Consumer Advocates, Businesses, Farmers, Doctors and Scientists Join Elected Officials to Call for a Ban on Fracking in New York

For Immediate Release

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Kate Fried, Food & Water Watch, (202) 683-4905; 

Eric Weltman, Food & Water Watch, (617) 304-5330;
Claire Sandberg, Frack Action, (646) 641-6431

Consumer Advocates, Businesses, Farmers, Doctors and Scientists Join Elected Officials to Call for a Ban on Fracking in New York

ALBANY, N.Y. - As the six-month moratorium on hydraulic fracturing (fracking) in New York is soon set to expire, a diverse group of civic leaders and citizens are today calling upon Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature to issue a permanent ban on this dangerous, polluting practice. The “Rally and March for a Statewide Ban,” which is expected to draw hundreds of participants from across the state, will unite elected officials, consumer advocates, farmers, members of the business community, organized labor, scientists, medical professionals, students, good government groups and others to illustrate why New York cannot afford to allow fracking given its threat to the well-being of the state’s water and food resources, public health and economy.

“Fracking endangers vital food and water resources, taxes our nation’s already overburdened water infrastructure systems, and sacrifices our rural communities to our seemingly insatiable thirst for energy resources,” said Food & Water Watch executive director Wenonah Hauter. “As consumers around the U.S. reject this dangerous energy extraction process, legislators in New York have an opportunity to be real leaders on this issue. A ban on fracking in New York State would represent a watershed moment in the fight to defend our communities, while serving as model for other states who wish to protect their essential resources from the hazards of fracking.”

Rally participants from the business community, including the Cooperstown Chamber of Commerce and Brewery Ommegang, will decry the economic downsides of fracking for New York State’s agriculture and tourism industries, and long-term economic viability. “The plans for drilling pose a direct and material threat to the interests of the Chamber membership,” said Cooperstown Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Susan O’Handley. “Industrial-scale hydrofracking in the upstate region will irreparably damage the essential qualities that make the Cooperstown area an excellent place to live, raise families, farm and work. It puts at risk much of the local economy, ranging from hotel and tourism to restaurant and retail businesses, most of which are driven by the hundreds of thousands of tourists who choose to visit the region every year.”

“Economic impact research NOT funded by the gas industry has reached vastly different conclusions than has research funded or sponsored by industry groups openly seeking to gain financially in the gas plays,” said economist Jannette Barth, of J.M. Barth and Associates. “In reality, the economic health of the Marcellus Shale region may be worse off in the long run if gas drilling is allowed.”

Farmers will speak to the potential impacts of fracking on agricultural communities, and highlight the recent Chesapeake Energy gas well blowout in Bradford County, Pa., where thousands of gallons of undiluted fracking chemicals spewed across farmland and forced residents to evacuate. “I don’t want to farm in an industrial zone. I don’t want to live in an industrial zone,” said Mark Dunau, farmer from Delaware County and policy co-chair for the Northeast Organic Farming Association-New York. “And if the water’s poisoned, that’s a threat to me whether or not I’m farming. For humanity the most important fuel is food and water. The gas is for fifty years. The water is forever.”

Cornell University biologist and acclaimed author Sandra Steingraber will address the long-term public health consequences of allowing this practice to move forward across the state: “Fracking relies on chemicals linked to cancer, preterm birth, and miscarriage. It fills our air with asthma-inducing air pollutants. It releases radioactive substances. It turns fresh water into poison and uses it as a club to smash the bedrock a mile below our feet. Is this what we want to do to the farmlands and cow pastures of upstate New York? To the watershed that serves as a source of drinking water for millions of people? Think again, New York. Don’t fracture our children’s future.”

The event comes as the legislature considers S4220-A 57218, introduced by event participants Senator Tony Avella (D-11) and Assemblymember William Colton (D-47), which would ban fracking.

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The process of extracting gas from shale rock, fracking uses toxic chemicals that have been shown to contaminate water resources. To date, there have been more than 1,000 documented cases of water contamination near drilling sites around the country. The process also endangers consumers who do not reside near drilling sites because fracking fluids, which often contain radioactive elements, cannot be effectively treated by municipal treatment plants, and are often released into waterways where they can pollute drinking water resources and the water used to irrigate food crops.

Late last year, outgoing Governor David Paterson imposed a temporary moratorium on fracking in New York that will expire on July 1, 2011. Last month, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced plans to sue the federal government if it does not produce an environmental impact assessment of proposed fracking projects in the Delaware River Basin before drilling again commences. The Delaware River provides drinking water for 15 million Americans.

Sponsored by: Frack Action, Food & Water Watch, Onondaga Nation, WaterDefense.Org, Democracy for America, Citizen Action of New York, Josh Fox – Gasland, Neighbors of the Onondaga Nation, CDOG – Chenango Delaware Otsego Gas Group, Syracuse Peace Council, Shaleshock, Sustainable Otsego, Damascus Citizens for Sustainability, NYH2O, Ommegang Brewery, Gas Drilling Awareness of Cortland County (GDACC), Capital District Against Fracking, Coalition to Protect New York, Frack Free Catskills, New York Action Network, New York Residents Against Drilling, Syracuse Cultural Workers, Cooperstown Chamber of Commerce, Students Against Fracking, Cornell Sustainability Hub, Mountain View Movies, Ithaca College Frack Off!, Honest Weight Food Co-op, Dryden Resource Awareness Coalition, Gray Panthers, The Green Bus Tour, KyotoNOW!, Water Back Project, Davenport Concerned Citizens, The Ad Hoc Committee to Uphold Environmental Law, Allegany County Non-violent Action Group, Concerned Citizens of Allegany County, Delaware Action Group, Sullivan Area Citizens for Responsible Energy Development, Advocates for Cherry Valley, Inc, Schoharie Valley Watch, Binghamton Environmental, Mamalama, Brecht Forum, Delaware Action Group, NYC Friends of Clearwater, No Fracking Way Project, Theater of the Oppressed Laboratory, Peacemakers, The Lower Manhattan Public Health Project, Woodstock Hidden Kitchen, Up North Movement, Take Back the Tap, Fly Creek/Otsego Neighbors, Shaleshock Action Alliance, People for a Healthy Environment, Inc., PDAWNY, New Yorkers for Sustainable Energy Solutions Statewide, R*CAUSE-Rochesterians Concerned About Unsafe Shale-gas Extraction, Walk About Water

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Food & Water Watch is a nonprofit consumer organization that works to ensure clean water and safe food. We challenge the corporate control and abuse of our food and water resources by empowering people to take action and by transforming the public consciousness about what we eat and drink.

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