Journalism in the Public Interest

N.Y. Enviro Commissioner Expects Little From EPA Fracking Study

In an interview, the commissioner of New York’s Department of Environmental Conservation says he is confident underground contamination from hydraulic fracturing is not a risk, and that the Environmental Protection Agency’s study of fracking won’t yield new information.


New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Joe Martens points to a slide during a presentation at a news conference in Albany, N.Y., in July. (Mike Groll/AP Photo)

When Joe Martens became commissioner of New York's Department of Environmental Conservation in March, he expected an unusual challenge. The department oversees everything environmental in the state, from managing 4.5 million acres of land to regulating ship ballast water in the Great Lakes.

But no contemporary issue is more dominant — or more controversial — than whether and how to allow energy companies to drill for natural gas in New York using hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.

Drilling in New York could access vast resources of gas, boosting local economies. However, across the country, drilling and fracturing have been linked to complaints about water contamination, air pollution and health problems. New York halted in-state drilling development in 2008 after an investigation by ProPublica revealed that the state was not prepared to handle the waste from the process or the chemicals that would be injected underground. New York launched an in-depth environmental analysis of the risks of drilling, with the goal of setting new standards for how drilling would be permitted if it goes forward in the state.

Now that environmental review is close to completion, and it will fall to Martens, formerly president of a land conservation group called the Open Space Institute, to decide how the drilling will be governed and how quickly it might progress. The state could begin issuing permits to drill early next year. I spoke with Joe Martens on Aug. 3. The following questions and responses have been edited for length.

Q: Fracking has become a national issue. By circumstance, New York is at the center of it. What extra responsibility does this put on the DEC, and what should New York's role be in that national debate?

I don't think New York has faced an issue like this in a long period of time. It's a huge environmental issue, one of the biggest of my day.

I think we are setting the national standard, and that is the responsibility that I am comfortable with. The proposed requirements in our SGEIS (the generic environmental impact statement that will dictate drilling conditions) are the most stringent in the country. We have taken a very cautionary approach. We have set aggressive setbacks from water supplies; we have taken state land off the table; we are recommending prohibiting drilling in the New York City watershed.

Q: The Environmental Protection Agency is in the midst of its own national study of the risks of hydraulic fracturing, but the results won't be known until after New York's review is finished. What if the federal government's findings contradict New York's?

We obviously look at everything that is going on, and the EPA is an important player. If they find something that we have missed, absolutely we will incorporate it into our program. We don't have blinders on.

Q: Why not wait a few more months to see what they determine?

EPA is coming at this a bit later than we are. I think DEC is ahead of the game. I think we looked at the very things that EPA is looking at and we think that we have incorporated the problems that have occurred around the country. You can always wait for new information, but I don't expect the EPA study will add measurably.

Q: One of the greatest environmental fears around fracking is that pressures exerted deep underground will allow chemicals used in the process to migrate into drinking water supplies. Has New York evaluated this risk, and how is it being addressed?

There is no evidence that we found that fracking fluids can migrate through that ... distance and those zones. That is not to say that there aren't shallow migration problems. We just don't see any risk from the deep horizontal well that is very far underground and migration up to the lowest level of fresh water.

Obviously, lots of technically competent people are looking at this. I think they looked at virtually everything that is out there.

Q: Our investigations have identified a number of cases where deep underground migration may have caused well-water contamination, and just last week Environmental Working Group reported on an old EPA study of a case in West Virginia. Are these cases of concern?

The case studies are inconclusive. DEC has reviewed the EPA contractor's 1987 report and additional information regarding the West Virginia incident where a gel contaminated a drinking water well. The report gave no explanation of how the gel found in the water well got there. Our counterpart agency in West Virginia in fact concluded that the most likely cause was not fracking but rather the use of gel at relatively shallow depths in drilling the gas well in the first place and completing or cleaning it out for operation.

One theory that has been discussed is that abandoned wells in the area were not properly plugged and may have allowed gel used in fracturing to migrate upward. Our revised draft SGEIS assessed this type of potential problem and would require drilling companies to survey the land generally within one mile of the proposed well location. If an unplugged deep well is found, the department would require the operator to properly plug and abandon it before fracturing begins.

The draft SGEIS does address the risks associated with underground gas migration through stringent well construction requirements and other protections.

In addition, the revised SGEIS would require hydraulic fracturing pumping operations to be monitored for pressure and flow during pumping and an immediate suspension of fracturing if any anomalous pressure occurs.

Q: How did the DEC arrive at its various buffer measuresone safe distance from an aquifer, another different distance from a watershed boundary?

We didn't have a formula. In general I'd say we erred on the side of caution for increased setbacks.

The department considered the nature of the potential environmental impact under the circumstances posed at each type of aquifer or water supply. For example, the risk of surface spills in the New York City and Syracuse watersheds includes the potential loss of an EPA Filtration Avoidance Determination and the resulting crushing potential cost to those two cities of filtering their drinking water.

Where the wetlands law might have proposed a 100-foot setback, we increased it in some cases by an order of magnitude just out of caution. Other states don't have nearly as generous setbacks as we do.

Q: And what is the primary purpose of the setbacks then?

