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DeWitt passes one-year moratorium on hydrofracking

The DeWitt Town Board unanimously passed a one-year moratorium on hydrofracking, a controversial process for drilling for natural gas, at its March 8 meeting. The resolution was enacted following a public hearing that attracted an audience of more than 75 people.

Municipalities can not restrict oil and gas exploration, said Supervisor Ed Michalenko, however, they can control and regulate areas that have to do with water consumption and road use. The moratorium will allow the board time to study its options as well as set up informational sessions.

Hydraulic fracturing, commonly known as hydrofracking, involves injecting water, sand and chemicals at high pressure down and across into horizontally drilled wells as far as 10,000 feet below the earth's surface. The pressurized mixture causes the rock layer to crack, releasing natural gas from the shale, which is then drawn up to the surface through the gas well.

Concerns include potential water contamination and consequential health risks associated with the process.

Environmentalists warn the public that allowing such techniques could leave residents with toxic drinking water and millions of gallons of untreatable wastewater.

There has been a heightened awareness on the pros and cons of hydrofracking since oil companies have taken an interest in the Utica Shale play, which reaches all corners of Upstate New York. Drilling could potentially affect Skaneateles Lake, a pure drinking water source for Central New York.

For the full story, check out the March 17 issue of the Eagle Bulletin.

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