Anti-hydrofracking groups from around the state today voiced their continued displeasure with the controversial drilling practice by symbolically delivering 100 loaves of bread to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office, Gannett’s Aaron Scholder reports.
In a gesture meant to replicate a similar fracking protest in Bulgaria last week, the group of about 400 people delivered the bread to signify what people would lose if hydraulic fracturing was allowed in the state.
Some state legislators spoke at a rally in the lobby of the Legislative Office Building, where most senators and assemblymen have their offices.
“I believe if we lay out the red carpet and allow the loopholes they’ve allowed in other states, we’re going to have Republican senators five years from now wishing to hell they didn’t lay out the red carpet to this industry,” said Sen. Greg Ball, R-Carmel, Putnam County.
The groups showed their support for a ban on hydrofracking and to pressure Cuomo to issue a ban on the process, which involves the blasting of chemicals and water into rock formations to release natural gas.
Cuomo has not indicated whether the state would move forward with hydrofracking. The state Department of Environment Conservation is reviewing it.
Chants such as “Ban fracking now” and “No fracking way” echoed through the cavernous Capitol.
“In the final analysis, there are safer alternatives to natural gas, but there are no alternatives to water,” said Eric Weltman, an organizer with Food and Water Watch, a Washington-based food safety advocacy group.
In addition to a ban on hydrofracking, the groups called for the passage of legislation that would enforce zoning laws against oil and gas companies, close a loophole that allows for the dumping of hazardous waste and a bill that would create solar power-based jobs.
“People are beginning to understand that hydrofracking is an industrial activity. It would change the face of this state, it would change the health and well-being of the residents of this state … and it would impose new costs on the state and its taxpayers,” said Assemblyman Robert Sweeney, D-Suffolk County, the chairman of the Assembly Environmental Conservation Committee.
Cherie Messore, spokeswoman for the Independent Oil and Gas Association of New York, said the DEC is studying the issue effectively. She said the group is confident that the drilling can be done safely.
“The concerns being raised by opponents of natural gas development are precisely the issues that DEC has been studying for nearly four years,” Messore said. “Real science will enable the DEC to set appropriate environmental safeguards that allow for the safe extraction of natural gas in New York. We must seek a balance between protecting the environment and restoring jobs and economic vitality to this state.”