Don't frack New York.
Once you frack, you can't go back.
Those were the rally chants of about 70 protesters outside Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos' headquarters on Front Street in Rockville Centre Thursday afternoon, urging the legislator to support a ban of hydraulic fracking in New York — a process that pumps water, chemicals and sand underground to extract natural gas from shale bedrock.
Sam Bernhardt, a representative from Food & Water Watch who organized the rally, said fracking is an inherently dangerous process that can pollute the air and state water supply. "Fracking in any part of New York will affect all New Yorkers," he said.
According to a press release handed out by Bernhardt, fracking lays down blankets of smog, fills roadway with trucks hauling hazardous materials, sends sediment into streams, and generates immense quantities of radioactive, carcinogen-laced waste. Since fracking began in states outside of New York, there have been more than 1,000 cases of water contamination. More than 100 towns and counties in the state have already enacted bans or moratoria on fracking.
Patti Wood, executive director of the Grassroots Environmental Education, said that fracking poses an unprecedented risk that puts the health of families and future generations in danger.
"We need to reduce our dependancy on fossil fuels, but our elected officials don't have the guts to do anything about it," Wood said.
Chris Wales, a protester from Mineola, said he protested because elected officials didn't inform the public of the dangers associated with fracking. "They portrayed it like everything was fine," he said. "There's no regulation for this intrusive process. It's not the best way to get natural resources."
Lou Sabatini from MoveOn.org agreed with Wales, saying he didn't understand how the state could move forward with fracking without conducting an environmental study. "It's outrageous," he said. "They're going to put our health in jeopardy without doing a study?"
In a statement from Sen. Dean Skelos' office, the Senate Majority Leader said he's following the State Department of Environmental Conservation review of fracking and the public should allow them to decide if it's safe for New York.
"I continue to monitor the review process being conducted by the State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) on hydraulic fracking, which most regard as a measured, thorough and scientific process that has included ample opportunity for public input," he said. "We should allow the DEC to continue to do its job, complete its study, and make recommendations on the future of hydraulic fracking in New York State."
Vermont is the lone state to pass a state-wide ban on fracking.