Howie Hawkins Vows to Ask Gov. Cuomo at Debate Why His Administration Tampered with Federal Fracking Study

Howie Hawkins Vows to Ask Gov. Cuomo at Debate Why His Administration Tampered with Federal Fracking Study

Hawkins cited investigation by Capital New York showing DEC edited USGS fracking study to remove threats of contamination and threats posed by gas infrastructure

(Syracuse)- Green Party Gubernatorial candidate Howie Hawkins said today that he would question Governor Andrew Cuomo at the debate in Buffalo Wednesday about why his administration edited and delayed a federal fracking study in 2011.

"When previously asked why his administration tampered with the report, Cuomo said simply, 'I don't know.' That's unacceptable," said Hawkins. "New Yorkers deserve answers from Cuomo, who for years has promised to listen to the science, not alter it. I intend to ask him what he knew and when."

Hawkins pledged on day one of his administration to direct the State Department of Environmental Conservation to take steps to halt fracking as an unwise energy choice and a threat to the environment, water and public health.

On October 6, a Capital New York investigative report revealed that the Cuomo Administration tampered with a federal U.S. Geological Survey fracking study that New York State commissioned in 2011 to examine naturally occurring methane in water wells in Broome, Chemung, Chenango, Tioga, Delaware and Otsego. This study was commissioned at the same time that the administration was considering a pilot fracking project in the Southern Tier in Broome, Chemung, Chenango, Tioga and Steuben counties. 

According to Capital New York's investigation, the Cuomo Administration officials had extensive communications with the USGS study authors and asked that they downplay or erase the original descriptions of environmental and health risks associated with fracking.

The only candidate who supports a ban on hydrofracking, Hawkins emphasized the extent to which gas drilling infrastructure has developed in New York under the Cuomo Administration.

"Even though horizontal drilling is at an apparent standstill in New York State, the invasion of fracking infrastructure is going full tilt. To date, there are more than 137 pipelines, compressor stations, frack waste or storage facilities that are proposed, under construction or in operation. Every time I visit a community for the first time, I hear about a new project," said Hawkins. 

At the press conference, Hawkins reviewed a map of New York that shows all the gas infrastructure proposed or already in operation across the state. The infrastructure map, developed by Sane Energy Project and other grassroots groups can be found here: 

"There is a very clear choice between the kind of future the industry wants versus the kind of future that citizens want for NYS," noted Hawkins. 

In the Finger Lakes, a Texas-based energy corporation, Crestwood Midstream, has approval to move forward with plans to store highly pressurized, explosive gas in abandoned salt caverns on the west side of Seneca Lake. While the DEC has temporarily halted plans to stockpile propane and butane (LPG) in the caverns, Crestwood is actively constructing infrastructure for the storage of two billion cubic feet of methane gas. This methane expansion project is advancing in the face of unparalleled public opposition and unresolved questions about geological instabilities, fault lines, and possible salinization of the lake, which serves as a source of drinking water for 100,000 people.

Outrageously, Governor Cuomo’s DEC excised references to the risks of underground gas storage from a 2011 federal report on methane contamination of drinking water and has allowed key data to remain hidden. 

"The Finger Lakes region is not a gas station for fracking operations. Seneca Lake is a crucial waters source and tourist destination. This is exactly the wrong direction for New York and it must be stopped," said Hawkins.

Hawkins also spoke about what he saw on his recent trip to the fracking sites in Pennsylvania, which he toured with impacted community members weeks ago. 

"Even though I know a lot about fracking, I was still shocked by what I saw on my trip there. The tap water of a home in Dimock was so noxious I had to step back. The way that fracking has negatively impacted those communities, deteriorating the quality of life with the never-ending truck traffic and scale of the industrialization of the rural landscapes into a toxic work zone is appalling," said Hawkins. "And the people are truly suffering with serious health ailments. I'm more committed now then ever to ban fracking in New York State."


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