April 20, 2011

Letter to the Editor: No ‘fracking’ way

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To the Editor:

Re: “Study: Fracking May Be More Harmful Than Coal Use,” News, April 18

Here in New York State, the battle over natural gas drilling rages onward. A new, high-volume form of gas drilling has been developed, known as horizontal hydraulic fracturing. In this process, sand, water and chemicals are injected into the ground horizontally along shale reserves to break the rock and release natural gas. In the past three years, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has put a lot of effort into researching the risks to our water resources, tourism, agriculture and environmental health associated with this new extraction method of “fracking.” And now, Prof. Robert Howarth, ecology and evolutionary biology, Prof. Anthony Ingraffea, civil and environmental engineering, and Renee Santoro say that horizontal fracking will exacerbate the effects of global warming.

The oil and gas industry has yet to demonstrate that it can extract natural gas from the ground safely, and many citizens are in favor of a state-wide ban. In other states, such as Pennsylvania and Texas, many problems with horizontal fracking have been reported, and the results range from contaminated drinking water to exploding gas wells. Though New York would provide protective regulations to keep these disasters from happening, a lot of economic investment will be needed to develop this industrial process safely. Among other infrastructure, each well will need five million gallons of water, thousands of trucks to bring this water and waste facilities to contain the radioactive, contaminated fracking fluid that comes back out of the wells.

Horizontal hydraulic fracturing is NOT a clean energy, and opening New York for fracking will not decrease our dependency on foreign oil or help curb global warming because the world would still run on fossil fuels. Instead of spending our money and precious resources in the pursuit of fossil fuels, we ought to be leading the way in the development of alternative, renewable sources of energy. That is our future, and NOT natural gas.

Anna Plattner ’12