New York Health Officials Delay Release of Fracking Impact StudyFeb 13, 2013
Fracking in New York has hit another setback.
According to a Reuters report this week, health officials in the state have asked for a few more weeks to conclude its research and finalize data for its ongoing health impact study examining the effects of hydraulic fracturing (fracking) drilling on the public. The New York Dept. of Health petitioned for more time to properly and fully conduct its study and the request was honored by the state’s Dept. of Conservation.
New York has been operating under an extended moratorium on fracking drilling for the last four years. During that time, the state has debated the benefits versus the drawbacks to fracking drilling and when current Gov. Andrew Cuomo was inaugurated several years ago, he vowed to open the state to the energy exploration process that aims to get natural gas reserves from underground shale formations. Before he allowed the drilling to commence, Cuomo said the state would conduct a full review of the process, including environmental and health impact studies.
It appeared as though the state was ready to OK drilling in the early part of this year but this call for more time has seemingly delayed that at least for a few more weeks.
The news will be welcome to environmental activists who have taken their fight against fracking to the Empire State, attempting to preserve natural resources and spare the local environment for millions in the state and others in the Mid Atlantic region. Since the state has been under a moratorium on drilling, residents have been divided - almost in half - on whether fracking drilling should be allowed.
While those in favor of the process believe it will be a boon to struggling local economies in New York, others say fracking will expose thousands, perhaps millions of New Yorkers to dangerous chemicals and byproducts used in or generated by the fracking process.
Fracking is conducted by injecting fresh water (tens of thousands of gallons of it per well), sand, a drill, and mix of several hundred chemicals into an underground horizontal well. This drilling slurry eventually reaches an underground shale bed, which is blasted apart to release natural gas deposits and then everything is supposed to rushed back to the surface. The gas is separated from the drilling fluids, which are stored in various types of vessels at a well site until they’re either disposed or transported away.
Opponents to fracking drilling believe the process can not be conducted safely and its toxic ingredients expose many living closest to the wells face a serious risk of health and environmental effects caused either by drilling contents leaking into underground fissures where they can contaminate groundwater and private drinking wells or from airborne toxins at a well site being spread into the air.
Cuomo had set a deadline for releasing his proposed fracking regulations on Feb. 27 but this delay likely will push the release of those rules back by a few weeks. The state Health Dept.’s original deadline for releasing its impact study was supposed to be today, Feb. 13.