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N.Y. appoints geologist with ties to fracking

New York’s selection of a geologist with industry ties for a study on the potential link between hydraulic fracturing and earthquakes has both environmentalists and government watchdogs concerned, according to a Bloomberg article.

The state’s Department of Environmental Conservation chose Robert Jacobi, a University at Buffalo professor who has advised drillers for two decades, to lead the seismology study as part of its environmental review of hydraulic fracturing.

The controversial drilling process, commonly known as “fracking,” involves pumping millions of gallons of chemically treated water deep underground to break up subterranean rock formations and release natural gas. The process is taking place along the Marcellus Shale, which is a gas-rich underground rock formation that extends into Pennsylvania, New York, Ohio and West Virginia.

New York has banned fracking as it studies its effects on the environment and develops regulations. Environmentalists are concerned over a number of potential environmental hazards, including the release of the carcinogenic chemical benzene into drinking water supplies.

The Bloomberg story quotes Kevin Connor, director of the Public Accountability Initiative, a Buffalo-based group that studies ties between business and government, as saying that Jacobi’s selection “raises questions about whether the DEC is just following the lead of industry on this or is taking their work seriously.”

Governor Andrew Cuomo previously raised concerns about conflict of interest when he appointed a firm that helps companies secure permits for pipeline and gas-storage projects to conduct a 2011 study on the economic effects of fracking.

Lopez McHugh is investigating injuries related to natural gas extraction in the Marcellus Shale natural gas reserve. If you have significant injuries, contact a Lopez McHugh attorney for a free evaluation.

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