Sisters of St. Joseph of CarondeletOctober 20, 2019

Earth Concerns News

Hydrofracking: Financial Gains versus Health Hazards to People and Environment by Sister Clare Pelkey, CSJ

by Sister Clare Pelkey, CSJ

Climatologists tell us that the rate of climate change since 1975 is ten times greater than that which has happened over the past 21,000 years. Given the climate changes that we have experienced in recent years, and especially during this past summer and fall, in the coming months the Home/Land Committee will be addressing the effects of human activity on climate change.

One of the biggest issues currently facing New York State is hyrdrofracking. Hydrofracking is a method used by natural-gas companies to extract the gas from deep in the ground, much of which is under shale in New York State. "A cocktail" of chemicals is combined with sand and millions of gallons of water and pumped deeply into the ground under great pressure to release the gas. In the process, the chemicals have been known to penetrate and pollute the underground water in the area. Rural areas across the nation are the most affected by this process that obviously has also a huge environmental impact. In the Western United States, water coming out of faucets has burst into flames when a match is lighted near the faucet! However, the gas companies refuse to reveal what chemicals are used in hydrofracking. (See GASLAND, a DVD documenting disastrous results of this process.)
When we realize the critical need all creatures have for water, it is unconscionable even to think of permitting hydrofracking; yet the companies who gain financially from the process are mounting huge advertising campaigns that mask the dangerous impact on our water. Exxon Mobil's ads on the wonders of hydrofracking are one example of such advertising. The public is deceived into believing that this is a safe process, and some have leased their land as a way to have a chance finally for a better life. Sadly, they have found out too late that they have been deceived.
The public is evenly divided in support of and in opposition to hydrofracking. In New York State, the Department of Environmental Conservation has issued a document* that some scientists declare contains some serious flaws, some of which include the following: inadequate assessment of the serious health impacts of fracking; inadequate and unclear rules about fracking in flood plains; limited protection for primary aquifers; fracking waste is not classified as hazardous; tracking of fracking waste is left up to operators in the gas industry; open pits for storing fracking waste have not been outlawed; drilling is allowed under state-owned land; no comprehensive, focused plan to analyze the cumulative impact of a full build out of gas wells. (The proposed rules may be viewed at
Public hearings are being held for comments in regard to opening New York State to hydrofracking. It appears to some that Governor Cuomo is leaning heavily toward approving this method, so it is important for as many of us as possible to attend one of these hearings. Even if we make no public comment, our physical presence makes it own statement. The hearings will be held from 1:00-4:00 p.m. and from 6:00-9:00 p.m. at the following locations:
November 16: Dansville Middle School Auditorium, 31 Clara Barton St., Dansville
November 17: The Forum Theatre, 236 Washington Street, Binghamton
November 29: Sullivan County Community College, Seelig Theatre, 112 College Rd, Loch Sheldrake
November 30: Tribeca Performing Arts Center, 199 Chambers Street, New York, NY
In addition, comments may be submitted by mail to: Attn: dSGEIS* Comments, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, 625 Broadway, Albany, NY 12233-6510. The public-comment period ends December 12, 2011.
For continual updates and ways you can take action and assist in the efforts to preserve New York State, go to Natural Resources Defense Council's website at For local support and information, the website is or call 845-482-8400.
Let us continue to work for justice to the seventh generation.