Gallery: Flooding From Hurricane Irene Raises New Concerns About Fracki...

© Bosc d'Amjou. Flickr Commons.

New Yorkers were shocked when the state issued guidelines that would allow fracking near decrepit tunnels that supply drinking water to NYC, despite alarming research concerning the dangers of fracking and its devastating affects on the environment. But it looks like environmentalists may have yet another reason to be furious about the fracking debacle. In light of the recent devastation caused by Hurricane Irene in Upstate, New York, environmental groups and elected officials are calling for an update to floodplain maps in order to take into account the  flooding damage, which has now made fracking an even bigger environmental risk.

The floods in upstate New York are raising concerns about plans to allow hydrofracking on the Marcellus Shale, the site that the natural gas industry hopes to use for future drilling and where drilling is already taking place in Pennsylvania. The area, however, was severely affected by Irene, and green activists are calling for disclosure on whether “drilling pits have overflowed and spilled their toxic contents into flooded creeks, streams and rivers.”

“The floodplain is a different place than it was… We need to remap,” said New York State Assemblyman Kevin A. Cahill, chairman of the Energy Committee. He recently told the New York Times that in light of recent weather changes, places that used to flood sporadically are now experiencing three or four floods a year.

“Broome County is one of the hotspots that gas companies are trying to target for drilling and much of the county is now underwater,” said Katherine Nadeau, of Environmental Advocates of New York. “That’s scary to think about.”

Environmental activists hope to delay a timeline that schedules a public comment period on an environmental impact document released by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. The timeline also called for proposed regulations by December 12, with finalization and drilling permits scheduled to be issued next year. Environmental Advocates of New York, however, are calling for a three month extension on the public hearings, in order to allow communities affected by the floods time to recover and be able to participate in the public review of the proposed hydrofracking rules.

Considering the mass flooding caused by Irene, a three month extension sounds very reasonable. However, one can only guess what the state has in mind, given the Cuomo Administration’s staunch support of hydrofracking. Green activists will just have to sit and wait for now.

Via New York Times


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