“And Jesus said, ‘Don’t Frack.'”

November 29, 2011 at 3:26 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment
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As the planet heats up, and the markets decline, the hydrauling fracturing of shale rock to mine natural gas is more and more an issue across the country. Here in New York, our barely Democratic Governor, Andrew Cuomo, would seem to be doing all he can to open the New York section of the Marcellus Shale to drilling for natural gas, and thus to “fracking”–the shortened term for hydraulic fracturing–despite the opposition of thousands of state residents.

Some, of course, are in favor of fracking, because of the jobs it’s supposed to create, the profits to be gained from marketing a new form of energy, and because a domestic fuel helps free us from our dependence on foreign oil. Some even argue, because natural gas discharges less CO2 into the atmosphere when burned than oil and coal do , that it will help to prevent climate change. But as Elizabeth Kolbert argues convincingly in this week’s New Yorker, these arguments minimize (when they don’t outright ignore) the enormous damage that fracking does to the environment. This includes discharging large quantities of methane into the atmosphere, contributing more to climate change than CO2 does. All told, fracking is a very bad deal, even for the cash-strapped farmers who lease their land to gas companies, and then get sick from the pollutants discharged on their property, or watch their water catch on fire. (For more on all of this,  try watching Josh Fox’s galvanizing film, Gasland.)

For the next two weeks–until December 13–residents of New York state have several opportunities to weigh in on the harms of fracking. They/we can do so by commenting on the inadequacies of a document released in September by the NY Department of Environmental Conservation, the “Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement,” (SGEIS), which paves the way for fracking in New York State.

The first opportunity is to turn out for the last in a series of DEC hearings on SGEIS to be held tomorrow, November 30, from 1-4 and 6-9 PM at the Tribeca Performing Arts Center, 199 Chambers Street, in Manhattan. You arrive, sign up, and get up to three minutes to comment on the document, that is, on fracking. There’s also going to be a press conference there at noon during which you can wave anti-fracking signs, and an anti-fracking rally at 4:30 PM (ditto on the signs.) Here’s some information about what to say when you comment.

Or if you can’t make it to Manhattan tomorrow, you can send comments about SGEIS to the DEC, or record your comments for the DEC on-line. The anti-fracking activist group “United for Action” provides excellent suggestions for what to say about SGEIS on its web page.

Finally, of course, Jesus didn’t say “Don’t frack.” But I am struck, as the hope-filled season of Advent gets underway, by how many of the readings speak of water, as when we hear from the prophet Joel, in yesterday’s morning prayer, that  “all the streams of Judah will flow with water.” Surely God doesn’t intend that water to be full of carcinogens, or to catch on fire.

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  1. […] readers from New York who may have read my last post, “And Jesus said,’Don’t frack,’” I’m pleased to report that New York has extended until January  11 the opportunity to […]

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