Published: September 11, 2011
Gov. Andrew Cuomo has long vowed that extraction of natural gas reserves with hydraulic fracturing in New York State will not “come at the expense of human health or have adverse environmental impacts.” It will be hard to keep that promise if his administration moves too fast in permitting such drilling into deep shale formations. It must not rush the process of creating detailed regulations that will be crucial to reducing risks to the environment.
The fracturing technique involves blasting water, sand and chemicals into underground rock to tap natural gas. Drilling in the Marcellus Shale that runs through parts of New York could bring up to 37,000 jobs to communities upstate where people are desperate for work.
The state has put some environmentally critical areas off limits to this type of drilling, including the watersheds of Syracuse and New York City. But the latest draft of a state environmental study released last Wednesday by the Department of Environmental Conservation proposes to limit drilling within 1,000 feet of tunnels and aqueducts that deliver water to these cities — a far cry from the seven-mile buffer zone recommended by New York City.