Albany, N.Y., protest demands fracking ban

Anti-fracking demonstration in Albany, N.Y., Jan. 9.WW photo: Peter Cook

Anti-fracking demonstration in Albany, N.Y., Jan. 9.
WW photo: Peter Cook

More than 1,000 people from throughout New York state converged on Albany Jan. 9 to demand that Gov. Andrew Cuomo respond to the people and not the natural gas corporations by immediately announcing a statewide ban against hydraulic fracturing. The large energy companies in this state and their allies in Albany would like to extract natural gas that is trapped in the widespread rock formation known as Marcellus Shale through the process called hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.

Fracking involves injecting into the shale millions of gallons of water containing sand and a “cocktail” of  highly toxic and carcinogenic chemicals. This process creates enough pressure to shatter the shale, keep the fractures open and release the natural gas, which is then pumped to the surface.

So far, widespread opposition to this plan has prevented the corporations from fracking in New York. All that could change shortly if the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation and the governor decide to ignore the people and the scientific evidence and implement a new set of regulations that would allow fracking.

Based on available scientific evidence and experience in Pennsylvania, Colorado, Wyoming, Ohio and elsewhere, fracking would cause irreparable damage to the environment by polluting drinking water and the air by releasing methane and radon gases and a host of other highly toxic chemicals into the environment.

A recent study by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has confirmed earlier findings that the rate of methane leakage from natural gas fields would be much higher than previously anticipated.  These findings contradict the claim by the natural gas industry and their supporters that the use of natural gas would benefit the environment.

Folk singers Pete Seeger and Natalie Merchant joined the protesters, who made it clear that they were going to continue to “Stand up and fight back.” The rally was organized by dozens of groups, including New Yorkers Against Fracking, Catskill Mountainkeeper, Shaleshock and Frack Free Catskills.

— Peter Cook

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