Monday, 22 December 2014 / TRUTH-OUT.ORG

Debate on Controversial Natural Gas Drilling Technique as New York Moratorium May Expire

Monday, 07 January 2013 16:40 By Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez, Democracy NOW! | Video

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JUAN GONZÁLEZ: We turn now to the controversial natural gas drilling process known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. Fracking injects millions of gallons of water, sand and chemicals deep into the earth in order to break up shale rock and release natural gas. Supporters say fracking is essential to U.S. energy independence, a way to revitalize depressed rural areas with new mining jobs and gas projects. But opponents warn that hundreds of millions of gallons of chemically treated water used in the process will pollute drinking water supplies and contaminate agricultural fields.

These tensions are explored in a new Hollywood film called Promised Land, starring Matt Damon and John Krasinski. It tells the fictional story of an industry insider who visits rural Pennsylvania to convince locals to lease their farmland. However, he ends up sympathizing with those in the community who value land, water and tradition more than wealth. This is a clip from the film’s trailer.

STEVE BUTLER: [played by Matt Damon] I grew up in a large farming community—tractor pulls, cow tipping. We had a Caterpillar plant. My junior year, they close it down, and the whole farming town fantasy was just shattered. I’m selling them the only way they have to get back.

GERRY RICHARDS: [played by Ken Strunk] I am happy to announce we will be bringing natural gas to McKinley.

SUE THOMASON: [played by Frances McDormand] Can’t believe this. It’s right outside the city. It looks like Kentucky.

STEVE BUTLER: Two hours outside any city looks like Kentucky.

Are you the owner of this place?

GIRL: [played by Lexi Cowan] No.

STEVE BUTLER: Well, how come you’re doing all the work?

You sign this lease, it gives us the right to drill on your land.

GERRY RICHARDS: Whole lot of money down there.

STEVE BUTLER: That is true.

GERRY RICHARDS: And how much, do you think?

SUE THOMASON: There’s no reason your town shouldn’t have a state-of-the-art high school.

DREW SCOTT: [played by Tim Guinee] What kind of money are you talking about?

STEVE BUTLER: You could be a millionaire.

AMY GOODMAN: That was a clip of the trailer for the new film Promised Land.

Well, the controversial use of fracking that’s behind the country’s natural gas boom has met stiff resistance here in New York state, where there’s been a moratorium against the process. But that moratorium can soon expire. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has until February 27th to make a decision. He has previously promised not to lift the moratorium until research proves fracking can be done safely. Thousands are expected to protest next Wednesday at Cuomo’s State of the State address, calling on him to keep the moratorium in place. That’s in part because the areas where fracking would occur could impact the water supply for the millions of people living in New York City. Now a leaked analysis by the state’s Health Department concludes the much-debated drilling technology could be conducted safely.

To dive into this firestorm of debate today, we host a roundtable discussion with two supporters of fracking, two opponents. Here in New York, we’re joined by Kate Hudson—she is the Watershed Program director at Riverkeeper, New York’s clean water advocate—and Phelim McAleer, a filmmaker who did the pro-fracking documentary called FrackNation, which portrays fracking in a positive light. In Washington, D.C., we’re joined by Daniel Simmons, director of state of regulatory affairs at the Institute for Energy Research. And via Democracy Now! video stream, we’re joined by Mayor Matt Ryan of Binghamton, here in New York state. He’s a former professor of environmental law, outspoken opponent of fracking.

Mayor Ryan, why don’t we go to you first in Binghamton? You’ll be at this protest at the State of State address of Governor Cuomo. Why? How does fracking affect Binghamton, upstate New York?

MAYOR MATT RYAN: Well, thank you for having us today, Amy.

And basically how this affects upstate New York is that we—we know from the narrative that — Under the Surface, a great book by Tom Wilber, really tells us the story of this industry. It just came out. And he’s really detailed that we really are in the middle of a very—an industry in its infancy, that we are guinea pigs for this industry. And we are refusing—myself and 500 other elected, bipartisan officials—to be part of an experiment for the oil and gas industry. There is absolutely no definitive epidemiological studies concerning this industry. We are not going to allow our water, our air, our people to be exposed to this industry without these kinds of things being in place.

And right now the health impact part of this almost seems like an afterthought. We see that they’re somehow saying that nobody is going to be exposed to these chemicals or anything to do with the industry; it’s going to be so clean in New York. It’s just a pipe dream. This industry is a dirty industry. It’s never done this anyplace in a clean manner. And there is no rush to do this. There’s no rush to go forward. The price of gas is so low right now, T. Boone Pickens, the old architect of this whole thing, has said we shouldn’t be drilling any more gas right now. So let’s slow down. Let’s do it right.

