About 75 local residents, including clergy and environmental activists, came to Mount Kisco Village Hall on Aug. 1 to urge Gov. Andrew Cuomo to ban hydraulic fracturing for natural gas.
The method, which is more commonly known as hydrofracking or merely fracking, is a method of extracting natural gas from shale.
“We’re here today calling on Governor Cuomo in his home community to have him prohibit hydrofracking in New York,” Pleasantville resident Vitalah Simon, who is active with the Purchase Quaker Meeting and the Human Race, said. “Hydrofracking ruins our earth, our water, our air, our food and our lives. New York and all New Yorkers must be protected and then New York will stand as an example of healthy vitality for the nation and the world.”
Suzannah Glidden of Bedford, a member of Hands across the Water, read a July 2012 letter from members of various religious denominations in upstate New York accompanying a resolution calling on state officials to ban hydrofracking.
“As people of reason and faith care of the earth, its inhabitants and future generations is of great importance to us. We’ve been supportive of the current moratorium on hydraulic fracking for natural gas extraction in New York so that impacts can be assessed,” Glidden read. “However, in light of mounting evidence of significant harm to the environment, human health and communities in areas where fracking has occurred and indications that the DEC [Department of Environmental Conservation] could soon begin issuing permits, we’re now compelled to speak out in opposition to use of the technology as it has been presently developed.”
Glidden wants officials to consider the damage that has been hydrofracking in other states.
“Fracking activities underway in Pennsylvania and elsewhere have been shown to cause significant and irreversible damage both above and below ground,” Glidden said. “As proposed, the technology constitutes a grave danger to land, air and water resources of our entire region should it come to New York,”
Several local clergy addressed the gathering. Dr. Michael Tino, the minister of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Northern Westchester in Mount Kisco, said, “My religious tradition calls on us to affirm and promote the interdependent web of existence of which we are a part and also to honor the voices of the indigenous on our planet, those with ties to our planet.”
Tino asked the governor to consider how fracking would affect future generations.
The event included a Native American chant spoken by the attendees, “earth my body, water my blood, air my breath and fire my spirit.”
State Legislators Comment
Assemblyman Thomas Abinanti (D/Greenburgh) was the only elected official to speak during the event. “Hydrofracking for natural gas is an idea whose time should never come to New York. It makes no sense environmentally or economically,” Abinanti said. “Economically, without massive taxpayer funded government subsidies, fracking is unaffordable, even to the multi-national giant corporations. And environmentally, to capture a small amount of fossil fuel, fracking endangers our water supply forever.”
Abinanti said he has introduced legislation that would “significantly cut back the chance of hydrofracking in New York by setting up the toughest regulations in the country.”
While a telephone message left for the governor’s office was not returned, two other state legislators weighed in on the fracking issue last week, with one calling for a moratorium until the technique can be determined to be safe and another legislator saying he was convinced fracking can be done safely.
Assemblyman Steve Katz (R/Yorktown) said natural gas can safely be extracted through fracking. “I have seen enough studies that (show) hydrofracking can be done in an ecologically responsible manner,” Katz said.
Fracking can be “a wonderful new source of revenues” from the jobs that it would create, Katz said. Jobs from fracking are being created not only in Pennsylvania where the procedure is being used, but the spill over of new business is being felt in nearby Elmira, N.Y., Katz said.
Natural gas can be used to help make the United State energy independent, Katz said.
But Assemblyman Robert Castelli (R-C/Goldens Bridge) said he is co-sponsoring two pieces of legislation that call for a moratorium on fracking until a study of the health impacts of the procedure are studied by the state.
“Until we determine whether or not the gas can be extracted safely it should not be extracted,” Castelli said. “Maybe it can be extracted safely, maybe it can’t.”
Castelli said one of his major concerns with fracking is it could potentially be damaging to water supplies.