As promised earlier, I did attend another New Horizons Forum last night. This one happened to be on a topic that I, and many other New Yorkers, have become very interested in lately: The Marcellus Shale Layer and its role in Hydrofracking. If you aren't aware of what Hydrofracking is, here's a definition that I found:
"Hydraulic fracturing, often called fracking, fracing or hydrofracking, is the process of initiating and subsequently propagating a fracture in a rock layer, by means of a pressurized fluid, in order to release petroleum, natural gas, coal seam gas, or other substances for extraction. The fracturing, known colloquially as a frack job (or frac job), is done from a wellbore drilled into reservoir rock formations. The energy from the injection of a highly pressurized fluid, such as water, creates new channels in the rock which can increase the extraction rates and ultimate recovery of fossil fuels."
It was a discussion topic because it is something that affects everyone here in New York State, especially us in the Southern Tier. We live in the area that is above the Marcellus Shale, and corporations are looking to start drilling. There are many people that are on both sides to the debate; Some are for it primarily because of the jobs, and some are against it because of its health and environmental risks. Dr. Kasey Klingensmith, a professor or Biology at Keuka College, was our guest speaker for the night and shared with us her knowledge of the shale and of hydrofracking. She explained why people are skeptic about this relatively new procedure (usage of large amounts of chemicals during process, the handling of that water when done, risk of leaks and contamination, etc.), and why people are also interested in it (creates temporary jobs in area, immediate use of natural gas, etc.). Right now, the time frame NYS has agreed on allows companies to start getting permits and drilling before laws are actually set in place regarding the regulation of the process. There are regulations, but not laws. Whether you are for against the hydrofracking process, it still needs to be looked at more carefully to research improvements and safer techniques, Kilngensmith said.
There is currently a public comment period on the Environmental Impact Statement, and this is where New Yorkers can help. The document itself is quite long, over 1000 pages, but there are sites where people summarize the top flaws with it to help others understand and respond. If you're interested in responding to the statement, whether you're for or against fracking, you can do that here: TinyURL.com/SubmitSGEISComment. The last day for public comment is December 12th, 2011.
Thanks for reading