Fracking Opponents on the Offensive This Week in NYS

Two major anti-fracking actions in New York State are planned for today, May 22nd.

Demonstrators will be present this morning at the Democratic State Convention at the Hilton Long Island in Melville. Governor Cuomo and other Democratic elected officials are expected to attend the convention in preparation for the mid-term November 2014 elections.

Activists say they are demanding that New York ban high-volume hydraulic fracturing (a statewide moratorium is currently in place); stop the expansion of oil and gas infrastructure and pipelines throughout the state; and veto a proposed liquid natural gas port off the Long Island coast.

Residents and local groups concerned about fracking will also rally outside of President Obama’s visit Thursday to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown.

Organizers say that the rally will highlight that Obama’s support of natural gas and fracking is contradictory to his promise to address climate change because of new information on methane leaks from fracked wells.

The action is supported by the Cooperstown Chamber of Commerce and local Brewery Ommegang. Some businesses in Cooperstown have joined a statewide coalition of businesses against fracking, arguing that the practice “would put tourism and the regional economy at risk.”

Also in the Finger Lakes, some local residents are fighting a recently approved plan to increase natural gas storage capacity at the Seneca Lake Storage Facility.

The project calls for converting two abandoned interconnected salt caverns, which were formerly used for propane storage, to natural gas storage,” said a local news report.

On the Move in Albany

Fracking opponents in New York State are also active on the legislative front.

A bill that would require utilities to “monitor and mitigate” radon levels in delivered natural gas passed the State Assembly’s Health Committee last week, and has moved on to Codes.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas found in soils, rock, and water throughout the U.S. Radon is also a known human carcinogen.

Activists and some legislators point out that as new pipelines are constructed in New York, there will be an increase in gas coming from Marcellus Shale drill sites in Pennsylvania. The state already restricts the re-use (such as road spreading) of fracking waste from the Marcellus Shale because of concerns about radioactivity levels.

The legislation, which has at least 18 sponsors in the Assembly, argues that, “natural gas may be coming to New York State from sources with high levels of radioactivity… It is the intent of this act to prevent levels of radon and its radioactive progeny from exceeding current levels in gas distributed to residential and other consumers.”

And Rochester-based WXXI News (public radio & TV) reports that the Democratic minority conference in the State Senate released four bills last Tuesday that would “ban fracking waste from being shipped into the state for treatment or disposal, eliminate the waste from being used to melt ice off of roads and bar treatment facilities and landfills from accepting the byproduct.”