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COMMENTARY
Open Letter to Governor Cuomo About Fracking

Added May 8, 2012.

Dear Governor Cuomo,



You have said that the science of hyrofracking will determine whether or not it will go forward in NYS. If you truly mean that, why did you not include money in your budget to complete a health study of the potential health effects of hydrofracking? By completely ignoring the science of how hydrofracking relates to the health of people, you are putting the people of this State at unknown risk. With this omission, your assertion that this budget puts the people of the State first is disingenuous.



As a landowner of hundreds acres of farm and forest land, the development of shale gas extraction here in Cortland County could bring many riches to my family and me. 


However, no amount of money can fully compensate for contamination of our groundwater, that of our neighbors, or that of our community. The groundwater in upstate NY is particularly susceptible to both surface spills and methane migration from gas drilling. In the 1970's, a salt brine lagoon of a DEC permitted gas well in the Cortland County Town of Harford spilled into a stream. That brine spill contaminated surface water, then groundwater, and then drinking water wells, over 3,000 feet away. Closing on 40 years later, that groundwater remains contaminated today. 



Methane can and does leak into the groundwater, not only during the drilling process, but also from outside the well casings, because a perfect seal between the outside of the casing and the ground layers cannot be attained. Over 60% of the wells tested in a Canadian study were found to be leaking outside the casing. No matter how many extra layers of casing DEC requires, it will not stop this outside the casings leakage of methane.



No amount of money can compensate for ill health effects. Ask anyone who has a progressive, unknown, or untreatable illness. As my husband, who has Parkinsons, answers in a heartbeat, the choice is health, not money. There are far too many unanswered questions and a lack of in-depth study of what the health effects will be of widespread shale gas drilling to not invoke the precautionary principle at this point in time. We don't really know, although there are many cases and mounting evidence from areas where shale gas extraction is in full swing that raise big red flags. First, we must do no harm. That can't happen by drilling first and researching later.



No amount of money can fully compensate when we leave thousands of abandoned wells, once they are no longer economical, that will leak methane into the air and groundwater, to negatively affect the lives of generations to come. Sooner or later all metal rusts and all concrete will fail.



No amount of money can fully compensate if we destabilize our foundation and trigger increased seismic activity and earthquakes. 



Why be in a rush and risk our water, our air, our health, and the viability and purity of our foodshed, for an energy commodity that is currently in oversupply and at historic low prices, with much of the gas destined to be exported to foreign countries?



I would rather work for my living, work in a beautiful, unspoiled, green region that is noted for its pristine, abundant water, rather than be handed a series of checks, profiting off the death of organisms from 400 millions years ago, now turned to gas. Given today's drilling techniques, the risks are too great that profiting from that gas will jeopardize the health and well being of my family, my neighbors, the greater community, and generations to come.



Because the SGEIS does not take into account the unique geology that makes our groundwater easily prone to contamination; because the SGEIS contains no comprehensive analysis of the cumulative impacts of a full natural gas build out; because the SGEIS contains no assessment of potential health impacts; because the SGEIS contains no plan for the disposal of millions upon millions of gallons of hazardous flowback fluid; because the SGEIS contains no analysis of the costs and negative consequences to governments, to communities, to agriculture, to tourism, to recreation; because; after because; after because; the list continues on. The SGEIS is far from complete and does not ensure our protection. Governor Cuomo, you must open your eyes and realize that science has NOT established that hydrofracking can be done safely. To ensure the protection of the people of this State and that of future generations, hydrofracking must not go forward at this time.

Kathie Arnold

Twin Oaks Dairy LLC

3175 State Route 13

Truxton, NY 13158