Sunday, February 13, 2011

Concerned Citizens Take Action on Shale-Gas Fracking

Buffalo Bans Fracking -- Other Towns are Taking Action

Despite repeated industry claims shale-gas drilling is safe, the public is aware that there are many instances where drinking water has been contaminated following drilling using the controversial method of hydraulic fracturing or fracking. The photo shows an example of contaminated well water from the town of Dimock in northeastern Pennsylvania following nearby fracking.

Fracking and tainted wastewater have been linked to impacts on well water, human health and welfare, air, land and waterways. Evidence abounds in the award-winning documentary film GASLAND (Trailer here), investigative CNN reports (Video here), and testimony of affected landowners in several states at hearings sponsored by the EPA. Landowners and state officials have filed lawsuits against drilling companies because of drinking water contamination.

Concerned citizens are not waiting for the results of
studies on fracking by the NY Dept. of Environmental Conservation and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. In fact, residents of some towns have urged their local governments to ban fracking.

Following a public hearing, the Common Council of Buffalo voted unanimously to ban fracking and any form of natural gas extraction in the city. The Buffalo law also bars the disposal of drilling wastewater or other production wastes within city limits. This is important since huge volumes of water used in fracking contain a myriad of unknown and toxic chemicals, and testing for these is not done.
Fracking wastewater disposal in Lake Erie and the Niagara River is a matter for great concern.

Earlier, Pittsburgh instituted a ban on fracking in the city limits. However, Pennsylvania still allows dumping of fracking wastewater into its rivers. Wastewater is only partially treated for harmful substances, then dumped into waterways from which communities get their drinking water. Also, illegal dumping has been observed on dirt and gravel roads and detected in streams near drilling sites.

In Wales NY, town officials and residents have expressed concern about contamination of their water wells if the gas drilling process were to be permitted, and the Wales Town Board plans to ban fracking.

Citizens in other towns are taking action to become better informed about the issues associated with shale-gas extraction by fracking.

Concerned residents of Aurora, Elma, West Falls and Holland are holding a community discussion about fracking on Sunday, February 20, with documentary film excerpts, and presentations by a gas drilling task force member
and former legislator, and also by an environmental attorney addressing how landowners can protect themselves.

The League of Women Voters and UB Green are holding a screening of the GASLAND documentary film as well as a discussion with a gas industry representative on March 19 in Hamburg, NY.

To get a feel for the public outrage about fracking, and what can happen to our water
as a result of lax regulation and monitoring of drilling and waste disposal, listen to the testimony of Mark Ruffalo, an activist and movie actor who lives in upstate NY in a pristine area on the Marcellus Shale that is coveted by the gas industry.

This video was recorded in the NY State Capitol building and can also be viewed on the
NY State Senate channel at YouTube.

More information is available at

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