- New York 06/30/2015 by Linda Perry (WBAI News)
On Monday, the Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner, Joe Martens, said, “After years of exhaustive research and examination of the science and facts, prohibiting high-volume hydraulic fracturing is the only reasonable alternative."
Seven years ago, Governor Patterson had New York State’s Environmental Quality Review Act create a set of regulations for horizontal drilling and hydro-fracking going forward.
“That happened because there was a push by a handful of organizations—Mountainkeeper being one of them—to show that New York State gas regulations were outdated concerning fracking and horizontal drillings,” said Wes Gillingham of Catskill Mountainkeeper.
“We went through many years, hearings, and multiple drafts of a document, and each time there was an increase in public comments, most of which were speaking against going forward or severely restricting it. I think the first set of comments for the Scoping Hearing was like 3,000 and then on the proposed regulations, over 150,000 people commented.”
Gillingham said that the more people learned about what Industry was doing, the more they came to hearings, made comments, called their senators, elected officials, called the governor and showed up at rallies like this one in 2012, with Onondaga Nation Turtle Clan Mother, Freida Jacques.
“They want to blast through Mother Earth a mile at a time. How much damage will that do over time? With the chemicals going into the earth, damaging the infrastructure of the Earth...”
Since 2005, Industry has refused to disclose chemicals used in fracking. They were going to disclose chemicals to the state agency, but not to the average citizen. That became an anti-fracking campaign issue.
“One of my favorite public presentations by an Industry rep referred to it as an ‘apple pie recipe.’ And that went over like a led balloon in the audience, which was kind of telling about the whole campaign. There’s no reason why vast sections of the population should be exposed to something and not even be able to know how to treat it. In some states, there were laws preventing doctors from disclosing the chemicals that they were exposed to publically. It’s a crazy set-up. If the Industry believes that their process is safe, why are they going to such lengths to protect what they expose people to? That never made sense to the average person.”
New Yorkers concerned about water quality said that Industry was lying when they said that fracking never caused water contamination. That’s because, in reality, there are multiple ways for contamination to happen—from spills to faulty casings to cement jobs to accidents—all which leads to water contamination. This prompted health professionals to speak out about the threat of fracking.
“We (the whole gas drilling, anti-fracking campaign) pushed to get a comprehensive health impact assessment. The Department of Health evaluated multiple studies and came out with a very comprehensive document showing either direct harms that have been documented or a lot of questions that have been unanswered about where and what kind of contamination—not just for water, but for air, community character, and a whole host of topics.”
Rallies continued throughout the years, to the point where 2500 people against fracking marched through Albany. In 2014, after ongoing battles between communities and natural gas companies, small towns across New York State won the right to ban fracking within their own town limits. And now after a seven-year review, hydro-fracking is officially banned throughout the state. New York is the only state with significant natural gas resources to ban fracking.