Big One Down! But More to Go . . .

CPNY celebrates the NYS ban on fracking, but knows it’s only one piece of the ongoing fossil fuel threat.

The Coalition to Protect New York’s grassroots members are greatly relieved that it’s almost certain New York will not allow fracking. Governor Cuomo has given us a holiday gift in announcing that he has truly left the decision to science, and that common sense prevailed.

Dr. Howard Zucker, who did a health assessment, and Department of Environmental Conservation commissioner Peter Martens came to the only possible conclusion— that fracking harms human health and our environment and should not be undertaken.

This decision came about because of the hard work of thousands of people — scientists, health practitioners, veterinarians, and primarily grassroots activists. These individuals have tirelessly and without fanfare sponsored public forums, panels, and screenings; gone door-to-door to educate their neighbors and local officials; lobbied state officials; rallied; bird-dogged the governor; protested infrastructure buildout; spoken to the media; and written countless public comments, brochures, letters, op-eds, websites, research studies, white papers, policy briefs, testimonials, even documentary films and books.

“There are a lot of heroes in this movement,” said Jack Ossont, one of CPNY’s cofounders. “Perhaps none are as worthy of kudos as attorneys David and Helen Slottje. Their tireless work through their public-interest law firm Community Environmental Defense Council, Inc. gave hope to the scores of towns that have passed strong local bans that stood through challenges in the highest courts in the state.”

CPNY is celebrating this victory along with the many other groups in the state that helped make it happen. But we are not blind to the proliferation of fracking and fossil fuel infrastructure going on all around us, right here in “frack-free” New York State. “We know we must keep our focus to stop the pipelines, compressor stations, water withdrawal for fracking, and brine spreading that are already here,” said another CPNY cofounder, David Walczak. “At least five New York State landfills are accepting radioactive frack waste from Pennsylvania. And of course in the Finger Lakes, we must continue to defy the Crestwood corporation’s dangerous gas storage on Seneca Lake, where more than 130 protesters have been arrested in the last two months.”

It’s good to take a brief breather, but the fossil fuel corporations have been laying their plans for years and are bound and determined to destroy our future. We must stop them.

Meanwhile, the many, many volunteers who helped make this ban happen should congratulate themselves for their selfless hard work. “One lovely gift we can thank the governor for this holiday season,” said CPNY’s Maura Stephens, “is a bit more restful sleep—something we have been living without for years.”

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