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Local News

May 1, 2013

Pa. study adds fuel to fracking debate

COOPERSTOWN -- Supporters of allowing horizontal hydraulic fracturing for shale gas are basking in a "we told you so" moment after a study by Pennsylvania state officials found gas drilling was not to blame for high methane levels in three families' well water.

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The study conducted by the Pennsylvania officials, he added, was likely limited in scope due to what called the near impossibility of determining whether the problem could have been caused by “an orphan crack” from the crack that had been created in order to excavate the gas. The fact that the drilling site was approximately 4,000 feet from the wells that were contaminated, he said, made it unlikely that the pollution was caused by an orphan crack.

The water problems in Frankin Forks had been cited by some anti-drilling activists as evidence of the environmental dangers that could result from fracking. The magazine Rolling Stone published a photo essay that described one Franklin Forks family as “Fracking’s Real-Life Victims.”

Walter Hang, the founder of Toxics Targeting, an Ithaca environmental data company and a prominent anti-drilling activist, said the new Pennsylvania finding has no relevance to the ongoing debate over horizontal hydrofracking in New York.

“The bottom line is that in New York we already have vast documentation of fracking and drilling impacts on water wells, on people’s homes on the environment, on public health,” Hang said. “That is why there is no horizontal shale gas fracking in New York, because the DEC (state Department of Environmental Conservation can’t explain away all the problem that they themselves documented (with conventional drilling) going back decades.”

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