Riverkeeper > Campaigns & Cases > Safeguard Drinking Water > Gas Fracking in New York State

Gas Fracking in New York State

Photo Courtesy Giles Ashford

Since July 2008 Riverkeeper has tracked the prospect of industrial gas drilling in New York State. While gas drilling in New York is not new, what is new is the magnitude, scope, and location of the proposed drilling method of high-volume hydraulic fracturing or “fracking”. Indeed, industrial gas drilling throughout the Marcellus Shale and other shale reserves in New York has the potential to impact the environment and communities dramatically.

This is one reason why Governor Paterson ordered New York State to update an outdated environmental review of gas drilling impacts.

The entire West-of-Hudson portion of the New York City Watershed (supplying 90% of drinking water to over half the state’s population) sits on top of part of the Marcellus Shale, a large mineral reserve deposit deep beneath the earth’s surface. Oil and gas companies have known about this shale reserve for decades, but the technology to extract natural gas from it has become available only recently. The Marcellus Shale spans across at least five states. To extract natural gas from the mineral reserve, oil companies plan to use a process called “hydraulic fracturing.”

“Fracking” involves injecting toxic chemicals, sand, and millions of gallons of water under high pressure directly into shale formations. This toxic brew, along with any natural gas, is then extracted, or leaked to the surface. Whether any toxic discharges will flow into New York City’s drinking water supply is uncertain.

Riverkeeper’s Position

Riverkeeper opposes shale gas extraction by means of high-volume hydrofracking in New York, including any pilot or demonstration project which would allow this practice, unless and until the industry can prove it CAN and WILL be done safely for both human health and the environment and will be a net economic benefit to local communities and the state’s economy. Based on the best new scientific evidence from across the country, there are growing doubts that the industry will ever be able to meet that standard.

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