The hydrofracking issue is once again taking center stage as the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) begins to release several reports on guidelines of high-volume hydraulic fracturing in gas drilling.
Before any drilling begins, we must be certain beyond a reason of doubt that our environment and infrastructure will not be damaged. I am convinced hydrofracking as currently proposed would be detrimental to Sullivan County.
What I find interesting in the just released report is that the DEC will not guarantee that hydrofracking is safe.
While they claim they studied problems in Pennsylvania and corrected some guidelines, they will now not permit fracking in the New York City or Syracuse watersheds.
One has to seriously wonder why fracking could be permitted in other areas and not in the watersheds if it is considered safe. Blatantly the DEC is attempting to win support from people like New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and other politicians removed from Sullivan County to permit hydrofracking.
Despite what gas companies might say, the research and evidence is there that hydofracking contaminates water. Documented incidents from Colorado to Texas to West Virginia to nearby Pennsylvania make clear that the dangers and fears of hydofracking are very real.
Although the DEC must be commended for the new guidelines, they have a long way to go to prove hydrofracking safe. And, they are not done yet. They are still examining socioeconomic impacts, transportation infrastructure and visual and noise impacts.
The DEC also created an advisory panel consisting of a mix of government, environmental and industry representatives.
State Senator Jon Bonacic commenting on the initial report told me, “From day one, when the issue of gas drilling came to our region, I have said that science not politics must drive the decision making process. Politics have been played at a lot of levels on this issue, but science and safety must be the driving force on this issue. I appreciate the tremendous efforts of the DEC staff and Commissioner Joe Martens to honor that mission of putting science first. We have not reached the end of the gas drilling review process, but merely the end of the beginning of this process.”
Bonacic added, “Now comes important opportunity for public input. I am hopeful those comments will further improve the regulatory process and refine the regulations, to ensure our region benefits from safe gas exploration while learning from any of the mistakes that have been made elsewhere.”
Bonacic is absolutely correct. Emotions cannot guide the DEC in determining if fracking is safe or unsafe. It must be science that determines that factor.
Unfortunately, the disasters that have been seen in other States make one weary and cautious on the safety of hydrofracking. We must take a wait and see attitude to see the entire outcome of the DEC process.
The across the board moratorium must stay put. There is too much at stake, and our safety must be guaranteed before a few landowners strike it rich.