DAILY NORTH SALEM: SEN. BALL SPEAKS OUT ON HYDROFRACKING

 

    by Katherine Pacchiana

    SOMERS, N.Y. – State Senator Greg Ball is expected to take his anti-hydrofracking message to the Westchester home of NY Governor Andrew Cuomo Monday with a planned news conference calling on the Governor to “protect New Yorkers from the potentially devastating effects of hydraulic fracturing.”  In his Oct. 13 appearance at the Somers Town Board meeting, State Sen. Greg Ballspoke heatedly about hydrofracking in New York State.

    The procedure of hydrofracking, usually shortened to “fracking,” involves breaking through a layer of stone or shale in order to reach fossil fuels such as petroleum or natural gas. A pressurized fluid is injected into the rock to create a channel to the hidden fuel.

    Fracking has become a controversial issue, generally because of chemicals said to be used in the fracturing fluid. “There are many different opinions, most of them diametrically opposed to each other,” Ball said.

    The state senator described his visit to Bradford County, Penn., where he said he personally witnessed some of the devastation that can be caused by irresponsible fracking. He described a farming family whose water had been so contaminated by runoff from the fracking procedure that their land completely lost its value. Animals had succumbed to the ground poisons by eating the grass, he said.

    Ball spoke of the unexpected issues that other states, such as Texas, Wyoming and Colorado, have had to deal with, because, “they did not ask the right questions ahead of time and did not get the right answers,” he said. “There are some real issues to be addressed here.”

    Ball referred to loopholes in the agreements that civic authorities have entered into, and said New York must foresee such loopholes. As an example, he cited the contractors’ claim of creating jobs.

    “Other states found that, in the end, workers were imported from elsewhere because they were already experienced,” Ball said. Sometimes the state or individual property owner has no recourse because “many of these companies are internationally owned.”

    When asked by an audience member, “Is there a future for fracking?” Ball responded, “I think we should do everything we can to protect the environment, the way other states have not. We need to protect private property owners, farmers, our water. We’ve got to make sure that companies are held responsible. I’ve introduced a bill to regulate the industry. But they are pushing to frack before we get the bill in place.”

    Ball added that he intends to ask Governor Andrew Cuomo “to do the responsible thing.”

    The fuel “has been in the ground since the beginning of time,” he said. “We can wait a little longer.”