Yesterday, I showed up to this long-awaited meeting on how hydrofracking would affect the Rochester, NY area: Rochesterians Concerned About Unsafe Shale-gas Extraction Upcoming Forum: How Hydrofracking Will Impact the Greater Rochester Area. There were about 300 hundred folks in attendance. Most, when asked to raise their hands, volunteered that they thought they knew a lot about hydrofracking. They were surprised. We didn’t know the half of it. Hydrofracking is not your grandfather’s well. It’s not a 60-year-old-tried-and-true technology—in its present form it’s about four years old and they’re still fiddling with it and the government is racing to keep up with the technology. It’s not adequately described in the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s Revised Draft SGEIS on the Oil, Gas and Solution Mining Regulatory Program, where public comment is due on December 12th. It’s full of illusions, delusions, and downright lies.
For example, here’s a list of the SGEIS flaws we learned: “Does not ban fracking chemicals that are known to be toxic and carcinogenic. Does not offer solutions to disposing of toxic fracking waste fluids. Does not close regulatory loophole declaring that drilling wastes can never be considered hazardous. Banning of open waste pits is temporary. Water protection standards are inconsistent. Impacts on public health are ignored. Analysis of DEC staffing or enforcement issues is omitted. Cumulative impacts from multiple wells, long-term or short-term are omitted: we need full build-out modeling. Regulations are being created before the SGEIS is complete. Outdated information for global warming assessment was used. Analysis of Pennsylvania groundwater contamination incidents is inadequate. Protection of agricultural land is inadequate. Impact on infrastructure and disturbance of other surfaces is ignored.”
To get an idea of what might be coming our way, check out this photogenic (lost of Fracking photos) blog: Blog and photos of Marcellus Shale Gas Drilling near Hickory PA. And check out more stories about hydrofracking here Fracking - ProPublica and here:
Drill panel delay raises concerns -- A postponed meeting of a state advisory panel on natural gas hydraulic fracturing had one member saying Friday that it showed the state was rushing an approval process for drilling to start next year. Robert Moore, executive director of Environmental Advocates of New York and a member of the hydrofraking advisory panel set up this summer by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, said Friday's meeting was scrapped because state Department of Health, Transportation Department, Public Service Commission, and Agriculture and Markets Department are still estimating demands that gas drilling will place on staff and resources. (October 15, 2011) - Times Union
But locally, where was the press? I could not find a single story on the event—a major event to inform Rochesterians of the most dramatic change coming to our area in a generation. Where were those reporters who should be helping our local public get informed on major changes that will affect their lives? We talk about Occupy Wall Street right now because it’s so in our face that even the corporate media cannot ignore it: Occupy Wall Street Hits Rochester Streets - YNN, Your News Now But unless the public does rise up in enough numbers on critical anti-corporate issues, the media goes silent.
BTW: One of the lessons that the public should learn about the Occupy Wall Street protests if we don’t learn anything else: We need to change the media. Go here to find out more about that: Free Press | Media reform through education, organizing and advocacy “Free Press is a national, nonpartisan, nonprofit organization working to reform the media. Through education, organizing and advocacy, we promote diverse and independent media ownership, strong public media, quality journalism and universal access to communications.”
Once they start drilling after the public comment period on the SGEIS on December 12th, all the king’s horses and all the king’s men will not be able to recover our clean water (with the Great Lakes and Finger Lakes, the largest fresh water system in the world) and our land again.
To find out more about hydrofracking in our state and what to do about commenting on the drilling that is going to change your lives, go the Atlantic Chapter of the Sierra Club: Sierra Club: Atlantic Chapter http://newyork.sierraclub.org/index.html