As the deadline approaches for the Cuomo Administration to approve its proposed fracking regulations or allow them to expire, Environment New York delivered postcards from more than 25,000 New Yorkers urging the Governor to ban the dirty drilling practice. These postcards join a rapidly expanding chorus of opposition to fracking, including more than 200,000 public comments on the state's draft regulations and recent polling which shows opposition to gas drilling in upstate New York.
“I think I understand why the gas industry is in such a rush to drill; the more New Yorkers hear about how fracking threatens our health and our water, the more they are speaking out to stop it,” said Eric Whalen, field organizer with Environment New York.
Next door in Pennsylvania, fracking operations have contaminated drinking water, made nearby residents sick from air pollution, and turned forest acres into industrial zones – all while releasing substantial global warming pollution.
“Anyone looking next door can already see that fracking is a rolling environmental disaster,” said Whalen. "Who would ever want to go down that road?”
“With the state’s own assessment on the health impacts of hydrofracking yet to be released, and independent scientific experts sounding the alarm about the irreversible damage drilling will cause, it is wrong to engage in a process we know will imperil our environment,” said Senator Adriano Espaillat. “If fracking is allowed to proceed, New Yorkers will pay for this mistake for generations. I am committed to protecting our state’s natural resources and safeguarding our water supply.”
Of particular concern is the administration’s failure to demonstrate that it can protect New York’s water from toxic fracking waste. Laced with benzene, heavy metals, and even radioactive material, fracking waste has contaminated drinking water sources from Pennsylvania to New Mexico. Such concerns were elevated just last week, as a drilling operator in Ohio dumped up to 40,000 gallons of fracking wastewater into a pipe draining into the Mahoning River.
"Governor Cuomo knows that I agree with the thousands of New Yorkers demanding that no fracking be allowed until we have scientific proof that the environmental and public health risks have been eliminated," said Senator Liz Krueger. "Here we are in 2013, and week by week we've only seen more and more evidence of the grave threats posed by today's drilling practices. The gas will still be there when we're ready to extract it safely -- and the evidence says that we're not ready yet."
"New York State is home to some of the largest pristine bodies of water in the nation and around the world. We have been blessed with an abundant resource which is crucial to sustaining life on this planet. We should cherish and protect it at all costs," said Assemblyman William Colton. "We cannot trade short term economic gain for what could amount to the irreparable damage of our potable water supply, degradation of our environment, loss of homegrown industry, and endangerment of our health."
"The thousands of people who sent comments with Environment New York represent only a small fraction of those who are opposed to fracking in New York State," said Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal (D/WF-Manhattan). "New Yorkers are concerned that fracking cannot be done safely, and will threaten the public's health, the water, the air and the environment. And, they have reason to be concerned: though the regulations must be finalized by February 27, 2013, the New York State Department of Health has not yet completed its review of the impacts that fracking may have on public health. I renew my call that the State should halt the process until a comprehensive and independent health impacts assessment study is completed and the public has an opportunity to comment upon the results of that study before the regulations are finalized."
"New Yorkers are calling upon Governor Cuomo to put the health and safety of our water, air, and food over the interests of the gas industry," said Eric Weltman, Senior Organizer with Food & Water Watch, a nonprofit consumer organization. "Governor Cuomo can be a hero if he stands up for people over polluters by banning fracking in New York."
Moreover, the global warming pollution from fracking is gaining new prominence, especially as the Governor has sought to mark himself as a leader on the issue. Due to the large volumes of methane which leak throughout the gas extraction process, a fracking boom in New York could bring the single largest increase in global warming pollution in years.
“Two weeks ago, we praised Governor Cuomo for embracing new goals for curbing global warming pollution,” noted Whalen. “But the Governor’s legacy on climate change will take a huge step backward if he opens the door to dirty drilling.”