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Tribal advocates keep up legal pressure for fair political maps; 12-member jury sworn in for Trump's historic criminal trial; the importance of healthcare decision planning; and a debt dilemma: poll shows how many people wrestle with college costs.

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Civil rights activists say a court ruling could end the right to protest in three southern states, a federal judge lets January 6th lawsuits proceed against former President Trump, and police arrest dozens at a Columbia University Gaza protest.

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Rural Wyoming needs more vocational teachers to sustain its workforce pipeline, Ohio environmental advocates fear harm from a proposal to open 40-thousand forest acres to fracking and rural communities build bike trail systems to promote nature, boost the economy.

New Threats to NY Drinking Water?

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Monday, April 25, 2011   

NEW YORK - The blowout of a natural gas well last week on the anniversary of the BP oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico has advocates of safe water in New York concerned. The incident, in Bradford County, Pa., across the border from Binghamton, N.Y., spewed toxic fluid across a livestock-grazing landscape and into a creek that feeds the Susquehanna River. The chemicals were residue from the controversial practice of hydraulic fracturing - or fracking - used to free natural gas from shale rock formations.

Earthjustice attorney Deborah Goldberg says lax oversight continues to worry her.

"This is emblematic of what we can expect if the industry isn't watched very carefully. We shouldn't have episodes like this, but we have them all the time."

Industry representatives say natural gas drilling is safe and brings jobs and income to communities situated over the Marcellus shale formation. They argue that natural gas is a "bridge" to a renewable energy future.

Earthjustice opposes an unlimited expansion of drilling and calls for stronger oversight.

Kate Hudson is with Riverkeeper, the independent watchdog group protecting New York's watersheds and drinking water. She calls the Pennsylvania blowout a warning.

"The State of New York should be looking to Pennsylvania, because if you let the drillers come in before you're ready and then try to play regulatory catch-up, this is the kind of disaster that will occur in New York."

A moratorium halting all horizontal, high-volume fracking in New York is set to expire at the end of June, but Goldberg does not expect to see a resumption soon.

"At best, we will see a new draft of the environmental impact statement this summer, and I would be very surprised if we would actually see a final environmental statement and an opportunity to start issuing permits until the end of the year."

Hudson says the Pennsylvania well blowout is an example of why Riverkeeper is skeptical of natural gas promoters.

"The drilling industry has consistently said, 'We have everything under control and the environmentalists who are trying to keep us from moving into New York are just creating fictions about problems that don't exist.' Well, this incident belies everything they've been saying."

It took Chesapeake Energy Corp., the owner of the well, two days to plug it. The company said there were no injuries and there was no danger to the public.




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