Let’s make sure that we have—the governor has promised us transparency and openness about this process, and there’s been absolutely no transparency and openness as far as the health impacts of this. We don’t know what they’re reviewing. There’s been no public hearing on this. And we’re telling the governor, if he wants to be head of the most progressive state in the country, which he always talks about, then open and transparency is an important part, and our national energy policy is also very important.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, Dan Simmons of the Institute for Energy Research, what about those claims of the mayor—dirty industry, using the people of New York state as guinea pigs? Your response?

DANIEL SIMMONS: My response is that, where’s the evidence of this? America has the clean—we—our air quality today is as clean as it ever has been. On hydraulic fracturing, it’s been used for over 60 years in more than 1.2 million wells. It’s going on just across the border in Pennsylvania. If these—if these health impacts are as bad as the mayor suggests, they should be readily apparent in Pennsylvania, they should be readily apparent in North Dakota, they should be readily apparent in Texas.

The reality is that hydraulic fracturing, there’s no evidence that it has ever contaminated groundwater, that, you know, hydraulic fracturing has enabled the United States to produce a lot more energy at home. As the mayor noted, that means we have very low natural gas prices. That’s a great thing, because energy makes us all richer. Last night, my wife and I just paid our natural gas bill for the month. It wasn’t super cheap, but it wasn’t also that expensive, and it allows us to have money to spend on other things that we’d rather spend money on, rather than having to suffer in energy poverty. So, natural gas has enabled the United States to be the world’s largest producer of natural gas. I think that’s a good thing. And so far, the environmental track record of the hydraulic—of hydraulic fracturing has been very good.

AMY GOODMAN: Kate Hudson, then, of Riverkeeper here in New York state, then what’s the problem? What is the evidence that there is a problem with fracking?

KATHERINE HUDSON: Well, I think one of the problems is, who has the responsibility to come up with evidence? And every day there is more evidence of the negative, adverse environmental impacts of hydrofracking. Every day that going forward in New York is postponed, there is more evidence on the table. The latest—

AMY GOODMAN: Can you explain what is? We should have started there.

KATHERINE HUDSON: OK. There—I don’t think there is much debate about the fact that high-volume hydraulic fracturing, which has only been going on for seven or eight years, is an extremely industrial activity. It is thousands of trucks bringing onto a cleared site thousands of gallons—millions of gallons of water, thousands of gallons of chemicals and sand and explosives, and drilling down a mile or more, and then horizontally, and then fracturing the tight shale in which the gas exists, and then allowing millions of gallons of water that has been contaminated to come back up.

And it is not necessarily what happens underground that is the biggest source of problems in terms of impacts, environmental impacts, health impacts. It’s what happens at the surface. There are spills. There are releases of noxious fumes. There are truck—traffic accidents. There is destruction of local roads. I could go on and on.

And the stories that are from individual families and communities about the impacts that this has had are replete. For the last five years, we’ve heard from Texas. We’ve heard from Colorado. We’ve heard the ozone levels in underpopulated areas of Wyoming. And we have heard about these spills and explosions and the contamination of drinking water with methane in Pennsylvania. So to say that there is not evidence of a problem—I agree with Matt Ryan that this is an uncontrolled experiment. The industry is figuring it out as they go along. And that is at the expense of communities and their health.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, Phelim McAleer, you’ve been a critic of the critics and raised alarms and questions about the—first, the documentary, Gasland, and now the new Matt Damon film. And you’re producing your own film in support of fracking.

PHELIM McALEER: Yeah. Yeah, FrackNation, which comes out on AXS TV on January 22nd. Yeah, I mean, I’m from Ireland, but I’ve been here studying this for 18 months, intense study for the documentary. I think really what you’ve got here is, it seems to be it’s progressives who don’t believe in progress. Really, a lot of it’s anti-change, anti-modernity. They’re worried of this new thing that’s coming to New York, this new thing that’s coming to Pennsylvania. You know, you hear Kate here—the traffic, you know. It’s—you know, I have found in America that progressives are very conservative. They don’t like change. They seem to not like modernity. And I think that’s what the back of it.

There are lots of stories. She said, yes, we hear stories from individual families, but when those stories are investigated by rigorous science and rigorous investigations, the evidence just fades away. There is no epidemiological study that shows water has been contaminated. The Dimock case just collapsed. The families invited the EPA in to analyze their water, and the EPA said the water is safe. That’s the facts. That’s the science.

And I suppose it’s difficult. People don’t like change. But, I mean, people have never liked change.

MAYOR MATT RYAN: You know, that’s just not true. I mean, I visited the people on Carter Road. [inaudible]—

PHELIM McALEER: Conservative people have never liked change, and I suppose Kate and Mayor Ryan are the true conservatives in this argument.

AMY GOODMAN: Mayor Ryan, your response?

MAYOR MATT RYAN: ...said, "Well, it’s OK to drink your water now."

AMY GOODMAN: Mayor Ryan? Mayor Ryan?

MAYOR MATT RYAN: They said, "Do not drink the water," when [inaudible]—

AMY GOODMAN: Mayor Ryan, we haven’t heard what you said.

