Hawkins Faults Cuomo For Failing to Oppose Hydrofracking of Natural Gas
For Immediate Release: October 25, 2010
For More Information:
Howie Hawkins, 315 425-1019. 315 317-5084 (c)
Mark Dunlea, 518 860-3725
Outlines Key Environmental Priorities Including Rescinding Cuts At DEC
Howie Hawkins, the Green Party candidate for Governor, renewed his call today for a permanent ban on hydrofracking for natural gas. His position paper on the issue is at http://howiehawkins.com/2010/ban-hydrofracking.html
Hawkins, who will speak at a Gubernatorial Debate tonight in Syracuse on hydrofracking, also said that he would reverse the cuts in staffing and funding for environmental programs that have been enacted by Democratic Governor David Paterson and approved by the Democratic-controlled State Assembly and Senate.
"Hydrofracking is a danger to New York's clean water supplies and diverts capital, labor and, most of all, precious time away from building a carbon-free economy. We need to focus our investments on conservation, efficiency and renewables. Cuomo's refusal to oppose hydrofracking invariably means that his administration would ultimately approve it. As the BP oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico reminds us, 'Drill, Baby, Drill' inevitably means 'Spill, Baby, Spill'," said Hawkins.
Democratic candidate Andrew Cuomo says he would be supportive of drilling as long is proven safe first, except in the NYC watershed where the water of too many people would be at risk. He says he wants to wait for the results of an EPA study. Republican candidate Carl Paladino supports immediate natural gas drilling outside of the New York City watershed.
Hawkins also promised to revitalize the state Department of Environmental Conservation, increasing staff and reducing the stranglehold that polluters increasingly have over the agency's decision making process.
"My administration is committed to full employment. But we will never sacrifice our environment or public health to the short-term profits of special interests. Protecting the environment and its natural productivity is the foundation for sustainable prosperity. The way to full employment now is to build a clean energy system to power sustainable agriculture and industry," said Hawkins.
DEC Commissioner Pete Grannis was fired last Friday after a memo was circulated detailing the impact of the continuing cuts as DEC. The memo said that the latest round of proposed budget and staff cuts would hurt the DEC's ability to monitor air and water pollution, clean up toxic oil and chemical spills, and keep an eye on hazardous waste disposal and storage. According to the memo:
- The DEC was told to lay off 209 staff, on top of 260 early retirement incentive approvals this year. This leaves the agency with 2,926 staff, a 23 percent reduction from 2007-08.
- The DEC is bearing 10 percent of all state layoffs, although the agency only accounts for 2.5 percent of the total state workforce.
- In the last 2.5 years, the agency has lost 595 employees, 16 percent of its workforce.
Hawkins said that some of his key environmental policies would include:
- Carbon-Free Renewable Energy - A 100% carbon emissions reduction in 10 years - a net-zero carbon economy by 2020 - that sets an example for the nation and the world for what must be done by industrial economies to avert climate catastrophe. This would also include shutting down the state's nuclear plants, starting with Indian Point.
- Eco-Taxes that create incentives for a sustainable green economy. Start with carbon taxes and higher gasoline taxes with progressive refundable tax credits of a portion of the revenues to protect low and moderate income people.
- Environmental Protection Fund - With the increased revenues from progressive and eco-taxes, restore the $500 million raided from the Environmental Protection Fund in recent years and stop redirecting revenues from the Real Estate Transfer Tax that are supposed to be dedicated to the EPF into the general fund to close deficits.
- Department of Environmental Conservation - In addition to fully funding the Department of Environmental Conservation, end the capture of DEC's regulatory process by appointing where needed new staff committed to environmental protection.
- Sustainable Organic Agriculture - Make a major commitment to promoting sustainable organic agriculture in New York State to provide, without polluting our valuable water resources, quality food and the material feedstocks for industry to replace the nonrenewable, climate altering hydrocarbon economy with a renewable, clean carbohydrate economy where materials are recyclable or biodegradable.
Hawkins was critical of DEC's draft generic environmental impact statement of hydrofracking, saying that it openly supports drilling, minimizes the enormous risks and fails to consider the environmental and social costs of drilling. It sets up the conditions to regulate drilling, not to stop it.
Hydrofracking means injecting toxic-laden fresh water and sand at extremely high pressure into rock layers to shatter the stone and release the gas. Each frack injects 2 to 9 million gallons of water with 20,000 to 90,000 gallons of toxic chemicals.
Hawkins detailed a host of problems with hydrofracking that have occurred in thirty states, including
Pollution: Contaminated drinking water aquifers and wells, reservoirs, lakes and streams.;
Accidents: Well blowouts, fires and explosions; Drilling fluid waste pond leaks and spills
Property Damage: Natural gas can seep into water systems and homes to pollute kitchen faucet water so it can be lit on fire, and cause houses and drinking water wells to explode
Disease: Residents of drilling areas can become chronically ill due to the seepage of carcinogens and neurotoxins into the air, water and soil. Repeated or prolonged exposure can cause liver, heart, blood and brain damage as well as leukemia and other cancers.
"With a failure rate between 2 and 8 percent, hydrofracking poses an unacceptable risk to NYS' abundant water supplies, a natural resource that is the state's most important natural resource base for sustainable economic development in the agriculture, manufacturing and tourism sectors," said Hawkins.
Hawkins pointed out that that natural gas is not clean energy but rather another polluting, non-renewable fossil fuel that releases greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, thus contributing significantly to global warming. Gas is often portrayed as a bridge fuel to provide a lower-carbon alternative to coal while zero-carbon technologies like wind, solar, ground source heat pumps and other renewables scale up capacity and reduce in price. But increased use of cheap natural gas will merely postpone the growth of and divert investment from wind, solar, ground source heating and cooling, and other renewable energy sources.
Hydrofracking will almost certainly destroy more jobs than it creates. Subsidized in multiple ways by federal and state tax dollars, the gas and oil industry is about 10 times more capital intensive than the US economy as a whole. Most of the workers skilled in the industry will be imported from outside the state. Hydrofracking will destroy other jobs in agriculture, tourism, sport fishing and hunting as rural landscapes are transformed into industrial wastelands.