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Page added on November 28, 2009

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At Odds Over Land, Money and Gas

In New York City, natural gas exploration is largely seen as a threat to the drinking water the city gets from watersheds to the north in the Catskills. But in the rural communities above the shale, the reaction has been far more mixed

In some cases, the issue has pitted neighbor against neighbor or spouse against spouse.

Exploring the shale involves a drilling method called hydraulic fracturing that requires pumping huge volumes of water laced with benzene and other chemicals into the rock to break it and extract gas. The process raises issues about the use and disposal of wastewater, and the danger of leaks, spills and other contamination. It has been linked to contamination of water wells in Pennsylvania and Wyoming and to the death of livestock in Louisiana.

Mark Dunau, an organic vegetable farmer with 50 acres in the town of Hancock in Delaware County, says he is passing up any potential rewards from drilling because of worries about the pollution of water and air and the cumulative impact of thousands of wells.



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