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THE FRACKING DEBATE CONTINUES

 THE FRACKING DEBATE CONTINUES

 
In our last newsletter, I wrote an article about hydraulic fracturing, or ‘fracking’ and the implications of pumping millions of gallons of water, sand and chemicals underground to break apart the rock and release the natural gas within the New York City watershed and our environment. 
 
The purpose of this column is to update you on a few related activities since our last newsletter. First, let’s summarize the elements of the discussion. Our Upper Delaware River Watershed Basin is a source of pure-water for 17 million people. The PA Department of Environmental Protection (PA-DEP) and NY Department of Environmental Conservation (NY-DEC) experts have calculated that over 20,000 wells will be drilled in the Upper Delaware River Watershed Basin. Each well requires 5 to 9 million gallons of water in the initial drilling, and up to that much each time the well undergoes the hydraulic-fracturing process used to access the gas. This water will be allowed to be taken from our streams, lakes, rivers, and aquifers. It is left polluted by the chemicals* used in the drilling and fracturing process. Some of this water will potentially leach into the drinking water aquifers and surface waters. 
 
*Today, energy companies are not required to reveal what is in the chemical cocktail(s) they use to unleash the natural gas which has resulted in a national debate over the controversial process of "fracking" and the effect it has on our groundwater.
 
In my last column, I made reference to Josh Fox’s ‘GASLAND’, a film about when natural gas drilling came to Josh’s area of the Catskills/ Poconos region of upstate New York and PA and the lucrative deals for drilling rights, and our new energy transition strategy. Well, although hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is no stranger to environmental controversy, who would have thought that this environmental documentary would get the attention of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences? The film has been nominated for a Best Documentary Academy Award. Now, Oscar voters are the next group to tackle the 'fracking' controversy‎.
 
     
http://gaslandthemovie.com/
 
Just down the road from the Catskills, news is that Buffalo has banned hydraulic fracturing. Fracking was also banned in Pittsburgh last fall, making Buffalo the second major city nationwide to impose a ban. Supporters of the ban hope it will spur similar decisions throughout New York, Pennsylvania and other states that sit atop the gas-rich Marcellus Shale. 
 
More ‘fracking’ news……
 
The Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) is a United States government agency created in 1961 by an interstate compact, between four states Pennsylvania, Delaware, New Jersey, and New York. The purpose of the Commission is to bring the Delaware River under collective and balanced control, and to ensure fair usage by the states. The DRBC conducts programs related to water quality protection, water supply allocation and water conservation, regulatory review and permitting, watershed planning, drought management, flood mitigation and loss reduction, and recreational activities such as fishing. The DRBC was one of the first government agencies in the United States to address the problem of water pollution. The agency predates the EPA and the Clean Water Act  . Today, DRBC is at the center of the Catskill – Pocono fracking debate.
 
In early February, a lawsuit was filed against the DRBC alleging missteps over the past two years in its effort to regulate natural gas test wells. The Delaware Riverkeeper Network and Damascus Citizens for Sustainability filed suit in federal court in Trenton NJ saying that certain actions taken by the commission allowed exploratory wells to be drilled without proper review and approval.  The lawsuit focuses on exploratory wells, not hydraulic fracturing, However, these wells can still affect environments in the Delaware River basin simply through their construction, the lawsuit contends. 
 
To learn more……
 
The Delaware Riverkeeper Network
http://www.delawareriverkeeper.org/
 
The Delaware River Basin Commission
http://www.state.nj.us/drbc/over.htm
 
Damascus Citizens for Sustainability
http://www.damascuscitizens.org/
 
Stay tuned, 
 
Don O’Hagan is the Director of Business Development at The Deirdre Imus Environmental Health Center™. Today, Don don_oestablishes and manages new product initiatives, business repositioning, and partnerships for our award winning Greening-The-Cleaning Program. In 1994, Don built a log cabin on the East Branch of the Delaware River. He believes there is not a more beautiful place on earth than the Catskill Mountains and is dedicated to making sure the rivers get the chance they deserve to live up to their full potential. As a founding member of The Delaware River Foundation, Mr. O’Hagan spent 12 years on the Board of Directors there while leading numerous initiatives towards the preservation and enhancement of the Delaware Watershed system. Don graduated from Colgate University in 1978.
 
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