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Kate Sinding’s Blog

Support Keeps Growing for Continued NY Fracking Moratorium Until Health Risks are Studied

Kate Sinding

Posted April 12, 2013 in Curbing Pollution, Health and the Environment

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As I have blogged, recent polls suggest that opposition to fracking in New York is continuing to grow and deepen. The launch this past Tuesday of Hudson Valley United Against Fracking – at a press conference featuring former Congressman Maurice Hinchey, State Senator Cecilia Tkaczyk, Assemblymember Frank Skartados, and singer Natalie Merchant – represents further evidence of that trend.

The Hudson Valley region sits atop the Utica and Marcellus Shale plays. It is also a region steeped in a rich environmental history. From the inspiration of the Hudson River School painters to the successful Storm King Mountain legal fight to Pete Seeger's crusade to clean up the Hudson River - the Hudson Valley has played a vital leadership role in pressing for the importance of protecting the environment in New York.

The launch of Hudson Valley United Against Fracking this week is the latest chapter in that history. Maurice Hinchey has his own legacy of being a steward of the bucolic Hudson Valley – and of the state’s and nation’s environment more broadly. He was one of the most vocal of opponents to the Bush-Cheney Administration’s Energy Policy Act in 2005, which resulted in the infamous Halliburton Loophole that exempts fracking from federal regulation.

As Hinchey describes in his letter to Governor Cuomo accompanying the launch, a key impetus for his advancement of congressional funding for the EPA to study the drinking water impacts of fracking was to gain valuable information about water contamination in other areas of the country so that the same would not happen in New York or other areas in the US where fracking has not yet occurred. He was successful in getting this funding measure passed through Congress and signed by the President Barack Obama in three consecutive budgets. As Hinchey points out, if Governor Cuomo wants to base his ultimate decision on fracking on the science – something he has repeatedly reaffirmed – it is only logical to wait for the first comprehensive scientific federal study on the issue to be completed first.

In addition to Democratic Senator Tkaczyk, important support for a go-slow approach that awaits the science was provided by Republican State Senator John Bonacic, whose district falls within the Marcellus Shale region, including a portion of the Hudson Valley.  Senator Bonacic was a key player in the passage of a one-year moratorium on fracking in 2010.  Although not ultimately signed into law, the measure played a critical role in persuading then-Governor David Paterson to order the Department of Environmental Conservation to prepare a revised draft environmental review, which in turn extended the de facto moratorium on new fracking.

There are currently two important moratorium bills pending in the Senate (one sponsored by Senator Avella (S4236A) and the other by Senator Carlucci (S4046)), the former of which has already passed the Assembly (A5424A, sponsored by Assemblymember Sweeney).  Though not identical, both measures would have the key effect of delaying any new fracking until the health impacts – about which there is a startling lack of information – have been further evaluated.

Also adding his voice to the chorus in support of waiting for the health studies is New York City Public Advocate (and mayoral candidate) Bill deBlasio, who yesterday called on the Senate to pass the Avella two-year moratorium bill.

The message couldn’t be clearer.  The time is now for Governor Cuomo to once again reaffirm his pledge to ensure that all the risks – both environmental and health – are fully evaluated on the basis of the best possible science before any decisions on fracking are made.  This means committing that the state will not move forward until the health studies are completed and their outcomes evaluated.

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Comments

Jonathan DealApr 12 2013 02:53 PM

I'm in the US from South Africa on an anti-fracking tour, and hope to meet the organizers of Hudson Valley Against Fracking.

Robert CahalanApr 12 2013 03:17 PM

Fracking will start in NY soon. There are no dangers from this process. You people are all out of your minds !

What a bunch of nonsense ! Make up stories about contaminated water, etc and start yelling and making noise and the idiots in NY govt believe it.

We will not forget.

don raskopfApr 12 2013 08:22 PM

Mr. Calahan,
Please support your premise with facts. Multiple lawsuits against HVHF companies for polluting wells have been settled after coercing homeowners into signing non- disclosure agreements. Can you explain why former VP Cheney insisted oh exempting HVHF chemicals from the Clean Water Act?

Don Raskopf
Hudson River Sloop Clearwater Environmental Action Liason to New Yorkers Against Fracking

ArtApr 13 2013 01:18 PM

It seems fairly evident that the environmentalists are winning this argument through sheer fear propaganda, like they win all their arguments.

Hint..the earth has been cooling for the past decade. Fracking is being done safely all over the country...and we still have to get our energy from somewhere.

Do these people not feel just slightly hypocritical, driving, flying, and heating their homes with fuel from halfway around the world. Fuel that is doing more pollution damage to the planet during transport than fracking will ever come close to.

Inevitably, the exodus from New York will continue as businesses and the middle-class tax-extorted seek less-hypocritical/more business friendly states where they feel welcomed--not just used and abused.

getfrackinrealApr 14 2013 11:26 PM

It seems that the NIMBYS have really taken over this one. So they oppose all but renewavble and these are subsidised by all the states that frack. So lets have cheaper energy for the cistizens and the economy but not where I am from. I love how wanna be celebs and has beens jump on political bandwagons because they are addicted to attention. Can all the scientists step forward please so we can get on with fracking. Can the grandstanders step back for a minute please. oh I know its hard you limelight has faded

Bilbo BagginsApr 17 2013 09:58 AM

What a bunch of happy-horsecrap ! The environmental movement in New York is so completely discredited it will soon implode on itself !

We will be there once Fracking starts in NY and proves to be safe and a boon for the environement and the economy.

People that have been obstructionist liars will have to answer for their misdeeds. We will be there to conveniently replay every ridiculous quote, to make sure everyone knows what went on here.

Cuomo will also go down with the environmentalists ! What a fool !

