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A Big “Fracking” Week

On April 11, hundreds of people gathered in Albany to make their voice heard to Governor Cuomo in an anti-fracking rally that included legislators, activists, environmental groups, people affected by fracking practices gone wrong and Josh Fox, creator and director of the Academy Award-nominated film, Gasland.  The rally was followed by a day of lobbying where New Yorkers met with members of the State Legislature and voiced concerns about this controversial drilling practice and the risks it poses to our water and environment.

(Transcript of Riverkeeper’s Kate Hudson interview available if viewed directly on YouTube)

Later in the week, Riverkeeper submitted comments on the Delaware River Basin Commission’s (DRBC) draft regulations governing fracking in the Delaware River Basin, part of which is in the NYC Watershed, urging DRBC to withdraw its draft regulations and suspend its current rule-making to allow time to conduct a comprehensive environmental and cumulative impacts analyses so that any new rules will be based on sound science and adequate baseline data. 

Riverkeeper also requested that the DRBC withhold further rule-making until the EPA study of hydraulic fracturing’s impacts on water quality and New York’s supplemental environmental review of hydrofracking have been completed.

Over the past weekend, Ian Urbina issued another in his series of New York Times articles about how oil and gas companies injected hundreds of millions of gallons of hazardous or carcinogenic chemicals into wells in more than 13 states from 2005 to 2009, according to an investigation by Congressional Democrats.

The week wrapped up with Attorney General Eric Schneiderman pledging to sue the federal government if it doesn’t commit to conducting a full environmental review of proposed regulations that would allow natural gas drilling – including the fracking technique – in the Delaware River Basin.

And huge news erupted yesterday when the president of the Marcellus Shale Coalition admitted publicly that fracking has contaminated local drinking water supplies in Pennsylvania. As a result, PA governor Tom Corbett has ordered gas drillers to stop taking fracking wastewater to public water treatment facilities (POTWs).

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is currently revising a Draft Supplemental Generic Impact Statement (dSGEIS) assessing the environmental impacts associated with high-volume hydraulic fracturing combined with horizontal drilling within New York. The next version is expected to be released as a revised draft for public review and comment sometime this summer.

The fracking issue continues to gain momentum as more details about the hazards of this technique are brought to light. Riverkeeper is urging Governor Cuomo to extend Executive Order No. 41 for at least a year beyond June 1, 2011 and to take steps to ensure that DEC has the staff and budget necessary to complete the State Environmental Quality Review (SEQRA) process and to do a formal rule-making after that process is complete. Join us and take action today!

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