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A public forum on the impacts of gas drilling and hydro-fracking on drinking water was held Saturday, April 17, 2010 at 10:00 am at the Elmira Heights Theater, 210 E. 14th Street, Elmira Heights. The forum was sponsored by nine area organizations.
Featured speakers included Dusty Horwitt, an attorney with the Environmental Working Group (EWG) in Washington, DC, Walter Hang, president of Toxics Targeting in Ithaca and Dr. Earl Robinson, MD, vice-president of Residents for the Preservation of Lowman and Chemung. They presented on the dangers posed by gas drilling and hydro-fracking chemicals to our area drinking water supplies and answer questions from the audience.
Mr. Horwitt discusses EWG’s investigation of chemical disclosure records filed by gas drilling corporations, including Schlumberger, and their interviews with regulators in Pennsylvania, New York, Montana,Texas and Wyoming. EWG found that many gas drilling companies are skirting federal law and injecting natural gas wells with millions of gallons of fracking fluids laced with toxic petroleum distillates, threatening drinking water supplies from Pennsylvania to Wyoming, and that federal and state regulators largely look the other way.
Mr. Horwitt also discusses his examination of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s (DEC’s) draft supplemental generic environmental impact statement (DSGEIS) and his conclusion that the statement’s inadequacies show that New York State is not taking seriously the threat that gas drilling and hydro-fracking pose to drinking water in the state.
Mr. Horwitt testified twice last fall to the NYC Council about EWG’s research and its implications for gas drilling regulation in New York State. Mr. Horwitt testified, ” Our analysis confirms our belief that New York State should not allow drilling in the watershed for New York City’s drinking water supply nor should it allow drilling in other areas where drinking water supplies might be compromised.”
Walter Hang describes information he has obtained from county health departments that shows numerous complaints related to water pollution associated with existing gas drilling operations. As reported recently in newspapers in Elmira, Binghamton and Ithaca, Mr. Hang’s research indicates water contamination far in excess of what has been reported by the DEC. Mr. Hang is coordinating a statewide coalition asking Governor Paterson to withdraw the DSGEIS.
Dr. Earl Robinson addresses recent disclosures that gas drilling waste from Pennsylvania is being accepted by the Chemung County landfill and discuss the toxic impact such waste could have on the Chemung River aquifer and the health of residents in our area.
The forum was sponsored by the Community Environmental Defense Council, Citizens for Healthy Communities, Shaleshock Action Alliance, GDACC (Gas Drilling Awareness for Cortland County), People for a Healthy Environment, Inc., Pax Christi Elmira, Schuyler County Environmental Management Council, NYSESS (New Yorkers for Sustainable Energy Systems Statewide) and NYRAD (New York Residents Against Drilling).
For more information about EWG’s investigation of gas drillings effects on drinking water, read “Drilling around the Law,” the EWG report written by Mr. Horwitt, http://www.ewg.org/drillingaroundthelaw
To sign Walter Hang’s coalition letter calling on Governor Patterson to withdraw the DSGEIS, go to
The Gas Drilling Impacts on Drinking Water by Cris McConkey, unless otherwise expressly stated, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.