FRACKING: Critics attack Cuomo’s frack plan

Vicki Huber of Webster takes part in a fracking protest in Greece last week. PHOTO BY MATT DETURCK

BY JEREMY MOULE

Governor Andrew Cuomo’s administration has floated a plan to allow high-volume hydraulic fracturing in the deepest parts of the Marcellus Shale. And critics are speaking out.

The New York Times reported on the plan last week, crediting anonymous senior Department of Environmental Conservation officials as sources.

The plan would allow high-volume hydraulic fracturing in portions of the Marcellus Shale deeper than 2,000 feet, which would effectively limit fracking to the Southern Tier. The plan is meant to limit the risks of groundwater contamination while allowing some natural gas development, the Times said.

The plan would ban fracking in state parks, the Catskill Park, aquifers, and national historic districts. It would permit fracking only in communities that approve of the technique; quite a few communities have passed moratoriums or bans. Many critics are concerned about the effects fracking could have on water bodies and supplies, and whether it could harm air quality.

Nedra Harvey, co-founder of the local anti-fracking group R-CAUSE, criticizes the proposal. A few people shouldn’t be allowed to decide “the water situation for the entire state,” she says.

Penfield resident Joyce Herman says she has compassion for the Southern Tier’s struggling small businesses and small farms. But she worries that fracking could cause problems of its own, especially given the growth in popularity of organic and local food and wine.

“It doesn’t seem like a rational solution to a real problem,” Herman says.

Brighton has passed a one-year moratorium on fracking and related activities. During that time, the town will review zoning laws and enact permanent protections, says Supervisor Bill Moehle.

Brighton’s long-term comprehensive plan does not call for heavy industry, he says.

Moehle says his concern with the plan reported by the Times is that once fracking gets a foothold in the state, it’ll be increasingly difficult to prevent its spread.

“You never know what a trial balloon really means,” Moehle says.

One comment

  1. Tom Janowski · · Reply

    Full Body Burden is Kristen Iversen’s memoir about growing up downwind of Rocky Flats, a plutonium processing facility in Colorado. It’s a story about the American Dream and lies. The similarities to hydrofracking are alarming.

    Iversen’s book had me immediately thinking history is repeating itself. With every page turned, I found myself replacing references of radioactive contamination with chemical contamination. I swapped the Rocky Flats facility with the process of hydrofracking. I substituted Chesapeake Energy for Dow Chemical and Rockwell International, the private companies that operated Rocky Flats.

    When Rocky Flats opened in the 1950s, newspaper headlines trumpeted the jobs to be created and impending economic prosperity…just like what New Yorkers read about hydrofracking. Every time there was a fire at Rocky Flats, people downwind either didn’t hear about or they heard officials stating radiation released was minimal. Every time something spills or explodes at a fracking site in Pennsylvania, the gas companies minimize and downplay and say all is safe and good.

    Barrels of radioactive waste sat on the grounds of Rocky Flats awaiting permanent disposal—they sat there so long they began to leak. This, too, is like hydrofracking because there is no truly safe method of disposal for the residual wastewater containing toxic chemicals and possible radiation.

    It’s time history stop repeating itself because humans are looking more and more stupid all the time. Hydrofracking today is the equivalent of Rocky Flats in the 1950s. The Cold War and atomic weapons seemed necessary to many Americans at one time, but the process of making nuclear weapons was never safe. Being energy self-sufficient may seem patriotic and natural gas may seem like a clean fuel, but the process of hydrofracking is not safe or clean.

    All the reasons New York should never allow hydrofracking are found in Iversen’s Full Body Burden—and in history. Will we heed the warnings and lessons of the past? Will we learn from the employees of Rocky Flats and people living downwind who paid the ultimate price for jobs and deceptive economic prosperity—with their health and their lives? Will this history repeat itself with hydrofracking? Do we even want to find out?

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