Coinciding with the end of its 7-month moratorium on “fracking” for natural gas in shale rock formations, New York announced on Tuesday that it expects to have draft rules ready for June in order to proceed with the destructive drilling technique that could threaten the state’s water supplies.
Following the city of Pittsburgh’s lead, on Tuesday, though mainly symbolic, councilors from the city of Buffalo, voted unanimously (9-0) to ban hydraulic fracturing as well as to ban “storing, transferring, treating or disposing fracking waste within the city,” due to the risks it poses to underground water supplies.
On the same day, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced how its 2-year investigation (draft to be released at the end of 2012, with a final report in 2014) of hydraulic fracturing would proceed. The EPA will investigate reported instances of drinking water contamination in three to five sites across the US, and will also conduct two to three case studies taking samples before, during and after water extraction, drilling and production of gas.
Having reviewed more than 10,000 comments (out of 13,000 received so far), New York plans to allow fracking prior to the release of the EPA’s study, which is being closely followed by critics of the practice and natural gas producers the world over. Joe Martens, the state’s acting Commissioner for the Department of Environmental Conservation, suggested that:
“…we won’t undertake drilling until we’re confident it can be done safely. And protecting water supplies is, at the essence, our highest priority.”
Ithaca Assemblywoman, Barbara Lifton (D), echoed environmentalists and anyone who saw the film Gasland, declaring fracking to be the: “environmental issue of the century for New York state.”
How can New York possible suggest fracking can be done “safely” before the EPA completes its safety analysis? Stay tuned, there will be much more happening on this front before June.