The Power of Activism
The exceptional work we have done together, what lies ahead and what you can do
Prior to pursuing their hydraulic fracturing agenda in New York State, the gas industry virtually walked into 32 states and set-up shop with minimal if any opposition. And the results as we know have been devastating for public health, the environment and for the social fabric of communities. But when the gas industry “Goliath” got to New York, they found a small but strong band of “Davids” who stood up and told them “NOT SO FAST”. Since then our numbers have grown exponentially and together we have waged an unprecedented 4-year campaign to expose the dangerous consequences of gas drilling using hydraulic fracturing. Most importantly we have won some major battles, slowed the process and raised the consciousness of a large part of the state’s citizenry.
Significant among our joint achievements was getting then Governor Paterson in 2009 to withdraw the immensely flawed first draft Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement (dSGEIS). These are the regulations under which hydraulic fracturing would have been governed.
In September 2011, when the much improved, but still inadequate revised dSGEIS was issued, together we were responsible for turning out in mass at the hearings and submitting over 60,000 comments to the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), which they are now in the process of reviewing. It is significant that prior to the fracking issue, no DEC document ever received more than 1,000 comments. Yet even with this incredible outpouring of public concern the Cuomo administration continues to indicate it’s intention to fast track the release of the final SGEIS even as early as this spring.
Together we have halted, at least temporarily, the start of drilling in the Delaware River Basin. In November, 2011, the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC), was poised to issue the first permits to drill for gas, which would have had a devastating impact throughout the Delaware River corridor from the headwaters in the Catskill wilderness to Philadelphia and Wilmington. Unprepared and facing tremendous levels of activism, the DRBC backed down and indefinitely suspended their process in large part because the states of New Jersey and Delaware came to realize they have nothing to gain – and everything to lose by allowing the Delaware Basin to become a gas field. The industry, however, is putting on a full court press so along with our partners we will continue to stay vigilant.
These are just some of our most notable successes. The increased activism of New Yorkers to ban unsafe gas drilling is particularly remarkable, because it is being done in the face of the gas industry’s incredibly well-funded and skillful propaganda campaign and ‘fueled’ by those who have the most to personally gain from the commencement of fracking.
As was reported in last week’s New York Times article, “Millions Spent in Albany to Fight to Drill”, the gas industry is spending exorbitant sums of money to push for gas drilling. This holds in stark contrast with the dramatically underfunded efforts dedicated to exposing the scientific consequences of fracking.
Despite being dramatically outspent, out publicized and in an environment where the gas industry is aggressively seeking to squelch the truth about the science regarding the results of fracking (see former Garfield, Colorado county staffer Judy Jordan’s comments on the attempts to bury reports of oil and gas wells contaminating groundwater), we continue to make very important progress. There can be no doubt why! When people hear our argument, they begin to understand what is at stake. They recognize the implications that fracking development would have on their health, communities and environments, and they become active – signing petitions, making calls, going to hearings and speaking out. In short the more people know the truth, the more people become committed to preventing the destruction that drilling will undoubtedly bring.
Subsequently, one of the most important actions we can all take is to continue to educate New Yorkers about the danger of fracking, so that at each future step of this ‘war’ our voice will be louder and more powerful. Now that we understand what can be done, we need to increasingly mobilize. Otherwise we are 12 months or less from wells being drilled and fracked in our backyards.
This is where you come in – please commit to sending this email to as many of your friends, family, colleagues and neighbors as possible. Introduce them to our website where they can find out the many reasons why fracking should be banned in New York State, keep up with the latest news concerning this fight and learn about opportunities to take part on the front lines.
Join our “DON’T FRACK FRIDAYS” call campaign every Friday to let Governor Cuomo know that we don’t want fracking to ruin our health and our environment. His office can be reached at (518) 474-8390.
And as always, please donate to Catskill Mountainkeeper so that we can continue to fight on your behalf.
or send a check to: Catskill Mountainkeeper, Box 381 Youngsville, NY 12791
Copyright 2012 Catskill Mountainkeeper, P.O. Box 381, Youngsville, New York, 12791. Catskill Mountainkeeper is a non-profit 501(c)(3) grassroots advocacy organization dedicated to protecting and preserving the unique and irreplaceable Catskill Region of New York State.