Monday, Jul 28, 2014 10:34 pm est

Open hydrofracking laws must pass

Posted on February 19, 2013 | by Raquel Woodruff

The hydraulic fracturing decision in New York has been delayed yet again due to remaining uncertainty regarding the potential health risks of gas drilling. While the media has sensationalized the strong public anti-fracking response, an energy poll weighted using U.S. Census Bureau figures and conducted by the University of Texas at Austin revealed that 62 percent of survey participants did not even know what hydrofracking was.

Hydraulic fracturing is an advanced method of extracting natural gas from layers of shale rock buried up to 10,000 feet below the surface. The rock formations are blasted with water, sand and chemicals so that fissures are created and gas is released.

So what does this mean? Well, it means the most efficient domestic development of natural gas America has ever seen. It means a dramatic reduction in foreign fuel imports, which means more federal revenue. It means a significant decrease in dependency on foreign oil, which means more jobs in the United States. It means a cleaner alternative to coal and oil. It means cutting carbon dioxide emissions in the looming shadow of climate change. It means access to enough resources to heat homes in the United States for 857 years.

Given the information available to us, the benefits of fracking far outweigh public health concerns. While there has been evidence of water contamination, Syracuse University hydrology professor Donald Siegel agrees that accidents are a minimal risk.

“In every basin, there might be one or two accidents out of tens of thousands of wells,” he said.

Even the New York Health Department believes that human exposure to chemicals due to hydrofracking poses little or no danger. While these affirmations are vague, look toward Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper — such a firm believer in its safety that he actually drank fracking fluid.

Now, I’m not saying the health risks gas drilling poses are not legitimate or do not need to be addressed. In fact, I believe the best way to minimize environmental harm and make natural gas production safer is through more regulation. No more exemptions for gas and oil industries, as in the Energy Policy Act of 2005. No more loopholes and trade secrets. It’s time for comprehensive federal legislation on energy policy starting with the cleanest fossil fuel accessible to us: natural gas.

Hydrofracking has opened the door to the most effective natural gas development the world has ever realized. Stopping it is not the answer to a better environment. Sufficient regulation and safer procedures extended by the federal government on gas and oil companies are the next steps the United States should take in order to ensure economic growth and increased domestic energy production.


A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, Feb. 19 print edition. Raquel Woodruff is deputy opinion editor. Email her at


  • Megan

    While this is a great piece of writing, your claim that hydraulic fracturing is a “clean” alternative to coal and oil is just false. Hydrofracking releases a huge amount of methane into the atmosphere, another very invasive greenhouse gas that actually has a greater ability to absorb heat than does carbon, we just have less of it in the air as of now in parts per million. Transitioning from a dependence on oil to a dependence on natural gas is not a solution, but a distraction.

  • Matt

    Fracking uses an immense amount of water that is potentially lost forever. Some of the chemicals used are not regulated. In PA last year over 4 million dollars were set aside for residents to bring in water after their wells were contaminated. Hydrofracking is economically viable but it is not environmentally sound or socially just.

  • Ti

    Fluff article that didn’t really get to the facts. The consequences listed are downplayed enough to be seen as propaganda. Moreover, natural gas as “clean energy” is debatable. While it may burn cleaner, the process to extract can make it even more dirty than coal.
    This article doesn’t add anything to the debate that a simple google search couldn’t pull up.
    Disclaimer: I’m not 100% for/against hydrofracturing -it has it’s pros & cons. I just think this article did a poor job…

  • Victor Corcino (uncle vic)

    Good article Im really impressed with your work

  • Gayle Drive

    Like all technology a balance must be realized between the benifits of hydrofracking and the potential harm. Industries must be responsible and share (taxes) a small portion of their profits.

profile portrait
Felipe De La Hoz

Multimedia Editor | Felipe De La Hoz is a Colombian national studying journalism at the College of Arts and Sciences. Having been born in Colombia and raised in the United States, Mexico and Brazil, Felipe is a trilingual travel aficionado and enjoys working in varied and difficult environments. Apart from his photography, Felipe enjoys investigative reporting and interviews, interviewing the likes of Colombian ex-M-19 guerrilla fighters and controversial politician Jimmy McMillan. He has covered everything from governmental conferences to full-blown riots, as well as portraiture shoots and dining photography. Having worked under Brazilian photojournalists for Reuters and AFP, Felipe hopes to one day work on demanding journalistic projects and contribute to the global news cycle.

Ann Schmidt

News Editor | Ann is a liberal studies sophomore who lived in Florence during her freshman year. She plans on double-majoring in journalism and political science and is always busy. She is constantly making lists and she loves to laugh.


Daniel Yeom

Daniel started at the Features desk of WSN last Spring, writing restaurant reviews whilst indulging on free food and consequently getting fat. Last Fall, he was the dining editor, and he this semester he is senior editor. Daniel is in Gallatin (living the dream) studying Food & Travel Narratives, incorporating aspects of Food Studies, Journalism, and Media, Culture, and Communication. He loves food more than life itself.

Hannah Luu

Deputy Multimedia Editor | Hannah Luu is a ridiculously great Deputy Multimedia Editor. She is a sophomore from Northern California. If you think Northern California means San Francisco you might need to closely examine a map. She is passionate about NPR and being half Asian.

  • How to join:

    The Washington Square News holds open weekly budget meetings at its office located at 838 Broadway every Sunday. All are welcome to attend, no matter your background in journalism, writing, or reporting. Specific times for meetings by desk are listed below. If you wish to talk to an editor before you attend, feel free to check out the Staff page.

    5 P.M. 6 P.M. 6 P.M. 6:30 P.M. 6:30 P.M. 7 P.M.

    Applying for an editor position: Applications for editor positions during the fall or spring semesters are available twice each academic year and can be found here when posted. Applications for the Fall 2012 semester are closed, but check back for Spring 2013. Those who wish to apply are urged to publish pieces in the newspaper and contact current editors for shadowing.

    History of the Washington Square News:

    The Washington Square News is the official daily student newspaper of New York University and serves the NYU, Greenwich Village, and East Village communities. Founded as an independent newspaper in 1973, the WSN allows its undergraduate writers and photographers to cover campus and city news and continues to grow its strong body of award-winning journalists and photographers.

  • The WSN has a circulation of about 60,000 and can be found in over a hundred purple bins distributed throughout campus. It is published Monday through Thursday during the fall and spring semesters and online on Friday, with additional special issues published in the summer. The newspaper recently revamped its website during the Fall 2012 semester.

    Like few campus newspapers in the country, the paper is editorially and financially independent from the university and is solely responsible for selling advertisements to fund its production. The WSN, including its senior staff, is run solely by current undergraduate students and the business-division is largely student-operated as well.

    A Board of Directors comprised of alumni, NYU professors and working news media professionals serves as advisors to the paper. Board members have no control in the WSN's editorial policy or newsroom operations. Alumni of the newspaper are established and leading journalists in such news organizations as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, NBC news, ABC news, Fox News, and USA Today.