30 Issues: Hydrofracking

True/False: Frack Here, Frack Now!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

WNYC reporter Ilya Marritz discusses the controversy over hydraulic fracturing in areas of upstate New York and elsewhere along the Marcellus Shale, how the issue frames the relationship between New York City and the rest of the state, and where the candidates stand on the issue.


Ilya Marritz

Comments [21]

Melyn from Finger Lakes Area, NYS

If you want to know how 'fracking REALLY affects the community, visit Troy, PA, in Bradford County, the TOP site for drilling in the Marcellus shale. Roads are dirtied and falling apart/ accidents with big trucks are rampant, noise pollution is epidemic, earth blasts and the resulting tremors endanger and injure livestock-especialy horses, the schools can't handle the influx of outside workers, and farmland is used to build new homes for temporary workers, who leave when the drilling and installation is complete. Everything is dirty and noisy and the people are irate - except possibly the ones on whose land the drilling - and the huge checks - happens......

Feb. 17 2011 09:51 AM
Barry Lebost from Gardiner, New York

There is a huge potential to create jobs in energy for New Yorkers but it does not have to be at the expense of our clean water. NYSERDA supports no-head hydroelectrric turbines but not head hydro turbines that have the potential to produce significantly more power in a state that is covered with mountain streams and rivers. NYSERDA's position is that dams create an environmental hazard. But you do not have to have dams to run turbines from rivers and streams. Dams are for storage of energy which is no longer needed if you connect into the grid like solar and wind. Hydro offers more power than solar and wind. While the rivers and streams flow you will make clean and renewable power. So stop fracking around and inform New Yorkers to start building hydro plants without dams and get back to work.

Oct. 31 2010 08:35 PM
Joy from Trenton, NJ

One thing about the concern over jobs, needing jobs, jobs possibly created by hydrofracking: No job can save someone who doesn't have useable, drinkable water.

Oct. 28 2010 05:48 PM
Kate Kennedy from Kenoza Lake, NY

I agree with all the comments. The thing no one has mentioned is all the "Jobs" that will be created in the Catskill region.... I doubt it will create jobs for our local economy. If you look at what is happening in Dimock Pa, the gas companies bring workers in from the outside, not from the community. A transient community of workers has emerged. They work on a rotational shift 80 hours a week & then are given a week off to De-Tox themselves from the chemicals on their uniforms. When the drilling is done, they are gone. No permanent jobs being created. Our upstate regions do not have the trained labor force to run the wells. Dimock experienced a huge surge in drug dealing & had a major drug bust of gas company workers who sold drugs & were presumably on drugs while @ work. The police have handed out over 900 citations & violations to the water truck drivers/ source: The Associated Press • October 6, 2010, 12:40 pm HARRISBURG -- The Pennsylvania State Police says 208 trucks were taken out of service last week during a crackdown on commercial vehicles hauling wastewater from Marcellus Shale gas drilling sites.
Police said Wednesday the trucks were ordered off the road after the three-day enforcement effort that was focused on Bradford, Clearfield, Susquehanna, Tioga and Washington counties.
About two-thirds of the vehicles were hauling wastewater from wells, and some of the others were also related to the drilling.
Troopers issued 959 citations, most commonly for violations related to brakes, lights or permits.

Fracking is just bad for us all around. It's not a solution for creating jobs or ending the economic depression in our region, it's a BIG problem.... As Mark Ruffalo, a resident of upstate of NY says, "If there's no problems with Fracking, why are there so many problems w/ Fracking?"

Oct. 28 2010 10:12 AM
Ethelyn honig from New York City

PLEASE. Brian I was so disappointed by this report and your reporter. Another IN Depth report please.
It is THE scariest thing that has ever potentially happened to NY and you treat it with the same voice as other issues? We do not need homeland security or airport security. Once poison gets into the water, there is no way to get it out. This is real sabotage and extremely shortsighted. I cannot think of a better way to bring this country down..... courtesy of Cheny/Bush via Halburton. Hello.

Oct. 28 2010 09:57 AM
Claire Coleman from Livingston Manor, NY

Don't forget the lack of accountability on the part of the nat gas industry. Who does the clean-up? Who deals with the industry fall-out?

Oct. 28 2010 08:32 AM
Nicole Bergman from Princeton, NJ

"Over 80,000 chemicals are injected into the Earth's crust to frack each well; upwards of 70% of fracking fluid remains in the ground and is not biodegradeable; experts suspect that 65 compounds used to frack wells are hazardous to human health; fracking calls for 2 million gallons of water, transported by up to 100 water-haulers." These are all stats that are posted on Josh Fox's "GASLAND" website. The destruction caused by Fracking is the most disturbing and infuriating disaster caused by human greed and need. I agree that Brian Lehrer seemed uninformed about such a potentially volatile issue that could affect every New Yorker (and even me, in Princeton, NJ)--and Ilya Marritz's coverage seemed a bit biased. Perhaps Brian should dedicate an entire show to this issue, pros and cons, but please cover the dangers of Fracking in an in-depth manner!