NY prideApr 17 2013 02:48 PM

Governor Cuomo would make the right decision to wait for a $10 million federal study on the impacts of fracking on drinking water supplies before he jeopardizes the drinking water supply of the third most densely populated state in the country.

Diana WrightApr 17 2013 04:05 PM

Anyone who is arguing that anti frackers are being taken by the environmental propaganda, is obviously being taken by the oil/gas propaganda that it is safe. I hope that the health and environmental studies for which we are waiting a decision to frack, or not to frack, will do due diligence to study the impacts on all the communities where this has started. Take a snap shot of any of these communities before the drilling began and take one now. You tell me that the short term benefits will outweigh the permanent irreversible damage that has already, in 10 short years, been caused to human health, the environment and the contribution toward global climate change. The problem is that so much money is going to gas extraction, that green energy is NOT being developed fast enough to mass produce so we would have a choice not to use fossil fuels for our homes, cars etc. It's not just the contamination of the water when chemicals leak from damaged wells or the air that is polluted by the sand dust produced, the truck's delivering and removing the billions of gallons of fresh water to be used in the process, never to be made potable again, the methane gases which leak from the holes drilled before the casings are inserted, which add to the deterioration of the climate. These are important, but the real issue is that the earth's atmosphere CANNOT sustain, IS NOT sustaining the filtration of all of the fossil fuels we are emitting into the environment. Scientists world-wide are in complete agreement that humanity is exacerbating the climate change we are experiencing. The science community is on high alert but we cannot hear it because gas/oil companies are drowning out the sirens with their fantasy rhetoric of "it's all good, it's all safe, there are jobs for everyone". We have already tapped into all the natural gas we need to see us through until we make the switch. The money being spent on drilling would be put to far better use if put toward the development of renewable, sustainable energy. That will produce far more, permanent local, safer jobs, will arrest the downward spiral toward the declining state of the environment, will not destroy millions of gallons per well per day of our potable water resources,and get America on solid ground to be energy independent. Let's look to a clean, sustainable future and start making the right decisions now.

Hugh KimballApr 17 2013 09:12 PM

Anyone who says fracking is safe and has been safe is guilty of wishful thinking, ignorance, or lying. If it was all safe would there be a need for exemptions from parts of the clean water and clean air acts? Would Pennsylvania gag their doctors from talking even to each other about illnesses they are seeing among those who live near gas wells and/or compressor stations? Would the Univ. of Colorado School of Public Health have come up with a study showing higher indeidence of cancer among those who live within a half mile of a well. Would the List of the Harmed in PA grow weekly?

Common SenseApr 17 2013 11:05 PM

The data from other states where fracking is already happening is cause for great alarm. In Pennsylvania, for instance, a rapidly growing list of the harmed that tops 1,000 people. Investigations from ProPublica that show 1,000+ cases of water contamination. The City of Pittsburgh had to advise residents to drink bottled water for weeks because of high levels of radiation. Meanwhile, the American Lung Association of NY, American Academy of Pediatrics NY, Medical Society of the State of New York, hundreds of medical experts, scientists, and health organizations all agree with the common sense measure of waiting for critical health data from ongoing first-of-their-kind studies and a comprehensive NYS health impact assessment.

Governor Cuomo has vowed to listen to the science and the facts on fracking and to do the most comprehensive health review ever. Following the call of our unified medical and scientific experts is paramount to keeping that promise.

MariCWApr 18 2013 08:49 AM

Every day there are more and more revelations of problems regarding fracking. The question is why should this tortuous method of HVHF be used for energy, and lots of money spent attempting but still not able to resolve the harm caused by it, when the effort and time would be much better and more cleanly used developing renewable, sustainable forms of energy.

Consider the list of the harmed from the Pennsylvania Alliance for Clean Water and Air, an 80 page PDF list of people, animals and environment harmed regarding fracking in Pennsylvania.

http://pennsylvaniaallianceforcleanwaterandair.wordpress.com/the-list/

And ask yourself why a gas company would pay $750,000 and gag the family it paid if it did everything right and caused no harm.

http://stateimpact.npr.org/pennsylvania/2013/03/21/drilling-companies-agree-to-settle-fracking-contamination-case-for-750000/

It's time to go renewable now and turn our backs on HVHF.

Joanne CoreyApr 18 2013 10:37 AM

There are data and peer-reviewed scientific studies that show increased incidence of asthma, high ozone levels, neurological symptoms, rashes, low birthweights, and other medical problems in areas with high levels of HVHF. No large-scale comprehensive studies have been completed, but NY would be wise to wait for a more complete scientific understanding to emerge so that we do not cause harm to our residents that cannot be undone.

Remember that for decades the tobacco industry denied that smoking caused health problems and disputed any science that said that it did. How many millions of people endured health problems caused by tobacco, many of them not even smokers themselves, but those who were exposed to second-hand smoke, while the industry continued its denials and business-as-usual? The behaviors of the fossil fuel industry and their apologists is eerily similar, down to using the same PR company that the tobacco industry did.

With HVHF, we have not just the potential health risks of those close to drilling, processing, and transport activities about which to be concerned but also the climate change risk to the world from higher sea levels, droughts, extreme weather risks, crop failures, etc. These effects and their costs must be factored into any decision on the future of HVHF in NY.

Truth HurtsApr 18 2013 12:09 PM

Lets see, The Federal EPA, The EPA of at least 11 states, are all on the record that Fracking HAS NOT CAUSED GROUNDWATER CONTAMINATION !!!

We will not allow the lies to continue !!

Comments are closed for this post.

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Switchboard is the staff blog of the Natural Resources Defense Council, the nation’s most effective environmental group. For more about our work, including in-depth policy documents, action alerts and ways you can contribute, visit NRDC.org.

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