A landmark federal study on hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, shows no evidence that chemicals from the natural gas drilling process moved up to contaminate drinking water aquifers at a western Pennsylvania drilling site, the Department of Energy told The Associated Press.

After a year of monitoring, the researchers found that the chemical-laced fluids used to free gas trapped deep below the surface stayed thousands of feet below the shallower areas that supply drinking water, geologist Richard Hammack said.

The New York Times reported today that New York’s Gov. Andrew Cuomo is planning to lift a “ban” on hydraulic fracturing. But whatever the governor announces tomorrow, it’s unlikely to change the de facto moratorium on drilling in the state that began nearly three years ago, when the state committed to a fresh environmental review.

Fracking Moratorium Passed in New York

Critics of hydraulic fracturing, a method of natural-gas extraction that involves shooting millions of gallons of pressurized fluid laced with toxic chemicals into the ground to break up rock formations and release gas trapped inside, have been gathering force for several years now as the technique has become more widespread. While fracking, as it is colloquially known, has made vast new gas reserves accessible in the United States, leading to hype about natural gas as a solution to our nation’s energy problems, the rush of drilling has occasioned disturbing accounts of groundwater contamination and environmental degradation. Over the course of the past year the issue has taken on new prominence, with an acclaimed (and Oscar short-listed) documentary film, Gasland, doing much to draw attention to the darker side of natural gas, and with concerned citizens and activists across the country taking action to slow down or halt the pace of gas-related leasing and drilling in their communities. In June 2010, Vanity Fair explored how families in Dimock, Pennsylvania, and elsewhere have been grimly impacted by water contamination and other forms of pollution related to gas drilling.
The state of New York, which sits atop a large gas reserve known as the Marcellus Shale, has become a particularly fierce battleground in the debate over fracking, largely because of plans to drill for natural gas via fracking in the New York City watershed. Yesterday, the New York State Assembly voted 93 to 43 to impose a statewide moratoriumon fracking while a comprehensive review of the practice is undertaken.

Continue reading… Vanity Fair

Fracking Moratorium Passed in New York

Critics of hydraulic fracturing, a method of natural-gas extraction that involves shooting millions of gallons of pressurized fluid laced with toxic chemicals into the ground to break up rock formations and release gas trapped inside, have been gathering force for several years now as the technique has become more widespread. While fracking, as it is colloquially known, has made vast new gas reserves accessible in the United States, leading to hype about natural gas as a solution to our nation’s energy problems, the rush of drilling has occasioned disturbing accounts of groundwater contamination and environmental degradation. Over the course of the past year the issue has taken on new prominence, with an acclaimed (and Oscar short-listed) documentary film, Gasland, doing much to draw attention to the darker side of natural gas, and with concerned citizens and activists across the country taking action to slow down or halt the pace of gas-related leasing and drilling in their communities. In June 2010, Vanity Fair explored how families in Dimock, Pennsylvania, and elsewhere have been grimly impacted by water contamination and other forms of pollution related to gas drilling.

The state of New York, which sits atop a large gas reserve known as the Marcellus Shale, has become a particularly fierce battleground in the debate over fracking, largely because of plans to drill for natural gas via fracking in the New York City watershed. Yesterday, the New York State Assembly voted 93 to 43 to impose a statewide moratoriumon fracking while a comprehensive review of the practice is undertaken.

Continue reading… Vanity Fair

I’m very afraid, health-wise, for the kids, just because of the exposure to the water and the constant not-knowing what we’re breathing in outside.”

Big players are rushing in. Exxon has invested $30 billion in the Marcellus in recent months. Foreign investors are also swooping in. India’s largest company, Reliance, has purchased a large stake. China, Korea, and Britain are investing in gas drilling in the Marcellus shale.

As gas companies rush in to make deals with landowners for the right to drill, the money on the table - signing fees and royalties - is substantial, and hard to argue with in a recession … hundreds of thousands of dollars in some cases.

In Pennsylvania, 60 gas companies hold 4,504 permits to drill, almost half (1,195) granted this year alone.

What’s driving the drilling rush here, and across the country, are advances in hydraulic fracturing, or “hydro-fracking,” a process whereby millions of gallons of water, sand and chemicals are blasted deep underground - about 5,000 feet - forcing cracks in the shale and freeing natural gas for collection.

It is at the surface where problems have been reported, like blowouts and spills into ground water …

… And - as depicted in the HBO documentary “Gasland” - ignition at the kitchen sink.

Gasland”: Is “Fracking” Polluting America?

A Burning Debate Over Natural Gas Drilling - Chemicals Energy Cos. Secretly Use Fuel Water Concerns 

Legislation is being proposed in the Senate, sponsored by Sen. Robert Casey, D-Pa., called the Fracturing Responsibility and Awareness of Chemicals (FRAC) Ac

 CBSNews