Environmental groups from across New York rallied at the state Capitol on Monday, calling on lawmakers to protect the environment and the public against potential hazards related to high-volume hydraulic fracturing for natural gas in the Marcellus Shale region that spans the southern half of New York and parts of Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia.
The technology, commonly called "fracking," involves the high-pressure injection of chemically treated water into a gas well to crack shale about 8,000 feet underground to release trapped natural gas. The industry says fracking is well-regulated and safe but opponents fear it could contaminate water supplies. The Environmental Protection Agency is conducting a scientific review of the practice.
Meanwhile, the Independent Oil & Gas Association of New York is calling on Gov. Andrew Cuomo to expedite the Department of Environmental Conservation's review of fracking and allow permitting for gas exploration to proceed.
The gas industry group wants Cuomo to direct the state Department of Environmental Conservation to complete its revised Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement addressing Marcellus Shale issues by July 1.
"Nearly three years has gone by since the state essentially halted the permitting of natural gas drilling in the Southern Tier," wrote Brad Gill, IOGA of NY executive director. "During that time we have watched people, jobs, businesses and opportunity flee our state for Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia, where those economies are rebounding strongly as a result of increased natural gas development."
At Monday's rally on the Capitol lawn, Josh Fox, director of the anti-gas-industry documentary "Gasland," called New York "the center of sanity in the gas-drilling world" for putting Marcellus permits on hold until it completes its environmental review.