Updated 03/01/2011 05:47 AM
Fracking to-do-list tops environmentalists' agendas
Please check-off our fracking to-do-list! It's the plea of environmental advocates expressing their concerns about hydrofracking in New York State. Our Erin Vannella sat in on a legislative meeting Monday to learn what they say is wrong and what pro-drillers say is right.
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NEW YORK STATE -- "New York State's future is on the line here," said Environmental Advocates of New York program director Katherin Nadeau. "We've got tremendous opportunity to protect our resources going forward or we've got the opportunity for widespread contamination and pollution of our waterways so we need to make sure that before any drilling is allowed to happen, we have better standards, better regulations and better laws."
There you have it. In a nutshell, environmental advocates push their hyrdofracking to-do-list Monday while they wait for the DEC to allay their fears.
"The state needs to make sure that we are overseeing really big water withdrawals to protect our streams and our rivers," said Nadeau. "We need to make sure that the most dangerous chemicals used in fracking are banned so they don't harm people and communities and our water."
Hydrofracking, or the process of extracting natural gas from underground shale deposits, has been digging holes around the country for years to what advocates cite as a major ecological and economic advantage.
"What we fully expect to have is a permitting process and a set of environmental regulations that not only allows New York to reap the tremendous opportunity in a safe way but reap all the economic benefits as a result," said lobbyist for Independent Oil and Gas Company of New York Jim Smith.
But environmentalists aren't quick to hop onboard.
"We've looked at this very carefully and we see the impacts of waste disposal," said Sierra Club legislative director Roger Downs. "We see the cumulative impacts on communities and habitats. At this point we don't see that this can be done in an appropriate way."
At the very least, with the help of regulatory legislation designed to ensure responsible action on the part of hyrdofrackers, environmental advocates aim to hold the state to its promise not to trade short term economics for long term health and well being.
"We want the same assurances the public wants in the environmental protection," said Smith. "So I think what we need to do is relax for the next six months, realize that the DEC will be coming out with the new set of rules for permitting the drilling process and then we can react to these rules."