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Energy

Cuomo petitioned by 10,000 New Yorkers to hold off on fracking

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Daniel Robison
/
WNED
Standing on the steps of Buffalo City Hall, a handful of protesters show off their 10,000 signature-strong petition to Governor Andrew Cuomo.

http://stream.publicbroadcasting.net/production/mp3/wned/local-wned-965536.mp3

More than 10,000 signatures protesting horizontal hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, were delivered to Governor Andrew Cuomo today. Signatories are calling for a more thorough state review of the process.

The controversial natural gas drilling technique is currently not allowed in New York, kept at bay by a moratorium expiring on July 1. The Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is still studying the issue, while Cuomo has not declared a hard position on the matter.

The state has to consider many aspects if drilling is eventually allowed, says Donnelle Piscitelli, with the local chapter of the New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG), which circulated the petition. Piscitelli reels off a list of factors:

"Ensure the protection of groundwater and surface water, address where the enormous amount of water will come from, fully disclose all chemicals, ensure proper disposal of wastewater now laden with toxic chemicals and radioactive material and have adequate staffing and resources at the DEC."

The legislature could address the future of fracking in New York this summer, assuming the DEC finishes its study of the issue on time. NYPIRG's 10,000 signature-strong petition is meant to disrupt the notion that fracking is inevitable, at what activists see as a critical time in the public debate.

Collecting the signatures was also an opportunity for NYPIRG to spread its message, Piscitelli says.

"The majority of people had no idea what hydraulic fracturing was," she says. "Or they knew something about drilling, but they didn't know specifics about it. And we explained the specifics and they were very angry."

Last week, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman joined the fray. He promised to sue the federal government if it did not study how drinking water could be affected if widespread drilling were to begin in New York.

Proponents of fracking say allowing the practice would bring jobs to rural areas of the state, as well as tax revenue to close New York's budget deficit. 

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