USGS Links Fracking to Well Contamination; Judge Strikes Down Local Drilling ControlsOct 4th, 2012 | By fjgallagher | Category: Fracking, Lead Articles
Just days after a federal agency confirmed data linking hydraulic fracturing to water contamination, a New York State Supreme Court Judge struck down a local ordinance regulating the controversial natural gas drilling technique.
On Sept. 28, the United States Geological Survey (USGS) issued a report that unequivocally linked fracking activity to well water contamination in Wyoming. The report detailed the presence of sizable concentrations of methane, ethane, propane, diesel compounds and other substances used in the hydraulic fracturing process in water samples obtained from an aquifer near the town of Pavilion, Wyoming.
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The results reported by the USGS confirmed similar findings issued by the Environmental Protection Agency in December 2011, which showed that water samples from the area contained significant amounts of the same substances, all of which are used in the hydraulic fracturing process.
Four days later, on Oct. 2, New York State Supreme Court Judge Ferris Lebous issued a ruling that struck down the city of Binghamton, New York’s moratorium against fracking in that town.
From the decision:
In the matter before this court, Respondents have failed to provide any evidentiary proof that would provide a justification, based upon the health and safety of the community, for the banning of gas exploration, storage and extraction. Instead of proof, Respondents have provided only conclusions. Respondents have not explained how, if the activities banned by the law are such a grave threat, that threat vanishes on Dec. 31, 2013, when the law expires.
The Binghamton City Council approved the law on Dec. 21, 2011, and Binghamton Mayor Tom Ryan signed it into law the next day.
Tuesday’s decision overturns a local law that was groundbreaking in its own right.More than 100 municipalities across New York have passed measures to prevent mineral extraction within their borders. However, Binghamton’s moratorium represented the first locally enacted prohibition in the Southern Tier, which is largely considered to be the geological sweet spot for natural gas drilling should the state approve its regulations for hydrofracking and begin issuing permits.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is currently considering whether or not to lift a statewide ban on fracking.
You can read the entire New York Supreme Court decision here: NY State SupCt decision fracking local regs