MAYOR MATT RYAN: This is just absurd that their water—their water—let’s go back to the history of what happened on Carter Road. The industry came in, and—after they brought the concerns to the industry, Cabot Oil, and they did testing, and they said, "Do not drink your water." They brought in the water buffalos. They said, "Do not bathe in this water. Do not drink it." And this is—there’s so much behind the scenes.

PHELIM McALEER: Yes, there was a lawsuit.

MAYOR MATT RYAN: We all know how much oil and gas—

PHELIM McALEER: Yes, there was a lawsuit.

MAYOR MATT RYAN: —the big corporations, control the thing. They’ve had a glossy, Madison Ave. advertising campaign that’s cost hundreds of million dollars to convince us that this is a clean industry. It’s just not.

PHELIM McALEER: I think it took Mayor Ryan—

MAYOR MATT RYAN: And we’re not dealing with arid areas like Texas and Utah and stuff where there’s big gas fields. We’re dealing with one of the pristine areas in the country, where clean water is going to be dramatically affected. It’s not the same animal here. And it’s clear that we’re guinea pigs for this industry. Range Resources just—

PHELIM McALEER: I think that—

MAYOR MATT RYAN: —didn’t know what they were doing in Pennsylvania back in 2003. Then they came up with this horizontal drilling, and we are right in the middle of an experiment. The people on Carter Road are friends of mine. I’ve seen their water. And I dare you to go and drink that water for any period of time, if it’s so safe. Nobody—

PHELIM McALEER: I’ve been on Carter Road.

MAYOR MATT RYAN: Nobody from the EPA, nobody from Cabot Oil—

PHELIM McALEER: Mayor Ryan, I have been on Carter Road. Mayor Ryan?

MAYOR MATT RYAN: —will drink that water.

PHELIM McALEER: Mayor Ryan, Mayor Ryan—

MAYOR MATT RYAN: If it’s so safe, let’s have a party and go see how—and drink it.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Phelim McAleer?

PHELIM McALEER: Yeah, I have been on Carter Road. I’ve offered to drink the water. You went to Carter Road, and you offered the people of Dimock clean water. They rejected you. The people of Dimock know that there was always, historically, problems with their water, that the gas really brought nothing new. You brought—they demanded the EPA come in, and the EPA said the water is safe.

I think you’re confusing a lawsuit with scientific evidence. Because someone—in America, I understand, because someone says something in a lawsuit doesn’t make it scientific evidence. And here’s something that you may not realize. In America, there are a lot of bogus lawsuits. That’s—I know that’s a shock. Look, you talk about stories from individual families. Sorry, stories from individual families is not scientific evidence. It’s not a report. you wouldn’t—you wouldn’t sell your house based on stories from individual families; you’d base it on statistical analysis of house prices in the area. Let’s—let’s be scientific. Why—why are progressives—

KATHERINE HUDSON: So let’s talk about scientific evidence. Let’s talk about that.

PHELIM McALEER: Yeah, well, but it seems—it seems that progressives here in America, they are all—there’s a war on science, and it’s coming from progressive, left-wing sources, because it doesn’t—and I don’t know where this happened. I don’t know—

KATHERINE HUDSON: I’d like to call your attention to some scientific evidence.

PHELIM McALEER: Yes.

AMY GOODMAN: Kate Hudson.

KATHERINE HUDSON: Duke University study of methane migration into drinking water, it established, through fingerprinting, scientific fingerprinting, that that methane, certain types of methane, does come from the drilling. And they were able to identify where it was in Pennsylvania that groundwater was contaminated because of the drilling. And I think this is a complete red herring.

PHELIM McALEER: That’s a complete misrepresentation.

KATHERINE HUDSON: I think this is—

PHELIM McALEER: A complete misrepresentation.

KATHERINE HUDSON: I think the whole issue of focusing on whether or not fracking is contaminating groundwater—

PHELIM McALEER: You started it.

KATHERINE HUDSON: —is a way of diverting attention from where 90 percent of the environmental and health problems exist, and that is on the surface. And that is because of the poor way in which, both from the perspective of technology and from the perspective of the way in which the gas companies are conducting their drilling—poor construction, spills, leaking pits that have waste fracking fluids in them, the truck accidents, the dumping of waste frack fluids in streams and rivers in Pennsylvania, which was going on before the New York Times series occurred. This is where most of the problems lie—the release of noxious fumes from the—both the drilling but also the compression, the transmission lines. We’re looking at a 9 percent greenhouse gas emission rate, in the study that we saw come out yesterday.

PHELIM McALEER: Look, look, look—

KATHERINE HUDSON: These are where the problems are.

PHELIM McALEER: Kate—Kate is a—Kate is a—Kate is a conservative.

KATHERINE HUDSON: We don’t have to talk about this red herring, which they like to focus on.

