New York Crossroads

What: New York Crossroads: Rally to Stop Fracking and Demand Renewable Energy
When: Monday, June 17th, 12pm-3pm
Where: Rally and March in East Capitol Lawn, Albany, NY

NYCrossroads

My name is Joseph Varon, and I live in West Hempstead, Long Island.

I知 an environmental activist, retired teacher, and native New Yorker, who volunteers with Food & Water Watch.

I知 also an Orthodox Jew, whose faith inspires a reverence for our Earth. On June 17, I値l be taking the bus to Albany for New York Crossroads, the rally against fracking and for renewable energy.

I love nature and the outdoors, and I知 terrified that fracking could destroy some of our beautiful state痴 most precious landscapes. And, of course, I知 worried about the threat of climate change and how fracking could poison our water, air, and food.

I hope you値l join me in making New York Crossroads an amazing event.

If you want to arrange a car pool, email Corinne Rosen.

Thank you so much for helping protect our state.

– Joseph Varon

State of Hydrofracking in NY

hydrofrackingIt would be safe to say that the legal battle over hydrofracking in New York State is a confusing one. Having said that, Governor Cuomo has stated that he will make a decision on this polarizing issue within the next few months. A recent Quinnipac pole found New Yorkers against hydrofracking by a 46 to 39 percent rate. This points to a trend in this direction over the past two to three years since hydrofracking became an issue in this state.

Hydrofracking for natural gas came into being in 1947 but took its present form in 1997. Proponents say that in its current form it helps extract natural gas from shale formations that would not be otherwise accessible. New York State is home to two of these shale formations. The Marcellus Shale formation extends from northern Pennsylvania northward into New York State and extends to approximately Rt. 20 across the state. The Utica Shale formation extends north from the Marcellus formation to the Canadian border and the western part of New York State. Pennsylvania began drilling in their portion of the Marcellus Shale in 2008.

Since that time, there has been a statewide moratorium in New York State so that the long-term health/environmental consequences can be studied. Gas companies have made preliminary leasing agreements with landowners pending the governor’s decision.At this time, the decision whether to allow hydrofracking in New York State lies solely with the governor. While the State Assembly has been willing to introduce legislation banning the practice, the State Senate has indicated they would not support such legislation, so none has been forthcoming.

The statewide New York moratorium was due to expire during February 2013. Prior to that, Governor Cuomo had requested the New York State Department of Health to analyze the possible health hazards and make a recommendation based on their findings. The Department of Health stated it could take two to three years to make a knowledgeable analysis of these consequences. In that Pennsylvania has only been fracking for approximately five years, possible long-term health and environmental consequences are not all known yet. Opponents of hydrofracking point to possible contamination of the water table and increased incidents of stillbirths among dairy animals in areas adjacent to existing gas wells in Pennsylvania as just a two of the possible negative consequences of fracking. Despite these concerns, Governor Cuomo recently announced that he feels he will have enough information to make a decision within the next few months. At this time, it is felt that the governor has three possible rulings available to him. He could ban the practice statewide, issue limited “test well” sights, or grant across the board approval.

While the governor has the final decision on a “statewide” policy on gas hydrofracking, each individual municipality has the power to pass their own local policy relative to hydrofracking in their jurisdiction. At the present time, there are four different categories as they pertain to a particular municipality’s status: 1) Ban in place, 2) Moratorium in place, 3) Movement towards one of those, or 4) No action being considered. An excellent source of information on this process throughout the state as well as the location of the two shale formations is the web sight “fractracker.org”. One note of explanation regards the term “fracking ban”. This is actually a misnomer. While this is the term used informally, those areas that have imposed “bans have actually imposed zoning restrictions that prohibit fracking as well as certain other industries that those locales feel is not in their best interest. While this seems to be a semantic distinction, it could be an import distinction should the gas companies bring suit against those locales.

Regarding the possibility of litigation between a gas company and a locale, the New York State Supreme Court recently upheld the Town of Avon’s local ordinance in a suit brought by a gas company that had purchased conditional leases in that town. Opponents are confident that local ordinances will stand up in court and there is state legislation pending to strengthen the “home rule” stipulation that reinforces the local ordinances. However, opponents are also quick to say that any gas well in New York State is a dangerous proposition – as water and air are unaware of municipal boundaries. Pollution of the water or air in one area will soon contaminate the water or air in a contiguous area.

We at NYIPL ask that all of our members pray that our governor make the right decision in this crucial matter! And if you壇 like to tell the governor how you feel, click here.

Thanks to John Pick, NYIPL volunteer, for this report.

Good News

Two pieces of good news:

  1. On Monday the states that are a part of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), including New York, agreed to a reduction in the emissions cap, from 141 million tons to 91 million tons. This will reduce the amount of carbon being put into our atmosphere.
  2. On Tuesday the Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Shah said that he needs more time to complete the health review on hydrofracking, effectively keeping the state from rushing a decision.

New York Interfaith Power and Light and many of you have written letters and made phone calls to push for these two things, and our state痴 leaders have heard our call. Thank you for all you have done and continue to do!

NYIPL Calls on Governor Cuomo to Hold off on Fracking

hydrofrackingNew York Interfaith Power & Light (NYIPL), a nonprofit organization of 90 congregations of different faiths, called on the Governor and the Department of Environmental Conservation in a letter Wednesday to prohibit high-volume horizontal hydraulic fracturing (吐racking) until safety and environmental concerns have been addressed.

New York Interfaith Power and Light also issued a new position statement on the issue.