Oct. 27 2010 11:41 PM
Naomi Teppich from Damascus, PA and NYC

Ilya's last comment about New York State people being interested in natural gas as a form of energy is true, but this fossil fuel will not last forever, and besides it creates more carbon dioxide in the air, which is a greenhouse gas and traps the earth's heat. So we would not improve our carbon footprint in the long run by using natural gas. Instead there are other ways of decreasing this footprint by using solar energy, electric cars, geothermal, and wind energy. There are rebates from the government involved with these forms of energy and the knowledge that you are slowing down global warming is a much more positive stance to take in our world of multiple problems.

Oct. 27 2010 09:53 PM
Allan Rubin from Sullivan County, NY

These comment threads usually have a bunch of belligerent pro gas claims that it is safe. Not yet, this time. Could it be that even the defenders are finally getting the message that the benefits, if any, do not justify the risks? The giant PR budgets of the gas companies have failed to pull the wool over the public's eyes this time. If the politicians and regulators don't follow the will of the majority of the people and protect their health, they will be sorry. They will be removed from their posts. Don't forget to vote for anti-drilling candidates on Tuesday.

Oct. 27 2010 03:38 PM

The key issue here, which has been amply documented, is that hydraulic fracking produces serious environmental damage. For instance 80% of the fracking water (the water used to break through the shale and which is made of very dangerous chemicals) stays in the ground! Of the 20% recovered it can only be hoped that it is treated and properly disposed of. And we also know that this is not the case. Tne dammage is not just to water it is to land, wildlife, serenity. A neighbor leased a portion of his land to a natural gas company. In a matter of a few weeks, what was a quiet, beautiful, remote rural Pennsylvania landscape became the equivalent of a 24/7 shopping mall surrounded by floodlights and truck traffic and with enough decibels to make a NY subway train sound, in comparison, quiet.

Cabot's stance, which Alice Zinnes has reported in her comment, is unacceptable. It is a tragic situation.

The pro-fracking discourse is one of fear: fear that jobs will not be created, fear that we will be lacking in energy resources, fear that we will not make money from our land, etc. The anti-drilling discourse is based on facts: this technology, in its current state, will ruin our environment and this is irreversible. We have to look fear in the eye, and not give in. If we should be proud of our country than it should be because we can overcome fear and aggression. Sustainable, pro-environment energy solutions are being found (see NYT article last month on a small village in Italy that sells power back to the grid thanks to its renewal energy system

Also, we should start adopting a more conservative use of gas, and energy in general. Our country has a habit of waste, not out of ignorance but out of carelessness (small things: if you're boiling water for one cup of tea... why fill the entire kettle???). This must change.

The fact that NY's representation on the DRBC has not yet taken a clear stance against drilling is shocking. A city such as NY should prioritizes protecting its citizens' drinking water and the environment.

For an in-depth study of fracking (technology, impact and economics please read this assessment conducted by Columbia University:

Oct. 27 2010 01:12 PM

Brian really disappointed with this coverage on hydrofracking, you owe it to your listeners to give a far more informed report. I have been a devoted listener for years and this really gives me pause. The economic downsides alone are great for 98% of the populace, environmental downsides devastating! See James Northrup, Prof.
Ingraffea and then please re-report!

Oct. 27 2010 12:53 PM
Anne Lazarus from Manhattan, NYS

I agree with all the preceding anti-gas drilling comments. The Marcellus also contains pyrites, hydrogen sulfide, nickel, arsenic, molybdenum, uranium ( hence radon) and these chemicals will mix with the fracking chemicals, such as formaldyhyde, ethylene, benzene, surfactants, scale inhibitors, biocides, acids. Most of these chemicals are proprietary, and the companies do not have to reveal them. The sand can be resin-coated. The water and chemicals will be injected at high heat and pressure to fracture the geological formation. This area has its own natural fractures. I suggest that you have on your program other people to discuss gas drilling. I suggest Walter Hang, Congressman
Maurice Hinchey, Josh Fox and some of the very sick people from Dimock. I am also concerned about the land, water and air of people who live outside of the NYC watershed. Your guest said that there were environmental groups that support the drilling. What are those groups? Most environmental groups oppose the drilling.
Give them the opportunity to appear on your show. I thought this show was very slanted in favor of the drilling

Oct. 27 2010 12:24 PM
Victoria Lesser from North Branch NY

They say the next war will be about water. How is it possible that we will let these natural gas companies go unregulated, use up good clean drinking water, infuse it with hundreds of toxic chemicals and then detonate major explosions thousands of feet below in a state that sits on a fault line and were doing this for the profits of a few at the peril of many. Get your legislators to close the Halliburton Loophole created by Dick Cheney in 2005, make the energy companies adhere to the safe drinking water act. Do it if you like drinking water.

