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On the Threshold of a Fracking Nightmare

Shamefully, NJ Governor Christie Backs the Frack

Live hand-in-hand
And together we’ll stand
On the threshold of a dream
.  ~~~
  Moody Blues (1969) (read lyrics and listen to the music)

Binghamton, NY (9/23/10)

Binghamton, NY (9/13/10)

Sorry for delay in writing about the important September 13  EPA public hearing in Binghamton NY to take public comment on the scope of a scientific research study to assesss the impacts of fracking.

Congressman Maurice Hinchey (D/NY)

Congressman Maurice Hinchey (D/NY)

Creation of  that EPA  study was spearheaded by NY Congressman Maurice Hinchey and has generated enormous public interest (the deadline for public comment is September 28)

Despite the public outrage, many well publicized destructive impacts, and a wild west gold rush mentality, since that public hearing, it looks like the Obama Administration is corrupted by gas industry lobbying (see NY Times: Obama Rejects Time Out for Natural Gas Drilling in NY, Pa.”

Remarkably, it appears that EPA is about to cave in to gas industry pressure to politicize the science.

This would repeat the 2004 scientific  fiasco  (exposed by EPA whistelblowers) when Vice President Cheney and his Energy Taskforce installed Haliburton lobbyists to be in charge of EPA’s initial study that led to 2005 Congressional exemptions from environmental laws.

If the Obama EPA and Science Advisory Board allow a repeat of that, they will destroy all credibility EPA may have gained by what appear to be good faith efforts thus far.

Propublica has been doing outstanding work on the fracking issue, which excuses my laziness. So I urge anyone involved or interested in the fracking issue  to read that coverage. It is extremely unusual for journalists to so beautifully investigate, understand, and report on a complex scientific and regulatory issue.

All I can say is a huge thank you to ProPublica, and to urge our home town NJ reporters to emulate that superb work.

Anyway, getting back to the issue at hand – EPA held a public hearing to take comments in Binghamton NY back on September 13.

The hearing was preceded by a street protest (I was proud to discover that I went to college with Binghamton’s Mayor, Matt Ryan, who was a fellow graduate of SUNY Binghamton’s environmental science and public policy program. In a superb irony, my later graduate thesis topic at Cornell was “Land Use Controls to Prevent Groundwater Contamination of NY Southern Tier River Valley Aquifers “).

Technically, my only comment on the scope of the EPA study is that it seeems like EPA is too narrowly focusing on drinking water impacts of chemicals, and ignoring the massively destructive land use and ecological impacts of thousands of fracking wells. And with current drought conditions, how are DRBC and NY, NJ, and Pennsylvania officials going to allocate reductions among current users that are necessary to account for the 5 million gallons of water needed for each of thousands of fracked gas wells?

Strategically, I’d note that some NY activists seems hopelessly naive in presuming a “de facto” drilling moratorium.

But NY activists were already screwed by NY Governor Paterson and the Legislature when they enacted the so called “spacing bill” that provided the gas industry a certain “by right” drilling density. (read the PR cover story here).

In a rare and refreshing bit on honesty, a western NY spokesman from the Onandaga Indian Nation recognized this by stating “we’ve already been fracked”.

The links above provide more than enough technical information, so all I will do below is post a few pictures of the event.

US EPA Region 2 Administrator, Judith Enck

US EPA Region 2 Administrator, Judith Enck

In addition to posting photos, I also take this opportunity to do three things:

1) to recognize the leadership of longtime environmental warrior Congressman Maurice Hinchey (D-NY), who sponsored the legislation to conduct the EPA study, as well as the “Frack Act”  (HR 2766) to regulate fracking;

2) to thank EPA Region II Adminsitrator Judy Enck for her sincere and outstanding efforts; and

3) to condemn NJ DEP Commissioner Bob Martin and NJ Governor Christie for quietly acting behiond the scenes to support fracking.

(some photos)

residetns welcome EPA, as Binghamton mayor Matt Ryan addresses protestors

residents welcome EPA, as Binghamton mayor Matt Ryan addresses protestors

frack 4

Lehigh River (at Jim Thorpe, Pa.) is threatened too
Lehigh River (at Jim Thorpe, Pa.) is threatened too

frack 3Â

frack 5

frack 6

frack 7

frack 8

frack 9

NY State's Southern Tier remains rural (underlain by Marcellus gas bearing shale)

NY State's Southern Tier remains rural (underlain by Marcellus gas bearing shale)

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  1. Nicole
    September 27th, 2010 at 09:06 | #1

    NJ has a vote on this issue because we boarder the Delaware Water Gap. Christie is trying to fast track natural gas drilling and override any moratorium. I called his office last week to voice my opinion as a constituent and tell him to stop fast tracking it, and to support a full environmental impact assessment first. I also asked if people had been calling on this issue and was told that I was the only so far. Pick-up your phones, dial, and tell Christie to get on the right side of this issue. They’re going to tear-up the Delaware Water Gap and poison our drinking water and contaminate the water that’s used to water crops, sustain our cattle, shower, etc. The toxic chemicals for this process will seep into the water table. And, apparently Hess threatened to pull out of NJ if Christie didn’t support fracking, so you know where to take your gas money.

  2. Bill Wolfe
    September 27th, 2010 at 10:26 | #2

    @Nicole

    Thanks Nicole – NJ is a member of the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC). DRBC has some jurisdiction to regualte some gas drilling activities in the Delawaare Watershed. People should ask Chrisite to reverse his DEP Commissioner, who is working behind the scenes agaisnt DRBC efforts. Each fracked gas well will use 5 million gallons of water – given current drought, where is all that water going to come from?

    Please hit the links in the above post for good information on all these issues.

    Wolfe

  1. September 28th, 2010 at 23:33 | #1
  2. November 2nd, 2010 at 01:02 | #2
  3. November 17th, 2010 at 19:14 | #3
  4. December 9th, 2010 at 22:31 | #4
  5. December 10th, 2010 at 15:20 | #5
  6. December 15th, 2010 at 13:39 | #6
  7. December 19th, 2010 at 14:40 | #7
  8. February 24th, 2011 at 23:19 | #8
  9. December 22nd, 2012 at 13:58 | #9
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