POTSDAM Julia Walsh, New Paltz, is a fast talker but it was her water bottle that spoke volumes Wednesday afternoon.
Ms. Walsh, founder of Frack Action, was preparing to deliver What the Frack?, an anti-fracking presentation, at Clarkson University with a bottle of murky water at her side, its rust-colored sediment rising and falling every time her table moved.
Its contaminated with uranium, and a lot of other stuff, she said. I couldnt possibly name them all off the top of my head.
Fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, is a method used to access natural gas deposits by injecting water, sand and additives into the ground. The method could unlock more than a billion dollars in tax revenue for New York, but a moratorium on drilling wells persists because of uncertainties over the health and environmental costs of the process.
Ms. Walshs visit was organized by the student club SPECTRUM as part of an effort to bring different perspectives to campus, said Lorraine Njoki, club president.
We wanted to bring this perspective to students so they know whats out there, she said. Not everybody thinks its bad; not everybody thinks its good.
Ms. Walsh said Clarksons young entrepreneurs should be moved by the lack of economic data proving frackings benefits.
One of the key facts, from an economic perspective, is that the New York state Department of Environmental Conservation never did a cost-benefit analysis, she said.
The states delay in lifting the moratorium should give time for Gov. Andrew M. Cuomos administration to review studies that suggest, among other hazards, fracking could release radioactive material in New Yorks Marcellus Shale natural gas formation, Ms. Walsh said.
Im sure if he is looking at these studies, he will take a serious step back, she said. One of the interesting things about the Marcellus Shale is that it is 70 times more radioactive than any other shale layer.
The contaminated water at her side, from a tap in Dimock, Pa., illustrated another fracking hazard water contamination.
One of the things that concerns me is that we do not have a great idea of how our aquifers work, she said. Were definitely one state; whatever happens in one part will have an effect throughout the state.
Because of that, Ms. Walsh said, action on fracking must be taken at the state level.
As a former and retired local elected official, I can say that decision-making on the local level will not work, she said. Water does not stay within local boundaries. A municipality whose budget is chump change compared to these large energy conglomerates cant possibly avoid being influenced, and the gas industry has definitely been influencing politics and elections.
The way forward is clear, Ms. Walsh said.
The way New York can lead the nation should be with renewable energy, she said.
For Ms. Njoki, the matter requires more study and information.
Hydrofracking is a big deal. It could bring in a lot of income, but there are also health and environmental effects that arent clear at this point, she said. Somebody needs to figure out the numbers.