Wednesday, May 11, 2011

What the Frac?

If you've been following the news about natural gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale, you know one issue is "methane gas infiltrating groundwater."  A report published last week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, says household wells within a mile of drill sites are significantly more likely to yield water laced with methane.

The sticker reads: "This water is most likely safe. If you have any concerns about contamination due to hydraulic
fracturing, expose water to flame."  (Note: The restroom also had a prominent "No Smoking" sign.)
SlowBoat is in New York State this week. In contrast to Pennsylvania, where drilling activities are expanding rapidly, New York has a moratorium on gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale in place until July 2011. (The DEC has till June 1 to look into the issue in more detail, though the organization is not expected to meet that deadline.)

The issue is stirring passions, and here's what we spotted yesterday in a public restroom at Olana, a New York State Historic Site and the former home of the artist Frederic Church. These stickers have also been spotted in restrooms in New York City.

Though the stickers bear an accurate New York City DEP logo, they seem to be a hoax.  An article in the Wall Street journal quotes a representative of the Natural Resources Defense Council (which opposes fracking but does not claim responsibility for the stickers) as saying, "I wish I could claim that cleverness. I think the reason (the hoax is) so powerful is even though DEP didn't do it themselves, they echo the concerns that DEP and the city more broadly have."

(For some gorgeous Hudson River views, click HERE)

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