Guilderland bans hydrofracking

Few speak out against barring controversial drilling method

— According to the DEC, traditional hydraulic fracturing has been done in New York State since the 1950s, and consists of pumping hundreds of gallons of chemical-filled water and sand down a single well to break up the rock beneath. This allows the trapped gas to flow more readily to the surface. The newer method, often called horizontal hydraulic fracturing, allows for additional well arms to extend from the original well. This uses more water and chemicals but results in more gas.

The town’s new regulation states that natural gas exploration or extraction occurring within the town could “endanger the health, safety and welfare of town residents through the deposit of toxins into the air, soil, water environment, and the bodies of town residents,” so all related activities are prohibited. The regulation is meant to prevent “irreparable harm to the town’s water supply, pollution of the water, soil and air,” and prevent illnesses such as “cancer, lung disease and respiratory disease.”

Most people speaking at the public hearing were in favor of the ban.

John Whemple, chairman of the town’s Conservation Advisory Council, called on the board to protect the town’s “unique natural resources and sensitive environmental areas.”\

He said, “Negative impacts of hydrofracking may include increased traffic, noise, vibrations, damage to roadways … damage to and loss of agricultural lands and soils, as well as decreased recreational materials.”

Few people spoke out against the ban, but those who did spoke of a loss of rights for property owners to lease their lands and hypocrisy from residents who reap the benefits of natural gas, but do not want it happening in the area they live, according to Runion.

“Still, it was a unanimous decision by the board,” he said. “Ultimately, (the ban) passed to protect Guilderland residents.”

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