Monday, September 20, 2010


From the The [Green] Capitol Insider - 9.20.2010 e-newsletter by Environmental Activists of NY (

After weeks of chatter, negotiations, venue changes, air conditioning challenges, and one much-discussed postponement, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency hearing on natural gas drilling by means of hydraulic fracturing or “fracking,” went off without any problems.

Over two days and 16 hours, hundreds of speakers voiced concerns about the controversial fracking process to EPA researchers. Some folks just welcomed the opportunity to have their say or recite the Pledge of Allegiance. Hundreds showed up to listen.

The hearing is the public comment portion of an EPA investigation into fracking. Hydraulic fracturing injects thousands of gallons of chemical-laced water and sand into gas wells, cracking the shale rock and releasing the natural gas. The oil and gas industry is eager to drill for gas trapped under the Marcellus and Utica Shale formations in New York State.

Environmental advocates, concerned citizens and public health groups from across the state and the country are calling for the highest standards and best protections for our natural resources, particularly dinking water. In New York, groups are calling on the State Legislature to enact strong laws and that regulations are on the books before any drilling is allowed. Just last month, the State Senate passed a “timeout” on fracking for gas that would give state leaders more time to study the process. The Assembly has yet to take up identical legislation but is expected to upon returning to Albany.

The EPA is holding the hearings, the last of four nationwide, to get public input on its study on the potential effect that fracking may have on groundwater. The agency is looking for insight on what the highest priority of the study should be, as well as where the gaps in public knowledge are, and suggested locations for a case study.

The 400 speakers, 300 of whom were held over from the original list of registrants for the Aug. 12 meeting at Binghamton University, include a variety of stakeholders, including Congressmen Maurice Hinchey and Binghamton Mayor Matthew T. Ryan.

Click here to check out Environmental Advocates of New York’s fracking primer.

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