“Just as there is no safe cigarette, there is no safe hydrofracking”
Save New York’s clean, free, safe water supply from pollution from the harmful side effects of hydrofracking.
Tell Governor Cuomo and the state legislature
It’s time to ban fracking now.
New Anti-Fracking Film by Gasland’s Josh Fox Targets Cuomo: ‘Governor, What Color Will the Sky Be Over New York?’
by Jeff Goodell, Rolling Stone
Gov. Andrew Cuomo of the great state of New York, I’d like you to meet Josh Fox.
As you may know, Josh, who is 39, wrote and directed a film called Gasland, which I’m sure is at the top of your Netflix queue. In 2010, the film was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Feature Documentary and helped bring the world’s attention to the dangers of hydraulic fracturing, aka fracking. To put it another way, Josh is the guy who is largely responsible for the political minefield that you now find yourself tip-toeing through as you consider whether or not to lift the moratorium on fracking in New York State.
FYI, Josh is working on a sequel for HBO, called Gasland 2, which will be out later this year. But meanwhile, he has written and directed The Sky Is Pink – a short (18-minute) film that is, well, just for you, governor. You can watch it below.
I know fracking is a subject you’ve been giving a lot of thought to recently. In 2008, your predecessor, David Paterson, signed the moratorium on fracking in New York State, pending environmental review. Since then, we have all learned a lot about the risks of fracking – about how the toxic chemicals used can migrate into drinking water, about how methane can leak out of well casements, about the danger of disposing of billions of gallons of polluted wastewater the process produces. I know you have had teams of scientists from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation studying all this. I‘m sure you have had teams of lobbyists from big gas companies like Chesapeake Energy pushing you and your team hard to declare fracking “safe” and to lift the moratorium ASAP.
Last week, someone in your administration – I won’t try to guess who! – leaked details of your administration’s plan to allow fracking to the New York Times. I’ll give you this: You didn’t allow Chesapeake and the other gas industry thugs to roll you entirely; among other things, the plan limits fracking to five counties in the southern tier of the state and places restrictions on drilling near drinking water supplies. Obviously, you’re trying to appear rational and pragmatic about all this, talking about following “the science” while balancing economic development with environmental and public health concerns.
Well, guess what? When it comes to fracking, there isn’t much “science” to follow yet – there’s mostly just industry-funded propoganda. Not only that, but there are a whole lot of people in your state who don’t want you to balance anything. They’ve seen what has happened in Pennsylvania where the gas companies have run wild and they fear that once the drillers get their bits into the ground in New York, it’s a mad rush to ruin.
This reaction from Maya van Rossum, the Delaware Riverkeeper – the Delaware River is part of the New York watershed – is pretty typical: “How can Governor Cuomo consider allowing shale gas development when the state’s environmental study is so riddled with holes and unaddressed pollution and public health issues? How can Governor Cuomo allow shale gas drilling in New York when he can see how many citizens and communities are getting sick, hurt and traumatized from the practice in other states? And how can New York pretend it is safe to drill in some counties and not in others – especially when science shows the pollution problems are the result of drilling and fracking shale formations, not where or how deep these well bores go?”
Fred LeBrun, a political columnist at the Albany Times Union, noticed that you seemed taken aback by the ferocity of the reaction to your proposal: “Once the story of the state’s supposed plan was in play, the governor went out of his way to neither confirm nor deny it was correct, yet he couldn’t stop talking around it while never really saying anything. At least not believable. “What came out was vintage Cuomo’s Deli, where you can get any cold cut you want as long as it’s baloney, sliced anyway you want to hear it.”
These are treacherous waters for you, governor. Remember all the trouble your dad had with the anti-nuke activists on Long Island in the 1980s? Fracking could be a similar quagmire for you, especially given your immodest aspirations to the Oval Office.
Anyway, the guy you really gotta come to terms with is Josh Fox. Because this little film about the troubles with fracking in New York is pretty damn good. Among other things, he’s got some damning info from the industry on well failures that you might want to have a look at. Whatever you think of the film, one thing is for sure: It’s gonna be seen by a lot of people – a lot of voters, governor. So as you ponder how and when to lift the ban on fracking in New York, give it a look. Journalists like myself will be interested to hear your response to the question Josh addresses to you at the end of the film: “Governor Cuomo, what color will the sky be over New York?”