It was basically to keep any activity sufficiently away from the area around the two watersheds (the New York City and Syracuse public water supplies) and a variety of other natural resources. It is surface activity, not the drilling 5,000 feet underground that we are concerned about, but the trucks carrying chemicals on the surface. We don't believe there is any risk of migration from the well bore to the underground aquifer above it.

Q: Health complaints are emerging in drilling areas, and health impacts are both a growing concern and represent a significant scientific gap in the study of drilling's impacts. Pennsylvania is considering a health registry to track related complaints. What steps is New York taking?

We are not planning to have a health registry. The main approach of the SGEIS is to prevent exposure of the public and any resulting health impacts. We are also requiring that private drinking water wells be monitored. DEC and DOH (Department of Health) have been coordinating in assessing public health risks associated with the drilling and gas extraction activities. In the unlikely event that contamination of groundwater occurred, the state and county health Ddepartments would first determine whether the public has been or might likely be exposed. Those agencies are also fully equipped to conduct epidemiological studies of exposed populations.

Q: In 2008 ProPublica reported that New York state was not prepared to handle the wastewater that would be produced from drilling. Later we wrote that drilling waste was likely to be dangerously radioactive. Originally, New York planned to permit water treatment plants to accept the waste. Where do things stand today?

Currently, no wastewater treatment plants in New York are equipped to treat or permitted to accept wastewater with the range of contaminants expected to be in fluids produced from high-volume hydraulic fracturing. These plants would need to make modifications or additions to the treatment systems at their facilities. These plants would need an SPDES (environmental discharge) permit from New York state. ... The plants would be required to perform a "headworks analysis" demonstrating they can safely treat the waste before DEC would grant or modify the permit. It is possible that these plans could include exporting waste to Ohio.

Q: As more drillers recycle their wastewater, more of those fluids are left permanently underground in the well. Will New York have any requirements limiting how much fluid can be discarded underground before the drilling is considered "underground injection," a process extensively regulated by the federal government?

DEC is currently examining this issue as part of its environmental and rule-making process. There should be more details once the draft SGEIS and accompanying regulations are finalized.

Q: Can you explain the recent controversy about "lifting New York's ban" that was reported in the national press? I never knew about a ban on fracking in New York.

A moratorium certainly hadn't been lifted because a moratorium hadn't been in place. I think of a moratorium as an act of the legislature that says a state can't do something for a period of time, by law. Nothing about the situation changed other than we revised the draft. The revised draft was expected all along. And we are required by law not to consider applications to drill until the [environmental review] is completed. Everybody knew this was just another revision that had been promised for months.

I took exception to the way The New York Times reported the story when they heard we were coming out with our revised draft. It was a very misleading headline ... that the governor was trying to slip one by on people.

Q: The DEC has a multitude of responsibilities and has faced severe budget and staff restraints. Will the drilling issue define the department and consume the state's environmental regulatory resources?

We still have a large staff that deals with mining (which oversees drilling), and it is not going to dwarf any of the other functions of the agency. But we will need to be properly staffed. We are going to need the people to properly oversee it. I don't think this will ever dominate the agency's mission or focus.

Q: Speaking of staff, New York has just 14 gasfield inspectors and has cut its staff by more than 20 percent since 2003. By comparison, Pennsylvaniawhich continues to be challenged by environmental problems from drillinghas doubled its inspection staff to more than 200. Your predecessor at the DEC was fired after warning that cuts would interfere with drilling oversight. How does New York now expect to be able to oversee drilling in the state?

I've put together an advisory panel that's going to meet in August. One of the main focuses will be to look at the resource issues. They will look at Pennsylvania and how they have staffed it and how we have staffed. The advisory panel's work will flow into a budget process here in New York.

I'm not just talking about the mineral division, I'm talking about the water division, staff in lands and forests; it's across divisions that we will need additional resources to address issues around high-volume hydraulic fracturing.

If we don't get those resources, we will only review applications that we have the capacity to review at any given point in time. We are not going to approve permits just because we have lots of them.

Q: The country appears on the verge of a second recession, and drilling could bring revenue. How do today's economic troubles affect New York's decision about whether to allow Marcellus Shale drilling?

The fact that the economy is in recession is one factor, but it's certainly not the most important factor for the DEC. It hasn't affected the environmental review process. Our primary objective is to figure out how this can be done in an environmentally protective way.

Q: What preferences have the governor and others outside the DEC expressed?

I can say categorically that no one has exerted any pressure on me. There is a provision in the environmental conservation law that requires us to promote the efficient use of the state's oil and gas resources, so we have a legal obligation to try to use these resources efficiently. At the same time, we have air, water and solid-waste laws that make sure things are done in a way that meets national and state environmental standards. So, it is a balancing act, but the objective is to see if they can be simultaneously met and we have concluded that they can.

Q: New York drilling regulations say that state authority usurps municipal authority when it comes to regulating drilling, yet a number of communities are considering local bans or limits of their own. How will New York address these conflicts and is it prepared to fight them in court?

It is likely that the courts will need to decide these issues in a lawsuit between the town and the drilling company, not the state.

First, Commissioner Martens says: “There is no evidence that we found that fracking fluids can migrate through that ... distance and those zones.”

