The Greenest Propaganda Grows in New York

by Jackie Moreau on January 3, 2012

in Blog, Features

Post image for The Greenest Propaganda Grows in New York

Earthworks’s Oil and Gas Accountability Project has recently commissioned a report on behalf of anti-drilling special interests, and delivered it to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, donning the title: “A Human Rights Assessment of Hydraulic Fracturing for Natural Gas.”  This flagrant instrument of green propaganda alleges that the “environmental damage” created by hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”), the contentious natural gas extraction process that involves blasting a mixture of water, sand, and chemicals underground, poses “a new threat to human rights.” The basis of this accusation rests upon a citation of a recent United Nations Resolution that states, “environmental damage can have negative implications, both direct and indirect, for the effective enjoyment of human rights.”  Again, the archetypal environmentalist assumes the posture of the humanitarian do-gooder, when in reality, their green agenda with the “at-all-costs” underpinnings will ravage the already depressed economies of those areas in upstate New York where natural gas development offers hope for impoverished people.

The report enumerates the possible (not affirmed) risks to air quality, ground surface waters, climate change, soils and ecosystems that qualify as “violations” of human rights (26 violations, to be exact), even though they admit that “the current state of knowledge about potential human health and environmental impacts of these airborne and waterborne contaminants, as well as of their mixtures and interactions, is poor.” It goes to the level of labeling fracking a “human rights” issue because it overrides all other possible policy tests.  The report states, “Human rights standards are recognized as trumping other types of policy considerations such as utility, cost-benefit analysis, economic value, social policy, etc.”  The cherry on top of this outrageous assessment is that the last two listed human rights accused of being violated by fracking pertain to the Nuremberg Code— a document that assures the rights of medical subjects that came out of the World War II Nuremberg Trials where Nazi doctors were rightly accused of performing atrocious experiments on prisoners in the concentration camps.  As stated, there is no evidence that fracking poses a threat to the environment, let alone to human rights. To parallel real human suffering with an industrialized process that mitigates human struggle by creating wealth is insulting and absurd.

Earthworks’s report is timely, arriving with urgency due to the real possibility of fracking seeing the light of day in New York.  The Southern Tier of New York just happens to sit atop a hefty portion of the untapped trove of natural gas:  the Marcellus Shale formation.  This shale formation is the largest known shale deposit of natural gas in the United States, at 95,000 square miles.  Geologists approximate that the entire formation contains 168 trillion to 516 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.  Fracking would unleash this national treasure.  The then-New York Gov. David A. Paterson vetoed a bill passed by the Legislature in 2010 that would have officially prohibited hydraulic fracturing in New York State, but temporarily banned the process until further study was completed.   Now-Gov. Andrew Cuomo hopes to put an end to the drilling moratorium as the DEC finalizes new regulations in 2012. He has high hopes to reproduce the economic expansion sweeping northern Pennsylvania—a state with no bans on drilling—which also sits above the Marcellus.  In his campaign document on energy policy, he emphasizes the economic promise the Marcellus holds for New York: “The economic potential from the Marcellus Shale could provide a badly needed boost to the economy of the Southern Tier and even many environmentalists agree we want to produce more domestic natural gas that reduces the need for environmentally damaging fuel sources such as coal.”  It also states that “Andrew Cuomo would not support any drilling that would threaten the state’s major sources of drinking water.”

Earthworks’s assessment also acknowledges the likely prospect of economic development, sounding the alarm: “New York State is considering policies that could result in the development of 30,000 to 90,000 hydraulic fracturing operations for natural gas in subsurface shale deposits on lands in New York State.”  In context, this is supposed to be a grim forewarning, but for many like me, a native upstate New Yorker (Albany), this is exciting news of economic opportunity for New York and its citizens, rather than yet-to-be-proven environmental risk.  I am also an alumnus of Binghamton University, a state university situated in the Southern Tier of New York, known to be one of the most economically destitute parts of the Upstate region.  Living as an off-campus student within the community, I became aware of the majority of the people straddling the poverty line, desperate for economic options.  The Public Policy Institute of New York State’s “Drilling for Jobs” finds that if 500 drills were drilled each year, the Empire State could gain 62,620 jobs, $2.7 billion in local, state and federal taxes.  With Cuomo’s decision drawing nearer, anti-drilling New Yorkers are willing to pull out all the stops to prevent any growth born from the bit. This is another attempt by a relentless and mad-dog movement that cares little for the guaranteed economic prosperity fracking will bring to a broad number of citizens of New York, all under the pretense of “protecting” human rights.

Henry Kramer January 4, 2012 at 11:21 am

A new factor is the possibility of blockage of the straits of Hormuz, through which so much of our energy passes. We badly need domestic natural gas as a matter of energy independence and national security. Nothing could illustrate this more than the reaction of gasoline markets to even the threat of a closure or bottleneck at the Straits. Five dollar gasoline is predicted. Automobiles can be converted to run on natural gas at half the price of gasoline as well as ending dependence on foreign oil. Our economy is fragile and could collapse with an energy shock. It’s about jobs and the economy!

Comments on this entry are closed.

{ 2 trackbacks }

Previous post:

Next post: