Peril in the shale | Arkansas Blog

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Peril in the shale

Posted By on Sat, Jul 26, 2008 at 6:05 AM

If Chesapeake Energy really wanted to fully inform the citizenry about exploration of the Fayetteville shale, it would add to its new faux news website and its paid mockumentary lineup this investigative effort by the new nonprofit Pro Publica, a public interest journalism  foundation.

I make no allegations about the conduct of Chesapeake or any other producer in Arkansas. But I repeat that producers' assurances about the absence of environmental threat posed by the exploration and the give-me-the-money happiness of mineral and land owners are not sufficient protection against problems.

There's a big shale play with horizontal drilling underway in New York. The lead of the ProPublica reporting might encourage you to read more:

On May 29 New York state's top environmental officials assured state lawmakers that plans to drill for natural gas near the watershed that supplies New York City's drinking water posed little danger.

A survey of other states had found "not one instance of drinking water contamination" from the water-intensive, horizontal drilling that would take place across New York's southern tier, the officials told lawmakers in Albany.

Reassured, the legislature quickly approved a bill to speed up the permitting process for a huge influx of wells that could bring the state upwards of $1 billion in annual revenue. Gov. David Paterson has until Wednesday to decide whether he will sign the bill, and the state's Department of Environmental Conservation, or DEC, says drilling permits could be approved in as little as 12 weeks.

But a joint investigation by ProPublica and New York City public radio station WNYC found that this type of drilling has caused significant environmental harm in other states and could affect the watershed that supplies New York City's drinking water.

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