In his answer to the very next question, “[there are] a number of cases where deep underground migration may have caused well water contamination, and just last week Environmental Working Group reported on an old EPA study of a case in West Virginia. Are these cases of concern?” Commissioner Martens says: “The case studies are inconclusive.”

Since when does “inconclusive” = “no evidence”?

“Say it ain’t so Joe!”

How could a graduate of Syracuse University (Environmental Science) give up New York State’s clean drinking water to the “High volume horizontal slick water hydrofrackers!”

Joe, your career legacy is on the line here…how could you be so wrong?

Mr. Martens, the royalties will not even pay for the clean up…there is no real big money in this shale gas…when will everyone stop lying to each other?

Let’s just remember…it’s the air, it’s the ozone, it’s the ground water, above and below…it’s the people of New York State’s drinking water…you have no back up!

Barry Schmittou

Aug. 9, 2011, 2:50 p.m.

“inconclusive” = “no evidence when Big Business owns the heartless souls of our leaders !!

It seems like every State and U.S. Government agency is controlled by no conscience corporations !!

Mary, I love how you found the inconsistency !! There is so much evidence that proves, at the very best, fracking has the potential to be dangerous and deadly, and the oil and gas industry should never be trusted !! I will add that the evidence I’ve seen makes me certain it should be outlawed !!

I wish you and some of the ProPublica writers and commenter’s could replace our psychopathic corporate owned government with a real government and President and Attorney General for the U.S.

I would pray you would prosecute the doctors paid by MetLife and lother insurance companies who ignore brain lesions, Multiple Sclerosis, cardiac conditions of many patients and a foot a new mother broke in 5 places as evidenced in quotes from numerous U.S. Judges and Doctors !!

To see the Judges quotes please google search these words :

Numerous Judges and Doctors Quotes Prove MetLife Destroys Lives

I would also pray you will prosecute leaders of major financial and insurance corporations who have received multiple Non Prosecution Agreements for Bid Rigging, Money Laundering, and Health Care Fraud !!

In 2006 the Securities Exchange Commission wrote :

“AIG will pay in excess of $1.6 billion to resolve claims related to improper accounting, bid rigging and practices involving workers’ compensation funds.”

(end of quote)

No one was charged with a crime for this huge bid rigging of Workers Comp insurance policies !!

Two years later AIG received $182 Billion of taxpayer money to bail them out !!

AIG has received two more Non Prosecution agreements since 2006 !!
While AIG rigged bids in workers comp, MetLife, Prudential, and Unum Insurance have all received Multiple Non Prosecution Agreements regarding illegal kick backs they paid a broker to increase their sales of life, health, and disability policies AND NO ONE WAS PROSECUTED !!!!

If you google search non prosecution agreements 2010 gibson dunn you can see the list of 32 bid rigging and fraudulent corporations who evaded prosecution in 2010. If you look at 2004 through 2009 DOJ and SEC agreements you will see how multiple corps have received multiple non prosecution agreements for the same crimes, including MetLife, JP Morgan, Prudential, and Unum Insurance.

JP Morgan rigged municipal contracts in 31 states, and no one was prosecuted.

Arthur Michael Ambrosino

Aug. 9, 2011, 3:12 p.m.

Finally, a smart environmentalist Commissioner of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation….!

We are already working on a surface freshwater impoundment and infrastructure to accommodate potential damage to water supplies, which is a smart and sane response to the fearful.

You can get a glimpse at

Cris McConkey

Aug. 9, 2011, 3:29 p.m.

A balancing act?  Commissioner Martens seems to confuse efficient use of the resource with reducing the regulatory burden for the gas companies.  No. If the manner in which a company extracts the resource damages the resource, that is theft from future generations.  Efficient use does not mean making it easier for the gas companies.  It means that the gas companies have to do things in a way that is not wasteful of the resource.  That may not be as profitable as how they are doing things now.

Though I do not see propane fracking as a solution because of the explosion danger, as well as a number of other impacts that it shares with hydofracking, proponents do make a strong case that from a geo-chemical view, injecting water into a dry shale layer damages the resource because of capillary blocking due to the presence of water traps the gas.  (That is why surfactants are used in the hydrofracking process, to reduce capillary blockage to allow more of the gas to flow at the right time after fracturing, but it is only partially effective).  On a recent Capitol Connections program, a lawyer representing landowner coalitions raised the same concern.

I’d be interested to read what others think about this question of efficient use of the resource.

Arthur Michael Ambrosino

Aug. 9, 2011, 4 p.m.

What is the matter ProPublica, is a comment from an environmental scientist that contradicts your opinion, anathema to your perspectives????

Arthur Michael Ambrosino

Aug. 9, 2011, 4:10 p.m.

Alright then, we’ll try it again….

Joe Martens is a noted environmentalist, who happens to be the new New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.

For the fearful commenting here, may I remind you that there are sound and sane remedies already being planned in New York State, to deal with a potential water supply contamination due to hydrofracking.

The answer is simple, you must provide an adequate freshwater supply and infrastructure to the affected communities.

You may contact me directly, as I fear ProPublica will not let me send a link in this comment.

Arthur Michael Ambrosino

Arthur Michael Ambrosino

Aug. 9, 2011, 4:13 p.m.

