On June 17 New Yorkers Against Fracking, a grassroots energy organization, is organizing a rally in Albany, NY, “calling on Governor Cuomo to reject fracking and lead the nation in constructing a renewable energy economy here and now in New York.” Fracking, short for hydraulic fracturing, is a controversial gas extraction method that allows drillers to reach pockets of natural gas thousands of feet below the earth’s surface. In addition, the method uses millions of gallons of water mixed with hazardous chemicals that are injected into the wells to facilitate the retrieval of the gas. During the course of the process pockets of methane are freed and migrate to well openings or people’s basements and explode. Other problems include spills of the chemicals and contamination of work areas, which in turn leaches into wells and waterways. Many of these issues are well documented in such books as Tom Wilber’s Under the Surface: Fracking, Fortunes, and the Fate of the Marcellus Shale, and Seamus McGraw’s The End of Country.
According to the US Energy Information Administration, New York State consumed four times as much energy as it produced in 2010. In the near term, fracking would appear to hold out the promise of overcoming this shortfall. However, global warming with its attendant storms has changed from a passing to a pressing concern. Even fracking proponents pitch natural gas as a “bridge” to a world someday powered by renewables. The premise of the rally in Albany is to encourage Cuomo to embrace a recent policy plan, “Examining the Feasibility of Converting New York State’s All-Purpose Energy Infrastructure to One Using Wind, Water and Sunlight,” that lays out how New York can become solely reliant on renewables by 2050. Highlights of the report may be found here.