POSITION STATEMENT: High-volume Horizontal Hydraulic Fracturing

New York Interfaith Power and Light Position Statement on high-volume horizontal hydraulic fracturing
January 9, 2013

New York Interfaith Power & Light calls upon the DEC and Governor Cuomo to prohibit high-volume horizontal hydraulic fracturing at this time.

New York Interfaith Power & Light is a non-profit organization representing 90 congregations of all faiths across the state of New York. We regularly communicate with more than 1600 people via email. We are a part of the national Interfaith Power and Light movement, with chapters in 39 states and we address climate change from a faith perspective.

We support creation stewardship, including intelligent energy use, energy efficiency, and community health. It has become clear that serious questions are yet to be answered about both the health and climate impacts of high-volume horizontal hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”).

Scientists continue to gather evidence about methane leaks from fracked wells (Pétron, G. et al. J. Geophys. Res. 117, D04304, 2012). Methane is a potent greenhouse gas, and leaking methane will likely negate any climate benefits that fracked gas has over coal.

Evidence of other health and environmental concerns continues to mount as well. And there is not sufficient corresponding evidence that the natural gas industry has adequately addressed these safety concerns.

Our previous position statement on hydrofracking calls upon the EPA to use the precautionary principle when assessing this type of natural gas extraction. The precautionary principle states that if a practice has a suspected risk of causing harm to the public or to the environment, that the burden of proof that it is not harmful falls on those promoting the practice. In this case that would be those entities promoting hydraulic fracturing.

Now that a decision is at hand it is clear that serious questions are yet to be answered about both health impacts and climate impacts. Applying the precautionary principle, it is clear that it would be inappropriate to open New York to high-volume horizontal hydraulic fracturing at this time, with the current state of drilling technology and environmental science.