By Danny Hakim, The New York Times, June 19, 2012
ALBANY — A coalition of environmental groups plans to campaign against a proposal that Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo is weighing to approve limited drilling for natural gas, the groups said Tuesday.
The coalition includes a mix of nationally known organizations — like the Sierra Club, the Natural Resources Defense Council and Environmental Advocates of New York — and smaller, local groups. The groups have had some differences over the drilling technique, called hydraulic fracturing, or fracking: some oppose it under all circumstances, while others indicate that they are open to compromise. But all have signed a joint statement opposing the use of the technique without an independent assessment of its safety.
“Any decision as to whether or not to frack anywhere in New York State should not be made before the impacts to our health, environment and economy have been comprehensively and properly assessed,” the environmental groups said in the statement, which was prompted by a report last week in The New York Times that said the Cuomo administration was pursuing a plan to limit fracking to counties along the Pennsylvania border.
“Until we have a complete and independent study of the impacts to public health and the environment and the costs to our communities, the state will simply not be in a position to make a decision as to whether fracking should be permitted in New York.”
In hydraulic fracturing, large amounts of sand, water and chemicals are injected deep underground at high pressures to extract natural gas from rock formations, a process that has raised concerns about groundwater contamination. The Cuomo administration’s plan, if put into effect, would limit drilling to the deepest areas of the Marcellus Shale rock formation in an effort to reduce the risk of such contamination, and even then would allow fracking only in towns that approved it.
The editorial boards of a number of newspapers, including The Times, The Poughkeepsie Journal and The Times Union of Albany, have expressed openness to the idea of limited fracking, but have generally called for a cautious approach.