A Clash Over Gas Drilling in New York

link to complete article here: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/14/opinion/l14fracking.html

To the Editor:

Re “Safe, Not Sorry, on Drilling” (editorial, July 9):

Your editorial perpetuates the industry view that “nobody doubts the value of natural gas, an abundant, cleaner and more climate-friendly fuel than coal or oil.”

Research by Prof. Robert Howarth at Cornell and others shows that the methane seepage from wells, pipelines and compressor stations may more than cancel out any carbon dioxide advantages gained in the combustion of natural gas.

That, along with the energy-intensive costs of drilling and distribution, suggests that natural gas obtained through hydraulic fracturing may be at least as polluting as other fossil fuels.

Fly Creek, N.Y., July 9, 2011

The writer is the founder of Sustainable Otsego, an advocacy group.

To the Editor:

Re “Cuomo Moving to End a Freeze on Gas Drilling” (front page, July 1):

I am deeply troubled by your coverage of my agency’s new proposed recommendations for high-volume hydraulic fracturing in New York State.

This is a very important issue for New York. No permits will be issued until the environmental review process is complete, which is many months away. Your coverage has created more heat than light on hydraulic fracturing at a crucial moment in the rulemaking process.

The single environmental organization whose viewpoint was included in the article was Environmental Advocates of New York when several other environmental groups — the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Adirondack Mountain Club and the New York League of Conservation Voters — all released statements supportive of the Department of Environmental Conservation’s proposal.

The New York Times has a responsibility to present accurate and balanced coverage of such a controversial matter, and it failed miserably in this case.

Commissioner, New York State Dept.
of Environmental Conservation
Albany, July 1, 2011

To the Editor:

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and his environmental commissioner, Joe Martens, have taken an encouraging step by proposing to prohibit shale gas drilling in New York’s most sensitive water resources — the unfiltered New York City and Syracuse watersheds; primary aquifers; floodplains; and on the surface of state-owned parks, forests and wildlife areas.

But all New York communities must be protected from the hazards posed by high-volume hydraulic fracturing. We recommend that Commissioner Martens provide an extended (120-day) public comment period on the complex new proposal.

And we urge him to refrain from issuing any new permits until the most stringent, comprehensive drilling rules have been put into place and a hard-charging enforcement team has been positioned to prevent slipshod drilling practices from poisoning New York’s air, water and land.

Senior Attorneys
Natural Resources Defense Council
New York, July 5, 2011

To the Editor:

I live in the Southern Tier of New York. I depend on 50 acres of watershed for the water that is piped to my house. So let’s call the lifting of the hydrofracking ban except in the watersheds for New York City and Syracuse what it is — the sacrifice of rural New York State for the benefit of urban New York State.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s job description is to be the governor for all the people of the state. My water and the water of my neighbors need to be protected as much as that of any other citizen.

Andover, N.Y., July 3, 2011

To the Editor:

For years, the natural gas industry has misled the public into believing that we can tap vast stores of cheap energy from shale. Upon that false promise, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo now suggests that we lift the temporary state ban on hydraulic fracturing. Fracking is a dangerous, destructive and unsustainable way to extract gas from shale. Lifting the ban would expose our workers, our families and our waters to needless risk.

And for what? As The Times reported in its “Drilling Down” series, gas companies have systematically inflated production estimates and lowballed cost projections to make fracking look more attractive to investors, regulators and policy makers.

Members of Congress have asked for an investigation. The attorney general of New York has started an inquiry.

This is no time to lift the fracking ban; it’s time to make it permanent. That’s the way to protect our workers and waters and to safeguard the resources that belong to us all.

Livingston Manor, N.Y., July 1, 2011

The writer is executive director of Catskill Mountainkeeper, an environmental advocacy organization in western New York.

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