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Guest Column

June 8, 2013

Hey Gov. Cuomo, are you in or out?

Message to Gov. Andrew Cuomo: the data’s in but you’re out. The decision on drilling that was supposed to be science-based seems more and more political. Postponement follows postponement. Meanwhile, the data accumulates.

For seven years, the Susquehanna River Basin Commission (SRBC) has maintained hundreds of monitoring stations in the basin. Fifty eight are situated in the headwaters area, including heavily drilled Pennsylvania.

These stations measure water quantity and quality, using satellite technology for real time sampling; i.e., every five minutes for data intake and every hour and a half for satellite pick-up. The data is then posted on the internet. These samplings are augmented by bi-monthly and quarterly on-site data collection for a wide variety of specific chemicals.

Aside from occasional turbidity (muddy water), there has been no (that’s zip, zero, nada) change in water quality or quantity in areas where drilling has occurred. Check it out, Governor, at Or give them a call. You’ve got the juice to get personal attention.

New York’s Chattauqua County, home of 5,000 wells, has collected data for 30 years on water-well disturbances suspected to be caused by drilling. After a spate of reports from 1983 to 1988, your Department of Environmental Conservation instituted new drilling protocols. Since August 1988, there has been 26 reports, about one report a year. Most prove to be temporary turbidity. A half-dozen have been forwarded to the DEC for follow-up.

The moratorium has tamped down recent activity, but in the last decade there were 300 to 500 stimulations per year. A synopsis of these logs can be obtained in a six page spreadsheet from the Chattauqua County Department of Health. That’s more data, Governor.

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell has drafted a set of rules for drilling shale formations on public lands, using the data and best practices from eleven states. Acknowledging the controversy over hydraulic fracturing, she noted that a moratorium or ban would “ignore the reality that hydraulic fracturing has been done for decades.” She further noted a dampening effect on the national economy if such actions were taken. Call your clipping service, Governor, and check out the press release on May 20. The Feds are moving ahead while New York dawdles.

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