Even On Earth Day: NY Fracking Debate Rages On

Apr 22, 2014

Green group "Elected Officials to Protect New York" today released copies of local resolutions from municipalities around the state, urging Governor Andrew Cuomo to continue the de facto moratorium on hydraulic fracturing.

The resolutions, released over the last several months, for the most part recommend increasing investment in renewable energy, noting the success of the New York Sun initiative and growth in electric vehicle charging stations.

Credit WAMC (Dave Lucas)

New Paltz Supervisor Susan Zimet, speaking at a press conference at the capitol in Albany, says her community is pursuing a number of solar and renewable energy initiatives.     "As a university town, we see clearly the importance of creating a thriving renewable energy future, and New York State is poised to invest in renewables and become a leader in the nation, creating good, long-term jobs for our youth here at home."

Gloversville City Supervisor Greg Young believes fracking job numbers don't hold up in reality and they largely go to out-of-state workers — which may be just as well.    "And given  the dangerous exposure to silica, sand and dust used in fracking and many explosions and blow-outs show the inherent dangers of this technology. These are not good jobs. They're not the jobs you'd want your family members taking. They're not long-lasting and they're not sustainable. That's why were eager for actual good jobs in rapid-growing industries like solar and wind."

Young would rather see New York tap its strong research universities to create opportunities for youth in solar, wind and efficiency technologies, and attract innovative companies into the state.

Coming from the opposite direction, Unshackle Upstate is calling for New York to lift the fracking moratorium. Brain Sampson is the group's executive director.    "Given that today is Earth Day and everybody is concerned about the environment, the use of hydraulic fracturing to develop the marcellus shale is an important step for New York to continue to improve its environment. Natural gas is much cleaner to burn than coal. We can use it in our homes, our businesses. We can even put it in our cars when we retro-fit those engines, so from our perspective, it's an environmentally smart thing to do.  But also from an economic standpoint as well, the people of the Southern Tier continue to see massive amounts of job loss and population loss. And this has the opportunity to spur tremendous opportunity in the Southern Tier. We need the governor to understand that this is his perogative. It's his ability to move this issue forward, and we ask him today on earth day to dedicate New York to developing the Marcellus Shale."

Fracking in New York has been on hold under a de facto moratorium for almost seven years, with polls showing the public split on the issue. Documents released earlier this month appeared to show a wide-ranging ongoing evaluation of fracking by the state, but with health commissioner Dr. Nirav Shah leaving his post in May, it’s unclear what the next steps could be.  A Cuomo administration official says fracking remains under evaluation.