Joe Martens is a noted environmentalist, who happens to be the new New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner.

For the fearful commenting here, may I remind you that there are sound and sane remedies already being planned in New York State, to deal with a potential water supply contamination due to hydrofracking.

The answer is simple, you must provide an adequate freshwater supply and infrastructure to the affected communities.

You may contact me directly, as I fear ProPublica will not let me send a link in this comment.

Arthur Michael Ambrosino
.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Terri Treinen

Aug. 9, 2011, 4:50 p.m.

When will human beings wake up! The human body is about 60% water in adult males and 70% in adult females, and in a newborn infant may be as high as 75 percent of the body weight (Wikipedia). So where do you want your body ‘water’ coming from? I certainly am not interested in being made up of contaminated fracking waste water nor am I interested in paying to have my water de-fracked of its chemical cocktail additives before its delivered safe and potable/palatable to my personal tap (oh and let’s not even start on the discussion in regards to impact on direct well water users nor the other creatures of the planet taking a sip at the unmonitored ‘universal watering holes’ we call creeks, brooks, streams, rivers, ponds, lakes, seas, and oceans that will become the dumping ground for the fracking industry’s end use fluids!). Let’s get smart for once and immediately ban this search for ‘bad’ gas and instead use all the money being spent on fracking studies, reviews, lobbying, frack-friendly candidate election donations, and endless litigation both current and in the making; and instead use the cash to get off the gas grid or at the very least start significantly reducing that energy source need. Dear frackers run, don’t walk, to the nearest geothermal, solar, and/or wind turbine supported industry entity and apply for a job, help to create a new company, or sign up for training,,,,,, because the American people have just about had enough and we’re about to rise up. And any fracking idiot who thinks the fracking industry is the answer to our planet’s energy future, needs to be placed on an immediate intravenous solution of fracking waste water because obviously they are delirious (most likely from acute dehydration!).

big dog in a little pond

Aug. 9, 2011, 7:36 p.m.

Well, it seems the obama dream is not panning out…. at least not for the aging liberal tribe. Seems things are going great for the NWO folks and globalized corporate wealth. Police state fully realized. Who could have predicted the democrats could kill so many in such a few months. And don’t forget that little bio-weapons attack on the Gulf of Mexico peoples…...... but don’t worry they will “study the epidemiological effects”, so next time the owners can hide the deaths better…......... Hey, how ‘bout all them dead Navy Seals, awfully convenient since the missing osama body kind of creates a legitimacy problem…..... Amazing how things always bend towards the billionaires interests at the expense of everything else….......... wait till they start mining the moon. That dump will fall right out of the sky. The poor delusional masses…...... thinking they can hope their way to change…........ instead of bankrupting the oligarchs by building their own business interests that serve their own needs…...... silly little peasants. Off to the big city to impress your artist friends. Don’t forget to pay your carbon taxes, because you all finally have been conditioned to accept that your breath and compost decay is pollution. Please stop breathing or pay the toll. Life on earth is owned by the people who know best, and they know that your breath isn’t worth protecting…....... keep voting and hoping. Keep up the lies. They make great animated children’s books when the chicken decides to cross the road….. and gets run over by the fracking truck.

Europe has stopped fracking! New Jersey, Quebec, Alberta, the home of the “Tar Sands” is scaling back (interesting).

One Province, British Columbia, has already provided 20 Billion gallons of fresh clean water to the industry with a plan to divert more hydro electric water to the “Fracturers”. Ya couldn’t make this stuff up if you wanted to. Texas. 2010, Rick Perry, one state, 13.5 Billion gallons when brackish water was available and in the middle of a drought. (D’ya know what one guy says why didn’t the farmers use the bad water!!!) Exxon now wants to drill and pollute Alaska, who with BC is our water of last resort…and these people are just getting started ya should see the projections.

This is starting to look like “Scorched Earth”. It was like one Iraqi businessman said “Does Big Oil have to take every spoon full!”


The advisory panel:
“I’ve put together an advisory panel that’s going to meet in August. One of the main focuses will be to look at the resource issues. They will look at Pennsylvania and how they have staffed it and how we have staffed. The advisory panel’s work will flow into a budget process here in New York.”
  Will meet for the first time August 18, 2011.
  What I continue to fail to understand is how the Panel can competently and perhaps legally proceed since the NYDEC has not yet even published a complete draft of its proposed E.I.S. for shale hydrofracking.
  When published that draft will be commented on and presumably revised in accordance with analysis of comments. It is only at that point the Panel could know what risks, hazzards and mitigations look like and then how they might be budgeted for and managed.
  Unless… “the fix” is in. Hmmm.

Stanley R Scobie, Ph.D., Binghamton, NY

drowning dog in the big pond

Aug. 9, 2011, 11:52 p.m.

Absolutely…........... the issues that the “average dimwit” does not want to deal with, is that these realities are integrated. The last 3 generations of people are being eliminated to make way for the new breed population…. which will be much smaller, more manageable, and even dumber than the dimwits of today. And don’t forget the micro chip that everyone will clamor for to keep the children safe…... especially the…...... you know who’s.

Anyway, poison helps transform the genome and get rid of the riff raft… mostly brown people and a whole load of liberal trouble makers. The rest think they are dying of natural causes, because “god don’t make no junk”.

The agenda is mass extinction. Why did Gates build the seed bank, Cheyenne mountain is hollow and the nuclear foot ball is ready to go? Because they want us as neighbors…..... No they want us dead. And toxins are the slow kill method…...... first experimented with by the nazis in the camps. Fluoride, the neurotoxin that is supposed to make your teeth all crusty and black, with chips and spots, and gives you bone cancer and kidney failure etc…....... it’s willfully added to 70% of all municipal water systems in the US for the last 65 years. That’s called eugenics. Maybe you should bone up… get it, on Operation Paper Clip…........ huh, I don’t have time to research my own reality, I need to go get a CAT scan to irradiate my genome so they can kill me sooner. Did you say coke zero…......... filler up. How about some styrene with my coffee. I wonder why we pump our own gas. What trails in the sky? Nuclear fall out from testing? HAARP who…......

Anyway, time for a commercial break from our sponsors monsanto…...... we gave a lot of money to obama, now shut up and eat our corn syrup. It’s good for you and your mongoloid ADHD kids. Saving the world from poverty with cheap sugars…......... that kill weeds with roundup ready genetic inhibitors. And continue to kill their host enablers.

Anyway…...... back to our rescheduled program….... get it.

The delusion is that people at the top are dumb or wrong or misinformed. They are not. They are psychopaths…........ they have no empathy. Their handlers and controllers like Rothschild and Rockefellers are also psychopaths…...... but with a difference. They own everything, including you and your genes. And they don’t give a dam about your poor pathetic little insights into the way things should be. They are creating the next 100 years of history and you and your family are not included. As far as they are concerned, you are already dead.

So grow up, do some research, stop voting for mass murders, and stop whining about the environment. The planet will be fine after we are extinct and the Roths and Rocks DNA has been lifted out of the solar system…. to populate the “heavens”. What a glorious thought.

All solutions, if you must, are economic. If you want to change peoples behavior, you pay them. Skinner psychology 101. You build alternative economic systems that (almost dead) people can opt into instead of doing business with the oligarchs…... unlike voting for obama. And wondering what went wrong…. for you and your tribe. The rioters around the world have no skills and they have no ownership…... of themselves, their ideas and their economies. That’s why they burn things. Because they are to dumb to know anything else. If they did create, make, forge, build, sell and trade a world they created in their own image, they would never burn it in shame and dishonor. They would protect what was theirs.

Edmund Singleton

Aug. 10, 2011, 3:57 a.m.

When it comes to clean water I would rather not take any chances. Where does one go to reverse a damged aquifer?

Jennifer Thomas

Aug. 10, 2011, 7:46 a.m.

If the Gel didn’t come from Fracking….  where would it have come from? What I mean to say is….  if they weren’t fracking that well, the gel would not have been there.  Gotta love how these politicians twist the truth with their careful wording.  He sounds like he’s memorized all of the talking points of the gas industry.  By the way….  Natural Gas is traded on a WORLD commodity market.The profits from the gas will not necessarily benefit New York State at all, but instead, the multi-national corporations that are doing the drilling.

In Commissioner Marten’s interview he says (and I paraphrase) “fracking waster water will be transported to Ohio because NY treatment plants do not have the capabilities, presently, to handle.”  So, where are we saving energy?  How does this expense effect gas pricing?  Also, doesn’t the argument that gas obtained by fracking become suspect of other interests at play in this debate?

carlos briones

Aug. 10, 2011, 9:55 a.m.

We need to be morally consistent.  We need to not only ban hydraulic fracturing, we need to ban the importation of gas and power generated by the process!!!

As early as the 1930’s scientific studies showed a correlation between tobacco smoking and lung cancer.  And how many decades did it take to acknowledge that link?  The industry kept up it’s claim that there was “no evidence” for it.  This is exactly the same.  For decades, people will become ill and die, the environment will become ill and many die-offs will occur, and our water will be sucked dry from streams and injected full of poisons back into the earth.  And companies and politicians will be claiming there’s no scientific evidence linking fracking to the disaster.  Not to mention the increase in climate change because we are rushing to suck the last drop of fossil fuel from the earth rather than develop truly clean, non-fossil fuel energy.  All for their a few pieces of silver.

The mindless hysteria on this website and by most of the comments above are so sad.  People do not want to take the time to educate themselves, they only want to buy into the unfounded hysteria created and fueled by the media and websites like this. Do you know what “gel” actually is? It is guar gum which is used in toothpaste.  Do you realize that water cannot migrate up nearly a mile through multiple layers of rock?  Do you even realize that shale is rock?  Do you realize that the main potential problem is not what is pumped downhole but what is already in the ground and may come back up?  If people were not so ignorant then the potential hazards could be easily identified and minimized.  But people are not interested in private business and jobs and economic growth through the private sector, especially in New York.  They want to remain slaves to the government, living off gov’t handouts and re-electing those who can tax the other guy the most and spread the other guy’s money around.  This is clean energy, good jobs, and economic boon that is so badly needed especially in states like NY, PA, WV etc etc.  And people want their “Big Brother” government to regulate it out of existence all in the name of “public interest.”  Wake up people!