Oct. 27 2010 11:40 AM
Alice Zinnes from Park Slope

Today's reporter clearly has not been keeping up with the most recent events regarding fracking, especially in PA. Though the explosion of a water well from a few years ago in Dimock, PA, is accurate, more recently, the water wells in this town have been confirmed to be contaminated with ethylene glycol, propylene glycol and toluene ( John Hanger, the commissioner of the PADEP has publically stated that these wells were contamintated by the fracking activity, and is billing Cabot, the gas company, $11.8 million to pay for a water pipeline to provide drinking water to the homes now without a water supply. Cabot, of course, is refusing to pay, and so PA will now spend yet more money to sue Cabot.

Also, NYC can yell about its land surrounding its reservoirs, but the Delaware River which is the most pristine source for NYC's water system, and whose western banks are in PA, cannot be directly controlled by NYC. The only governmental organization that can protect these river waters is the DRBC (Delaware River Basin Commission). NYS has one vote on this commission, but so far has not voted to protect this pristine water source. We only have a few months to stop fracking in this river basin because the DRBC is fast-tracking lifting the current moratorium there . Our situation is urgent.

And finally, jobs. Yes, temporarily hotels become full (from migrant drill workers), roads become busy (from the 24/7, every few minutes of truck traffic), and yes, large landowners beome rich. But 85% of the gas from each gas well is tapped within the first 2-3 years of drilling. That means any economic drilling boom a town experiences will be finished in about 10 years. Most of the drilling jobs go to skilled workers from Texas and Oklahoma, workers who can be shipped home, out of sight, when they become hurt or sick. Also, unfortunately, after 10 years, farming (especially organic), fishing, tourism, actually any other traditional industry, will be gone. Plus there will be many lawsuits against the now-rich landowners whose drilling businesses have contaminated their neighbors' water, air, way of life.

Oct. 27 2010 11:29 AM
Arnold Frogel from Chelsea

Your interview with reporter did not mention anything about the real downside cost, which is that the reserves of natural gas would last for just two or three decades, and the pollution and health affects would last essentially forever, and cut off income from agriculture, dairying, tourism, property values, recreation including hunting and sport fishing, which provide billions more in income to the State. Also, the jobs in the gas drilling industry are for the workers who are brought in from Canada and western states, not for locals.

Oct. 27 2010 11:01 AM
Capt. Adama from Caprica

Frak no! So say we all.

Oct. 27 2010 10:50 AM
fracked up

What is the difference between "natural gas" and methane?

If there is no difference, then isn't calling methane "natural gas" just PR greenwashing and obfuscating a very familiar (and smelly) gas that we are all familiar with?

Oct. 27 2010 10:49 AM
DickeyFuller from Washington, DC


If it's so safe, why in the world won't the companies reveal the chemical content of their pressurized water mix?

It's just like in the Gulf . . . BP would not reveal the chemicals that made up their dispersants.

Come on. We are the people. These are OUR natural resources.

How did corporate entities manage to wrestle the right to undisclosed pollutamts away from the the citizens' environmental oversight?


Oct. 27 2010 10:49 AM

how much energy is wasted by americans?

Oct. 27 2010 10:46 AM
Peg from Southern Tier NY

Marcellus Shale Issues of concern to rural residents who do not live in areas that are protected for NYC residents:

Protection for homeowners of well-water quality from seeping fracking solutions.

Infrastructure (rural roads and bridges) degradation (from thousands of trucks and heavy equipment).

Air pollution from deisel and other noxious fumes at well heads spaced on 40 acres.

Radon in the natural gas in the Marcellus

Effect of poorly maintained fracking ponds on wildlife and livestock (Anyone want to eat venison that had a frack pond bath?)

How many jobs will be only for outside workers vs local?

If many jobs come from outside our region - how will small communities fare with demands for more infrastructure and places for their children in rural schools? What will happen when they leave?

Pro drill and anti drill factions have become antagonistic to each other. Now they're stealing pro and anti signs - if a Dimmock problem emerges here, there may be more violent skirmishes.

Many more local concerns out here but that's plenty for us to think about.

Oct. 27 2010 10:19 AM
Peg from sitting on top of the Marcellus Shale in the Southern Tier o

How will Paterson's sudden firing of DEC commissioner Grannis effect the moratorium on hydrofracking in NY?

Are New Yorkers putting our environment at risk by favoring education, police and other state workers over those who protect our environment? It won't help to have well educated children and grandchildren who can't drink our water (NY's most valuable resource). If we need more regulators to oversee the hydrofracking process - then make the gas companies and landowners who will be profiting PAY FOR THEM!

Oct. 27 2010 07:41 AM

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