Thursday, December 22, 2011

"Most likely safe" is hardly a reassuring phrase—especially when it's

 COMMENT: See Gasland, by director Josh Fox!


Official-looking stickers offering that cold comfort have been appearing above public faucets around New York in an apparent effort to stoke opposition to a controversial form of natural-gas drilling.

The stickers bear a city Department of Environmental Protection logo, the words "Safe to drink" in capital letters and a drawing of someone holding a match to a dripping spigot. They urge drinkers to "expose water to flame" if they're concerned about contamination from hydraulic fracturing.

Hydraulic fracturing involves shooting water and chemicals into the ground in order to extract natural gas. Parts of upstate and western New York sit atop one of the nation's largest natural-gas deposits, but the procedure is prohibited under a moratorium issued by former Gov. David Paterson. The ban expires this summer, and the state is considering allowing the procedure. Many environmental groups and the city oppose the move out of concern that it could contaminate the city's drinking water, which comes from upstate.

Drilling advocates dismiss those concerns, especially the idea that hydraulic fracturing might make drinking water flammable.

Lighting water on fire "is a parlor trick that really has nothing to do with hydraulic fracturing," said Jim Smith, a spokesman for the Independent Oil and Gas Association of New York State. Instead, he said, it's caused by naturally occurring methane that gets into some water supplies regardless of whether there's nearby drilling...continued.....