Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Senator Joe Addabbo Calls for a Moratorium on Hydrofracking in Upstate Watershed...

Wants Halt to Drilling that Affects NYC Drinking Water until EPA Impact Study Is Completed

To protect the drinking water for almost nine million New Yorkers, NYS Senator Joseph P. Addabbo, Jr., is sponsoring a bill that calls for a moratorium on drilling for natural gas or “hydrofracking” in the upstate watershed. Currently, the bill sits in the Environmental Conservation committees in both the Senate and the Assembly. It may come up for a vote in the Senate before the end of the current legislative session, scheduled to resume the week of July 12.

What is hydrofracking and how could it affect our drinking water even though it takes place over 100 miles away? Earlier this year, Brian Dooley, President of the Glendale Property Owners Association and Addabbo’s constituent, educated the Senator about the process. Dooley explained that while New York City has some of the cleanest, safest and most reliable drinking water in the country, the safety of the city’s drinking water is in danger, put in jeopardy by big business oil companies who want to drill for natural gas dangerously close to New York City’s upstate watershed using a process known as hydraulic fracturing, also called hydrofracking.

This drilling process uses toxic chemicals under high pressure in water to break up rock formations deep underground releasing the natural gas. The targeted material for this natural gas drilling runs through approximately eight states including Pennsylvania and upstate New York and is known as the Marcellus Shale. The hydrofracking drilling method requires millions of gallons of water that the United States Department of Energy considers one of the most toxic industrial byproducts produced by gas and oil drilling.

“Let me be clear, I am not against drilling, but I am totally against a process that certainly has questionable ingredients that should not be in our water. Recently, I met with Josh Fox, writer and director of the movie Gasland, to discuss this issue and my education and concerns about hydrofracking grew,” explains Addabbo.

The Senator warns: “Imagine not being able to use your water for fear of drinking carcinogens, plastics and toxins. The danger of hydraulic fracturing so close to the New York City watershed is easy to imagine. Toxic byproduct can seep into our drinking water and turn our once pristine water into a severe health risk. According to a report prepared by Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, entitled Uncalculated Risk, seven states across the country have experienced serious incidents of water contamination and explosions near hydraulic fracturing mines.”

“To protect our drinking water, I have introduced and sponsored legislation to place a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing in New York State and would keep the state Department of Environmental Conservation from issuing drilling permits, until 120 days after an impact study is completed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. [The study began in March and a completion date has not been set, but is expected to take up to two years.] We need to slow down and take time to fully understand a report currently being prepared by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation regarding the potential dangers of hydraulic fracturing and its possible effects on the New York City watershed. The unknown, long-term effects of the components of hydrofracking could be dangerous, if not fatal. Why take a chance with our precious drinking water? We should be certain that New York City’s water supply will not be damaged,” adds Addabbo.

Concludes the Senator: “The risks are simply too high to just recklessly move forward with hydraulic fracturing. Almost nine million people in New York City rely on clean, safe, unfiltered surface water collected in the watershed. We cannot put the health of New York City residents at risk. The harm to our city’s and state’s infrastructure, economy, and most importantly, public trust -- far outweigh any benefits of moving forward immediately with hydrofracking.”

“In the wake of the BP oil spill in the Gulf, we have seen first-hand the effects of ignoring common-sense safety measures. While I know that upstate landowners stand to make huge amounts of money from the gas companies as they lease their land to allow the drilling and that the process creates jobs, I believe it is irresponsible and dangerous to permit drilling so near our water supply without taking the time to fully understand its ramifications.”

Senator Addabbo urges New Yorkers to work together to protect our precious drinking water. Concerned New Yorkers are invited to go to the Senator’s Web site at http://www.nysenate.gov/senator/joseph-p-addabbo-jr to sign his petition in support of his legislation calling for a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing. For additional ways to protect our city’s drinking water, please call the Senator’s district offices at 718-738-1111 or 718-497-1630, or email him at addabbo@senate.state.ny.us.