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02/26/2013

Fans of fracking

Not everyone hates fracking, it seems.

Some people in Binghamton, N.Y., have been waiting for years for natural gas exploration to change their lives for the better, reports The Associated Press.

One resident, Kimberly More, was quoted as saying that leasing her 68 hectare property to a drilling company could bring an upfront bonus of nearly half a million dollars, plus a monthly royalty when the gas starts to flow. The money would be enough to pay for a new house, a new barn and her own riding business.

Others are hoping to pay off debts and buy new equipment for their farms.

But those dreams are languishing on whether the state should allow fracking or not.

Fracking is the technique of extracting natural gas from the deep underground. It involves injecting millions of litres of water and thousands of litres of chemicals underground at a very high pressure to create fractures in shale rock formations to extract previously inaccessible natural gas.

It’s a controversial technique: observers say not much is known about what fracking does to the air. What its health effects on people living around the wells are. And is too much water being used?

A documentary by Regina-based Leif Kaldor explored the different sides of fracking and discovered U.S. towns where those who live next to gas wells have food allergies and intestinal problems.  Shattered Ground also delved into how much water the technology needed: an average well takes about four to eight millions gallons of water to drill and frack.

But when hundreds of thousands of dollars are involved, some concerns tend to get overlooked.

The AP story says New Yorkers have watched neighbouring states like Ohio, West Virginia and Pennsylvania “ride the fracking boom.”

Raveena Aulakh is the Toronto Star's environment reporter. She is intrigued by climate change and its impact, now and long-term. Follow her on Twitter @raveenaaulakh

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