NY Rumor Mill: Cuomo to Allow Test Sites for Fracking?!

rumor millThe anti-drillers are hot and bothered. A fringe anti-drilling group called Toxics Targeting (from where else, Ithaca, NY) held a small rally in Binghamton yesterday. They enlisted the support of the Binghamton Mayor Matt Ryan to their cause. And this week’s cause? Send a letter to Gov. Andrew Cuomo asking him to ban fracking, but especially to drop any plans to allow the drilling of “demonstration wells” in Broome, Tioga and Chemung counties.

The fracking debate continues in the Southern Tier as Binghamton Mayor Matt Ryan joined environmental advocates, physicians, farmers and local business owners Tuesday to announce the release of a letter sent to Governor Cuomo.

"We came together as a coalition to say, ‘look governor, support the executive order 41 that’s in place to make sure everybody is treated equally in the state of New York’ and we want the governor to listen clearly that there should not be a demonstration project. We care just as much about our children and future as much as anyone else in the state,” said Ryan.

The letter has almost 2,300 signatures. It asks the governor to oppose any test runs of Marcellus Shale hydraulic fracturing in the Southern Tier or anywhere else in New York State.

"If it isn’t safe in the New York City watershed, then it shouldn’t be allowed anywhere else. Until all these safeguards have been adopted, we don’t think that the Southern Tier or any other area should be the learning experience for the fracking industry,” said Walter Hang, Toxics Targeting President.(1)

Demonstration wells? MDN wrote about such an initiative back in February (see this MDN story). The suggestion was that an abandoned minimum security state prison known as Camp Pharsalia in Chenango County should be used to drill test wells and that everyone, pro- and anti-driller alike, be involved to monitor it. MDN thought it was a great idea, but both DEC Commissioner Joe Martens and New York’s second highest ranking Republican, Sen. Tom Libous, shot down the idea saying no such thing would happen ahead of the release of the SGEIS (New York’s revised drilling rules).

Has something changed since February? Maybe!

Here’s the relevant language from the letter Toxics Targeting, et al sent to Gov. Cuomo yesterday:

We, the undersigned, write to request that you take immediate action to fulfill the mandates specified by Executive Order No. 41. We ask you to:

1) Withhold issuance of shale gas drilling permits for any demonstration project in Broome, Tioga and Chemung counties, or any other areas of New York. The Executive Order requires that "pursuant to SEQRA, no permits may be issued prior to the completion of a Final SGEIS [Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement, not in the original]…"(2)

Their opposition to demonstration wells is point number one in the letter, ahead of their other “demands.”

Why on earth would Toxics Targeting and Mayor Matt Ryan be so adamantly opposed to a demonstration project? Because it would prove, scientifically, that fracking can be done safely in New York. And that would spell the end of the alternative energy nirvana future (featuring no fossil fuels) they have planned for you.

(1) YNN (Jun 5, 2012) – Binghamton Mayor leads push to prevent fracking

(2) Toxics Targeting (accessed Jun 6, 2012) – New Coalition Letter to Governor Cuomo: Oppose a Possible Southern Tier Fracking Demonstration Project and Require Full Enforcement of Executive Order No. 41