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Tue February 12, 2013
Hydraulic Fracturing has made a lot of headlines in recent years but the practice of extracting natural gas has been around since the early 20th century - The beginnings of fracking go back to 1908... some 40 years later the technology became "commercially viable."
The industry evolved following the Arab Oil Embargo and the "energy crisis" of the 1970s, when governemnt led the call to look for unconventional sources of natural gas.
Present day high-pressure fracking methods were first used in Texas, in 1999.
The federal Environmental Protection Agency has studied the impacts of fracking on drinking water since 2001 with mixed results, often revising or reversing its own findings.
By the mid 2000's, gas companies were eyeing New York, which, along with Ohio and Pennsylvania, ranks in the top 10 in energy consumption of all the United States based on data from the Energy Information Administration.
Logan Adsit from the town of Pharsalia co-founded "Save the Southern Tier" - the newest of handfuls of anti-fracking groups that have sprung up since 2009, when New York's Department of Environmental Conservation released its first environmental review of industrial gas drilling and was immediately criticized for failing to conduct a health or cumulative impacts analysis, failure to protect drinking water supplies, and more.
Proponents argue that over one million gas wells have been fracked without a single incident of environmental impact.
Adsit toured a heavily fracked area in Pennsylvania and came back to New York worried about her future. Adsit's concerns are echoed in the Josh Fox documentary "Gasland" - which shows clips of residents lighting their tap water on fire, allegeldy due to high concentrations of methane from nearby fracking.
Karen Moreau, the Executive Director of the New York State Petroleum Council, would not go on mic, but did comment by email - quote - "Gasland has been debunked by every regulatory agency that was involved in the instances Josh Fox reports as “truth”. It is a propaganda film."
John Holko is the president of Lenape Resources, a Western New York drilling company. He firmly believes fracking is a safe process.
Since taking office in 2011, Governor Andrew Cuomo has had both feet in the "fracking fire" - pressured by both sides to make a decision, one way or the other, on whether to allow wells to be drilled in New York.
About 150 municipalities have temporarily or permanently banned fracking, and many expect to keep local bans intact regardless of what Andrew Cuomo decides. That decision is due by Feb. 27th.
New York News