600+ New Yorkers Rally in State Capitol to Voice Concerns about Fracking
Toxic Chemical Exposure & Hazardous Waste Top List of Groups' Fracking-Related Concerns
ALBANY, NY (01/23/2012)(readMedia)-- A broad coalition of organizations descended on the New York State Capitol today to call on elected officials to safeguard vital water resources, air quality, public health and the environment from industrial gas drilling by means of high volume hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking." The groups were joined by more than 600 New Yorkers who traveled to Albany from across the state to meet with members of the State Legislature and voice concerns about the controversial drilling practice, which has poisoned drinking water and polluted air in other parts of the country. Three-time Academy Award®-nominated actress Debra Winger and Josh Fox, director of the Academy Award®-nominated documentary Gasland, spoke at the rally alongside State Senators Tony Avella, Liz Krueger and Mark Grisanti, and Assembly members William Colton, Steve Englebright, Brian Kavanagh, Barbara Lifton and Robert Sweeney. George Dunkel, Executive Director of American Academy of Pediatrics, New York Chapter; Adrienne Esposito, Executive Director of Citizens Campaign for the Environment; Robert Moore, Executive Director of Environmental Advocates of New York; Eric Weltman, Senior Organizer of Food and Water Watch; and David Braun, co-founder of United for Action, also spoke.
"The public is bringing an overwhelming and passionate voice to Albany demanding to be heard on hydro-fracking," said Adrienne Esposito, Executive Director, Citizens Campaign for the Environment. "Teachers, farmers, business owners, nurses, doctors, retirees, civic leaders, parents and others all want to protect New York's air, land, water and public health. Hydro-fracking could scar New York forever, and New Yorkers need the Legislature and Governor Cuomo to choose public need over corporate greed."
"Our elected representatives need to hear from their constituents about gas drilling and fracking. They get an earful from industry and industry's supporters but it's the voters who they have to answer to in the end. We must tell them that New York communities cannot afford to be fracked," said Tracy Carluccio, Deputy Director, Delaware Riverkeeper Network.
"Today more than 600 New Yorkers traveled to the State Capital at their own expense, took time off work, and made child and family care arrangements because they want to make sure Governor Cuomo and state lawmakers make the right choice when it comes to fracking-health and water over profits and poison. Two-thousand-twelve is the year to act," said Katherine Nadeau, Water & Natural Resources Program Director, Environmental Advocates of New York.
The organizations, which represent a range of community, environmental, public health, conservation, sportsmen and good government groups from across the state, are calling on Governor Cuomo and the State Legislature to ensure environmental protections while the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) considers the more than 40,000 comments received on the state's draft fracking proposals. The groups want to ensure the significant flaws that plague the documents do not put our natural environment or community health at risk, if fracking is permitted in New York State.
"The voices of concern are growing stronger, and state leaders must heed them and fix the gaping holes in New York's policies and draft guidelines," said Nadia Steinzor, Marcellus Regional Organizer for Earthworks. "If they don't, New York could end up like every other oil and gas state that's jumped onto the shale gas train as it rushes down the tracks: trusting an untrustworthy industry that's rarely held accountable for damage or required to prevent it, and willing to risk the health of its citizens and environment in the pursuit of a bit more dirty energy."
"Over 70 grassroots groups, dozens of major advocacy organizations, and tens of thousands of people across New York have sent a clear message to the DEC and Governor Cuomo that we must ban fracking now," said Claire Sandberg, Executive Director of Frack Action. "With each passing week, we see more and more damning evidence that no amount of regulation will make fracking safe, including reports of water contamination in Pavillion, Wyoming, fracking related earthquakes in Ohio, and poisoned wells in Dimock, Pennsylvannia. For more than a decade gas corporations have proven themselves to be flagrant outlaws, circumventing the most basic protections of our air and water. It's too little too late for our neighbors in Dimock, who must rely on daily shipments of drinking water just to survive, but it's not too late for Governor Cuomo to put the health and well-being of the citizens of New York over the desires of a criminal industry."