PHELIM McALEER: Kate is—Kate is a conservative. She doesn’t like change. She said that. She doesn’t like traffic. Listen, I don’t like traffic, either. I don’t like—I wouldn’t like it outside my house, if I wasn’t used to it.

Very interesting, Kate, you say we need to move away from contaminated water. That’s because the evidence doesn’t back up your allegations. You know, you claimed for years—you claimed for years that it was contaminating water—

KATHERINE HUDSON: There’s plenty of contaminated water.

PHELIM McALEER: No, you said—

KATHERINE HUDSON: There’s plenty of contaminated water.

PHELIM McALEER: You said we need to move away from—we need to move away from contaminated water. Dimock water—

KATHERINE HUDSON: But the debate over methane—

PHELIM McALEER: Is Dimock water safe? Is Dimock water safe?

KATHERINE HUDSON: —and whether the methane is naturally occurring or not naturally occurring is a way to focus away from where a lot of the problems are.

AMY GOODMAN: We have to break, but we’re going to come back to this discussion. We’re joined by Phelim McAleer—he is a filmmaker; Mayor Matt Ryan of Binghamton, New York, where there’s a two-year moratorium in place on fracking. We’re joined by Dan Simmons in Washington, D.C., and Kate Hudson of Riverkeeper here in New York state. We’ll be back in a minute.

[break]

AMY GOODMAN: We’re talking about fracking. It’s a major debate across the country, particularly here in New York state. The governor is about to make a decision about whether to lift a ban or a moratorium on fracking. At his State of the State address next week, there is a major protest promised.

Our guests are Dan Simmons in Washington, D.C., with the Institute for Energy Research; Kate Hudson of Riverkeeper in New York; Binghamton, New York, Mayor Matt Ryan; and Phelim McAleer, filmmaker who is just coming out with a new film called FrackNation, which is pro-fracking. Juan?

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, I’d like to bring Dan Simmons back into the conversation. You’re far from the heat of exchange here in the studio, in Washington, D.C. But I’d like to ask you, if the—if fracking is so safe, why has there been, for instance, since 2012, has the industry been exempted from seven major federal regulations in terms of harm to the environment? Why does it need—the Clean Water Act—why does it need those exemptions?

DANIEL SIMMONS: The oil and gas industry is regulated by the states. And whether it’s the state of Pennsylvania or the state of New York or North Dakota, Colorado, they are a heavily regulated industry. Just because the federal government isn’t doing the regulation does not mean that they’re not—they’re not regulated. And that is a—that’s a very important point, because the states—the states heavily regulate because they are the closest to those environmental issues, that—you know, instead of, like, the regulations being crafted here in Washington, D.C., where we don’t necessarily know, you know, the lay of the land in New York as well as the New York regulators, I would prefer for New York to be regulated by New York regulators, because they both experience the benefits of drilling, but also—but also the costs and also the downside. And I think their regulations are going to be better tuned. And that’s why—that’s why the regulation is by the states and not necessarily all by the federal government.

AMY GOODMAN: But let me ask—let me follow up on that question, because it’s a key one, especially around the issue of the Clean Water Act and Safe Drinking Water Act. Due to the Halliburton loophole, which was pushed through by Vice President and former Halliburton CEO Dick Cheney, corporations were exempted from revealing the chemicals used in fracking fluid. That’s one of the seven exemptions. Dan Simmons, why shouldn’t people then be concerned? If it’s safe, why not know what these chemicals are?

DANIEL SIMMONS: Again, that is a—that is a federal law. And state laws, in almost all the states where there is hydraulic fracturing, require some type of disclosure of the ingredients. You know, the same type of disclosure frequently as that you get on a bottle of soda as in what is—what is in the—what is in that hydraulic fracturing fluid. And that is—and that is key, that even though that they might not have to disclose for federal purposes, they still need to disclose for state purposes and for the—and to satisfy the state regulators.

The state regulators, since—you know, since the beginning of groundwater regulation, the state regulators have always been in charge of groundwater regulation. It hasn’t been the role of the federal government, because groundwater is obviously a state issue. So they are the ones in charge, and they are the ones that are crafting those regulations. So, that’s why around the country there is some variability with the disclosure, but they are state regulations that, by and large, require disclosure of those—of what is in the fracturing fluid.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And Matt Ryan—

KATHERINE HUDSON: Can I make two points with respect to that?

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Oh, sure, yes, Kate Hudson.

AMY GOODMAN: Kate Hudson.

KATHERINE HUDSON: The first is that whatever the disclosure laws might—may or may not be at the state level, there are still huge chunks of information that is not being made available because industry is invoking business practice protections. And I think I have a graphic here, that—if it could be put up right now—that indicates the number, the amount of chemicals that would be used to frack one well next to a home. And this is another thing that I want to refer to at some point. And all of the red containers—those are barrels—are the ones that are not disclosed because of business practice exemptions that are invoked by the industry.

