State governments are hesitant to let miners go ahead with fracking.
Hydraulic fracturing is a fairly new drilling process that involves injecting large amounts of water mixed with chemicals and sand into shale deposits to release the natural gas trapped within.
The process of vertical fracturing has been used for a while on smaller shale deposits.
But the question of the environmental effects of fracking is weighing heavier upon the minds of government officials as the need for horizontal fracturing expands.
And this need is huge with the Marcellus Shale deposit.
The Marcellus Shale is a mammoth rock layer stretching from Ohio to Virginia and provides the jackpot when it comes to natural gas.
Unfortunately, the only way to tap into this enormous deposit is through horizontal hydraulic fracturing.
And with this arises huge controversial issues between the environmental idealists and the gas tycoons.
Will New York Say No?
The New York State government is pushing hard for a postponement on all fracking processes.
The State Assembly passed a year-long moratorium on hydraulic fracturing lasting until June 1, 2012.
The moratorium is currently awaiting approval in the Senate, and if it passes there it also requires the signature of Governor Andrew Cuomo.
A similar moratorium was reviewed last year and passed in the Senate but ultimately failed when it was vetoed by the governor at the time, David Paterson.
He did, however, impose a ban upon horizontal fracking, which poses more potential risks than vertical fracking.
The moratorium has its fair share of opponents and proponents.
Some fear if the moratorium is passed, it will create a huge deficit in the job market.
Some 4,500 people would lose their jobs if drilling were stopped for a year.
The fracking process accounts for over 90% of gas and oil drilling in New York.
And the natural gas obtained this way provides a huge amount of income for the state.
Some opponents claim the environmental risks are pretty exaggerated by those who want to stop fracking.
But the proponents beg to differ.
Those in favor of the plan don’t think it's worth the risk as long as there is no proof serious public risks don’t exist.
The proponents want a bit of time to study the process and its possible risk factors.
Horizontal fracking could contaminate water supplies and air with the chemicals used.
Health comes first, say some government officials. It’s not worth putting the public at serious health risks.
Maryland’s Moratorium Fails, But Studies Proceed
Maryland, following New York’s example, attempted to pass a two-year moratorium on fracking this year, but it failed in the Senate.
Instead, Governor Martin O’Malley has decided to issue an executive order requiring an in-depth study of the fracking process, specifically on the Marcellus Shale in Western Maryland.
The state has not yet issued any drilling permits, and this order will delay that even further.
This was prompted by complications experienced by other states attempting to drill into the Marcellus Shale.
There have been reports of fires, well blowouts, and spills, just to name a few. And of course there have been bits of evidence of water contamination.
The study will require a 3-report process.
On December 31, a report on the liabilities of drilling and influences on the environment is due. On August 1, 2012, the government will require a report on recommendations on how to most safely go about drilling. And on August 1, 2014, the final report will be due on anything else discovered about the fracking process.
Hopefully these reports and studies will help uncover any risks, as well as safe drilling measures.
No one wants health risks, but large amounts of natural gas right in our own backyard would certainly be nice.
That’s all for now,