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Environmental Prize Winner Opposes Fracking

Environmental Prize Winner Opposes Frackingi
Deborah Block
May 08, 2014 11:42 PM
This year’s North American Goldman Environmental Prize winner used legal means to ban hydraulic fracturing in parts of central New York state. Fracking, as it is known, is a controversial method to extract natural gas and other fossil fuels. Anti-fracking activists say the technique hurts the environment, while the petroleum industry maintains fracking is safe. VOA’s Deborah Block looks at both sides of the debate.
Deborah Block
This year’s North American Goldman Environmental Prize winner used legal means to ban hydraulic fracturing in parts of central New York state.

Fracking, as it is known, is a controversial method to extract natural gas and other fossil fuels. Anti-fracking activists say the technique hurts the environment, while the petroleum industry maintains fracking is safe. 

Goldman award winner Helen Slottje is a lawyer in a mostly rural area of New York with small towns. She’s against fracking, which involves deep drilling through shale rock and pumping down a pressurized mix of water and chemicals to release natural gas.   

Slottje volunteered to build a case against an industrial complex being constructed by a fracking company. While the company won the case, Slottje learned that local laws could stop fracking and she used that as a weapon to help ban fracking in several towns. Today, more towns in New York state have passed local laws prohibiting fracking.

Slottje’s crusade began after attending a local meeting, where she saw photos of destruction caused by fracking in nearby Pennsylvania.

“The chemical pits, with the drill cuttings and the flowback water, cleared tree areas, swaths of forests that were just clear-cut for pipelines, for well pads,” she said.

But Steve Everley, a spokesman for the education arm of the Independent Petroleum Association of America, says, although there are risks, they are manageable.

“Everything is safely managed through the multiple layers of steel casing and cement that goes into creating a well. You’ve got anywhere between five and seven layers that protect what’s inside the pipe from what’s outside of it.  I chiefly mean groundwater supplies,” he said.

But Slottje thinks fracking is harmful and says about one-third of the wells fail.

“These are our water supplies we’re talking about drilling through in large number.  And in addition, there are methane emissions, and emitting all of this methane, such a powerful greenhouse gas into the atmosphere, is very disruptive,” she said.

But Everley points out that studies have shown that fracking actually helps reduce carbon dioxide emissions. He says fracking should also continue because it provides jobs and energy security. Slottje, however, says fracking should be stopped permanently.

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Comment Sorting
by: Maeda Atsukoh from: AKB, TKO
May 04, 2014 7:17 PM
If you say stop tracking, you should stop using energy that produced by these technologies and go back to the old life using woods for energy !

May 04, 2014 12:23 PM
Carry on, Stottje! I hear the US national economy builds up energy supply from renewable sources one per cent annually under Barack Obama. Carry on! This is the right way for the whole humanity. As for jobs: Those who think fracking provides good jobs, – it’s over the left: it provides junk jobs only. Those who still are deluded, mind the Russia and other mining economies’ example please: the prevailing extractive industries establish the extremely low wages-background in the whole mining economy. Oil and gas profits flow even past those workers who work at the rigs. Simple labor is always low-paid! And under this low-wages background, even the programmers and engineers with car-making companies are underpaid in the country, even though the Russian government does have the good will to buoy up the common-people wages. Sure, extractive industries in the US are far from creating the wages background in the whole economy, and yet they pose danger even here.
Still one thing: people are still better then they are commonly thought. A car powered by the rooftop solar panel is going to be pretty expensive as yet. And yet it poses a yam-yam even for a common employee: BECAUSE IT DOES NOT SPOIL THIS PLANET. Believe me, it’s not a joke. It’s still one catalyst for this national economy, or it’s going to be the one soon.

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