Dean Emeritus Richard Ottinger on reports that Gov. Cuomo may lift the hydrofracking ban in New York

Richard Ottinger, founder of the Pace Law School Energy & Climate Center, is available to speak to the media about news that Gov. Andrew Cuomo may lift the moratorium on hydrofracking in New York State.

Richard Ottinger is one of the country’s foremost authorities in energy policy:

  • Chair of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN)’s Commission on Environmental Law Energy Law and Climate Change Specialist Group, and a member of the IUCN’s Energy Initiative Executive Committee
  • Former Congressman and chair of the U.S. House of Representatives Energy Conservation & Power Subcommittee (specialized in writing federal energy and environmental legislation)
  • Board member of the Environmental and Energy Study Institute in Washington, D.C.
  • Founder and faculty advisor at the Pace Energy & Climate Center
  • Co-Director of the Pace Center for Environmental Legal Studies
  • Dean Emeritus at Pace Law School

Richard Ottinger on hydrofracking in NY:

“If Governor Cuomo does indeed lift the current ban on hydrofracking in New York without first passing legislation to protect the public health and safety, as just reported in the press, he will be jeopardizing the health and safety of thousands of New Yorkers affected, according to studies that faculty and student studies at Pace Law School and the Hudson Riverkeeper have revealed.

Inadequately regulated hydrofracking in Pennsylvania has been a disaster. Water supplies have been contaminated with the carcinogenic and radioactive chemical additives pumped into the ground to lubricate and release natural gas – and the hydrofracking companies have refused to release full information on the chemicals being used claiming the need to protect their proprietary rights. There should be no proprietary rights to poison the public. Full disclosure and laws preventing contamination are essential.

The contaminated water returned to the surface during the fracking process is often stored in reservoirs that leak into water supplies, and there must be laws to prevent such leakage and spills that occur from delivery of the chemicals to and from the sites. This returned water also often is delivered to sewage treatment plants that are not equipped to handle the contaminants, and this practice must be prevented.

Adults and children have been made desperately ill, drinking the water contaminated. Methane gases released during the process have caused explosions. The pumping of water under high pressure of fracking fluids has caused earthquakes. The process requires millions of gallons of water to be used that may deprive areas of adequate fresh water supplies. The residents in areas affected by fracking have been unable to refinance their mortgages because of these hazards. There must be laws requiring the fracking companies to assume liability for all damages inflicted by their activities and they should be required to post bonds in advance of permitting assuring compensation for all damages caused.

The fracking companies just have succeeded in getting the Governor of Pennsylvania to commit to vetoing a tax on fracking companies to create a fund to protect the public against damages they cause. Permits should be required, proceeded by a SEQURA Environmental Impact Statement, on each site. All the above protections are essential to be passed into law before the New York moratorium is lifted.

The Governor’s press secretary has denied press stories that the Governor is about to permit fracking to proceed without these protections.  I hope he is right.”

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