The Price Isn’t Right: Fracking In New York State

Unspoiled wooded areas are put in harms way when it comes to fracking.
Unspoiled wooded areas are put in harms way when it comes to fracking.

By Savannah Pees

Natural gas drilling companies are marketing their product as a solution to America’s energy problems. It is not. Not only will fracking fail to solve America’s energy problems, it will harm our country and our state in the process.

Americans are moving toward hydraulic fracturing to remove the U.S. from the international rush for oil without asking what we can truly gain from energy independence. A domestic energy supply would not wholly mitigate the value of Middle Eastern oil, nor would it remove the humanitarian concerns the U.S. has in foreign countries.

Energy “independence” would not solve our nearly absolute dependence on a finite supply of natural resources. An investment in renewable energy would, however, create jobs and reduce America’s interests overseas in the same way that fracking would. It would also help solve the world energy crisis.

New Yorkers, as well as all Americans, have to focus on finding a more productive energy source instead of resorting to fracking.

Another major issue with fracking is its environmental implications. Alarming stories about flammable water and animals losing their fur have prompted Governor Cuomo to call for studies regarding the environmental impact of gas drilling. While this is a step in the right direction, it still will not enable him to make an informed decision. At this point, any studies we have can only reveal short-term effects.

According to Brenden DeMelle in an article published in the Huffington Post [1], a recent United States Geological Survey report puts yearly gas yields for wells in the Marcellus Shale far lower than most company estimates.

Sooner rather than later on a historical scale, New York state, as well as America, will run out of fuel. Fracking is a short-term solution to our energy dilemma that could have deleterious long-term consequences.

The hazards of fracking are not limited to environmental ones. According to Sean Lennon in his article for the New York Times [2], hydraulic fracturing requires known toxic chemicals such as methane, radium, and uranium, as well as many others that companies are often not required to reveal.

Releasing these chemicals so near the water table is risky, especially in a state like New York that is known for its potable water supply. Even entirely comprehensive regulations of fracking procedure would not account for human and mechanical failure. Tiny errors can have catastrophic results. We have seen this with the BP oil spill in 2010, and we could be seeing it again with the proliferation of fracking in Northeast.

The extremely limited benefits and wide ranging negative effects of fracking discount it as a viable energy source for future Americans. No one can truly gain anything from the legalization of fracking in New York.

The money made by the small group conducting the drilling will pale in comparison to the drying up of American energy supplies. Drillers do not have to drink the water that they contaminate, but they do have to live on an Earth with finite resources.

If we do nothing to find alternative energy sources, and instead pour our efforts into fracking, we are hamstringing ourselves for the inevitable shift to renewable power. At this cost, we cannot afford to legalize fracking. New Yorkers have the opportunity to lead the way to a more sustainable future for America.

[1] DeMelle, Brendan. “Deepening Doubts About Fracked Shale Gas Wells’ Long Term Prospects.” The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 20 Sept. 2012. Web. 07 Feb. 2013. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/brendan-demelle/frackingoutput_b_1900810.html.

[2] Lennon, Sean. “Destroying Precious Land for Gas.” Editorial. New York Times, 27 Aug. 2012. Web. 7 Feb. 2013. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/28/opinion/sean-lennon-destroying-precious-land-for-gas.html?_r=0.

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