Posted in Beer News, Ommegang

Hydrofracking A Hot Button Issue For Ommegang

A fight is breaking out in New York.  Ommegang is taking issue with a natural gas drilling method called “hydrofracking.”  Ommegang says it could cost them the brewery.

Hydrofracking  aka hydraulic fracturing, is a method of horizontally fracturing rock to release natural gas.  The highly pressurized fluid creates larger channels in the rocks (that had cracked due to natural gas attempting to escape), and are then injected with a proppant (sand, or particulates) to keep the channels open.

So what’s the issue?   

Right now there is a ban on normal drilling in Cooperstown, New York – home to Brewery Ommegang.  If the ban is lifted, drilling companys, some of which own or lease land touching Ommegang property, could drill close by.  The brewery views this as a contamination threat to the water wells the Ommegang uses to brew the beer.

“If its water were to be contaminated, the Brewery could be forced to move its business elsewhere,”…. “Its Master Brewer and Quality Control chemist agree that even if Brewery Ommegang wished to do so, it could not remove many of the toxic chemicals commonly used in hydrofracking, should they be released into the Brewery’s water supply.”

It is important to note that 50% of the acreage that borders Ommegang has been leased to drilling companies.  The debate now is how much of a threat is well contamination.  Also, Cooperstown Holstein (drilling company) states it has the right to drill according to court papers:

…the state Oil, Gas and Solution Mining Law, enacted in 1981, “supersedes all local ordinances relating to natural-gas drilling, subject only to two limited exceptions for the exercise of jurisdiction by local governments: local roads and property taxes.”

This one is sure to get heated.  Ommegang employes 83 people.  [DailyStar]