by Art Hunt
Hunt Country Vineyards has joined others in the Finger Lakes to actively oppose current proposals to extract natural gas in our area by “hydrofracking”.
Conventional drilling for natural gas in the Finger Lakes has been going on for generations. Most agree that this type of drilling is not too disruptive to the environment and that the risks to landowners and their neighbors is acceptable. The gas companies have made good profits over the years this way.
Recently, the gas companies want to use a controversial technique known as high-volume slick-water hydraulic fracturing or “hydrofracking” in the thin shallow Marcellus shale layer located under the Finger Lakes. This process involves horizontally drilling multiple wells in the shale layer from a main wellhead and injecting millions of gallons of water mixed with sand and chemicals, many of them toxic, into each well. Explosives and extremely high injection pressure pulverize the shale, which releases the gas. The process is risky, resulting in hundreds of unintended consequences such as blowouts, spills, fires, and poisoning of streams, wells, aquifers, soil and the air. The intense nature of the saturation drilling turns each area into a huge industrial site.
The Finger Lakes area is known for its pristine beauty, clean lakes and air and healthy agricultural environment. Consequently millions of visitors flock to the wineries, lakes, resorts and other attractions annually. With huge truckloads of water, sand, chemicals and equipment constantly on the move – thousands over the course of a year -- the roads and the environment will be degraded and tourism will suffer. More importantly, even one accident can permanently destroy the quality of the groundwater and lakes or the viability of the soil to produce healthy food, including grapes and wine. Other large areas where hydrofracking has been used are now becoming unsuitable for agriculture and largely unsuitable for people to live.
We have informed the New York State government that we feel it is unwise and unacceptable to allow hydrofracking in the Finger Lakes at this time.