Independent Coalition of Citizens Against Fracking
For Immediate Release
September 20, 2011
Grassroots Groups Expose Bias of Cuomo’s Fracking Advisory Panel in Report Released Today
Report available at GasMain.org
New York State’s recently named Hydraulic Fracturing Advisory Panel is stacked with appointees who have already made clear they’re on the side of the gas industry’s plan to industrialize the state, say grassroots organizations from around New York. The panel was established by Governor Andrew Cuomo’s DEC commissioner Joe Martens in early July – just a week after the governor ended the de facto statewide moratorium on hydraulic fracking.
In a report released today, the grassroots groups show that the panel is dominated not only by industry representatives and industry-paid academics, but also by representatives of national groups that claim to be working to protect the environment but actually are on record as being promoters of so-called “natural” gas.
“The large national organizations’ coziness with polluting industries, Albany and Washington explains their repeated betrayal of grassroots efforts to protect communities and the environment,” said Robert Jereski of New York Climate Action Group, a grassroots environmental organization focused on climate change and ending industrial logging of old growth forests. “These national groups were chosen by Cuomo because he knew he could count on them to support the false notion of ‘safe’ fracking.”
Members of grassroots environmental, civic and community organizations from across the state, who have been educating themselves and others about fracking for several years, are sure the Advisory Panel’s forthcoming report will contain no surprises.
Finger Lakes-based Lisa Wright, a longtime activist on shale issues, pointed out, “New Yorkers and most people throughout the world who have looked closely at unconventional gas development know that fracking for gas is seriously problematic. Organizations that call themselves ‘environmental’ need to stand up for our communities and act like forward-thinking stewards of the earth, not shale-gas salesmen.”
Cecile Lawrence of Tioga Peace and Justice, Green Party NYS 2010 candidate for U.S. Senate and 2011 candidate for Tioga County Legislature commented “From the moment he began his campaign for Governor of NYS, Andrew Cuomo insisted on being vague regarding his stance on the fracking of the state. Through the makeup of this panel of fracking advisors he has shown that he clearly has allied himself with fossil fuel based monied interests. The lack of presence of anyone from a true grassroots organization grounded in the people of the state whose lives and livelihoods are at stake shows that Cuomo needs an education as to whom he was elected to represent.”
Carl Arnold of Chenango, Delaware, Otsego Gas Drilling Opposition Group (CDOG) also sees pro-“safe” drilling agendas driving some of the larger, supposedly green groups represented on the panel. “Some groups surely know that drilling can never be safe, yet are fudging on a ban,” he said. “This contradiction is made clear when one examines the connections between multinational polluters, large financial and law firms, the oil and gas boys and some well-known NGOs that claim to be protectors of the environment. Those connections raise the obvious questions: What do they receive from the deep pockets of the oil and gas industry? How can they work with those folks?”
The focus of many allied upstate and downstate activists is Part 2 of a just-released report (available at gasmain.org) on the Cuomo advisory panel members who were purportedly appointed to represent the environmental movement.
Coalition to Protect New York is a collective of organizations around the Finger Lakes, central, western, and Southern Tiers regions. “We’ve learned from painful observation and experience,” said one of the coalition’s cofounders, Jack Ossont of Yates County, “that there is no way to ‘regulate safely’ this destructive industrial process. That’s why informed New Yorkers as well as people across the country are demanding that it be banned.”
Adds a fellow CPNY cofounder, Kate Bartholomew of Schuyler County, “Even with our huge and growing movement, the governor’s panel hasn’t got a single member representing our position. To use taxpayer money — our money — to establish this panel and to promote fracking using these discredited ‘environmental’ organizations and industry insiders is not only the opposite of good representative government; it’s downright deceitful.”
In the report released today by the grassroots alliance, familiar groups such as the Natural Resources Defense Council, National Sierra Club, Riverkeeper and many others, including New York State level groups, are examined. Their collusion, as well as the incestuous connections between the industry, Governor Cuomo’s advisers, and vendors hired by his administration and his regulatory body, are a major threat to representational government in our state. In July the Albany Project reported that a vendor paid by DEC to conduct an “independent” economic study of proposed fracking has no expertise in such analysis. The firm is also a paid consultant for big oil and gas clients.
“That’s antidemocratic and unethical,” said Dave Walczak of Bath-based Citizens for Healthy Communities. “Besides, if the governor and Department of Environmental Conservation needed a study on community impacts, to save taxpayers the costs of this so-called ‘independent study,’ all they had to do was drive across the Pennsylvania line below Elmira. What you see there is not what we want in any part of New York.”
A similar federal-level advisory panel examining fracking came under fire recently when 28 top scientists challenged President Obama. His panel, they charged, “appears to be performing advocacy-based science” because its chairman profits from fossil fuel exploitation. Gas industry representatives and academics who are publicly avowed fracking advocates figured prominently on the federal panel.
Clare Donohue of Sane Energy Project expressed the question being asked by thousands of New Yorkers: “Governor Cuomo, we demand an explanation of why you have given the people on the ground, in thousands of communities where fracking is proposed—we whose lives would be forever altered—no seats on your advisory panel?”