The other point that I want to make is that it is indisputable that state regulatory departments do not have the staff, they do not have the capacity, to keep track of what is going on. And I think New York is a perfect example. There are less than 20 field mineral resource inspectors in New York state, and the Department of Environmental Conservation itself estimated it would cost them millions of dollars to put the staff on board that they would need to be able to regulate this activity even barely adequately. And that money hasn’t become available. Nobody has asked for it. And you know where it’s going to come from? It is going to come from the taxpayers of New York.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, I’d like to ask Mayor Matt Ryan, you—Binghamton is in the middle of a depressed area of New York state. How do you answer your constituents who own land there, who say this is an opportunity not only for them to get income, but also for jobs for your area?

MAYOR MATT RYAN: Well, certainly, there’s no doubt it will produce some jobs and some money for people who have land. But the reality is, as elected officials, we have to make sure that the health and safety is primary for our constituents and for our future.

Right now we’ve had tremendous—one of the gentlemen, I think Dan, said we have the cleanest environment—cleaner, much cleaner environment than we did when the environmental movement started back in the late '60s. That's certainly true. But what we’ve done is injected all this pollution into the earth. And a ProPublica recent article showed that all this stuff is now starting—decades, injected into the earth, is starting to bubble up in—all over the country. And that’s exactly what this industry proposes to do now as they make changes because of all the things we’ve brought to their attention. They’re starting to inject all this stuff in Ohio, and even in—on drill sites, and saying that they’re recycling this stuff. But we’re—you know, we’re going to create a legacy of toxic pollution and Superfund sites that we’re all going to have to deal with down the road.

We do love modernity—to the filmmaker. We love it, and that’s why we want to make farmers do what they do best—grow things, grow biodiesel fuels. Let’s come up—let’s have Governor Cuomo come up with a plan that makes our farmers more productive and do what they know they love to do, and not pollute their property and not sell out. Many of these farmers are, you know, claiming—you know, a lot of people who own land, who haven’t farmed in a long time, they’re just cashing in, and they’re going to leave. Many people—I’ve talked to dozens of people down in Pennsylvania, prominent citizens, who have left the area because of this drilling activity. This is—we do love modernity, and we need to look at clean energy technology.

"Global Warming’s Terrifying New Math," the Rolling Stone article, said last summer that—revealed that the fossil fuel industry has five times more carbon in its proven reserves than the science says can be burned, if we want to avoid climate catastrophe. If we’re going to go into a modern society that has a sustainable way of producing energy, we can’t put all our eggs in this basket of fracking.

We should be putting a lot more into renewables. The whole world is doing it. Germany is doing it. Japan is doing it. They’re scrapping their nukes in Germany. They produced 50 percent of their energy by solar power a couple week—a few weekends ago. It can be done. And those are the sustainable jobs that—and we have—Governor Cuomo, you are putting tens of millions of dollars into research in our universities for clean energy technology at Binghamton University. And we’re going to build an incubator. We’re going to incubate those jobs into our community. And that’s what we should be doing. We believe in the—we believe in the future of our country. That’s what modernity is, and that’s where we should go. Oil and gas is old technology. We should be going towards new technology.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Phelim McAleer, your response?

PHELIM McALEER: Well, see, we started out talking about science, right? You know, Kate talked about science. Mayor Ryan talked about science. Now we’ve moved onto articles in the New York Times and articles in the Rolling Stone, you know, because the science isn’t there. So we’re quoting the Rolling Stone now as the Oracle. Sorry, I think Americans should base their future on something other than discredited articles in the the New York Times, which were attacked two weeks in a row by the New York Times ombudsman as inaccurate and unfair. Rolling Stone — we went from scientific—Kate had started off talking about science. Then she produced a Photoshopped photograph. I mean, a Photoshopped photograph is not an epidemiological study. It’s not a scientific document. It’s something you made up at your computer.

KATHERINE HUDSON: Actually, SkyTruth.

PHELIM McALEER: We need to look at the science. We need to look at the science, you know.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And what is the science that you cite that says that fracking is safe?

PHELIM McALEER: Well, this is a vast Petri dish of America. There’s been fracking going on in America since, I believe, 1947. I mean, the science is out there. The Petri dish is out there. There have been no scientific epidemiological studies to show that fracking has harmed human health in any way.

KATHERINE HUDSON: So what I hear—

PHELIM McALEER: The water in Dimock, Pennsylvania, it’s safe. It was the poster child. I mean, we need to—we need to—I would love to ask Kate and Matt, do they believe the EPA? You called the EPA in and said—the local environmental regulatory authority said the water is safe. This wasn’t good enough for the residents of Carter Road, who—11 litigants, 11 litigants in a community of 1,500 people. Fifteen hundred people signed a petition in Dimock to say, "Our water is fine. It’s the same it’s ever been." Eleven people were litigants. If you look at the statistics, those 11 people are the 1 percent. The people of Dimock who signed the petition who say, "Our water is fine," are the 99 percent. Again, I come to America, and I hear people talk about the 1 percent. In these communities, the true 1 percent are the litigants involved in lucrative, multimillion-dollar lawsuits, with no science to back them up. We should not confuse lawsuits—allegations in lawsuits with scientific evidence.

