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You might have seen these signs popping up claiming, “This water is most likely safe. If you have any concerns about contamination due to hydraulic fracturing, expose water to flame,”  with the NYC Department of Environmental Protection logo on them. I saw this one at the Whole Foods in Columbus Circle, while others have been reported in Penn Station, Union Square and Tomkins Square Park. DEP spokesperson Farrell Sklerov says it’s “some kind of hoax….There’s no current risk to the water supply. There are no hydrofracking drills in the city’s watershed.” [Wall Street Journal]

Andrew Grossman from the Wall Street Journal looked into the stickers. They’re part of a political campaign–the moratorium on natural gas extraction in upstate and Western New York expires this summer–but no anti-drilling groups so far admit responsibility for the stickers. Regardless, it seems pretty well planned out, with phone numbers leading to voicemail purportedly at the NYC DEP. The website listed, www.nyc-dep.org, could look official at a quick glance. (The real DEP website is nyc.gov/dep). The faux website is modeled after the official government website with links to real DEP pages but the homepage contains information about drilling. Untapped found the group’s  Facebook page, but with only 32 fans this seems to be a pretty small operation that is nonetheless really proud of their guerilla work, even posting articles refuting their cause. Some reports suggest it’s the work of corporate satirists, the Yes Men.

Lawyer Shilpa Narayan tells Untapped, “Clearly the phrase ‘most likely safe’  is a rhetorical ploy and the message isn’t altogether inaccurate. Although the DEP disavowed the stickers, they didn’t disavow the message. In fact, the real DEP website says,’hydraulic fracturing poses an unacceptable threat to the unfiltered water supply of nine million New Yorkers and cannot safely be permitted with[in] the New York City watershed.'”

What’s your take on this campaign?

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4 Comments

  1. eric says:

    looks like a brilliant street art installation

  2. Plaid Ninja says:

    I saw one at Yaffa Cafe this weekend – I thought this was a real sticker at first. Very clever.

  3. LC says:

    I saw this sign on the mirror in a bathroom at MOMA. I could tell that it wasn’t for real from the DEP and not something that the museum would do. Good to see your article clearing it up. The sign worked its magic, even on a skeptical New Yorker like me. I’m glad to see this group bringing the fracking issue to the fore in the city.

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