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Science-based decision-making on complex issues: Marcellus shale gas hydrofracking and New York City water supply

The clear outcome of this study is: Current analyses of hydrofracking for gas production are too narrowly focused on the local scientific and technical aspects, but political decision-making about fracking is based largely on other aspects besides science. That’s why the precautionary principle should be applied in such situations.
In the case of New York, where a decision is currently pending on whether to permit hydrofracking, the study concludes that a ban within the areas that supply the city’s water is appropriate.

Key findings:

  • Analyses of hydrofracking for natural gas production worldwide are too focused.
  • Energy benefits are great but so are environmental/public health liabilities.
  • Current dependence on even more damaging coal-fired power can be reduced.
  • Protecting watersheds for NYC and other municipality water supply is paramount.
  • Strengthening of regulation is needed for reducing potential adverse impacts.

Bibliography:
Timothy T. Eaton
Science-based decision-making on complex issues: Marcellus shale gas hydrofracking and New York City water supply
Received 21 January 2013, Revised 29 April 2013, Accepted 29 April 2013, Available online 27 May 2013

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