Hydrofracking – the use of water and chemicals pumped into the ground at high pressure to release natural gas in the underlying rock – would be banned in Saugerties if Gov. Andrew Cuomo heeds the town’s plea to include it in a partial state ban.
The Town Board voted at its meeting on Wednesday, July 13 to petition Cuomo and the state Department of Environmental Conservation “to forthrightly act to protect the water resources of the Blue Mountain Reservoir by prohibiting the use of hydrofracking or any similar technology for the purpose of extracting natural gas resources from the shale resources underlying the town of Saugerties and the watershed of the Blue Mountain reservoir.”
Supervisor Greg Helsmoortel noted that Cuomo has banned hydrofracking on state land and in areas where it could endanger water supplies for New York City. “We depend on our reservoirs, and we don’t want to endanger our water supplies,” Helsmoortel said, citing the reports of disasters when chemicals escaped into local water supplies in other parts of the country.
“If someone can prove to us that it is safe, we would reconsider, but there’s an awful lot of evidence that it isn’t safe.”
The petition notes that hydrofracking has gained attention as an alternative means of assuring energy self-sufficiently. It describes the process as involving “the use of a high pressure water and chemical mix injected potentially thousands of feet into the earth to break or fracture shale layers, thereby releasing the natural gas for harvesting by the hydrofracking companies.”