Ewart: Eyes on N.Y. amid rumoured lift on ban

Ewart: Eyes on N.Y. amid rumoured lift on ban by Stephen Ewart, August 21, 2012, Calgary Herald
At this point, Governor Andrew Cuomo’s government isn’t commenting on a report by CBS News that quoted unnamed sources saying even without the ban there will be several restrictions on fracking to protect water supplies for the state’s more than 18 million residents. Regardless, the critics were apoplectic. “I am shocked -,” said Sandra Steingraber, scholar in residence at Ithaca College and a co-founder of New Yorkers Against Fracking. “The CBS story is one more indication that industry influence and bad faith are driving the biggest environmental decision in the history of New York State.” … Fracking has effectively been banned in New York since 2010 but is legal in Pennsylvania. … Industry, even north of the border, applauded the suggestion New York would lift its moratorium. It is lobbying to remove fracking bans in Quebec and Nova Scotia and an influential state like New York can set an example for other jurisdictions. In April, when Nova Scotia delayed its decision on allowing fracking until 2014, the province said it would wait to make a decision until other provinces and states – as well the federal governments in Canada and the U.S. – tabled their reviews. New York would be one of those states. “It’s very good news for the industry,” concluded Mike Dawson, president of the Canadian Society of Unconventional Resources “I think it’s the realization that the concern over fracking has been overblown dramatically by concerned citizens and the media.” Dawson expects the level of scrutiny of fracking operations will be high in New York. He also said the big concern over water contamination primarily relates to poor well construction; not the practice injecting millions of gallons of water as well as sand and chemicals deep underground to help bring the oil or gas to surface. “As long as we do our job effectively we think the resource can be developed in a responsible manner,” he said. Talisman Energy, which has operations in the Marcellus in Pennsylvania and New York, did not respond to a request for comment on the reports. In June, the Calgary-based company unveiled new internal standards for developing shale gas as producers, industry associations and regulators in Canada and the United States work to address technical issues and the public perception around fracking. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency – an organization created in the wake of Carson’s book – is releasing a series of measures this year to address air emissions and water contamination as fracking becomes ubiquitous across the industry. Dawson contends a moratorium curtails advances in technology and best practices for operators on something that could help resolve energy supply concerns. Given the reaction of Steingraber and count-less others to news reports, a lot of people remain skeptical. [Emphasis added]

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