infinitely more important and affecting to your listeners actual lives than the presidential election circus and its meaningless contrivances. The ability of WNYC to get these issues on the radar is one reason why myself and so many others contribute. Please do it justice.

Nov. 28 2011 11:00 AM
perry johnson

Yes...the insertion of heavy drilling and associated equipment into our precious Catskill NY watershed will bring with it extremely high usage of, in many cases marginal roadways and beat down a dirty commercial pathway through many happily quiet communities.
Yes...commercial fracking may bring some continuing additional jobs to the area...but not enough to justify the quite possible level threat to our watershed.
Yes...there will be tax revenues to the state...poor compensation for the vast expense of finding drinking water and cleaning up the disastrous havoc created by just the oridinary chemical overflows of the drilling/recovery process, much less the exceptional damages of "worst case scenarios". If other chemical spills from chemical fracking and from all other types of resource recovery are considered as examples
No, No, No...The idea that our only drinking water source in this region "might" become polluted and untenable...forever is beyond imagining. What in hell are people thinking who would ever consider taking such a bad bet?

Nov. 28 2011 09:24 AM

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