Blogs > Don't Frack with New York > New York Crossroads Rally Draws Thousands Against Fracking in the Face of Senate Inaction

New York Crossroads Rally Draws Thousands Against Fracking in the Face of Senate Inaction


Photo: Sara Moriarty
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Evan Preminger

Photo: Sara Moriarty

On June 17th, more than two thousand five hundred New Yorkers gathered in Albany to make their voices heard. The New York Crossroads rally, co-sponsored by Riverkeeper and over 70 other environmental and citizen action organizations, drew large crowds to the East Capitol lawn in support of a two-year moratorium on high volume horizontal hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) and New York turning away from fossil fuels toward alternative energy solutions. Speakers and performers from Lois Gibbs of the Center for Health, Environment and Justice to singer-songwriter Natalie Merchant addressed the harms posed by fracking and the hazards presented by frack waste disposal. Attendees also heard a plan from Stanford Researcher Mark Jacobson to transition the state’s entire energy use to wind, water, and solar power by 2050. The rally, which was the largest held in New York to date opposing fracking, was energized by new polling numbers indicating that a majority of upstate residents and a plurality of all New Yorkers oppose the industrial practice.

Photo: Jacob Cohen

More than two thousand New Yorkers encircled the Capitol, demanding that Senate leadership listen to the people, exclaiming, “This is What Democracy Looks Like,” as they marched. In response, Senate leadership failed to allow a vote on key fracking bills. The end of the legislative session came and went without bills aimed at protecting New York State from the harmful impacts of fracking, like the proposed elimination of the loophole that stripped the hazardous designation from frack waste, making it to the floor of the Senate for a vote. Even though companion bills were passed by the Assembly, including a bill that called for a moratorium tied to a health impact assessment, Senate leaders Skelos and Klein would not permit a vote by their own Chamber. As they sat in the capitol, literally surrounded by the voice of the people, Senate leadership chose inaction.

While this legislative session may be over and the next one will not begin until January 2014, the fight to protect New Yorkers from the negative impacts of fracking continues, with successes mounting across the state. Towns and counties continue to pass legislation banning the spreading of frack waste on roads and its acceptance at wastewater treatment plants, most recently in Rockland County. Local fracking bans in Dryden and Middlefield have already been upheld twice and will likely be heard by the New York State Court of Appeals within the year.

To keep pressure on, it is vital that we continue to show the legislature and Governor Cuomo exactly what democracy looks like. In the absence of any action by our elected representatives, we will continue to push the Governor to make the safety of New Yorkers, their health and the environment a top priority, and the basis for any decision about fracking in New York, and to prepare our energy infrastructure for the future.

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