KATHERINE HUDSON: OK, so can I respond to that? So if there is no science, which is what I’m hearing you say—

PHELIM McALEER: There is science. There is science.

KATHERINE HUDSON: —and—

PHELIM McALEER: There is science.

KATHERINE HUDSON: —and we have had a commitment from Governor Cuomo—

PHELIM McALEER: There is science.

KATHERINE HUDSON: —that he will not move forward until he has the science and the facts—

PHELIM McALEER: There is science.

KATHERINE HUDSON: —then why is he moving forward with this decision—

PHELIM McALEER: Because there is science.

KATHERINE HUDSON: —on hydrofracking without having the health study completed, review completed, without having the environmental review completed? If you don’t have—if he doesn’t have the science, he is taking a huge gamble with the lives of New Yorkers.

AMY GOODMAN: Mayor Ryan, we only have 15 seconds. Binghamton has a ban on hydrofracking in place. If Governor Cuomo announces he will move forward on hydrofracking, will Binghamton still maintain this ban?

MAYOR MATT RYAN: Well, to be fair, a judge did overturn it on procedural issues. But we will—we will pursue any legal things that we have to prevent this industry from coming to us. Plus, there are 6,000 people who have said they’re going to do civil disobedience. And again, I’m very proud to be part of a group who’s not going to let this happen unless the science really exists. Governor Cuomo, please [inaudible]—

AMY GOODMAN: We’re going to have to leave it there. I want to thank you, Governor Matt Ryan from Binghamton; Dan Simmons with the Institute for Energy Research; Kate Hudson of Riverkeeper; and Phelim McAleer, filmmaker.

 

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Debate on Controversial Natural Gas Drilling Technique as New York Moratorium May Expire

Monday, 07 January 2013 16:40 By Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez, Democracy NOW! | Video

Media

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: We turn now to the controversial natural gas drilling process known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. Fracking injects millions of gallons of water, sand and chemicals deep into the earth in order to break up shale rock and release natural gas. Supporters say fracking is essential to U.S. energy independence, a way to revitalize depressed rural areas with new mining jobs and gas projects. But opponents warn that hundreds of millions of gallons of chemically treated water used in the process will pollute drinking water supplies and contaminate agricultural fields.

These tensions are explored in a new Hollywood film called Promised Land, starring Matt Damon and John Krasinski. It tells the fictional story of an industry insider who visits rural Pennsylvania to convince locals to lease their farmland. However, he ends up sympathizing with those in the community who value land, water and tradition more than wealth. This is a clip from the film’s trailer.

STEVE BUTLER: [played by Matt Damon] I grew up in a large farming community—tractor pulls, cow tipping. We had a Caterpillar plant. My junior year, they close it down, and the whole farming town fantasy was just shattered. I’m selling them the only way they have to get back.

GERRY RICHARDS: [played by Ken Strunk] I am happy to announce we will be bringing natural gas to McKinley.

SUE THOMASON: [played by Frances McDormand] Can’t believe this. It’s right outside the city. It looks like Kentucky.

STEVE BUTLER: Two hours outside any city looks like Kentucky.

Are you the owner of this place?

GIRL: [played by Lexi Cowan] No.

STEVE BUTLER: Well, how come you’re doing all the work?

You sign this lease, it gives us the right to drill on your land.

GERRY RICHARDS: Whole lot of money down there.

STEVE BUTLER: That is true.

GERRY RICHARDS: And how much, do you think?

SUE THOMASON: There’s no reason your town shouldn’t have a state-of-the-art high school.

DREW SCOTT: [played by Tim Guinee] What kind of money are you talking about?

STEVE BUTLER: You could be a millionaire.

AMY GOODMAN: That was a clip of the trailer for the new film Promised Land.

Well, the controversial use of fracking that’s behind the country’s natural gas boom has met stiff resistance here in New York state, where there’s been a moratorium against the process. But that moratorium can soon expire. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has until February 27th to make a decision. He has previously promised not to lift the moratorium until research proves fracking can be done safely. Thousands are expected to protest next Wednesday at Cuomo’s State of the State address, calling on him to keep the moratorium in place. That’s in part because the areas where fracking would occur could impact the water supply for the millions of people living in New York City. Now a leaked analysis by the state’s Health Department concludes the much-debated drilling technology could be conducted safely.

