Anti-fracking advocates push for action on Delaware River Basin

December 10, 2018

ALBANY — A coalition of environmental groups presented over 100,000 signatures to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo on Monday, urging him to support a full ban on hydraulic fracking and its related activities in the Delaware River Basin.

The activists gathered at the state Capitol's historic Million Dollar Staircase and called on the governor to expand the state's 2014 ban on hydraulic fracking by prohibiting use of the basin for treatment and processing of fracking waste, or for water withdrawals for fracking.

Cuomo is among four state governors and a regional U.S. Army Corps engineer — the federal representative — who make up the Delaware River Basin Commission that was created in 1961.

The commission is expected to vote on proposed regulations to permanently ban fracking in the basin, which stretches more than 300 miles from the Catskill mountains to the Delaware Bay south of New Jersey.

Four years ago, Cuomo announced the statewide ban on fracking. Advocates say expanding the ban is a crucial step in shifting New York off fossil fuels to renewable energy.

"The underlying principle of New York's fracking ban is that it is too dangerous to be done safely anywhere," said Roger Downs, conservation director for the Sierra Club Atlantic Chapter. "To still have the Delaware River Basin, a drinking water source for 17 million people, remain potentially open to drilling represents a disproportionate risk that defies common sense and the science that supports effective public health policy.

The petition effort was led by groups including Food & Water Watch, Catskill Mountainkeeper, Sierra Club Atlantic Chapter, Riverkeeper, Environmental Advocates of New York, Earthworks, Delaware Riverkeeper and the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Lawmakers, including state senators Liz Krueger and Brad Hoylman, joined the advocates at their news conference calling for an expansion of the state's fracking ban.

"The dangers of fracking have been well established, to the point that New York state has banned the practice outright," Krueger said. "So it makes no sense to allow fracking or fracking waste anywhere near the Delaware watershed, or to let this pristine public water resource be used to support fracking operations elsewhere."

Jason Conwall, a spokesman for Cuomo, said, "We'll review their letter, but it was Governor Cuomo who banned high volume, hydro-fracking in New York and we continue to support a ban on these activities within the entire Delaware River Watershed

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