Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Highlights from EPA's fracking hearing in New York

















Hundreds of people showed up in Binghamton yesterday (September 13), representing a full range of interests – from those who would support a full-on ban on fracking, to those who want to be sure we have a full understanding of the risks and how they might be managed if fracking gets a green light here, to those who believe drilling in New York’s Marcellus Shale promises much-desired revenue that can’t come fast enough.  Although passions on this issue run very high, the assembled were respectful and the overall tone was measured.  EPA should be commended for running the meeting in a way that helped keep the discourse civil and the comments, for the most part, on the substance. -- Switchboard (NRDC staff blog)

On one end of the street where the Environmental Protection Agency session was held Monday stood a few hundred anti-drilling people — about half the crowd of some 500. They held signs like "Protect Our Water Stop Fracking America," referring to the EPA study to determine the effect of the horizontal drilling method of hydraulic fracturing or "fracking" on drinking water. The anti-drillers heard speakers like Josh Fox, the Honesdale (PA) director of the film, "Gasland" say, "The"» EPA's mission is to stop fracking now."  A few hundred feet away, separated by TV crews from CNN, CBS and even Norway, stood a smaller crowd of a few dozen pro drillers. They held signs like "America's Energy: Natural Gas." -- Times Herald-Record

"They have never done a hydraulic fracking study as comprehensive as the one now beginning," says Scott Anderson, a senior policy adviser for the Environment Defense Fund. "The results of this study will inform future congressional decisions on whether to continue to exempt hydraulic fracturing from the federal Safe Drinking Water Act." -- Christian Science Monitor

Instances across the country, including some in Northeastern Pennsylvania, have occurred in which drinking water has been tainted in the vicinity of gas wells. That the damage was caused by fracking, and not inadequate well casings, surface spills or other reasons, has not been proven beyond a reasonable doubt, according to gas drilling supporters.
-- Times Leader

John Harmon of the New York-New Jersey African American Chamber of Commerce said full development of the Marcellus Shale would create 280,000 jobs over the next 10 years, jobs sorely needed in the black community. “This is not the time to further limit energy job opportunities for those in need,” Harmon said. -- Associated Press

The industry is increasingly concerned by signs that the EPA is taking seriously the concerns of drilling critics that fracking puts drinking water at risk. On Friday, the API organized a conference call and publicized a study highlighting that if drilling in the Marcellus Shale -- which stretches from New York to West Virginia -- begins in 2011 under a middle-range scenario, production could reach 9.5 billion cubic feet a day in 2020, generating more than 180,000 jobs and almost $4 billion in additional tax revenue.-- Wall Street Journal

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