NEW YORK—The governor is between a rock and a hard place—some would say, between big money and clean water.
On Saturday, Governor Paterson opened up what environmental advocacy groups are calling the “Paterson loophole” to companies wanting to expand their hydro-fracking activity. Hydraulic fracturing, or hydro-fracking, involves pumping a solution of water, sand, and a relatively small portion of toxic chemicals (0.5 percent) into the ground to bust through shale for the prized natural gas within. Many worry about contamination of the watershed that services all of New York City.
“The legislature can be proud of themselves,” declared State Senator Liz Krueger at a gathering in front of the governor’s office at 633 Third Ave. on Monday.
“We passed a moratorium [on fracking] through both the Assembly and the Senate. We hoped the governor would sign it. He didn’t, and that is a bit of a disappointment,” lamented Krueger.
Paterson vetoed legislation that would have put a moratorium on all forms of fracking, instead opting to issue an executive order that covered most forms of fracking but left a "loophole" for vertical drilling. The executive order places a moratorium on high-volume and horizontal fracking until July 2011.“Vertical drilling has been a fact in this State for 40 years without demonstrable environmental damage,” said Counsel to the Governor Peter Kiernan, in a statement. “Permitting for such drilling will continue unless the DEC's [Department of Environmental Conservation] comprehensive review requires it to be stopped.”
But others don’t agree.
As he held up a jug of brown cloudy water from his once pristine well, Craig Saunter of Dimick, Penn., declared that vertical drilling has its shortcomings too. A broken casing at the nearby well site led to the contamination of his water supply.
Actor and Sullivan County resident Mark Ruffalo spoke to Gov. Paterson Friday before he issued the executive order allowing for vertical drilling.
“It was a very good conversation,” said Ruffalo, “but I have to say, when the issue of vertical wells came up, he had no idea that the wells in Dimick that poisoned their water were vertical wells.”