Jennifer Thomas

Aug. 10, 2011, 4:43 p.m.

Here is the direct quote from the August 3rd NY Times article, which discusses the EPA investigation into the contamination of the water well:
“The report concluded that hydraulic fracturing fluids or gel used by the Kaiser Exploration and Mining Company contaminated a well roughly 600 feet away on the property of James Parsons in Jackson County, W.Va., referring to it as “Mr. Parson’s water well.”

“When fracturing the Kaiser gas well on Mr. James Parson’s property, fractures were created allowing migration of fracture fluid from the gas well to Mr. Parson’s water well,” according to the agency’s summary of the case. “This fracture fluid, along with natural gas was present in Mr. Parson’s water, rendering it unusable.”

I am sorry Bob, but ‘gel’ in this case is being used to refer to the actual cocktail of frack fluids used to frack the well, and the EPA documented a case of contamination of the well. What is sad is that you have bought the industry lies which claim that the process is clean and safe.  There are thousands of people in this country who are affected by the negative impacts of this DIRTY drilling. Your argument is emotional and accusatory. Almost as is you are benefiting in some way from this industry’s practice. Hmmm.

Ne Pa resident

Aug. 10, 2011, 6:27 p.m.

Natural gas is a dead end, big corporation scam.  It is an easy way for big companies to make money by extracting fossil fuels.  It is not clean, not green, not ethical, not intended to benefit anyone outside the small circle of fascist corporate crooks.  Why was cheney compelled to exempt it from federal regulation?  Why the tax breaks that we pay for to kill the environment?  This country is going down the toilet.  We need to fight the paid for politicians and get them out.  We need to reduce, u renewables and live within our means.  This is the path to happiness and longevity, not tearing up and ruining the earth for a few years of cheap power that will be squandered. 

Wake up people!  Fight the madness!

Jennifer Thomas

Aug. 10, 2011, 6:30 p.m.

please help in the fight to take back control of our government from multi-national corporate interests. Go to:

Jennifer Thomas

Aug. 10, 2011, 6:31 p.m.

please help in the fight to take back control of our government from multi-national corporate interests. Check out Move to Amend (.org) to find out more.

This is your case - a 30 year old well - yes this happened in 1982!  This is your “smoking gun”?  Please. You quote the NY Times as if it is the ultimate source of truth.  Anyone with a brain knows that is not the case.  Their conclusion is based on their opinion based on their investigation and it is still strongly disputed.  But regardless, the fact remains that this is a single well 30 years ago and the technology has evolved substantially since then - that is why the shale gas revolution has really only started to take off over the last 10 years.  So let’s not take one very questionable data point 30 years old and draw a line and conclusions with that.

But it is very possible that your mind is made up and you likely do not want to be confused by the facts which is why you say that the industry “lies” but of course the NY Times doesn’t.  It is infuriating to see baseless arguments like these from uninformed people who would rather ignore facts and operate under a “conspiracy theory” mindset.  Big business is bad, Big government is good…

Jennifer Thomas

Aug. 10, 2011, 7:04 p.m.

You underestimate the power of the truth. There is no conspiracy theory, simply a lot of people who are being harmed, and ignored by government and big business. Your willingness to perpetuate the lies that are being told about this ‘clean’ and ‘safe’ drilling flies in the face of the truth that we all know…  because we are living through it. Blow outs, leaks, sick people and animals….  My mind is made up by the overwhelming real life evidence. Your responses are in lock step with all of the other shills out there, completely devoid of any connection with reality and full of self righteous indignation, at the thought of not being allowed to turn a profit at the expense of people’s health and safety. The lies are very transparent. Nice try though.

Should have known better than to waste my time with fanatics.

I’m with Bob, tired of people who know nothing about a topic yet parade around like they do.  Everybody thinks they know everything without doing the research or doing ‘selective’ research at best.  The average person thinks they are a so-called “expert” based on their evening of reading skewed NY times articles about a topic.

Just like the seemingly downward trend of U.S. education is worrying economists:

“We’ve been asleep for a good number of years as a country,” says Richard Freeman, an economics professor at Harvard. “It’s not that we’re doing horrible. But the other guys are moving faster.”

The rest of the world economies are moving faster and overtaking those in the U.S. for a reason: Ignorance!

However I believe this is mute point as it appears the DEC has done their research and will again begin to issue permits in the coming months!

dead dog floating in the frack pond

Aug. 10, 2011, 10:40 p.m.

Ah…..... The lovely stench of dichotomous dissonance as it plays out across the tribal territories. Angry at each other instead of the owners, handlers and masters. The slave children play their silly roles, attempting to come to blows, only to find the tethers about their necks are set just a bit to short. Pull harder you fool, until the last breath in your chest writhes with discontent…....... until you expire broken and bewildered. That might at least bring some honor.

Good mr. bob…... that’s right, its time to take a deep breath of those lovely industrial waste products…....... um um good mr. bob. And don’t forget to take your kids along so they can be acclimated…....... in the proper socio-political mind science type of Bernaysian….. (oh, you don’t know who Bernays is, how unusual)... “this ain’t so bad, as long as someone is making a boat load of money and there is a football game or some other chase the ball, watch the car go round on tv…........ I just love the smell of rotting flesh, burning children and tumorous lesions in the morning…..... don’t you.

