The expansion of natural gas drilling in the Finger Lakes region of New York State poses a significant threat to vital water, land and air resources. Large scale, widespread drilling operations would permanently alter the landscape and cultural heritage of the region. The drilling and extraction processes, known as horizontal hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, are currently under review by the State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). In the near future, DEC is expected to finalize regulations for the fracking industry and to begin processing new permit applications, amid plenty of controversy. Public comments on the proposed regulations, and accompanying Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement, can be submitted to DEC through December 12, 2011.
Proponents of fracking assume that an inevitable economic boom will sweep through the region as soon as the first new wells are permitted. While some property owners have already entered into lucrative leases to their underground mineral rights, many others are being left out of the leasing bonanza, by choice or by chance. This is a map of Finger Lakes properties with gas leases (in pink):
The map does not indicate the number of new wells that could be sited in the region, but it is obvious that the gas industry anticipates a huge expansion of drilling in the Southern Tier and Finger Lakes. While a gas lease does not equal gas drilling, it is a necessary precursor.
Multi-well pad and horizontal drilling technologies enable a single well pad to produce gas across numerous surrounding leases. Beyond the 2-3 acre drilling sites, fracking requires an extensive network of pipelines, compressor stations and trucking routes. All of these fracking components pose distinct threats to human health and the environment in the region.
There are numerous documented examples of well water contamination from fracking operations. The issue is not the injection of fracking fluids deep underground. It is what happens to those toxic fluids once they are used up and . . .
Read more: Fracking in the Finger Lakes