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The industry says it's safe but gas fracking may be contaminating well water
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"Hydraulic fracturing," or gas "fracking," as it is known in the natural gas industry, involves injecting massive amounds of water and chemicals deep underground to pry out gas that's locked away in tight spaces.
Environmentalists maintain that fracking may be causing groundwater contamination and harming nearby water wells, and that it should therefore be regulated. The industry claims it is safe.
Fracking is highly valued by gas corporations because it allows drillers to dramatically increase production.
The chemicals pumped underground with the water help drill through the heavy rock. The extreme pressure used creates cracks in the rock that allow gas to escape.
This momentous process is not without serious risks to nearby communities, as drillers in Pennsylvania found out in September 2009.
The Department of Environmental Protection there shut down some operations of natural gas driller Cabot Oil & Gas after 8,000 gallons of toxic chemicals were spilled on the ground and into a creek in Susquehanna County.
New York State and Gas fracking
In New York State, the issue is also in the headlines.
Steven Lawitts, acting commissioner of the New York City Department of Environmental Protection, sent a letter on September 25, 2009 to Alexander Grannis, commissioner of the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation, which urged, "Before sanctioning any expanded gas drilling or moving forward with new regulations, the State must take the steps necessary to affirmatively show that the technology proposed to extract natural gas from the watershed does not pose a risk to the safety of the water supply of nine million state residents."
Lawitts said in that letter than an analysis conducted by the DEC raised concern over "the substantial risk that hydraulic fracturing in the watershed could contaminate ground- and surface-water supplies."
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