Friday, April 30, 2010

Organic Farming Association Raises Concerns About Hydrofracking

An organic farming association has raised concerns about hydrofracking, a specific method of natural gas drilling that involves pumping millions of gallons of water, plus sand and chemicals, into wells to crack open rock and release the fossil fuel within.

"Overall, we're against drilling of any kind," says Lea Kone, assistant director of the Northeast Organic Farming Association of New York (NOFA-NY). Farming depends on clean water, soil, and air -- and anything that impacts those factors is a concern for farmers, she explains.

Water for hydrofracking can be drawn from aquifers, which are limited. "In theory, people's well water can be swallowed up," Kone says. "Landowners often don't realize that when they sign a lease, they sign away both their gas rights and their water rights, which can also affect their neighbors."

Plus, Kone adds, hydrofracking is specifically exempt from the Safe Drinking Water Act, despite the many chemicals used in the drilling process. Some of the chemical combinations have been described as "breathtakingly toxic" and "terrible environmental poisons" by one scientist working on the issue.

NOFA-NY specifically supports legislation that requires gas companies to reveal all drilling chemicals. Over the summer, legislation was introduced in Congress to control drilling and protect drinking water.

"We support HR 2766, FRAC Act (Fracing Awareness and Responsibility Act), which would repeal the exemption of hydraulic fracturing in the Safe Drinking Water Act, and require the public listing of all chemicals in hydraulic fracturing fluid."

Additionally, NOFA-NY supports "passage of state legislation that would require oil and gas drilling companies to report publicly all chemicals used to drill oil and gas wells, and how and where waste material and products are disposed of. We support the passage of state legislation that prohibits the use of water from acquifers for the purpose of oil and gas drilling or fracing."

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