After the rally, Stefan Senders of Wide Awake Bakery in Trumansburg, NY, joined Wes Gillingham, Program Director, Catskill Mountainkeeper, and ecologist and author Sandra Steingraber, as well as dozens of New York farmers and bakers, to deliver 100 loaves of bread baked with New York grains bread to the Governor's office, to emphasize the connection between agriculture and the health and safety of our water, air and soil. According to Wes Gillingham of Catskill Mountainkeeper, "Bread is both an essential food and a symbol of our most basic needs. It's the perfect example of the interdependence of a safe and healthy environment, community and economy. Farming regions are often referred to as 'bread baskets,' because they produce what sustains us, but bread baskets are also economic drivers now jeopardized by fracking."
"Fracking is inherently dangerous with risks beyond our capacity to safely regulate. We need legislators to protect our health, economy, and environment by supporting a ban on fracking," said Eric Weltman, Senior Organizer with Food & Water Watch.
"Citizens of New York rose to demand clarification of Home Rule to avoid the spectacle of industry suing small towns that are doing nothing more than enforcing constitutional zoning powers. The Legislature must act now to clarify Home Rule against unwarranted and illegitimate industry attacks. To stand by while taking no action compromises everything the DEC and public and private funds have accomplished over decades to protect New York's watersheds, historic sites and agricultural lands. This industry must not be granted an unintended exemption from zoning laws applicable to all other citizens," said Nicole Dillingham, President Board of Directors, Otsego 2000, Cooperstown, NY.
"The DEC has demonstrated that it is unwilling, or unable, to develop a plan that will protect all New Yorkers from fracking, so today we're appealing to our lawmakers to enact legislation that will prohibit this dangerous industrial process," said Bruce Ferguson, Catskill Citizens for Safe Energy.
"The unprecedented number of comments that DEC received on its faulty fracking proposal and the number of New Yorkers who have traveled to Albany for today's Day of Action send one message to state decision-makers loud and clear: do not allow fracking to move forward in New York unless it can be shown to be safe and a true net benefit to all New Yorkers. As DEC reviews the public's more than 40,000 comments on its flawed fracking plan, we call on our state legislators to join our efforts to protect New York's drinking water, environment, economy and communities from the degradation that dirty fracking has caused in other states across the country. We expect our government and our governor to learn from other states' mistakes, not repeat them. They owe the citizens of New York no less," said Kate Hudson, Watershed Program Director, Riverkeeper.
While the positions of the groups and individual rally participants vary, during visits with state lawmakers and staff, rally attendees called for the following actions, including:
• Keeping New York's budget frack-free. In his 2012-2013 budget proposal the Governor did not include fracking-derived revenue or related funding. As the 2012-13 budget process will play a role in the fate of fracking, the groups are calling on the State Legislature to ensure funding for fracking is not included in the final budget.
• Passage of A.7218-A / S.4220-A: The Hydraulic Fracturing Prohibition bill, which would prohibit the issuance of permits for all oil and gas wells that employ the extraction technique of hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking," and the disposal of drilling wastes in New York State's publicly owned treatment facilities.
• Passage of A.8557 / S.5830: The Local Protections over Natural Gas Development bill, which would clarify local governments' right to enact and enforce zoning laws when confronted with the negative impacts from oil and gas development.
• Passage of A.7013 / S.4616: Closing the Hazardous Waste Loophole, legislation that would end special exemptions allowing the gas industry to circumvent requirements for hazardous waste disposal. This bill would require all gas drilling waste that meets the definition of hazardous waste be subject to regulations related to its generation, transportation, treatment, storage and disposal.
• Passage of A.7400-A / S.6261: The Hydraulic Fracturing Permitting Suspension bill, which would suspend hydraulic fracturing permitting in low permeability shale formations until June 1, 2013.
