Hundreds of opponents of hydraulic fracturing in New York gathered outside the state Capitol today to protest the controversial type of natural-gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale. Hydro-fracking, a process used to break shale formations and release gas, is opposed by environmentalists, who say the practice has “poisoned” water supplies in other parts of the country. After their rally, many of the protesters went to the Capitol to lobby their legislators, and others marched down to the state Department of Environmental Conservation to urge officials to take more time to review fracking and its potential dangers.
Earlier this year, Gov. Andrew Cuomo extended an executive order for a moratorium on horizontal wells until July 1. The head of the Department of Environmental Conservation has said it could take through the end of the summer to finish its second report on the impact of this kind of gas drilling.
The protesters said Cuomo and the Legislature should not make the DEC rush to finish its environmental review and revised guidelines for how fracking would proceed in the state.
“New York State leaders have a chance to show the nation how to protect our water from fracking-by choosing safe and healthy drinking water over poisoned wells, destroyed property values, and devastated communities,” said Kate Hudson, Riverkeeper Watershed program director. “The oil and gas industry is eager to drill and now our leaders have a choice to make. We’re calling on Governor Cuomo and the State Legislature to put the long-term health of our communities and our water, air, and land ahead of short-term gas profits.”
“Today, the public’s demand for clean water-not dirty drilling, will be heard loud and clear,” said Adrienne Esposito, Executive Director for Citizens Campaign for the Environment. “Citizens will rally for our new Governor to uphold his campaign promise to keep New York State’s drinking water safe. This day of action provides us the opportunity to put our voices together and be heard above the enormous money interests of energy companies.”
The groups wants several measures passed in the Legislature this year, including bills that would:
— Require the DEC to create regulations requiring the gas industry to disclose the chemicals in fracking fluids and ban the use of fluids that could harm people’s health. Permits would be withheld until such regulations were developed.
— Set up home-rule zoning rules in addition to state regulations so communities can have a say in how towns and cities develop can have the power to oversee drilling as they do other industries.
— Require that all hazardous wastes produced by gas or oil facilities be considered hazardous for the purpose of transfer and treatment.