Sen. Tony Avella, D-Queens, introduced legislation today that would ban the use of hydraulic fracturing, a drilling process in which a mixture of sand, water and chemicals is sent deep underground to break shale formations and release gas. Avella spoke yesterday at a rally held by opponents of hydrofracking.
The state Department of Environmental Conservation is developing a second draft of its environmental-impact study on hydrofracking and expects to finish it by the end of the summer. Permits for high-volume hydraulic fracturing are on hold during the process. Potential drilling has been targeted for the Marcellus Shale and other shale formations in the state.
Avella said “fracking fluids” used in the drilling process “use an enormous amount of water” and with chemicals that often are “highly toxic, non-biodegradable and are virtually impossible to remove once they enter the natural environment.”
“I have grave concerns that the risk presented by hydrofracking; where a single accident can contaminate the water supply for over eight million people, outweighs any possible economic gain drilling within the watershed would bring,” Avella said in a statement. “New York City residents benefit from one of only five unfiltered surface water systems in the country. As a result we enjoy water with a superior cleanliness and flavor that rivals any throughout the world. We must be vigilant in protecting our water supply from any potential risk of contamination.”
“Property owners in Pennsylvania, who allowed natural gas companies to perform hydrofracking on their land, have been rewarded with undrinkable and toxic water,” Avella said. “In some instances the water quality is so bad people can actually light their tap water on fire. We cannot allow this to happen to our drinking water.”
The Independent Oil & Gas Association has asked the Department of Environmental Conservation to expedite the report and the review of permits. Hydrofracking is a safe process, according to the group.
Meanwhile, earlier today, the Senate Environmental Conservation Committee shot down legislation that would have required companies to disclose the chemicals in fracking fluid used in the state.