The state of New York has some of the cleanest drinking water in the country, but natural gas drilling is threatening water resources there. At issue is whether drilling companies know enough about how to protect groundwater sources from contamination by a drilling procedure called "fracking," the term used for the hydraulic fracturing of rock formations to make them produce more gas. Citizens also doubt whether existing rules and regulations can assure drilling companies will do enough to protect water sources, and whether there are enough qualified staff people to enforce current and future drilling regulations. In the Gulf of Mexico, drilling technology outpaced the industry's knowledge of how to cap an out-of-control well and clean up an environmental disaster caused by drilling activities. Similar problems exist with the natural gas drilling. Increasingly, land owners report that exposure to fracking chemicals has made them sick and that fracking contaminated streams and drinking water wells on their property, rendering them unusable. Gas companies fight having to reveal the secret cocktail of chemicals that make up their proprietary "fracking fluids," and fracking was exempted from the national Safe Drinking Water Act during the George W. Bush Administration, so there is little help for citizens trying to stop drilling companies from using the procedure. A Web site called "Clean Water Not Dirty Drilling" is urging people to contact the New York State Senate to ask for a "time out" on drilling until more is known about how to make the activity safer.
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