How could hydrofracking affect you?

Posted at: 02/04/2013 4:49 PM
Updated at: 02/04/2013 6:04 PM
By: Ray Levato

Governor Cuomo is going to decide this month whether to allow hydrofracking, the controversial gas drilling practice in the state. How could this affect you? What exactly is hydrofracking?
Hydrofracking is a mixture of water, sand and chemicals blasted thousands of feet underground into a layer of rock called the Marcellus Shale. Then the fluid cracks open the rock to release natural gas which flows back up through the well into storage tanks. The spent fluid is drained into open pits and eventually trucked to water treatment plants.

People who oppose fracking are worried the process could contaminate ground water or that natural gas could seep into underground aquifers.

The Marcellus Shale formation extends from New York’s southern tier -- down into Pennsylvania and West Virginia. So why are local officials here concerned with the impacts of fracking?

Twenty-two local elected leaders came out to raise concerns about what they say are the "true" costs of hydrofracking. They're fearing large costs to the taxpayer, and have concerns over public health. For example, Monroe County has left the door open to possibly treating contaminated waste water that has to be hauled away after hydrofracking. Brighton Supervisor Bill Moehle says that would be a mistake.

Bill Moehle, Brighton Supervisor, said, “The impact of hundreds of trucks carrying waste, frankly, whatever nominal revenue the county would be getting is far outweighed by the risk of bringing that hazardous and radioactive wastes through this community.”

The local officials are among 600 who have signed on to a statewide group called Elected Officials to Protect New York. They say Governor Cuomo hasn't fully considered the costs, and the negative impact of hydrofracking  on public health.They also maintain fracking would bring heavy burdens on municipalities like Rochester.

News10NBC asked Rochester City Council Member Loretta Scott to put a number on that, what the cost would be in dollars and cents.

Loretta Scott, Rochester City Council Member, said, “We know the impact it could have on roadways. We also know the impact it could have on our water supply. So in order for us to determine what those impacts may be, and to look at the research, we needed to have a timeout for Rochester.”

News10NBC's Ray Levato said, “So you can't put a cost figure on this, or numbers of what that municipal burden would be?”

Scott said, “No, I can't put a cost on it. I cannot, not at this time.”

The anti-fracking group says it is bi-partisan and they're calling on Governor Cuomo to open up the health review process to the public which they say is secretive right now. And they fear the process is being driven by politics and not science.

The governor is expected to announce his decision by February 13.The latest Siena Research Institute Poll shows New York and southern tier voters are nearly evenly divided on fracking.