I’m New York State Sen. Bill Perkins; I’m opposed to hydrofracking because it puts our children’s future at risk. New York City residents have a tremendous stake in whether Gov. Andrew Cuomo allows hydrofracking in New York. This dangerous method of natural gas drilling threatens our water, air, food and health. Along with a growing number of elected officials, local leaders and community organizations, I have come to the conclusion that fracking is not safe and should be banned statewide.
Fracking involves injecting millions of gallons of water mixed with toxic chemicals and sand underground to release gas that is trapped inside shale rock. While this drilling would occur many miles from the five boroughs, the health of our city’s 8 million residents would be threatened by the pollution, toxins and dangerous waste produced by fracking.
In New York City, we enjoy some of the greatest tap water in the world, and it’s something that we are proud of as New Yorkers. Our water comes from watersheds upstate that are so pure and well protected that it does not have to be filtered. In addition to jeopardizing the health of New York City residents, contamination of these watersheds from fracking could require the construction of an estimated $10 billion filtration plant.
The fluid used in the fracking process contains around 600 chemicals, many linked to cancer and other health problems. Up to 80 percent of this toxic fluid stays underground, where it could eventually flow into our sources of water. Moreover, there is no safe way to treat the toxic wastewater that is brought back to the surface.
The bottom line is this: The Cuomo administration’s proposal to protect New York City’s watersheds is inadequate to ensure the safety of our water.
Fracking also threatens New York City’s air quality. In the 30th District, which I represent, we have some of the highest incidences of respiratory disease and asthma rates that are already tragically high. Fracking requires thousands of heavy-duty truck trips to bring water, equipment and chemicals to drilling sites.
Additionally, the fracking process itself can release particulates and other pollution that forms smog, which has been linked to asthma, heart disease and other health problems. A sparsely populated county in Wyoming overrun by fracking now has worse air quality than Los Angeles.
Another way New Yorkers’ health is threatened by fracking is by radon, an odorless and invisible killer. The shale formations in New York contain high levels of the radioactive gas. Department of Environment Conservation tests have found thousands of times the maximum safe level of radiation in wastewater produced from shale wells in New York. The high levels of radon present in New York shale gas deposits would travel with the extracted natural gas in pipelines to our homes in New York City. If you use a gas stove or heat with natural gas, terrifying amounts of radon could silently and invisibly spew out of your burners and end up in your lungs.
If all this wasn’t enough, fracking also endangers the safety of our food. Upstate New York, where the fracking would occur, is a major source of apples, dairy, vegetables and a vast range of other agriculture products that we enjoy. The water and air pollution from fracking threatens the health of our land and food, a reason why a growing number of chefs, farmers and other food producers have joined the fight against this dangerous practice.
Furthermore, in the states of Ohio and Pennsylvania, where hydrofracking has been permitted, rising incidences of earthquakes and other unusual seismic activity point to yet another potential danger of this controversial mining process. There is evidence linking fracking to earthquakes, and the methane leaked by fracking is a major contributor to climate change.
On top of that, the industry’s job creation claims are wildly overblown. Any jobs created by allowing hydrofracking would only be temporary and not worth the long-term implications of contaminating our air, water and food.
The evidence is in and the science is clear: Fracking is inherently dangerous, cannot be done safely and is beyond our ability to regulate. I am proud to stand with my Senate Democrat colleagues and a growing movement of New Yorkers who are calling for a ban on fracking in New York. We urge Gov. Cuomo to join us in standing up to the oil and gas industry and ban fracking in New York.