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Environmental connections to public health >>

Don't. Frack. New. York.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Companies that drill for natural gas and oil in the United States are skirting federal law and injecting toxic petroleum distillates (think: kerosene, mineral spirits and a number of other petroleum products that often contain high levels of benzene, a known human carcinogen that is toxic in water at minuscule levels) into thousands of wells, threatening drinking water supplies from Pennsylvania to Wyoming.

Drillers inject these substances into rock under extremely high pressure in a process called hydraulic fracturing that energy companies use to extract natural gas and oil from underground formations.

Private wells and public waterworks are affected The process, known as "fracking," fractures the rock to allow additional gas and oil to flow to the surface. Fracking is currently used in 90 percent of the nation's oil and natural gas wells and has been instrumental in accessing huge new natural gas deposits trapped in underground shale formations. It's a threat not just for people who have their own wells, but also for major cities such as New York, where everyone is supplied by public waterworks.

They're drilling around the law Federal and state regulators, meanwhile, have largely looked the other way. See, in 2005 Congress exempted hydraulic fracturing, except fracturing with diesel fuel, from regulation under the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA). Yes, exempted.

Get the story in this short video - then send it to every New Yorker you know. Because if New York gets fracked, it won't be pretty. And the water won't be drinkable.

The risks of fracking aren't just theoretical. Drinking water contamination and property damage have been linked to hydraulic fracturing in four states - Colorado, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wyoming. In one incident that polluted a Colorado creek, nearby groundwater is still contaminated with benzene - six years later.

The conclusion is inescapable: the petroleum distillates used in hydraulic fracturing pose a serious threat to the nation's water supplies, but those risks have been largely ignored by federal and state regulators, including New York.

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