• Advancing a Health Impacts Assessment bill. The State Legislature should call for a public health impacts analysis and prohibit permitting until such an analysis is complete and public health protections are in place. The state's draft fracking proposals discount the public health concerns related to fracking, claiming that the DEC will only conduct health risk assessments on a case-by-case basis after a contamination event has occurred. With new information coming to light from across the country regarding chemical exposure and human health, the Legislature must require the agency to conduct a public health impacts analysis.
• Passage of A.5173-C/S.4178-A: The Solar Industry Development & Jobs Act, which would create new jobs and jumpstart investment in New York's growing and sustainable solar energy industry by requiring state utilities and energy service companies to purchase solar renewable energy credits.
Several of the rally sponsors are partners in the New York Water Rangers campaign, which today launched new print and online ads urging Governor Cuomo and the State Legislature to keep frack dealers and toxic fracking chemicals out of our water. Ads are available at www.CleanWaterNotDirtyDrilling.org.
To frack a gas well, millions of gallons of water, sand and toxic chemicals are pumped deep underground at high pressure. This fractures the rock that has trapped the gas for millennia and allows it to escape. But when fracking wastewater is pumped back to the surface, sometimes bringing with it radiation hundreds of times the limit considered safe for drinking water, it's difficult to dispose of safely, and there are no facilities in New York ready to treat it. From start to finish, gas development that relies on fracking is an industrial process that threatens our water. State after state, from Wyoming to Pennsylvania, has documented its dangers. New York can't afford to put short-term gas profits ahead of the long-term health of our water and our communities.
Sponsoring organizations for the rally and legislative action day include Adirondack Mountain Club, Advocates for Morris, Binghamton Regional Sustainability Coalition (BRSC), Cancer Action NY, Catskill Citizens for Safe Energy, Catskill Mountainkeeper, Central NY Citizens for Progressive Reform, Citizens Campaign for the Environment, Damascus Citizens for Sustainability, Delaware Riverkeeper Network, Earthjustice, EARTHWORKS, Environmental Advocates of New York, Environment New York, Frack Action, Food & Water Watch, Gas Drilling Awareness for Cortland County (GDACC), Grassroots Environmental Education, MICAH, Milford DOERS, Natural Resources Defense Council, Neighbors of the Onondaga Nation, New York Residents Against Drilling (NYRAD), Northeast Organic Farming Association of New York, NYH2O, New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG), Onondaga Creek Conservation Council, Otisco Lake Preservation Association, Otsego 2000, People for a Healthy Environment, Plymouth Friends of Clean Water, Residents Opposed to Unsafe Shale Extraction (ROUSE), Residents of Crumhorn Mountain, R-CAUSE, Riverkeeper, Sullivan Area Citizens for Responsible Energy Development (SACRED), Shaleshock CNY, Sierra Club Atlantic Chapter, and United for Action.
POST-RALLY PHOTO OP
WHEN: 1 p.m.
WHAT& WHERE: New Yorkers will march from "The Well" to the Governor's office to deliver 100
loaves of freshly baked bread
After the rally, Stefan Senders of Wide Awake Bakery in Trumansburg, NY, will join Wes Gillingham, Program Director, Catskill Mountainkeeper, and ecologist and author Sandra Steingraber, to deliver 100 loaves of bread baked with New York grains bread to the Governor's office, to emphasize the connection between agriculture and the health and safety of our water, air and soil.
For more information:
Erica Ringewald, Environmental Advocates of New York: (518) 210-9903
Eric Whalen, Environment New York: (971) 998-8786
Nadia Steinzor, Earthworks: (845) 417-6505
Tina Posterli, Riverkeeper: (914) 478-4501 ext. 239
Ana Tinsley, Frack Action: (646) 331-4765
Wes Gillingham, Catskill Mountainkeeper: (845) 901-1029
Bruce Ferguson, Catskill Citizens for Safe Energy: (845) 807-3747
Eric Weltman, Food & Water Watch: (617) 304-5330
Tracy Carluccio, Delaware Riverkeeper Network, 215-692-2329 (cell)