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Drilling done with care

Hydraulic fracturing methods being misunderstood


As the New York Department of Environmental Conservation continues a comprehensive review of the permitting process for natural gas exploration in certain regions of our state, the public has been subjected to much misinformation regarding potential environmental impacts, particularly on water quality and quantity. Let me set the record straight, from the perspective of New York's decades-old oil and gas professionals.
The men and women in our industry fully understand the public's concerns about how the process of extracting natural gas might impact our natural resources. At issue is the hydraulic fracturing process, which involves injecting a solution, consisting primarily of water, under high pressure into the shale deposit formation thousands of feet below the ground and fresh water aquifers.
This process causes the rock to break, which allows the trapped natural gas to be released into a contained system. This same hydraulic fracturing process has been performed safely and successfully in New York for decades, and there are about 13,000 active wells in New York today. Companies that operate here have exemplary safety and environmental records.
The fluid used in hydraulic fracturing is 99.5 percent water and sand. The remaining 0.5 percent contains a friction reducer, similar to canola oil, which thickens the fluid, and a bactericide, like chlorine, which is used the same way chlorine is used to purify municipal drinking water. The fluid also contains a 0.1 percent portion of a micro-emulsion element similar to those found in personal care products, such as shampoos. It's important to note that all additives will be disclosed to the DEC prior to any company being issued a permit for drilling.
The water used during the fracturing process will not come in contact with well water or fresh water aquifers; all the fracturing fluids are encased in cement and steel. The water that returns to the surface after the fracturing process is collected and transported to approved treatment facilities.

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