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Riverkeeper’s Remarks at the NYC Fracking Rally

Riverkeeper has been a leader in the fight to prevent dangerous fracking in New York. The following are the prepared remarks of Paul Gallay, President and Hudson Riverkeeper, for the Nov. 30 rally coinciding with the Department of Environmental Conservation’s public hearing on its draft environmental impact statement and proposed regulations for fracking. The public has until Jan. 11 to comment on the DEC’s fracking plans.

My name is Paul Gallay and I’m the Hudson Riverkeeper. I’ve been an environmental advocate for twenty-five years and I don’t think I’ve ever seen a bigger danger to human health, air and water, or community character than the one we now face from fracking.

Look at the facts on the ground – in Pinedale, Wyoming, where smog levels due to fracking are higher than in Los Angeles.

In Bartonville, Texas, where asthma levels because of fracking are three times the state average.

In Amwell Township, Pennsylvania, where people are using their fracking royalty payments to put money down on a trailer because their pediatrician told them not to let their kids anywhere near the home and property they leased out to the frackers.

Think these are isolated cases? A recent Duke University study shows that water supplies within 3000 feet of drilling pads have 17 times more methane in them than average, and that it’s coming from fracking. Over 25% of fracking wells studied by the NY Times earlier this year produced wastewater with radiation levels higher than federal standards. Yet, New York is getting ready to permit as many as 48,000 new wells in our state, over the next thirty years.

This is huge. This is serious. And you are going to stop it!

Now, When you hear some of the claims of the fracking supporters, you have to wonder whether this gas has gone to their heads. It seems like they hear “Marcellus shale” and all they can think of is that they’re going to be like the Beverly Hillbillies!

The truth is that if New York gets fracked it may be a party for a few companies, but the rest of us are going to have the hangover from hell.

If fracking comes to your neighborhood, good luck selling your home or getting a mortgage. Forget about community character or real economic growth. A 2011 Cornell Study tells us that: over time, drilling communities lag behind other communities in personal income, employment growth, economic diversity, educational attainment, and ability to attract investment.

You should never have to trade community character or environmental quality for economic good. But, Fracking isn’t even a good thing for the economy. We know this from study after study.

But the state is ignoring these studies. They didn’t look at health impacts. They didn’t look at impacts on other sectors of the economy, like agriculture or tourism. They didn’t look at the costs to our roads, which could total $375 million a year.

On behalf of Riverkeeper’s 20,000 members volunteers and activists, Riverkeeper is ready to fight the battle against fracking and we’re going to court if we have to, to do so.

Net-net , fracking is just a very bad bet. By being here today, you are going to keep New York from placing that bet.

Now, go into that room and tell the state that they simply cannot approve these regulations. Tell them that New Yorkers are not going to let these companies treat our communities like we’re expendable – some sort of “acceptable losses” in the energy wars.

Stand up and tell the truth. That’s how the battle against the Keystone XL pipeline was won this year. And that’s how you’re going to win the fracking battle here in New York!

Please contribute to our Don’t Frack with New York Water campaign.

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