The Fracking Debate is Blowing Up….And So Could The West Village

Houston-based gas company Spectra Energy has proposed building a high-pressure natural gas pipeline that would run through the tri-state area, including through Linden, Bayonne, Staten Island, Jersey City, the Hudson River, and entering Manhattan through the West Village.

The proposal includes a storage tank to be placed near The Highline, a park in the New York City that brings in millions annually in tourist dollars for the city (and a favorite hangout of some CEH staff and board).

The potential for a pipeline explosion presents a serious threat to surrounding communities.  Computer simulations of an explosion in the pipelines have indicated that the effects would be catastrophic.

Yet another concern is that the pipeline is a gateway to a dangerous method of natural gas extraction called hydraulic fracturing or “fracking.” Fracking involves pumping millions of gallons of water, sand, and chemicals underground, causing a mini-earthquake in order to release trapped natural gas deposits. The goal of the pipeline is to bring natural gas to the area to meet the tri-state’s energy needs.  In order to get enough gas, natural gas companies will need to frack in order to meet the demand.

Fracking will lead to a high risk of groundwater contamination that could effect nearly 19 million residents in the Tri-State area, since the chemicals used as “fracking fluid” are highly toxic and deadly.  In a study by the Congressional Committee on Energy and Commerce, 29 of the chemicals in fracking fluid are listed as possible carcinogens, regulated under the Safe Drinking Water Act, or listed as pollutants under the Clean Air Act.

The pipeline is one of many efforts by the natural gas industry to expand fracking.  Already, a $1.4 billion dollar power plant has been approved in Astoria, a neighborhood of Queens.  Advocates of natural gas call it the “transition fuel” to renewable energy. But let’s be real, a $1.4 billion dollar power plant is hardly an investment that is transitional. Why would we pour billions of dollars into setting up a natural gas infrastructure with power plants and pipelines if it were only supposed to be transitional?   It seems like a large investment for something that is designed to eventually end.  Instead, let’s invest in renewable energy right now.

Even shadier, some investors of natural gas like T. Boone Pickens encourage the sale and subsidies of natural gas vehicles to companies like UPS in order to drive up demand.   The objective is to get more natural gas vehicles on the road so that companies will need more natural gas.  This will drive up the demand for natural gas, which will be used to justify fracking.

Right now, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) is reviewing the pipeline proposal and an Environmental Impact Statement is being prepared.  Get involved and tell your officials that we don’t need or want the pipeline and the toxic

fracking fuels it will bring to New York. Demand a full disclosure of

the chemicals use in fracking and a study of their impacts on human health

and the environment before the toothpaste comes out of the tube.  Visit and contact these officials:

Don’t let them pass gas.

If you haven’t seen the movie Gasland yet, you need too.  Unfortunately, this method of natural gas extraction is happening, but hasn’t yet been properly studied for its impact on human health and the environment.

*See the bill on natural gas vehicles called HR 1380: New Alternative Transportation Americans Solution Act of 2011.