To dive into this firestorm of debate today, we host a roundtable discussion with two supporters of fracking, two opponents. Here in New York, we’re joined by Kate Hudson—she is the Watershed Program director at Riverkeeper, New York’s clean water advocate—and Phelim McAleer, a filmmaker who did the pro-fracking documentary called FrackNation, which portrays fracking in a positive light. In Washington, D.C., we’re joined by Daniel Simmons, director of state of regulatory affairs at the Institute for Energy Research. And via Democracy Now! video stream, we’re joined by Mayor Matt Ryan of Binghamton, here in New York state. He’s a former professor of environmental law, outspoken opponent of fracking.

Mayor Ryan, why don’t we go to you first in Binghamton? You’ll be at this protest at the State of State address of Governor Cuomo. Why? How does fracking affect Binghamton, upstate New York?

MAYOR MATT RYAN: Well, thank you for having us today, Amy.

And basically how this affects upstate New York is that we—we know from the narrative that — Under the Surface, a great book by Tom Wilber, really tells us the story of this industry. It just came out. And he’s really detailed that we really are in the middle of a very—an industry in its infancy, that we are guinea pigs for this industry. And we are refusing—myself and 500 other elected, bipartisan officials—to be part of an experiment for the oil and gas industry. There is absolutely no definitive epidemiological studies concerning this industry. We are not going to allow our water, our air, our people to be exposed to this industry without these kinds of things being in place.

And right now the health impact part of this almost seems like an afterthought. We see that they’re somehow saying that nobody is going to be exposed to these chemicals or anything to do with the industry; it’s going to be so clean in New York. It’s just a pipe dream. This industry is a dirty industry. It’s never done this anyplace in a clean manner. And there is no rush to do this. There’s no rush to go forward. The price of gas is so low right now, T. Boone Pickens, the old architect of this whole thing, has said we shouldn’t be drilling any more gas right now. So let’s slow down. Let’s do it right.

Let’s make sure that we have—the governor has promised us transparency and openness about this process, and there’s been absolutely no transparency and openness as far as the health impacts of this. We don’t know what they’re reviewing. There’s been no public hearing on this. And we’re telling the governor, if he wants to be head of the most progressive state in the country, which he always talks about, then open and transparency is an important part, and our national energy policy is also very important.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, Dan Simmons of the Institute for Energy Research, what about those claims of the mayor—dirty industry, using the people of New York state as guinea pigs? Your response?

DANIEL SIMMONS: My response is that, where’s the evidence of this? America has the clean—we—our air quality today is as clean as it ever has been. On hydraulic fracturing, it’s been used for over 60 years in more than 1.2 million wells. It’s going on just across the border in Pennsylvania. If these—if these health impacts are as bad as the mayor suggests, they should be readily apparent in Pennsylvania, they should be readily apparent in North Dakota, they should be readily apparent in Texas.

The reality is that hydraulic fracturing, there’s no evidence that it has ever contaminated groundwater, that, you know, hydraulic fracturing has enabled the United States to produce a lot more energy at home. As the mayor noted, that means we have very low natural gas prices. That’s a great thing, because energy makes us all richer. Last night, my wife and I just paid our natural gas bill for the month. It wasn’t super cheap, but it wasn’t also that expensive, and it allows us to have money to spend on other things that we’d rather spend money on, rather than having to suffer in energy poverty. So, natural gas has enabled the United States to be the world’s largest producer of natural gas. I think that’s a good thing. And so far, the environmental track record of the hydraulic—of hydraulic fracturing has been very good.

AMY GOODMAN: Kate Hudson, then, of Riverkeeper here in New York state, then what’s the problem? What is the evidence that there is a problem with fracking?

KATHERINE HUDSON: Well, I think one of the problems is, who has the responsibility to come up with evidence? And every day there is more evidence of the negative, adverse environmental impacts of hydrofracking. Every day that going forward in New York is postponed, there is more evidence on the table. The latest—

AMY GOODMAN: Can you explain what is? We should have started there.

KATHERINE HUDSON: OK. There—I don’t think there is much debate about the fact that high-volume hydraulic fracturing, which has only been going on for seven or eight years, is an extremely industrial activity. It is thousands of trucks bringing onto a cleared site thousands of gallons—millions of gallons of water, thousands of gallons of chemicals and sand and explosives, and drilling down a mile or more, and then horizontally, and then fracturing the tight shale in which the gas exists, and then allowing millions of gallons of water that has been contaminated to come back up.

And it is not necessarily what happens underground that is the biggest source of problems in terms of impacts, environmental impacts, health impacts. It’s what happens at the surface. There are spills. There are releases of noxious fumes. There are truck—traffic accidents. There is destruction of local roads. I could go on and on.

And the stories that are from individual families and communities about the impacts that this has had are replete. For the last five years, we’ve heard from Texas. We’ve heard from Colorado. We’ve heard the ozone levels in underpopulated areas of Wyoming. And we have heard about these spills and explosions and the contamination of drinking water with methane in Pennsylvania. So to say that there is not evidence of a problem—I agree with Matt Ryan that this is an uncontrolled experiment. The industry is figuring it out as they go along. And that is at the expense of communities and their health.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, Phelim McAleer, you’ve been a critic of the critics and raised alarms and questions about the—first, the documentary, Gasland, and now the new Matt Damon film. And you’re producing your own film in support of fracking.