Facts About Fracking
What is Fracking?
Over the past decade, there has been a rush for new natural gas using a controversial drilling method. Hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” injects a mixture of water, sand and chemicals under high pressure into dense shale rock formations to crack the rock and release natural gas. Fracking has been around for decades, but the techniques, technologies and chemicals used to reach new, remote gas reserves are more intensive and riskier than conventional gas drilling.
Fracking has brought rampant environmental and economic problems to rural communities. Accidents and leaks have polluted rivers, streams and drinking water supplies. Regions peppered with drilling rigs have high levels of smog as well as other airborne pollutants, including potential carcinogens. Rural communities face an onslaught of heavy truck traffic — often laden with dangerous chemicals used in drilling — and declining property values.
New York is being targeted by the oil and gas industry for fracking for natural gas in the Marcellus Shale, which underlies large parts of New York. In fact, many leases have already been signed in the state and are pending the state’s approval. The Cuomo Administration and the Department of Environmental Conservation could decide any day that fracking could move forward in New York.
A threat to New York’s drinking water
Millions of gallons of toxic wastewater will be produced from every new well, with about half remaining in the ground. This wastewater contains the chemicals used in fracking fluid, which have been shown to cause cancer, death, birth defects and other severe health problems. It also contains harmful contaminants from deep underground, including numerous carcinogens. Disposal of this wastewater has caused major problems. Conventional treatment facilities can’t treat it, meaning the contaminants just flow right through these facilities, into rivers and streams. The other option is “deep underground injection” disposal, which is causing earthquakes.
Underground Contamination. Much of this toxic wastewater stays underground indefinitely, subject to forces beyond our control. Drilling and hydraulic fracturing creates new pathways for fluids or gases to migrate and potentially contaminate vital underground water resources.
Surface Contamination. Fracturing fluid chemicals, contaminated wastewater, dredged up heavy metals and radioactive material can leak or spill from wellbores, wellheads, flowlines, trucks, tanks and pits. Those leaks and spills can contaminate our air, soil and water.
Depletion and degradation of surface freshwater and shallow drinking water aquifers. Massive amounts of clean water are taken from lakes, ponds, streams and shallow aquifers for fracturing operations. The scale of this industrial drawdown, and subsequent contamination with fracking chemicals, will degrade water quality and could lead to water scarcity.
Naturally Occurring Radioactive Material (NORM) is found in the Marcellus shale at high concentrations and is likely to be discharged into drinking water supplies due to leaks, spills, or inadequate waste treatment. dangerous quantities from the wells.
Comment on TEDX
Most shale gas wells may be fractured many times (up to 18–20) to extend production..
No federal regulation, thanks to loopholes and exemptions
The 2005 Energy Policy Act provides the oil and gas industry with sweeping exemptions from provisions in the major federal environmental statutes intended to protect human health and the environment, including the:
- Safe Drinking Water Act
- Clean Water Act
- Clean Air Act
- National Environmental Policy Act
- Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act
- Resource Conservation & Recovery Act
- Toxic Release Inventory under the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act
Currently the industry doesn’t have to disclose chemicals to public.
About New Yorkers Against Fracking
New Yorkers Against Fracking was created when the need arose for a broad-based coalition of New York State residents to call for a ban on the dangerous and polluting practice of fracking. The coalition includes members from every part of the state and a diverse collection of consumer advocacy, health, religious, food, and environmental organizations and dozens of grassroots groups.
New Yorkers Against Fracking received significant support from award-winning author, biologist and advocate Sandra Steingraber, Ph.D., who is internationally recognized for her work uncovering and understanding the ways in which chemical contaminants in the air, water, and food endanger human health. A cancer survivor, deeply concerned for her children’s future in New York, Steingraber donated a significant portion of her recent Heinz award for lifetime achievement to provide the seed money for the coalition.
Join the Coalition
This is a coalition for any organization, group, business or institution that supports a ban on fracking in New York. To that end, we welcome any local, state, or national:
- civic groups
- faith institutions
- hospitals and other health institutions
- professional associations
- labor unions
- political clubs
- environmental organizations
- outdoors groups
- social justice groups
- farms, restaurants, breweries, and other food producers
Join The Movement