Last Monday, I dropped everything and headed off on yet another trip to our state's Capitol. Hoping to do my part to stop the dishonest and toxic gas industry from ravaging our beautiful state, I -- along with 500 other New Yorkers who had arose before dawn to board buses bound for Albany -- took up the public health battle cry, "Not One Well!"
While we rallied, a rumor of a plan was being whispered in the Capitol halls: any day now, Gov. Cuomo might allow, as a test project, 10 to 40 fracking wells for our state's Southern Tier -- a horizontal row of hilly, rural counties just above the Pennsylvania border. If you could think of New York State as home, the Southern Tier would be its brick foundation. And, indeed, its fields of produce, dairy pastures, and tourism are foundational for the state's economy and the most vulnerable to hydrofracking.
If rumor becomes the plan that gets approval, then the residents of the Southern Tier become unwilling lab rats in our governor's fracking experiment. It's an experiment that risks ruin for many in the form of poisoned water, toxic air, burning flare stacks, mystery chemicals, and 24/7 noise. Why should the rest of NYS care? Because as the saying goes, "once the camel's nose is in the tent the rest will follow. Or, the shady salesman's got his grubby foot in the door."
Point of entry is exactly what this industry wants, and it won't be satisfied with a few fracking wells in the Southern Tier counties. The gas industry and their landowners coalitions have already said they will press on to open up other areas to fracking -- that means most of upstate New York. In short, by permitting just a few wells in an attempt at satisfy everyone, Gov. Cuomo might just be opening the lid on a Pandora's box nightmare. If you don't believe me, check out what the Joint Landowners Coalition said on Friday: Cuomo, frack us or we will claim you are taking our land rights and sue you.
The best way to beat back rumors is to make sure the folks that care are heard. Thus, New Yorkers went to Albany to speak the truth. I was honored to be marching and standing alongside my New York neighbors including Arun Gandhi, Dr. Sandra Steingraber, Senator Tony Avella, Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton, Josh Fox and 500 other beautiful and caring mothers, fathers, teachers, religious leaders and young students.
There was so much to say when it came for my time to speak. But this is what we want Gov. Cuomo to know: Stand with us against a predatory oil and gas industry, and we will support you. We respectfully ask you in the midst of a climate change crisis, in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, to seize this historical moment and move New York state forward toward a renewable energy economy.
If instead Gov. Cuomo chooses the path backwards to open up New York state for hydrofracking and in turn rubber stamping a path to increased fossil fuel consumption and heating of our planet, then we will respond with non-violent acts of civil disobedience, and will commence on a full throated campaign of resistance to run alongside his reelection campaign in 2014. On Monday, in the final few hours of our demonstration, our commitment to resistance was delivered to the governor's office in the form of a pledge -- The Pledge to Resist Fracking. We delivered the pledge with its latest signatory, Arun Gandhi, the grandson of Mohandas Gandhi -- the great nonviolence leader in India. Following in his grandfather's footsteps, Arun has practiced peace and nonviolence for most of his 79 years. After recently witnessing the destruction of life and land in Pennsylvania, Arun has committed himself to help guide our movement in New York, the state he calls home.
It was a powerful day. What will be decided this week remains unknown. What is known is that tens of thousands of New Yorkers will be doing everything we can in the next four days to help Gov. Cuomo make the right decision and lead our state on a road toward an inevitable future. A future of clean energy that does not require blasting apart our bedrock with toxic chemicals and poisoning our precious water and air. Please join us. Sign up here for more info!