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Gas drilling will impact environment

By Dan Hust
SULLIVAN COUNTY — July 20, 2010 — Three of the four panelists at Thursday’s county-sponsored forum on gas drilling warned that the industry could bring health hazards with it.
The only speaker who touted the potential benefits was Paul Hartman, director of state government relations for Chesapeake Energy’s New York division.
Chesapeake is actively engaged in securing gas leases throughout the Marcellus Shale play, so Hartman was as much an advocate for drilling as Natural Resources Defense Council Senior Attorney Kate Sinding was an advocate against.
The two scientists on the panel – Dr. Anthony Ingraffea of Cornell University’s School of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Dr. Adam Law of Cayuga Medical Center, also in Ithaca – said their and others’ research into drilling indicated the environment and public health are at risk.
“This is not something that’s here today, gone tomorrow, with minimal impact,” related Ingraffea.
“I’ve come to believe this is one of the major public health impact problems,” added Law – though he admitted he currently heats his own house with natural gas.
Along with Sinding, they felt more study of the industry is needed, particularly of hydrofracking.
Hartman, on the other hand, countered that drilling is inherently safe and that minute quantities of chemicals are employed in the fracking process.
“Five or more layers of protection are installed in the well to isolate it from the surrounding strata and protect groundwater and the environment,” said one of his slides projected onto the screen inside the Monticello High School Auditorium.
A more in-depth look at what each speaker said will be printed in Friday’s Democrat.

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