In Iowa print ad, coalition urges New York governor to reject fracking in New York
Des Moines, Iowa—On the eve of what could be a major decision in New York’s battle over whether to allow the process of hydraulic fracturing to take place in the state, 135 environmental, public health, faith and labor organizations ran a full-page advertisement in the Des Moines Register today reminding Governor Andrew Cuomo that his presidential aspirations may be affected by his actions on the controversial process. The ad is running just one day before the New York Department of Environmental Conservation could issue its Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement (SGEIS) on fracking, followed by its rules on the process by February 27.
“Iowa residents have long held the power to sway presidential elections, and now they may also have the ability to help protect communities across the Unites States from fracking,” said Food & Water Watch executive director Wenonah Hauter. “Governor Cuomo needs to learn that the road to the White House is not lined with drilling rigs. If he allows even one well in New York, voters in Iowa and elsewhere will remember that in 2016.”
Spearheaded by the national coalition Americans Against Fracking, the ad was endorsed by 350.org, Breast Cancer Action, the Center for Biological Diversity, CREDO Action, Earthworks, Democracy for America, Sierra Club, Food & Water Watch and Greenpeace, among others. It is intended to remind the rumored 2016 presidential contender that people across the United States, not just in New York, are watching his actions on fracking.
“Governor Cuomo may emerge as one of the nation’s most principled, powerful leaders, rooted in his achievements on ethics reform and if he follows through on his promises on campaign finance reform. But his biggest test, which would set him apart from most national leaders even of his own party, will be if he stands up to the big oil and gas interests that pollute our nation’s politics with campaign contributions and that are ready to ruin New Yorkers’ drinking water by fracking across the state. Today Iowans, and the nation, are watching,” said Phil Radford, executive director of Greenpeace.
Last month, over 200,000 comments, many of them opposed to fracking, were submitted to the New York Department of Environmental Conservation. Governor Cuomo is rumored to be considering allowing 10 to 40 demonstration fracking wells in New York, but opponents are concerned that this will set a dangerous precedence for future drilling.
“Hydrofracking is now understood to be the second largest emitter of greenhouse gases in the country. It’s unconscionable that in a post-Sandy world, we would even consider contributing to further climate change,” said Phil Aroneanu co-founder & U.S. campaigns director of 350.org.
Fracking is also of concern to residents of Iowa because the oil and gas industry mines sands used in fracking in the state, and the frac sand industry is raising fears about air pollution and water contamination.
“The rush to quench America’s insatiable thirst for oil and gas through hydraulic fracturing is entrenched in the rush to mine the cheap sand necessary for the process from the pristine hills we call home here in northeast Iowa. The issue has become politically volatile, fueled by immense amounts of money spent by the industry to buy the regulations it wants. Governor Cuomo needs to remember that the rush to frack in New York will have lasting consequences for residents of his state—and ours. We urge him to do the right thing and not allow fracking in New York,” noted Jeff Abbas of Allamakee County Protectors.
“Here in Iowa, we have seen what big business allowed to run out of control can do to our environment,” said Adam Mason, state policy director of Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement. “Just like corporate agriculture has fouled our waters here in Iowa, fracking and the giant energy companies that promote it have the potential to cause environmental disaster across the country. Iowans care about clean air and clean water, and as candidates look to Iowa for support in 2016, we will be looking at their record on the environment as a gauge for whom to vote.”
“Hydrofracking is a serious threat to the water quality of both rural and urban communities,” added Aaron Jorgensen-Briggs, an Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement member from Des Moines. “We need to focus on clean energy that puts people first and stop kowtowing to corporate polluters.”
An increasingly controversial form of oil and gas extraction, fracking is the process of taking millions of gallons of water, mixing it with tens of thousands of gallons of chemicals–including known carcinogens–and pumping it all underground at extreme pressure to break up rock formations and release oil or natural gas. New techniques and technologies used in the process are more intensive and riskier than conventional drilling, making fracking more dangerous than ever. To date, more than 1,000 reported cases of water contamination have been associated with drilling and fracking.
“A fracking boom would strike a devastating blow to New York’s efforts to fight climate disruption,” said Kassie Siegel, director of the Center for Biological Diversity’s Climate Law Institute. “The massive greenhouse gas pollution from this dangerous form of oil and gas extraction will fuel climate chaos and extreme weather. To reduce the risk of killer storms like Hurricane Sandy, New York needs to ban fracking.”
As for energy security, industry overstates the role of natural gas as a long-term source of domestic energy, misrepresenting its intentions. As of October 26, the Department of Energy had received 19 proposals to export potentially vast amounts of liquefied natural gas, up to over 40 percent of current U.S. natural gas consumption. Considering this push to export, along with other efforts to increase natural gas demand, Food & Water Watch finds that the United States may only have 50 years worth of natural gas, not the 100 years worth popularly claimed. And this assumes the industry wins completely unrestricted access to drill and frack and assumes that notoriously uncertain estimates of shale gas reserves will prove accurate.
Given these and other concerns, backlash against fracking and drilling is increasing. To date, over 325 municipalities in the United States, as well as Vermont, Bulgaria and France, have passed resolutions to stop fracking. In November, Longmont, Colorado made history as the first town in Colorado to ban fracking despite the fact that the oil and gas industry poured half a million dollars into opposing the successful ballot measure. In 2011, activists successfully blocked a plan to open the Delaware River to fracking.
View the ad here.
Contact: Kate Fried, Food & Water Watch, (202) 683-2500, kfried(at)fwwatch(dot)org.