For many New Yorkers, fracking remains a highly emotional whether they are for or against it, and as many as 50 municipalities there have banned gas drilling in recent years, as Governor Cuomo continues to order public health surveys s to its safety.
While hydraulic fracking has led to a “boom” for the nation’s energy companies, as well as landowners (reducing the need for imports of oil and natural gas) in the hundreds of billions of dollars in revenue, there have been an increase in the number of complaints alleging that it has contaminated water supplies in several states including 2,000 in Texas, 190 in Ohio (between 2010-2013), 122 in West Virginia and Pennsylvania, which received 398 complaints last year claiming that in addition to pollution from stray gas, there were “short-term diminished water flow.” 100 of these have been confirmed since 2008. As a result, three families in eastern Pennsylvania eventually received a $1.6 million settlement from a drilling company there.
Fracking involves pumping hundreds of thousands of gallons of water, sand and chemicals into cracks drilled to break apart shale rock and release the natural gas. While some of that water eventually returns to the surface loaded with high levels of salt, heavy metals (with natural occurring low radiation) as well as drilling chemicals, experts maintain that the most common type of pollution involves the methane gas, itself.
Note: Health and environmental officials in each of the above states have noted that not all confirmed cases of water pollution were actually related to fracking.