By Eric Weltman
For Brooklyn Daily Eagle
In October 2012, Hurricane Sandy slammed New York, devastating communities across the city. A year and a half later, many victims of this disaster are still struggling to pick up the pieces and put their homes and neighborhoods back together. The question now is whether Governor Andrew Cuomo will be the leader we need in preventing further catastrophe by reducing the pollution that causes climate change and storms like Sandy. Signs look grim.
The Cuomo administration recently released a draft energy plan for New York state. A public comment period concludes on April 30, after which the plan will be finalized. It is our hope that Cuomo will strengthen the plan by reducing the use of gas from fracking — a dangerous, polluting natural gas drilling process — and leading New York in a transition to safe, clean renewable energy.
Unfortunately, Cuomo’s draft plan does not provide the vision necessary to prevent climate change catastrophe. Cuomo’s plan would maintain New York’s dependence on dirty fossil fuels. It would promote a massive build-out of gas pipelines, compressor stations, storage facilities, power plants and other infrastructure. It would also increase our reliance on fracking in other states and perhaps even encourage it here in New York.
Already, New York City’s landscape is becoming littered with dangerous gas infrastructure projects, like the Spectra pipeline in Manhattan. And even more are being proposed, such as a pipeline under the Rockaways and a liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal off of Queens. These projects risk public safety, our communities and the environment, and they enable fracking, which threatens our water, air, food and climate.
The threat of climate change is particularly stark here in Brooklyn, which was hit hard by Hurricane Sandy. Burning natural gas releases dangerous levels of carbon dioxide. More problematic, fracking for natural gas releases massive amounts of methane. Methane is an extremely potent greenhouse gas — 33 times more efficient at trapping heat than carbon dioxide over 100 years — and about 100 times more potent than carbon dioxide over 20 years.
The truth is simple: Governor Cuomo cannot lead on climate change and allow fracking in New York. Governor Cuomo cannot lead on climate change and expand reliance on fracked gas from other states. If Governor Cuomo has any hope — any genuine, realistic expectation — of attaining his goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent, he cannot allow fracking in New York. New York should not spend another dime on deepening our dependence on fracked natural gas.
Governor Cuomo should ban fracking in New York. He should veto the LNG facility off our shore, and fight against similar infrastructure projects, and he should lead on preventing climate change by producing a plan that transitions New York to a clean, renewable energy future.
Eric Weltman is a Brooklyn-based Senior Organizer with Food & Water Watch, a nonprofit consumer organization.