‘Hydrofracking,’ simple value of judgement
Tensions are high over one of the more recent and controversial topics to come onto the horizon in the local sphere in some time — the issue of hydraulic fracturing, or ‘hyrdofracking.’ As a second-year graduate student of environmental science at the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry, I would like to get to the heart of the matter and override the political sentiments that accompany this issue, involving large sums of money and multiple environmental issues, as it does, to make a basic examination of the pros and cons of this proposed undertaking.
The basic idea is to pump large quantities of liquid into the underground Marcellus Shale formation through drill holes in order to fracture the shale and force natural gas reserves, long held captive in the shale, to the surface. However, this process is not without its risks. The water used to fracture contains a variety of harmful substances, classified as such by the Environmental Protection Agency. Some, but not all, of these chemicals are carcinogens and chemical hazards, benzene, potassium chloride, hydrochloric acid and aromatic hydrocarbons.
The New York City Department of Environmental Protection has stated that there is a significant possibility that these substances could eventually infiltrate the city’s main water supply in the Catskill region, with the worse-case scenario being 9 million people left with virtually no potable water.
On its face, it is simply a value judgment — the judgment of what is more important, the generation of a few million dollars of additional economic activity in the area or avoiding the assumed additional risk of groundwater contamination, possibly resulting in rendering unfit-for-consumption freshwater supplies that we partially depend on locally and that 9 million New York City residents almost exclusively depend on. The choice is yours.
State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry
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