A natural gas drilling site in Dimock, Pennsylvania, located in the Catskill Mountains. In September 8,000 gallons of toxic fluids spilled from the Cabot Oil & Gas drilling site contaminating local ground water in Dimock. PHOTO: Catskills Mountainkeeper Sky Hawk and Photographer J. Henry Fair
A natural gas drilling site in Dimock, Pennsylvania, located in the Catskill Mountains. In September 8,000 gallons of toxic fluids spilled from the Cabot Oil & Gas drilling site contaminating local ground water in Dimock. PHOTO: Catskills Mountainkeeper Sky Hawk and Photographer J. Henry Fair

By Molly Doomchin

On April 6, 2009, a fifth grade class from P.S. 78 in Queens, New York went to the YouthCan convention at the American Museum of Natural History.The class presented a movie about natural gas drilling in the Catskill Mountains. New York State is considering opening an area called the Marcellus Shale watershed in the Catskills to drilling.

In order to drill for natural gas, drillers have to get landowners to rent their land. Then they have to cut down trees to clear space for equipment. After the land is cleared, drillers take thousands of gallons of water and mix it with sand and toxic chemicals. The mixture is pumped over a mile underground to release the gas. Finally, drillers load the received gas into trucks and sell it. All this work is done so that U.S. citizens do not have to rely on other countries for gas and oil.

There are many problems with the plan to drill in the Catskills. First, the drillers have to cut down trees to clear space. Also, thousands of gallons of contaminated water are used every time drilling takes place, and this toxic water can mix with the groundwater and make that water toxic, too.

Even though landowners and drillers get very rich because of drilling, the process taints our environment. The fifth graders hope that their film will persuade people to try to stop the plan to drill.

Molly Doomchin is a sixth grader from Queens, NY.

PHOTO: flickr.com/hitthatswitch
PHOTO: flickr.com/hitthatswitch

What is Natural Gas?

Natural gas is a fossil fuel formed from the remains of dead plants and animals. It is made mostly of methane. It is used for cooking on stoves, generating electricity and creating fertilizer for crops.