Newsvine – The Fracking Unknown

Newsvine – The Fracking Unknown.

The Fracking Unknown

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There are many things the citizens of New York State don’t know about the Fracking for NG (natural gas) which is about to over-run the south central part of NYS known as the Southern Tier. But there is one thing which we do know; Governor Andrew Cuomo doesn’t think he can be elected President of the United States in 2016 if he is opposed by Big Oil & Gas. So he is bowing to the power of Big O & G by lifting the current ban on Fracking. Cuomo must feel that the huge amount of money America’s biggest dollar industry will throw against him will defeat him as it did Al Gore in 2000; if he stands in the way of their Fracking in the Southern Tier of New York State.

In 2000 Big O & G took George W. Bush, an unimpressive Governor of Texas, who was considered a political light weight and pretty much of a joke; and made him POTUS with their hundreds of millions of dollars. They conveniently provided him with Vice-President Dick Cheney, formerly the head of Halliburton the country’s largest G & O service company. After Cheney’s secret meetings with O &G executives, with Cheney in charge of American energy policy, Big O & G had the Republican Congress pass the 2005 changes to Clean Air and Safe Drinking Water Acts; exempting the O & G industry from key section and severely limiting the EPA’s investigative and enforcement powers. About a year later they announced the High Volume Slick Water Hydraulic Fracturing technique commonly known as Fracking. Big O & G needed the 2005 exemptions because Fracking uses millions of gallons of water mix with Fracking fluid which contains dozens of toxic and carcinogenic chemicals. This Fracking fluid is injected in horizontal shafts running through the shale beds in order to crack open the rock and allow NG to be pumped out, along with some of the Fracking fluid. A lot of the Fracking fluid remains in the ground; where it can flows to anywhere. The drilled vertical shafts which connect up to a dozen or more horizontal shafts run up and through the drinking water aquifers above the shale beds. Any leak or accident in the vertical shafts can contaminate the aquifer with Fracking fluid or methane (NG) which they pass through. When and if this contamination is detected the cost and/or technology to clean the water could be beyond our abilities.

Big O & G then went on to Frack in Texas, Arkansas, Colorado, Wyoming, West Virginia and Pennsylvania. In each place they Fracked there have been serious environmental problems. The wide range of these problems include; contamination of drinking water by methane or Fracking fluid; earthquakes and earth movement caused by the voids created and/or waste Fracking fluid injected under extreme pressure; surface infrastructure destruction; air pollution; gas explosions and a long list of other dangerous environmental, safety and health incidents.

Now Big O & G have their eyes set on the Marcellus Shale Play that underlies NYS’s Southern Tier. NYS has had a moratorium in place for over two years while it has been trying to update its 20 year old Environmental Impact Study to accommodate what is becoming known about Fracking techniques and chemicals. Unfortunately Big O& G won’t disclose the chemicals used in Fracking fluid, claiming they are “proprietary information”, despite calls for disclosure from the Federal EPA. Absent the public knowing the contents of Fracking fluid, it is impossible to test water sources for the chemicals in advance of Fracking. This enables the Frackers to use their standard “they were there before” defense when toxins or NG components are discovered in water supplies. This not being able to know the details of the dangers is the catch 22 of Fracking.

Among the other many things NYS citizens don’t know are; if as required in new DEC Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Study or SGEIS, the Fracking companies will comply with any mandatory (but not public) discloser of ingredients in their Fracking fluid to the DEC or lie as they did to the EPA in Texas. For twenty years Big O & G falsely told the EPA they were not using and dumping diesel fuel (which was banned) as part of the Fracking process. But when they were finally caught they confessed they were using it, dumping it and lying about it. Instead of paying a fine and decease from continuing the illegal use and dumping; Big O & G has used their economic influence with some Congress members to try and have the use and dumping of diesel fuel allowed by proposing more increasingly lax Clean Air and Safe Drinking Water Acts exemptions.

Another thing New Yorkers don’t know is; why Fracking is absolutely banned in the watersheds of New York City and Syracuse, which also have the Marcellus beneath, while in the Southern Tier the Fracker will be able to drill O & G industry proposed 5 to 10 thousand wells? Are the men, women and children of the Southern Tier less valuable, important or blessed than those in NYC or Syracuse? Or are there just fewer voters and mostly Republicans to boot. By banning Fracking in some water supplies the DEC and Cuomo is acknowledging the danger that Fracking poses to the water supply. What are they saying by allowing it other water supplies; that they don’t care about the health, safe or well being of some citizens of NYS? And when the greed of Big O & G puts up more money; will the rights and property of the residents of Onondaga, Delaware, Sullivan and Ulster Counties and even NYC be offered as expendable for political or career reasons?

When the first SGEIS was released by the DEC about two years ago, it would have allowed the issuing of drilling permits under the 20 year old rules; despite the fact that the DEC had only 17 inspection personnel for the proposed 5 to 10 thousand wells. In a NYS which has twisted its budget into a pretzel, cutting or limiting in almost every area of public employment to try to make it balance; how realistic is the likelihood that the necessary number of the hundreds (or even thousands) of new inspectors and other personnel will be hired and trained in order to adequately monitor the activities at 5 to 10 thousand wells? When it come to an industry which is notorious for playing fast, loose and dirty for quick profits, having the appropriate investigation, enforcement and oversight structure in place and well funded is paramount; but NYS ability and motivation is this regard is unknown.

A reasoned consideration of all the unknowns about the consequences of allowing Fracking should have lead to Cuomo extending the moratorium, if not announcing an outright ban on Fracking until at least the Federal EPA completes its comprehensive investigation and report on the dangers of Fracking, which is currently underway. However it looks like Cuomo’s political plans are in conflict with his sworn duty to protect the people of NYS; and his political aspirations have overwhelmed his moral compass. Cuomo has abandoned the vast majority of New Yorkers and have left us to defend and protect ourselves from those who would destroy our communities and way of life.

Fortunately the final chapter(s) of the struggle of the people of NYS to stop the Frackers and their allies from having their way is still unknown. We still have the right to vote and that enables us to do what we need to keep Fracking from ruining NYS. We can find fellow citizens to vote for who will respect and serve the citizens of their communities. Who, as representatives of their constituency in the State Legislature, can put into effect a moratorium or ban on Fracking, at least until we all know the results of complete and comprehensive studies. We can also replace Cuomo as Governor with someone who is only beholding to the citizens of NYS and not out to curry favor with, get contributions from and do the bidding of the likes of Big O &G and Wall Street Gangs. After a well deserved defeat in his re-election campaign, because of his turning his back on the well being of his constituents; Cuomo’s prospect of achieving his goal of becoming POTUS will be appropriately about nil. The one thing the people all across New York need to know and do know is that; if there is the will, there is a way to protect and save ourselves and our state!

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