Oct. 14, 2009: Ban gas drilling in New York State

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To The Editor:
Ken Baer, former chair of the Sierra Club’s Atlantic Chapter, made these remarks at an anti-drilling rally on the steps of New York’s City Hall in July. With gas drilling in the Catskills a hot front-burner issue, I thought your readers might find his remarks of interest.
“In a December 2008 report to Gov. David Paterson, the New York State Council on Food Policy recognized that ‘agriculture is a critically important industry to the state…’
In 2007, agriculture generated nearly $5 billion in New York. Three of the five top agriculture counties – Genesee, Cayuga and Wyoming – lie within the Marcellus shale region.
Some of the chemicals the gas and oil industry uses to extract gas are hormone disruptors. Gas drilling entities have already wrought havoc in many states – some residents have brain lesions, cancer and reproductive problems, as well as farm animals with extraordinary rates of stillbirths. The contamination of water, soil and air has especially affected Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, Ohio and Texas. And, next door in Pennsylvania, some people can turn on their kitchen faucets, ignite a cigarette lighter and watch their drinking water burst into flames.
And now these gas drillers want New York state. If the fossil fuel industry has its way, 14 million New Yorkers – about nine million in the metropolitan area and another five million in the Southern Tier – will be directly threatened with irreversible pollution. Speak-ing on his proposed legislation, Assemblyman James Brennan says, “The process used for natural gas extraction referred to as hydraulic fracturing utilizes chemicals that are often toxic, that are non biodegradable, and that are virtually impossible to remove once they enter the natural environment.”
We must ban this form of gas drilling everywhere in this state so that every New Yorker can drink clean water and eat food that is not riddled with highly toxic drilling chemicals — and so that the food shed for NYC and other urban centers is not further compromised. All 17 watersheds in out state are sensitive and special because they are critical for the livelihoods and the survival of all the people who live in them.”

David Ivins,
Arkville