As Governor Cuomo continues to mull over the current statewide moratorium on hydraulic fracturing, some disturbing fracking-related news has come out of Pennsylvania: fracking has contaminated private drinking wells a previously undisclosed 243 times over six years, according to the state's Department of Environmental Protection.
The Associated Press reported this week that the 243 cases were reported between 2008 and 2014, thanks to the DEP's "thorough review" of statewide files [pdf]. Contamination ran the gamut from wastewater spills to methane gas contamination to wells running dry.
The DEP has reportedly thus far failed to inform Pennsylvanians about contaminated private wells, spring water and ground water. In April, the agency filed a 40-page court brief alleging that it was not in their "practice" to tell the public where and when their water was rendered undrinkable, even though over 20 percent of the population uses private water. The Marcellus Shale Coalition, the state's top drilling industry trade group, claims the contamination is caused in part by Pennsylvania's "longstanding water well-related challenges, a function of our region's unique geology," and not necessarily by drilling.
Pennsylvania's natural gas drilling operations have been focused in the Marcellus Shale, which also runs underneath New York and Ohio. Though Cuomo still hasn't made a decision about lifting New York's fracking ban, in June the state ruled that cities and towns can individually use zoning laws to keep fracking out of their areas.
On Wednesday, Zephyr Teachout, who is running against Cuomo in the upcoming Democratic gubernatorial primary, visited a hydraulic fracturing facility in Pennsylvania with her running mate, Timothy Wu. "It poisons our soil," she told reporters of fracking. "And as F.D.R. said, 'A nation that poisons its soil poisons itself.'"