And to the liberals….... lets ban fracking and put up a solar panel crowd…......... you left your brain at Woodstock and they used it to fertilize the field…......... Please

How many wells drilled in the last 10 years?... some 25,000 or some such huge number. Has anything ever been banned when it’s profitable? Even when its banned it still exists…... with “special permits, under special circumstances and for classified national security purposes.”.... if you know what I mean.

The EPA does not protect anything…...... that’s the mind science working on you. The EPA is a management operation. It manages the distribution of toxins in parts per million into the environment…...... Just as they are going to cut toxic air emissions from fracking….. to the dismay of mr. bob, who runs a diesel generator next to his bedroom window because the air is just to dam clean for his liking…........... by 25%.......... ah, that means they are managing the distribution of the other 75% into the environment. Get it….....

The more you play the game with your prescribed roles the more they get to play you…........... I read that on a fortune cookie.

Anyway, the revolution starts in the mind, not in the streets. You must get past your cognitive dissonance first. (bob… look that one up in the dictionary, and then check psychopathology) Votes for democrats are votes for republicans….. The NYTimes is the paper of record for the ruling class. It’s fit to print, only if the print serves their needs. And simpleton protest serves the needs of the oligarchy by legitimizing things like fracking…... just as protest legitimized toxic air releases. Hey they cut them by 25%... and someday they will cut them more. And that is the way the cookie crumbles when you don’t own the game. And you’ll just have to live with more toxic releases because bob thinks it’s a good idea….... and you know, we all must accept the democratic process…............. and the winner is, you know who.

All in all, a nice civilised discussion.  About time!  Let’s stop this “leave it in the ground” stuff and act like grown ups please.  Safe natural gas is a win for everyone,  still insisting on opposing after all one’s fears have been addressed in minute detail is immature.  Nothing in this life is perfect, but the vast majority of things in this life are also nowhere near as bad as some make out. 
I would also say to many of the other commenters is to stop being so paranoid. Conspiracies rarely exist, it’s far easier and cheaper to not have them!

To Nick Gready…no that’s Grealy.

As one mature person to another I strongly suggest you invest heavily in one of the “Juniors” (GAS Stocks), who have large amounts of their money in up front (Billions) you only have to avoid the enviromentalists, an Exxon buy out @ 50cents on the dollar, a complete miss in the gas field or the “Return” which will suddenly only cover about half the investment. So the way I see it you only have to beat the scientists, the “Seven Sisters”, New York State (because they are going to wise up at some point), Lady Luck and the real world!

Natural Gas sells for $4. It costs $6 to $7 to extract. The Russians cannot afford to let it get to $15 or even $8.50 as Exxon now thinks!

To the people of New York State.

“Hark, hark the Dogs do bark

The frackers are coming to town

Some in rigs and some of the Bigs

And one in a velvet gown!” Joe, the Gov’t Regulator!

Beware…listen to the dogs.

resurrected dog on the cross

Aug. 11, 2011, 11:01 p.m.

I just despise civilized….. it’s, so boring and non-transcendent….... The bar is set at the truth. And the truth don’t lie….......... hard for most people to live up to that standard. That’s why I trust my dog.

Anyway…..... It’s a conspiracy that jews killed jesus and hung his incipient lifeless body on a cross…........ Traditional torture of the times, not that much unlike todays torture techniques of choice like; depravation, water boarding and beating the wits out of whomever they deem a terrorist threat… domestic and foreign. Jesus would surely qualify.

Conspiracy is the order of the day. The government is in permanent secrecy information lock down. And there ain’t nobody doing anything on their own…........ except the lone wolfs who always seem to pop up when ever a distraction is needed to…... mislead, lie, obfuscate, hide, manipulate and propagandize the…. truth.

In 1947 when the Nation Security State was created, any semblance of constitutional law ended. The continuing march towards greater secrecy and militarization is what puts us in the situation today where anything goes. As long as it secures the state and the corporations that support it militarily…........ That might be a wee bit of the energy sector.

But hey…. all this boring civilized history, like Operation Paper Clip which imported 1200 Nazi scientists into the US intelligence and scientific academia, like the head of NASA and the Apollo moon mission Wernher von Braun…............ well that’s all just conspiracy theory to the people who watch TV and mimic slogans like…....ah, conspiracy theories are oh so rare and expensive….......... unlike the trillion dollar a year military industrial complex budget…....... That’s way cheaper than training 19 stooges to get on a 767 they had never flown and blame them for standing down all of NORAD…...... if you know what I mean.

Anyway, time for a commercial break from our sponsor Raytheon…....... Our job is to keep you safe from fear and loathing. We bomb anyone, anywhere, any time of the day or night.. because we can, and it’s profitable. So go back to work slaves and leave us defense contractors to what we do best….. wreaking the planet and dismembering people…...

Now back to our lame, boring and oh so civilized program…..........

So you see…....... Almost all government business that matters is a conspiracy…........because it happens in secret. Oh, you mean like those debt negotiations with the super duper congress…... or those interviews not under oath of bush by the 911 commission where no one was allowed to take notes or record anything… and cheny had to be present. Yes boys and girls…....... secrets just like that. And that children is what makes a conspiracy. When two or more people get together to commit and illegal act in secret…............

