By Mark Boshnack
The Daily Star
---- — A national organization was recently formed to oppose the controversial method of oil and gas extraction known as hydraulic fracturing. More than 100 groups came together this month to launch Americans against Fracking, a national coalition dedicated to banning the practice.
One of these is the Catskill Mountainkeeper, an organization that promotes sustainable growth in the Catskills. Program director Wes Gillingham said joining the coalition was important because “the regulatory process (in the state) has turned into a political process.”
This was evident with the release last week of proposed revised drilling rules covering fracking in the state, he said.
The state has had a moratorium on the practice since an environmental impact study was initiated in 2008. There is a lack of oversight on the industry nationwide that allows it to “contaminate communities nationwide,” he said. “The alliance will help the cause.”
About the new state proposals, “it makes no sense to release them now,” because the health review on the process has not been released, he said. What he has seen of the proposals, “it is completely inadequate,” he said.
Marie Lusins, a pro-drilling member of the Otsego County Natural Gas Advisory Board, said she can’t imagine such a coalition would stop the drilling nationwide. The amount of oil and gas already recovered through the process is “huge,” she said, and “is a much-needed boost to the economy.”
But activists, such as the ones involved in the coalition, will help the industry to operate in a cleaner, safer fashion.
She said she was glad to see the progress in the state regulatory procedures. While there is a question whether fracking will occur in this area, when people in the state see it done, they will be “more comfortable with the process,” she said.