Paul Hetzler, an environmental engineering technician with NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Region 5 says hydraulic fracturing – as it’s practiced today – will contaminate our aquifers. Not might. Will.
In a letter to the Watertown Daily Times Hetzler criticizes current technology. “If you were looking for a way to poison the drinking water supply, here in the Northeast you couldn’t find a more chillingly effective and thorough method of doing so than with hydraulic fracturing,” he writes. “There’s no such thing as a perfect well seal. Occasionally sooner, often later, well seals can and do fail, period.”
And that failure, when it happens, will be expensive. Everyone, regardless of whether they are receiving royalties or living miles away, will end up paying for the subsurface investigations, whole-house filtration systems and unending lab analyses as industry lawyers tie up complaints in courts.
“I’d love to see hundreds more jobs created,” Hetzler writes. “But not if it means hundreds of thousands using well water will be at a high risk of contamination.” The solution? Develop safe technologies before drilling.
Hetzler isn’t the only DEC staffer to speak out against the agency’s current – and proposed – fracking regulations. At the November 30 DEC hearing in New York City Stephanie Low read a statement from DEC employee Wayne Bayer. Bayer is an Environmental Program Specialist and Executive Board member of the DE’'s union, the Public Employees Federation (PEF). He speaks for the 1774 members of the professional, technical and scientific staff of the DEC – those on the ground, he says, who know the issues of fracking and the draft SGEIS best.
“The 25 percent reduction in existing staff at DEC has crippled our ability to carry out all existing regulatory and statutory responsibilities assigned to our agency,” Bayer states. “There is no fracking way we can presently, honestly and adequately add any new responsibility as labor-intensive as regulating, monitoring and inspection activities related to high volume hydraulic fracturing of natural gas.” Until DEC can hire adequate staff … “the moratorium should be extended.” You can hear the entire statement here.