Well, that should straighten it all out for the next election. Thanks for tuning in to the dead dog channel of made up reality that never gets talked about because it’s way to scary…....... now move along, nothing to see here. It’s all been classified.

Swim like the dog

Aug. 12, 2011, 10:41 p.m.

Well, I see we have exhausted all possibilities for debate, poems, farce, sarcasm, irony and “you got that one right buddy”. The river has run its course. Backing up at the new pipeline crossing. The people settle back into their positions, never seeking to prove themselves wrong. Never exploring the dissonance that has held them hostage. The box within a box. Layers of filters squeezing the last flicker of the truth into a smoldering ember of what might be. The smell of putrid dank smoke, fills the coffers and widens the planks traversing the bridge.

No amount of self discipline can bring you to cross. It’s just not in your nature to trust your own instincts. Better to rely on the TV personalities who are rich. The planks on their bridges seeming never to creek. Never appearing to drop from sight into the white water below.

I heard that she was, it did, when, how long, that many, your kidding, are you sure…........... no of course not.

Look harder for the other bank. It rises from the under world. Pushed up by the lingering drama of the masses. It stands as a beacon. Calling in silence as it’s screams can not be heard over the roar of the river. The rocks moan and the foam spills. The creatures don’t notice your fear. They only sense its presence. Go ahead, try to swim it. Go naked so if you die and the swirling clamor consumes you, we will find the body of a child’s memory.

Jennifer Thomas

Aug. 13, 2011, 8:06 a.m.

That was very beautiful.  Put me in mind of Shakespeare. We are all poor players, set upon a stage, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.  I like that you kept to the topic at hand, using the river as a metaphor. I, however, will not be swimming in that water, rather, watching from the shore as the liars and deniers drown in it. Planet Earth will have the last word, and few of us will survive the fury of that revenge.

My dog wrote it…......... Usually she just lies around. I guess she’s getting tired of chasing the stick.

Tea Cup Master

Aug. 13, 2011, 11:52 p.m.

Well, here we are again. Another evening alone….... The quiet solitude reminds me of the time I got lost in the woods. Or was it the mall. Anyway, there were trees involved and a waterfall…........ or was that an escalator. Really, I must start taking more pictures.

So, there I am, riding the tea cups when out of the corner of my eye I see Joe in the tea cup next to me. He seems content, to spin in his little cup. Round and round we go. Slow then fast, but always the same direction. Always spinning but never getting anywhere. Why did we pay for this ride. It seems maybe we should have waited to ask,” did you like your ride in the tea cup sir?”.......... Yes, very much so. I highly recommend it. You see… Joe, he’s a professional. Watch him. He knows how to spin.

So I watched….... and I watched some more. For hours I stared at Joe, leisurely spinning in his little cup. Round and round. Always the same direction. Never getting off. Never going anywhere….......

Then something extraordinary happened. Joe got up, walked to another tea cup, sat down and began to spin. Always the same direction. Always slow and then fast, then slow. I watched till my eyes began to water and my throat cracked of thirst. I waited until it was dark. Until Joe was a faint mist of an image, grey and speckled black. Finally when it smelled of dew, I walked home. Stumbling over boulders, my feet wet and raw, a queasy feeling settling in; knowing Joe would spin forever.

I’ve lived around fracking for 10 years and we’ve never had a problem, just money pouring into the area (Texas)

I own a farm in NY, and I’m amazed at the cavalier attitude with which enviro people can try to toss away millions of dollars in private money because “we’re afraid something might go wrong…”

There will be problems along the way, but they certainly can be solved.  Gas beneath your feet is an giant stroke of luck for all involved. Could it be the anti-drilling crowd just be one huge case of sour grapes? And, I might add, who appointed THEM to protect my land?

Jennifer Thomas

Sep. 4, 2011, 1:35 p.m.

I love how simplistic people are, when they are trying to make a point.  As if we give a crap about you or YOUR land. The drilling affects everyone that suffers through having to live near it. I expect we would like to think that your desire to make money should not come at the expense of the safety of all of the people (and animals) that live NEAR your land. But, of course, our worship of the almighty dollar always wins, doesn’t it. It allows the gas industry to lie, the EPA to ignore previously regulated, deadly chemicals being injected into the ground, water and air and our politicians to claim that there is economic opportunity here, that we cannot pass up. There are viable alternative energy sources out there, that are not deadly and that could also be creating jobs. There are MANY other countries that are investing in them.  If we put another Texan in the White House, I may become a fracking refugee.

This article is part of an ongoing investigation:

Fracking: Gas Drilling’s Environmental Threat

The promise of abundant natural gas is colliding with fears about water contamination.

The Story So Far

The country’s push to find clean domestic energy has zeroed in on natural gas, but cases of water contamination have raised serious questions about the primary drilling method being used. Vast deposits of natural gas, large enough to supply the country for decades, have brought a drilling boom stretching across 31 states. The drilling technique being used, called hydraulic fracturing, shoots water, sand and toxic chemicals into the ground to break up rock and release the gas.

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