Congressman Hinchey, Senator Tkaczyk, Assemblymember Skartados, Natalie Merchant, Health Professionals and Groups Launch Hudson Valley United Against Fracking and Call on Governor Cuomo Not to Allow Fracking
Former Congressman Hinchey Releases Letter to Governor Cuomo; Prominent Individuals and Groups Urge Renewable Energy, Not Fracking
(Kingston) Led by former Congressman Maurice Hinchey, prominent elected officials, environmental organizations, and health professionals from all across the Hudson Valley came together in Kingston on Tuesday urging Governor Cuomo not to allow fracking. The group launched Hudson Valley United Against Fracking (www.HVAgainstFracking.org), a new network showcasing the overwhelming opposition to fracking that spans the Hudson Valley from Albany to what will be the new Tappan Zee Bridge, as depicted in the group’s logo. As a key electoral swing region in the state, it is notable that elected officials on both sides of the aisle have campaigned on an anti-fracking platform in the Hudson Valley and have made it a key campaign priority. Instead of allowing fracking, which would greatly exacerbate climate change, they called on the governor to boldly lead on renewable energy and efficiency.
The press conference included Congressman Hinchey, NYS Senator Cecilia Tkaczyk, NYS Assemblymember Frank Skartados, singer-songwriter Natalie Merchant, Dr. Larysa Dyrszka (MD) of Concerned Health Professionals of NY, Natural Resources Defense Council Political & Legislative Director Richard Schrader, Riverkeeper Executive Director Paul Gallay, Clearwater Executive Director Jeff Rumpf, Frack Action, Catskill Mountainkeeper, and a host of grassroots organizations and local elected officials.
Former Congressman Hinchey released aletter to Governor Cuomo underscoring the importance of the governor waiting for results of the EPA’s ongoing comprehensive “Study of Hydraulic Fracturing and Its Potential Impact on Drinking Water Resources” prior to making a decision on fracking. In February, the Cuomo Administration cited this study as one of the first comprehensive studies on fracking and one of three studies that they are considering making part of the state’s fracking health review. In 2010, Congressman Hinchey initiated and secured funding for the EPA study while in Congress. It is due to be completed in 2014.
Congressman Hinchey stated in his letter to Governor Cuomo, “I’m writing to express my support for your science-driven approach to the State’s decision about high-volume hydraulic fracturing, and I urge you to wait for critical data from EPA’s ongoing analysis…Part of my intention in advancing this measure was to undertake and complete the EPA study prior to any decision on whether or not to allow high-volume hydraulic fracturing in New York…EPA’s ongoing study is the first independent, comprehensive scientific review of fracking to date.”
“There is simply too much at stake for the State to allow fracking without first studying all the data available, including the EPA’s anticipated groundwater study which Congressman Hinchey fought for,” said Senator Cecilia Tkaczyk. “There is growing evidence that fracking contaminates our natural resources without providing many local, long-term jobs and has a devastating effect on local property values.This is not the kind of sustainable job-creation we need in Upstate New York.”
Speaking about the launch of Hudson Valley United Against Fracking, Riverkeeper Executive Director Paul Gallay said, “I am proud to stand with Congressman Hinchey and our fellow Hudson Valley grassroots advocates to continue to urge Governor Cuomo not to move forward with allowing fracking in New York. Instead, we call on the Governor to commit to pursuing the clean energy and efficiency goals that his own Energy Highway Task Force Blueprint sets forth. This commitment to a clean energy future would live up to the environmental legacy of this storied area, the birthplace of both Riverkeeper and the national environmental movement.”
The Hudson Valley is an important electoral swing region in the state, and the overwhelming grassroots anti-facking movement goes to show that opposition to fracking is a key issue for many voters. This is reflected by the fact that many elected officials in the Hudson Valley have campaigned on an anti-fracking platform, including those on both sides of the aisle and at the state and local level.
Much of the Hudson Valley sits atop the Utica Shale, which is increasingly being targeted by natural gas companies for fracking. The Hudson Valley is also the watershed for New York City, which is threatened by water contamination, damagingseismic activity and earthquakes, air pollution,radon traveling with natural gas into people’s homes, and other impacts.
“Governor Cuomo, an overwhelming majority of Hudson Valley residents join a majority of all New Yorkers in opposing fracking,” said Frack Action’s Campaign Director and Founder Julia Walsh. “Opposition stems from the best science and from seeing the horrors of sickness, air pollution, water contamination and ruined communities fracking has caused across the country”
Larysa Dyrszka, MD, a physician for more than 20 years and a co-founder of Concerned Health Professionals of NY said, “Having investigated the impacts of fracking for years, I’ve seen contaminated water and air and witnessed sickness ranging from headaches and nosebleeds to rashes and respiratory illnesses. From a medical and scientific standpoint, it is paramount that Governor Cuomo waits for the results of the EPA study and other important health studies before making a decision about fracking.”
Assemblymember Skartados, a Hudson Valley farmer, noted how fracking threatens New York’s agriculture industry, “Farmland in New York State occupies one quarter of our land; it is a 4.5 billion dollar industry; it employs tens of thousands of people annually and offers legendary scenery for recreation and enjoyment. Why would we jeopardize one of New York’s greatest assets and endanger the health of our residents? To those who say horizontal hydro-fracking can be made safe I point them to the nuclear industry, and ask how can we possibly write enough guidelines or establish enough policy, or set aside enough cleanup money, to ensure that our farmland and agriculture will be safe from accidents or catastrophes? Say no to horizontal hydro-fracking in New York – because accidents happen no matter how much we plan to avoid them.”
The network will serve to highlight and build upon opposition to fracking in the Hudson Valley and amplify the call for Governor Cuomo to not allow fracking anywhere in the state. The website highlights the countless organizations, businesses and others opposed to fracking in the Hudson Valley, as well as the local bans and moratoria that have already been passed.
Assemblymember Kevin Cahill issued a statement in support, “As former Chair of the Assembly Energy Committee I have been a voice of reason in uniformly and consistently supporting moratoria that would prevent fracking until and unless it is proven to be safe.”
“It is our responsibility to ensure that all New Yorkers and future generations are protected from the harmful results of fracking,” said State Senator Terry Gipson. “That is why I hope Governor Cuomo continues to do the courageous thing and wait for the science before deciding whether to move forward. I hope he joins me in being committed to protecting the health and beauty of the Hudson Valley.”