Buffalo City Councilmembers and Local Officials among 600+ Elected Officials Raising Concerns about True Costs of Fracking
As Fracking Deadline Closes In, Elected Officials to Protect New York Hold Press Conference Detailing True Costs of Fracking and Calling on Governor Cuomo for Transparency
(Buffalo) On Monday, January 28 at 12:00 PM, Buffalo City Councilmembers and other members of Elected Officials to Protect New York (EOPNY) held a press conference – which included Buffalo City Council Majority Leader Demone Smith, Buffalo City Councilmember David Rivera, Buffalo City Councilmember Michael LoCurto, Town of Colden Councilmember Patrick Murphy, East Aurora Deputy Mayor Elizabeth Weberg, and Town of Caroline Deputy Supervisor Dominic Frongillo – detailing concerns about the costs of fracking and the inadequacy of New York State’s fracking study. As a February deadline looms for a decision about fracking, Buffalo region elected officials are among the group that consists of more than 600 local elected officials from all 62 NY counties. Speaking for EOPNY, the officials are taking objection to the fact that New York State has not considered the negative economic impacts of fracking, has not adequately looked at the health costs, and has not given attention to the heavy municipal burdens that would be associated with fracking.
Buffalo Councilmember David Rivera said, “Fracking could irreversibly damage the landscape, local economies, and environment that make New York special. As local officials, we’re concerned about the costs of fracking.”
Buffalo Councilmember Majority Leader Demone Smith “Buffalo was the first city in New York State and one of the first in the nation to pass a bill to ban fracking. Now we’re calling on New York State to ensure that all New Yorkers are protected.”
The elected officials raised concerns about the negative socioeconomic impacts of fracking and how fracking could jeopardize the economic well-being of municipalities and local economies across the state. New York’s upstate economy is built on agriculture, tourism, a strong real estate industry, and small businesses, all of which could be negatively impacted by fracking. Yet the Department of Environmental Conservation’s study consisted of only a one-sided review of the economic impacts of fracking, looking at potential benefits but entirely neglecting the negative socioeconomic impacts.
More than a year ago, DEC Commissioner Martens acknowledged that the state’s economic analysis was inadequate, yet with a decision nearing, this serious shortcoming has not been addressed. Meanwhile, the gas industry’s own claims of economic benefits such as job creation are seriously in doubt. For instance, an independent study from the Keystone Research Center that found fracking only contributed 5,669 jobs in Pennsylvania between 2007 and 2010, and that the gas industry’s claim of creating over 48,000 jobs during that period is far from true. Data from other parts of the country such as Wyoming show that crime rates have risen with the influx of fracking, leaving municipalities concerned about impacts on public safety. Meanwhile, the NYS Department of Transportation estimates that fracking would result in increased in heavy traffic (6,790 truck trips per well, according to the DEC), which would equal yearly road damage of $211 million to $378 million.
East Aurora Deputy Mayor Elizabeth Weberg said, “Fracking puts our quality of life, our property values, and the tourism that our businesses rely on at risk. The degradation to our land, air, and water, and the huge increase in truck traffic that accompanies hydraulic fracturing would threaten to unravel everything that so many have worked so hard to create and protect. The true costs of fracking will be borne by the communities; the energy companies will make off with their profits after providing short-term jobs, without accountability for the impacts that will emerge slowly and will be present for generations.”
Additionally, in the wake of Superstorm Sandy and Tropical Storms Irene and Lee, potential impacts from climate change are a concern to municipalities. Fracking releases methane, a greenhouse gas that is 100 times more potent than carbon dioxide over a 20-year period.
“Fracking will worsen climate change, when we’re already paying for damage from stronger storms. Our communities in the Southern Tier are still recovering from Tropical Storm Lee, which caused over $1 billion in damage,” said Dominic Frongillo, Deputy Town Supervisor in Caroline. “Taxpayers are stuck paying the bill. How much more will fracking cost our towns and cities?”
The elected officials pointed to a numerous letters that they have sent Governor Andrew Cuomo, DEC Commissioner Martens, and Department of Health Commissioner Nirav Shah since June 4 requesting that three studies must be done before a decision can be made about fracking: a comprehensive health impacts analysis, a cumulative (not site-specific) environmental analysis, and a socioeconomic analysis that examines the costs as well as the benefits of fracking. Elected Officials to Protect New York remains convinced these are the minimum analyses that New Yorkers deserve to have their most pressing questions answered.
The elected officials also called on Governor Cuomo for transparency in the state’s review of fracking. Of particular concern is the state’s health review, which has been entirely secret, excluding all health professionals, elected officials, and the public. A review mired in secrecy is not a review that earns the public’s trust.
Town of Colden Councilmember Patrick Murphy said, “Our best science and data indicate that fracking poses a major threat to public health. Governor Cuomo must release the state’s health review and open it for public participation. Secrecy has no place in our public health.”
Councilmember Rivera said, “We urge Governor Cuomo to make New York a world leader by doubling down on clean energy, the energy of the future.”