Times Union | July 8, 2014 | Commentary by Eileen Hamlin
The Times Union deserves praise for its recent editorial (‘For drillers, no means no’) in support of the recent New York State Court of Appeals ruling that municipalities do indeed have the right to ban fracking. But more importantly, the Times Union supported maintaining New York’s statewide moratorium given increasing scientific evidence showing harms of fracking and that fracking hurts property values.
As a rural landowner in the Southern Tier — close enough to Pennsylvania that I often grimace from the sight and discomforting smell of flaring at frack sites across the state border — I am terribly alarmed by the gas industry’s suggestion that the Court of Appeals ruling could pave the way for fracking in areas of the Southern Tier that “want it.”
In essence, the gas industry is spinning its latest loss in court to re-create the idea of fracking sacrifice zones.
If the industry’s scheme comes to fruition, I could be among the first victims. As I drink my well water each day, I think of all the recent studies showing the inherent problems and dangers of fracking. Just last week, a study in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences — where researchers examined Pennsylvania state records of more than 41,000 gas wells — found fundamental problems with well casings and cement that mean four in 10 fracking wells in the state will leak into the groundwater or the atmosphere over time. The week prior, building on earlier findings of endocrine-disrupting chemicals in water samples at fracking sites in Colorado, researchers at the University of Missouri determined that the hormone-disrupting activity of fracking chemicals is even worse than initially found.
As a breast cancer survivor, I know all too well the harm that such chemicals can have.
And as someone who has owned and lived on my property in the Southern Tier for 32 years, I am absolutely opposed to a dangerous, heavy industrial process that will ruin both my quality of life and my property value.
Yet the gas industry has waged a misinformation campaign that simultaneously denies the harms of fracking and attempts to convince elected officials and the media that a majority of people want fracking.
Unfortunately, the Southern Tier has borne the brunt of the gas industry’s bullying and political influence, hence the sometimes pervasive notion that the Southern Tier supports fracking even when both polls and personal experiences show the opposite.
The fact is, Gov. Andrew Cuomo must implement a statewide ban because that is the only thing that will protect our water and health from fracking. Water contamination, air pollution and impacts to property values don’t stop at municipal borders. And most importantly, New Yorkers won’t stand by as people are sacrificed.
We stand together: not one well!
Eileen Hamlin lives in Kirkwood, Broome County.