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Fracking Gone Wrong: Finding a Better Way

Residents rally outside Berkeley City Hall to show opposition to a proposed crude by rail project.

Is volatile crude oil coming by rail to a town near me? For weeks, I’ve been asking myself that question as I kept hearing about the skyrocketing number of trains that are transporting potentially explosive types of crude throughout the U.S. to East and West Coast export facilities.

And I’m not alone.

Deborah Cipolla-Dennis, of Dryden, NY.

This guest blog post was written by Deborah Cipolla-Dennis, a resident of Dryden, NY, and member of the Dryden Resources Awareness Coalition.

Along with her neighbors, she helped pass one of the first local fracking bans in New York State.

What does my 14,000-person rural town in upstate New York have in common with Los Angeles, one of the country’s largest metropolitan areas?

With severe drought conditions predicted for winter, California's Gov. Brown is demanding that state agencies immediately scale back water consumption, while urging Californians to reduce water use by 20 percent. Yet, contrary to enforcing water conservation, Brown recently gave the ‘green light’ to fracking California’s Monterey Shale—a process that consumes vast quantities of water.

The town of Dryden, NY has earned a spot in the national conversation about fracking.

The town’s story of fighting back against the fracking industry—and winning—was spotlighted on MSNBC’s Melissa Harris Perry Show this weekend.

With her friends and neighbors at home cheering her on, Dryden resident Deborah Cipolla-Dennis made the trek from her quiet rural home to Rockefeller Center in mid-town Manhattan to share the town’s story.

A while back, I was invited to a D.C. elementary school to watch 5th graders deliver a presentation about drinking water.

These students were proposing a “Water Bill of Rights” stating that people have the right to know what’s in their groundwater and that it’s safe to drink. Sounds like a good idea to me.

Avoiding alcohol and caffeine are standard recommendations for a pregnant women. No surprise there! The simple and effective way of keeping infants safe is stripping the environment toxins that cause low birth weight, birth defects, respiratory problems, cancer and fertility problems. Yet the most common substances used to frack for natural gas are cancer-causing agents.

The technological advance of horizontal drilling was a game changer for the oil and gas industry. When oil and natural gas were previously being harvested, vertical drilling was the only way to extract the fossil fuel. With horizontal drilling, wells can now be fracked and re-fracked, at different depths and in all directions. By increasing the area of exploration for natural gas, many previously untouched landscapes are now being scarred due to the fracking boom.

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