As people of faith concerned with climate change, said Executive Director Janna Stieg Watkins, NYIPL is particularly interested in the methane leaks associated with fracking. 溺ethane is a potent greenhouse gas said Stieg Watkins, 殿nd leaking methane is a serious issue. Numerous other environmental and health hazards are products of fracking, the group noted.

The Vice-Chair of NYIPL痴 board, Dr. Patricia Townsend, said 的f one applies the precautionary principle to the discussion, it becomes clear that it is inappropriate to open New York to fracking at this time, with the current state of drilling technology and environmental science. 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.

Townsend continued 展e 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 fracking.

An Open Letter to Governor Cuomo

January 9, 2013

The Honorable Andrew M. Cuomo
Governor of New York State
NYS State Capitol Building
Albany, NY 12224

Dear Governor Cuomo,

New York Interfaith Power & Light is a non-profit organization made up of 90 congregations of all faiths located throughout the state of New York. We are deeply concerned about the environmental and health affects of high-volume horizontal hydraulic fracturing, and are particularly concerned about the impact on our climate from methane leaks.

In the past we have called for the precautionary principle to be applied. We have not joined the anti-fracking coalition because we realize that these are hard decisions for communities of faith in the area currently being targeted for drilling. Now that a decision is at hand, however, it is clear that serious questions are yet to be answered about both health 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.

We are writing to you to add our names to the letter previously sent to you and signed by hundreds of other faith leaders:

As people of reason and faith, care of the earth, its inhabitants, and future generations are of great importance to us. We have been supportive of the current moratorium on hydraulic fracturing for natural gas extraction in New York so that impacts can be assessed. 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 could soon begin issuing permits, we are now compelled to speak out in opposition to use of the technology as it has been presently developed.

Fracking activities underway in Pennsylvania and elsewhere have been shown to cause significant and irreversible damage, both above and below ground. As proposed, the technology constitutes a grave danger to land, air, and water resources of our entire region, should it come to New York. While we appreciate the economic difficulties of neighbors, we believe it is a moral obligation for all of us to work together toward addressing human needs while building a sustainable future that is respectful of the earth and the well-being of future generations who shall inherit this world. The intrinsic beauty of our planet and abundance of life it sustains are far beyond the capacity of humankind to create; however they are not beyond the capacity of humankind, as creatures with intelligence and compassion, to protect.

In consideration of the above, we join the numerous clergy, religious leaders, and communities of faith who have signed a resolution in support of bans on the use of hydraulic fracturing for the extraction of natural gas throughout the past several months since the ceremony of the blessing of the waters at Cooperstown. Furthermore, we strongly encourage the pursuit of sustainable economies, renewable energy, and conservation so that New York may be an example of good stewardship of the earth and an advocate for the well-being of its inhabitants.

Sincerely,

The Board of New York Interfaith Power & Light

Gerard A. Falco, Esq., Board Chair
Harrison, NY

Dr. Patricia Townsend, Vice-Chair
Amherst, NY

J. Henry Neale, Jr., Esq., Treasurer
White Plains, NY

Sister Mary Ann Garisto
Bronx, NY

Rev. Henry Frueh
Queensbury, NY

Elysa Hammond
New Rochelle, NY

Rabbi Linda Motzkin
Gansevoort, NY

Edward Smyth
Wyantskill, NY

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 (吐racking).

Scientists continue to gather evidence about methane leaks from fracked wells (P騁ron, 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.

POSITION STATEMENT: Hydraulic Fracturing

July, 2010

Statement: New YorkInterfaith Power and Light urges the EPA to use thePrecautionary Principlein a scientifically sound comprehensive study of the process and impacts ofhydrofracking.

NYIPL has serious concerns about the safety of hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”). Each drill injects 50,000 to eight million gallons of water mixed with sand and chemical additives into a geologic formation below the surface of the earth. The drilling industry has resisted revealing exactly what chemicals are used in the fluid. The high pressure creates fracturing in the rock which then releases the natural gas into the well.According to Environmental Advocates of New York (eany.org), more than 1,400 cases of water contamination related to drilling have occurred across the country. Recently the University of Buffalo has discovered that the process may cause uranium that is naturally trapped within Marcellus shale to be released.

NYIPL questions the use of precious resources to mine yet another fossil fuel, especially one with such potential dangers, andurges that no expansion of this practice should occur until such concerns are resolved.

NYIPL: New York Interfaith Power & Light is a faith-based non-profit organization that serves the state of New York. Our mission is to support congregations of all faiths in their actions to curb global warming and protect the sacredness of the earth. We currently have 79 member congregations, and regularly communicate with 900 people via our email list.

We are part of a national network of congregations of all faiths concerned about the effects of global warming and power plant pollution.

Summary: The precautionary principle states that if a practice, such as hydraulic fracturing, 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.

There are substantial potential risks to hydraulic fracturing. The concerns about possible water and air pollution caused by hydrofracking in the Marcellus Shale layer are well-documented.

Because the process was given an exemption from U.S. federal air and clean water regulations in 2005, we as a country have not done enough to formally assess the potential risks of hydrofracking.

We should not go forward with this process operating out of ignorance. There are so many people who would be affected if drinking water were contaminated that it would be negligent to fail to study potential risks thoroughly. Furthermore, little is known about the effects of this process on health of people near drilling sites, or on the local biota–including the eventual disposal of the waste water that returns to the surface.

Our earth is sacred, and all that live in it. NYIPL calls on the EPA, along with our whole community, to care for God痴 creation by exercising the precautionary principle in relation to hydraulic fracturing.

Contact: Janna Stieg Watkins, NYIPL Executive Director (315) 256-0078

Read Up on Hydrofracking

Here are some articles and videos to keep you up to date on what Hydrofracking is and the ongoing debate: