New York will ban fracking — huzzah!
Despite the media’s subdued coverage, fractivists will always remember where they were when they first heard the news. I was sitting at my desk, reading emails.
Citing Health Risks, Cuomo Bans Fracking in New York State, by Thomas Kaplan, New York Times, December 17, 2014.
New York State Prohibits Fracking Delaware Riverkeeper Network Applauds New York’s Assessment and Conclusion, Press Release, The Delaware Riverkeeper Network, December 17, 2014.
Cuomo’s announcement was not only momentous, it was a surprise gift, and it was met with gratitude, tears of joy, and dancing in the streets. A spontaneous gathering thanked Cuomo, who merrily took one of the activist’s signs with him to commemorate the historic occasion. This very festive video was posted on Facebook by Sabrina Artel.
On msnbc, however, Alex Wagner characterized Cuomo decision like that of a reluctant, job-killing environmental anti-hero who was shying away from the limelight for the sake of appearing politic. I think she sells Cuomo short. I get the sense that the governor simply preferred to let science have its day.
How fracking got stopped in N.Y., Tom Wilber, special to the Press & Sun-Bulletin via PressConnects, December 20, 2014.
This map by Fractracker, featured in the recent Gas Wells Are Not Our Friends post, High Volume Horizontal Hydrofracking: New York State Says No!, was originally meant to track legislation on local bans and moratoria across the state. Now, it reads like the map to victory.
In the past few years, New Yorkers have gone to great lengths to enact local bans and educate their communities. Quite a few have even risked arrest through civil disobedience, and served time in jail to fight the presence of this toxic, heavy industry. After years of loudly beating the drum, gas drillers could subsidize state lawmakers, and demur scientific study, only for so long.
New York will still have to contend with the Marcellus mess made in Pennsylvania. Liquid gas products will continue to move through their counties and towns on aging, obsolete DOT-111 rail tankers, like the ones that incinerated the tiny downtown of Lac Megantic Canada in July 6, 2013, killing 47 people.
Lac-Mégantic coroner says 47 deaths were ‘violent, avoidable’: Coroner Martin Clavet makes recommendations for ‘a better protection of human life’, CBCNews, October 8, 2014.
Lac-Mégantic safety issues still cause for concern, watchdog says: The transport of volatile crude oil by rail poses a serious risk and urgent action is needed to minimize risks, the Transportation Safety Board warns, Bruce Campion-Smth, The Toronto Star, November 26, 2014.
If you’ve been to the Albany region lately, you’ve seen the sooty, black tanker cars stacked up in the rail yard, nine or ten deep, a few a hundred feet from the Interstate. At this very moment, these dangerous bomb trains are snaking through neighborhoods in places like Reading and South Philadelphia. In fact, more than 98,000 of these obsolete, explosive rail cars are moving shale oil and gas across the US each day. If you live in The Northeast, chances are there’s one rolling through your town right now.
New York state, particularly the southern tier, will also bear the impacts of high-pressure pipelines, pumps, depots and compressor stations. Then, there’s the issue of the ill-advised Crestwood CNG storage depot beneath the pristine finger lakes and, of course, the hundreds of millions of gallons of frack waste to be disposed of, somewhere.
“Special Protection Waters” Deserve Special Protections
There’s really very little doubt that fracking is bad for land and water. The science is catching up, and there’s now plenty of evidence to indicate that shale gas drilling and watershed protection don’t mix.
Fracking 101, Narrated by Edward James Olmos, Produced by Sierra Club National.
Fighting for a ban on fracking in Pennsylvania feels a lot like trying to put a genie back in the bottle, though. It’s possible, but it won’t be simple. I wish the Clean Water Act, which turned 40 this month, was still enough to protect our water supplies from the ravages of shale gas drilling. Like Steve Todd, I wish we could spare the Susquehanna River Basin, and the Allegheny River, too.
Wolf Calls New York’s #Fracking Ban “Unfortunate”, But Supports Ban In One Watershed?, Steve Todd, December 20, 2014.
The Delaware River Basin provides drinking water for more than 15 million Americans and supplies was to 42% of Pennsylvanian residents, 34% of New Jersey residents, 81% of Delaware residents, and 35% of New York residents. That’s about 5% of the Nation’s population from a relatively small watershed, only .4% of the land mass of the continental U.S. The Delaware River is one of the largest water supply basins in the mid-Atlantic, providing more drinking water than any adjacent basin. That’s why river historian Richard Albert recounted that the river has been dubbed “Little Giant” because of the command performance it must meet every day. The value of this water supply has recently been calculated by a University of Delaware study at $3,767,000.
It’s time for the temporary moratorium in the Delaware basin to become a permanent ban. Like Governor Cuomo, Tom Wolf ought to let science have its day.
Sharon Kelley, in her latest post on DeSmog Blog, offers a glimmer of hope:
As New York Bans Fracking, Calls for Moratorium in Pennsylvania Grow Stronger, December 21, 2014.
It was filmmaker Josh Fox who captured the one bittersweet note in New York’s victory when he posted his solidarity with Pennsylvania on Facebook a few days ago:
New York, we need to stand with our neighbors in Pennsylvania. We wouldn’t have a ban without them!
We have science on the health impacts of fracking because they’re getting sick.
We have science on air and water contamination because their environment is getting poisoned.
We have heard stories of fractured communities and destroyed livelihoods because they spoke up.
We need to stand with them and tell their newly elected Governor
NO MORE NEW WELLS IN PA!
Gloria Forouzan, the dynamic organizational force behind Marcellus Protest, wants everyone to get active and tell incoming Governor Tom Wolf to Stop Fracking Pennsylvania!