Today in Albany, hundreds of people took part in a protest pressing New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to ban all fracking statewide. It’s unlikely to happen; an announcement on areas where fracking will be allowed could come as early as next week. But a key way to influence an elected official is to demonstrate popular support for an issue — so to Albany they went. Citizen Action has an overview of the protest.
Meanwhile, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who previously made a massive contribution to the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign, was making his own fracking news.
The Environmental Defense Fund has been awarded a 3-year, $6 million grant from Bloomberg Philanthropies for its work to minimize the impacts of natural gas production through hydraulic fracturing. The funding will support the organization’s strategy of securing strong rules and developing industry best practices in states with intense natural gas production.
“Here’s the truth on natural gas. The environmentalists who oppose all fracking are wrong, and the drillers who claim that regulation will kill the industry are wrong. What we need to do is make sure that the gas is extracted carefully and in the right places, and that has to be done through strong, responsible regulation. And that’s what our work with EDF is all about,” said Michael R. Bloomberg, philanthropist and Mayor of New York City.
The growth in natural-gas extraction, largely due to fracking, is responsible for the U.S.’ reduced use of coal to generate power and, in part, for our decreased CO2 emissions. In its statement on the grant, EDF articulates how it will push for stronger regulation of natural-gas operations, including: disclosing all chemicals used in the hydraulic-fracturing process, minimizing water consumption, protecting groundwater, and improving air-pollution controls, including capturing released methane.
Food and Water Watch, which has been strongly advocating against fracking in the state, expressed “shock” at EDF for accepting the grant, pledging that “[f]ractivists will never stand still and allow EDF or any other group to come into their state with weak ‘model legislation’ that is simply an industry proposal in disguise.”
Fracking is likely headed for New York despite those fracktivists, most likely limited to regions on the southern edge of the state. (An aside: The term “fracktivists” is lame.) And if reports that fracking companies got an early look at the proposal are to be believed, the plan is likely to satisfy almost no one at all.