Fracking for Dummies

By: Laura Brazak

(Yes, that means you.)

(The article continues below.)
Skaneateles Design

Everything you always wanted to know about Horizontal Hydraulic Fracturing but were afraid to ask. As explained by yours truly. Who for the sake of full disclosure will admit right now that I am not currently, nor have I ever been: a geologist, a scientist, an oilman, an economist or Vice President. BUT I DO DRINK WATER and have a vested interest in my community, my city and my state. So, after immersing myself in the concept up to my eyeballs for the last month and a half, I will now attempt to answer some questions.

1. Why should I care?

You should care because the quality of the water that comes out of your tap is about to be compromised. The water that you drink, cook with and bathe in is at risk.

2. Where does the water that comes out of my faucet come from?

If you live in Syracuse, your water comes to you UNFILTERED from Skaneateles Lake. Directly from the lake to your tap. It’s one of only 7 water systems in the US that is clean enough to do this. This lake is pretty special.

3. How is it at risk?

Currently there are 100 parcels of land leased in the Skaneateles Lake Watershed. Leased for drilling. Drilling for natural gas. Right next to the lake.

4. So, again: Why should I care?

Because there can be multiple wells per parcel and each well will require between 1 and 6 MILLION GALLONS of Skaneateles Lake water. And each well will produce approx. 34,000 gallons of wastewater that is briny, corrosive, toxic and radioactive. This water will first sit in open air pits (right next to our lakes and above the watershed/aquifers) then it will be loaded onto trucks and driven around.

5. To where?

NOBODY KNOWS. There is not a water treatment facility in the state of NEW YORK that is capable of treating this byproduct.

6. How can this happen?

This can happen because in 2005 the Oil and Gas Industry was made exempt from compliance to 100 years worth of environmental legislation by an act of Congress.

7. Why don’t I know anything about this issue?

You aren’t required to know. They don’t have to tell you. Technically this has nothing to do with you- except that it compromises the WATER THAT COMES OUT OF YOUR TAP.

8. Is this happening now?

Yes, north of us, a geologic formation known as the Utica Shale is already being fracked. The wastewater byproducts are being run thru the water treatment facility in Watertown. They do nothing except dilute it and dump it into the Black River. Which then flows into Lake Ontario. This has been happening for many years (since 2005) in LOTS of states. But let’s just worry about right here, for right now.

9. Why isn’t it happening here?

Because there is a moratorium in place that prohibits fracking the Marcellus Shale, the formation of shale and natural gas deposits that is under us. “They” are waiting for DEC to release a document that recommends a course of action for NYS to take.

10. Who are “They”?

Ultimately, it will be the Governor’s decision. It doesn’t even have to come up for debate before the legislature, though in this case, it probably will.

11. What can I do?

You can become informed. You can ask questions. You can become a fully functioning member of society. You can make a difference. You can go to facebook and become a fan of YOU CAN’T DRINK MONEY/Hydrofracking Awareness Group. You can tell your family and friends.

12. Why can’t this all go away? Why do I have to think about this?

Because you do. Grow up and deal. The transition will not be easy but it won’t be fatal. And somehow we will all survive. But to do nothing will make things worse. Even tho you think they can’t possibly get worse, they can. Imagine all the problems you have now and then think about how much more it would suck if your water was bad. Or made you sick.

13. What about the “transition to a clean energy economy”?

Yeah. That’s what I’d like to know. Why can’t we start now? I don’t see how ruining a lot of water and air is going to help matters.

14. Is is too late?

I hope not.

Learn more about Laura Brazak here.