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WCBS 880 Presents ‘Living Green’ – Episode 3: To Frack Or Not To Frack In New York

(file / credit: MLADEN ANTONOV/AFP/Getty Images)

(file / credit: MLADEN ANTONOV/AFP/Getty Images)

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This special “Living Green” series will continue through Friday, April 27. Stay tuned to WCBS 880 and check back on CBSNewYork.com for the latest installments throughout the week. If you missed Tuesday’s piece, click HERE.

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) - New York is considering allowing hydraulic fracturing in the Catskills. “Fracking,” as it is known, is a controversial method of drilling for natural gas beneath shale rock.

The promise is clean energy, reported WCBS 880’s Wayne Cabot.

But getting to it is rather violent, Jeff Titel of the Sierra Club of New Jersey told Cabot.

WCBS 880’s Wayne Cabot On The Story

“Fracking is an underground explosion where you’re forcing water under pressure with a lot of chemicals in it to actually act like dynamite, and break rock so that you could get the gas out,” said Titel.

Titel said that the process has consequences.

“The rock itself will keep splitting, and allow a lot of those toxic chemicals to get up into the drinking water areas, into the aquifer, or even out into streams.”

Titel said that it has happened may times. “Not only can’t [you] drink the water, but in some places you turn on your faucet with a match, it turns into a tiki torch,” said Titel.

Cabot posed some of the concerns about fracking to Mike Paque, Executive Director at the industry-sponsored Groundwater Protection Council.

“We want to know what is happening when there is hydraulic fracturing going on. People have concerns about the different chemicals being used, and you have to admit, there are some good reasons to be concerned about the chemicals that are used, right?” Cabot asked.

“We do acknowledge that there can be problems in oil gas production, and that’s why we regulate,” said Paque. “There are surface spills and there are some conditions when cementing and casing aren’t up to speed, and again, that’s why we have state regulations. It’s important for the public to know that that actual physical act of fracturing is a mile and a half, two miles underground, has never been found to contaminate groundwater.”

Cabot wanted to know what is done with the chemical-filled water used for the actual fracturing procedure when it’s complete.

“There’s a trend in the industry to recycle and reuse it. There’s also the option of underground injection, where water is put underground in deep formations,” answered Paque.

When Cabot pointed out that some people might be scared to hear about the chemical-filled water being buried deep underground, Paque said, “Well, I mean, I can relate to that concern, but companies have been doing that for 60 and 70 years, and we haven’t seen any significant problems at all.”

Just last week, the Environmental Protection Agency announced rules forcing gas companies to capture the toxic air that is released from fracking. Water storage remains an issue, to the point that environmental activist Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. no longer supports it in New York.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has said he supports fracking, and the estimated 50,000 jobs he said it would create.

Where do you stand on the issue of fracking? Sound off in the comments section below.