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Drilling image courtesy of Shutterstock

Large-scale environmental issues are not always considered appropriate subject matter in the garden blogging world, but I’ve never been able to see the reason.  Going from discussing the use of chemical solutions in a domestic landscape to the use of chemical solutions injected at high pressure in a rural landscape does not seem an illogical progression to me. What we do to the land—at any level and in any amount—matters. Recently, the trend in gardening has been to do as little as possible.

Like many New Yorkers (not all, for sure), I was pleased and relieved when Governor Andrew Cuomo made a six-year moratorium on fracking into a permanent ban last Wednesday, citing the long-awaited results of the state’s public health review.

The report is lengthy, but, in a nutshell, the concerns include respiratory problems, drinking water issues, seismic activity, soil contamination, general noise and disturbance, and general health complaints.  There is much that is not conclusive, but that’s just it. There are too many unknowns and not enough comprehensive studies of the long-term effects of injecting water and chemicals into the Marcellus shale for natural gas extraction. While many other states seem more than happy to accept the unknowns and the risks, I’m glad that New York is not. And it’s already been banned at the local level in 63% of the communities where it’s possible.

I’ve seen plenty of images of what fracking looks like in a rural community, and I’ve read as many stories of fracking gone awry. The most recent incident caused an evacuation near Columbus, Ohio after a well exploded—residents still don’t know if they can come home for Christmas.

There are farmers who want the opportunity to lease to drilling operations. There are also farmers, winemakers, microbreweries, distilleries, and other small producers who rely on clean water. I visited winemakers in the Finger Lakes who were dreading the effect fracking could have on their scenery as much as their groundwater.

They, and many others, have extra reasons to raise their glasses this week.

Posted by

Elizabeth Licata
on December 23, 2014 at 9:14 am, in the category Gardening on the Planet.

7 Comments

  1. I live in ohio where our governor is a “Drill, baby drill” type of guy. Local government regulations mean nothing.
    New York state’s ban on fracking really really pisses me off. New York is perfectly happy to benefit from the cheap natural gas they are getting from ohio and pa. I read an article how NYC buildings have converted from fuel oil to natural gas and their air is is much cleaner and they are saving so much money).
    So New York benefits at the expense of their rural neighbors to the west. But who cares about a bunch of Appalachian hill jacks as long as we get clean natural gas in New York? And don’t bring up acid rain because ohio’s coalfired power plants are closing or adding $$$ improvements. But we still get all the east coast garbage. Oh wait, I’m going off on a rant tangent, I just think if you don’t allow drilling you shouldn’t get any of the fracking products. Grrrr.

  2. Tibs, if I knew 15 years ago what I know now, I wouldn’t have bought this house I love, along with its natural gas heating, water tank, and decorative fireplace. I’m looking for a local outfit that will replace my central heating with an electric one; the water heater is easy. The fireplace, well, if I can get the gas company to just shut of my line altogether, then I can probably replace it with one of those electric fake fires. Fossil fuels are killing us all, even if we export the source to China – or the American West.

  3. Fine. So let’s outlaw fracking nationally. Then watch the price of energy triple while we send all our dollars to oppressive governments in oil producing countries that don’t give a rip about the environment. And while we are at it, watch the use of coal go back up because it is a lot cheaper to use than imported oil, or now less-available natural gas.
    But don’t add wind power because the turbines kill birds and don’t look so nice on the horizon. And don’t even think about nuclear power. Then there’s always solar, though have you seen the list of toxins used in those things….

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