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NY Lawmakers Urged to Proceed with “Extreme Caution” on Gas Drilling



April 11, 2011

NEW YORK - Hundreds of New Yorkers head to Albany today to warn Governor Andrew Cuomo and state lawmakers to proceed with extreme caution on natural gas drilling in New York. Dozens of environmental and health groups are asking them to put the longer-term issues of air and water quality ahead of any short-term gas profits.

Roger Downs, conservation program manager with the Sierra Club Atlantic Chapter, says states such as Pennsylvania are now dealing with toxic water problems because they did not have safeguards in place to regulate the hydraulic fracturing or "fracking" process used in natural gas wells to set free gas trapped in rock formations deep underground.

"From start to finish, fracking is an industrial process that threatens water, and in some cases radioactive waste water is produced. Fracking has poisoned water in other parts of the country, and we can't allow that to happen in New York."

Downs says there are also air quality concerns.

"We've seen in places like Wyoming, where the oil and gas industry has been booming, children on certain days cannot go out and play; they get nosebleeds from the air quality. It's serious stuff, and we don't want that in New York."

Rob Moore, executive director of Environmental Advocates of New York, says people who care about this issue don't have to trek to Albany in person. They can become "Water Rangers" and send their own messages about protecting New York's water.

"Deputize themselves to be a 'Water Ranger' and be part of the solution, helping state lawmakers understand that they need to make sure that the proper protections are in place to guarantee the public's health and safety, before any decision is made on letting fracking go forward."

New York's moratorium on horizontal fracking is set to expire on July 1. The industry says the process is safe and calls gas a natural energy resource for the nation. But environmentalists are urging the governor and lawmakers not to rush the Department of Environmental Conservation's review of the fracking process in New York.

An environmental coalition is running statewide ads this month inviting New Yorkers to become "Water Rangers."

Mike Clifford, Public News Service - NY
 

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