By: Dave Lucas
NEW PALTZ, NY (WAMC) - Hydraulic Fracturing seems to be on everyone’s radar. Hudson Valley Bureau Chief Dave Lucas reports on the remaining questions about the cost to New York State and the impact on the environment and human health.
Concerns over drinking water led New York State to impose a ban on hydrofracking in the New York City and Syracuse watersheds: state recommendations indicate that ban will extend to primary aquifers and state-owned lands.
Those against fracking cite reports coming out of Pennsylvania, where gas drilling has been implicated in tainted water wells and contaminating a tributary of the Susquehanna River. At a Monday morning press conference in Westchester County next to the Mount Kisco Village Hall, Republican Senator Greg Ball publicy challenged Governor Andrew Cuomo to tour Pennsylvania.
Governor Cuomo held an online town hall back on October 8th, where DEC Commissioner Joe Martens answered 22 questions from citizens; most of them worried that drilling could poison water supplies. The Poughkeepsie Journal’s Albany Bureau reports that both state and local health departments in drilling areas may need to bolster resources to deal with any potential public-health issues stemming from drilling. In recent testimony at a New York State Assembly Environmental Conservation Committee Hearing in Albany, Commissioner Martens explained his department is working with the department of health.
An internal State Health Department report obtained by Gannet newspapers indicates that if high-volume hydrofracking moves forward in New York, the agency will need additional funding to address potential health impacts and assist with regulating the industry.
Senator Ball warns the gas industry is a powerful one which has corrupted both Republican and Democratic leaders. Catskill MountainKeeper Program director Wes Gillingham adds that fracking has divided elected officials. Fracking is officially banned in two of New York’s major cities: Buffalo and Albany: Albany’s Common Council voted against it this week — Albany Mayor Jerry Jennings has been a friend to the Cuomo administration– a spokesman for the Mayor says a 10 day evaluation period is now counting down, giving Jennings time to decide whether to sign the ban into law or veto it.
The DEC is holding public hearings on hydrofracking through November; the public can submit comments by mail or through the DEC’s online comment form until December 12th. (LISTEN HERE)