No Fracking Chance, Colltalers
The fight to prevent hydraulic fracturing from being allowed in New York state seems to be getting heated up again, as Gov. Cuomo prepares to issue the guidelines for his energy policy.
Despite his initial opposition, environmentalists, farmers, advocates for clean sources of energy, celebrity sympathizers, and everyone and their (flaming) kitchen sink are starting to have that, well, sinking feeling that he’s caving in to gas producers.
Lobbyists are also having a ball with the release of an Environmental Protection Agency’s progress report, ordered by Congress, about fracking, which seems to favor it.
As a show of the industry’s strength and powerful lobby, the released excerpts of the study never mention a crucial point that gives base to the whole movement against fracking: drinking water contamination.
Ironically, the government agency vilified by the GOP during the presidential campaign, did it a big favor by not addressing the blatant, and most explicit effect of injecting tons of chemicals deep into the ground: it makes the water coming out of facets in thousands of upstate farms flammable.
The process of extraction of natural gas has very little of natural, and we suspect that in keeping calling it this way, the industry hopes that it’ll give a brutal and messy process a patina of ‘green’ source of energy, right along solar and wind power.
Or so they wish. In fact, groundwater contamination is but one of several serious consequences of the process, most of them conveniently overlooked by the EPA report, according to those who read it. Another is the sudden increase in seismic activity in states that traditionally never had an earthquake before. The same states that were first in allowing fracking within their borders.
Since we’ve mentioned other states, it’s always good to remind everyone that, days from President Obama’s second-term inauguration, his energy policies continue to be dictated by the industry lobby.
In fact, the last time he said anything about it, was in support of natural gas and even coal, another source of energy that, in two centuries, has had a devastating impact on the environment and public health. It also goes by its misnomer, by the way: clean coal.
As not even billions of dollars have been enough to convince people all over the world that there’s no such a thing as ‘clean coal,’ one’d expect that it wouldn’t take that long to reach the same conclusion about hydraulic fracturing.
Apparently, the president hasn’t got the memo yet, and we’re growing impatient, not because this is a (poisonous) pie in the sky about to fall over the lives of future generations. There are already many farms all but ruined by this unsafe technique.
Now, whether the governor, or the president for that matter, will both wait until a possible environmental disaster, with unforeseen consequences to public health, happens, before acting, remains a drilling question that both are perfectly capable of answering.
But while the president’s inauguration is still three-weeks away, Gov. Cuomo may have to at least reply to calls demanding more time beyond the Jan. 11th deadline for New Yorkers to comment on the new regulations.
Since no health or environmental impact studies have been completed, such deadline may effectively undermine further research, even if it comes up with proof that the costs of adopting the technique would be astronomical, both financially and in terms of health issues.
Such restricted time for public hearings may, of course, be exactly what the industry wanted all along, in order to go ahead with its drilling plans. After all, there are billions of dollars riding on their drive to gain control of this market.
It’s been disheartening to see both the president’s tone deaf approach to energy policy, and the New York governor’s apparently change of heart about fracking. Not what one would expect from someone belonging to such an illustrious political legacy in this state.
But as we said, we’re not done with this issue yet, and New York has a unique opportunity to set a high standard, by prioritizing the environment and public health, over an industry’s best interests. Go ahead, governor, make us all proud and ban fracking. WC