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80+ Groups Challenge Gov. Cuomo to Lead on Climate Change and Protect His State from Fracking

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A coalition of national environmental and progressive groups—including 350.org, Center for Biological Diversity, Democracy for America, Environment America, Friends of the Earth, Food & Water Watch, Greenpeace and Sierra Club—joined with other national and New York organizations to send Governor Cuomo a letter challenging him to be a national leader in addressing climate change. The letter applauds his stated commitment to addressing climate change and environmental protection, but highlights how permitting fracking in New York would contradict those goals.
 
“While we welcome your determination to lead on climate change, we are greatly concerned by indications that you may soon allow high-volume hydraulic fracturing (HVHF) in New York,” the letter asserted. “A decision to allow HVHF would be a direct contradiction of your promise to lead on climate change. Opening New York’s doors to this form of extreme fossil fuel extraction undercuts your pledge to make environmental protection, including initiatives that address climate change, a legislative priority.”
 
The coalition’s letter explained the environmental impact natural gas production and use has with respect to climate change in clear terms, stating:

“The carbon dioxide emitted from burning natural gas contributes significantly to greenhouse gas emissions driving global climate change. And, in addition to carbon dioxide, HVHF releases significant amounts of methane into the atmosphere during the extraction, transport, and processing of the gas.
 
“Methane is a potent greenhouse gas, 33 times more efficient at trapping heat than carbon dioxide over 100 years, and about 100 times more potent than carbon dioxide over 20 years. As such, even small amounts of gas leaked into the atmosphere make enormous contributions to global warming. Increasing evidence, including a study led by researchers at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, indicates that methane emissions from HVHF and related operations have been significantly underestimated by both the gas industry and the Environmental Protection Agency.”
 
In the days after the letter was circulated,  new data from researchers at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration showed methane leaks from natural gas production at an alarming rate that was twice as high as its previous study and industry estimates. Such evidence further undermines arguments about natural gas’ environmental benefit and this data doesn’t even include the methane leaks that occur from storage and pipelines.
 
“Given the magnitude of these emissions and proof of their demonstrable harm to our atmosphere, dependence on natural gas, and thus on HVHF, dashes any chance of keeping greenhouse gases in the atmosphere at levels below what scientists say are necessary to avoid climate catastrophe,” the letter continued. “And yet, inexplicably, your Department of Environmental Conservation has not closely examined the issue of greenhouse gas emissions in evaluating the environmental impact of opening up New York State to HVHF.”
 
In closing, the letter urges Cuomo to stand by his words on climate change in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy and protect future generations, thereby achieving a national legacy of political courage, rather than permitting fracking in New York.
 
“Governor Cuomo, your vow in the New York Daily News on November 15th inspired us: ‘We will not allow the national paralysis over climate change to stop us from pursuing the necessary path for the future.’  If you truly put these words into practice, we feel sure that you will be hailed as a national hero, securing a legacy and a political future as a leader who cut through the political gridlock in order to act in the best interests of your constituents and generations to come.  By contrast, opening up the state of New York to HVHF is a path leading away from that future.”

Visit EcoWatch’s FRACKING page for more related news on this topic.

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Click here to sign a petition to tell the Bureau of Land Management to issue strong rules for federal fracking leases on public lands.

 

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