August 23, 2013
Hydraulic fracturing is ill-conceived and ill-informed public policy. The fracking process forces millions of gallons of water mixed with sand and over 700 different toxic chemicals, radioactive materials, and known carcinogens a mile below the Earth’s surface to break up gas deposits in rock formations. The result: cheap natural gas -- but at a steep environmental and human cost. In every one of the twenty states where fracking is employed, asthma and cancer rates have skyrocketed, local infrastructure has crumbled under the weight of heavy truck traffic, and fresh, drinkable water resources have either been strained or contaminated by the frack fluid and, in many instances, methane, resulting in people setting their tap water on fire.
In my home state of New York, Governor Cuomo has publicly stated that drilling in the Catskills is too dangerous because it threatens the water supply of New York City’s 8 million residents. If it is too dangerous to drill in the Catskills, then it is too dangerous to drill anywhere in New York or the Country.
The oil and gas industry has marketed natural gas to be the energy source of the future: both clean burning and reducing our dependence on foreign oil. However, natural gas releases methane, a gas 100 times more damaging to the Ozone Layer than carbon dioxide. We should be investing in wind, solar, and hydroelectric power and upgrading to a smart grid now so that these truly clean, home-grown energy sources have the capacity to handle the energy demands of future generations as the supply of fossil fuels inevitably and inexorably declines.
The debate over hydraulic fracturing transcends the merits and limitations of natural gas as an energy source -- it is about the water we drink and the air we breathe; it is about the food we eat and the beautiful landscape we’ve inherited from our forefathers. In sum, this debate is over the type of Earth we want to leave our children. Hydraulic fracturing will, in no uncertain terms, devastate our way of life, and so I ask that you, Mr. President, ban fracking on all public lands throughout the Country and to use your bully pulpit to advocate for the development of green energy.