PHELIM McALEER: Yeah. Yeah, FrackNation, which comes out on AXS TV on January 22nd. Yeah, I mean, I’m from Ireland, but I’ve been here studying this for 18 months, intense study for the documentary. I think really what you’ve got here is, it seems to be it’s progressives who don’t believe in progress. Really, a lot of it’s anti-change, anti-modernity. They’re worried of this new thing that’s coming to New York, this new thing that’s coming to Pennsylvania. You know, you hear Kate here—the traffic, you know. It’s—you know, I have found in America that progressives are very conservative. They don’t like change. They seem to not like modernity. And I think that’s what the back of it.

There are lots of stories. She said, yes, we hear stories from individual families, but when those stories are investigated by rigorous science and rigorous investigations, the evidence just fades away. There is no epidemiological study that shows water has been contaminated. The Dimock case just collapsed. The families invited the EPA in to analyze their water, and the EPA said the water is safe. That’s the facts. That’s the science.

And I suppose it’s difficult. People don’t like change. But, I mean, people have never liked change.

MAYOR MATT RYAN: You know, that’s just not true. I mean, I visited the people on Carter Road. [inaudible]—

PHELIM McALEER: Conservative people have never liked change, and I suppose Kate and Mayor Ryan are the true conservatives in this argument.

AMY GOODMAN: Mayor Ryan, your response?

MAYOR MATT RYAN: ...said, "Well, it’s OK to drink your water now."

AMY GOODMAN: Mayor Ryan? Mayor Ryan?

MAYOR MATT RYAN: They said, "Do not drink the water," when [inaudible]—

AMY GOODMAN: Mayor Ryan, we haven’t heard what you said.

MAYOR MATT RYAN: This is just absurd that their water—their water—let’s go back to the history of what happened on Carter Road. The industry came in, and—after they brought the concerns to the industry, Cabot Oil, and they did testing, and they said, "Do not drink your water." They brought in the water buffalos. They said, "Do not bathe in this water. Do not drink it." And this is—there’s so much behind the scenes.

PHELIM McALEER: Yes, there was a lawsuit.

MAYOR MATT RYAN: We all know how much oil and gas—

PHELIM McALEER: Yes, there was a lawsuit.

MAYOR MATT RYAN: —the big corporations, control the thing. They’ve had a glossy, Madison Ave. advertising campaign that’s cost hundreds of million dollars to convince us that this is a clean industry. It’s just not.

PHELIM McALEER: I think it took Mayor Ryan—

MAYOR MATT RYAN: And we’re not dealing with arid areas like Texas and Utah and stuff where there’s big gas fields. We’re dealing with one of the pristine areas in the country, where clean water is going to be dramatically affected. It’s not the same animal here. And it’s clear that we’re guinea pigs for this industry. Range Resources just—

PHELIM McALEER: I think that—

MAYOR MATT RYAN: —didn’t know what they were doing in Pennsylvania back in 2003. Then they came up with this horizontal drilling, and we are right in the middle of an experiment. The people on Carter Road are friends of mine. I’ve seen their water. And I dare you to go and drink that water for any period of time, if it’s so safe. Nobody—

PHELIM McALEER: I’ve been on Carter Road.

MAYOR MATT RYAN: Nobody from the EPA, nobody from Cabot Oil—

PHELIM McALEER: Mayor Ryan, I have been on Carter Road. Mayor Ryan?

MAYOR MATT RYAN: —will drink that water.

PHELIM McALEER: Mayor Ryan, Mayor Ryan—

MAYOR MATT RYAN: If it’s so safe, let’s have a party and go see how—and drink it.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Phelim McAleer?

PHELIM McALEER: Yeah, I have been on Carter Road. I’ve offered to drink the water. You went to Carter Road, and you offered the people of Dimock clean water. They rejected you. The people of Dimock know that there was always, historically, problems with their water, that the gas really brought nothing new. You brought—they demanded the EPA come in, and the EPA said the water is safe.

I think you’re confusing a lawsuit with scientific evidence. Because someone—in America, I understand, because someone says something in a lawsuit doesn’t make it scientific evidence. And here’s something that you may not realize. In America, there are a lot of bogus lawsuits. That’s—I know that’s a shock. Look, you talk about stories from individual families. Sorry, stories from individual families is not scientific evidence. It’s not a report. you wouldn’t—you wouldn’t sell your house based on stories from individual families; you’d base it on statistical analysis of house prices in the area. Let’s—let’s be scientific. Why—why are progressives—

KATHERINE HUDSON: So let’s talk about scientific evidence. Let’s talk about that.

PHELIM McALEER: Yeah, well, but it seems—it seems that progressives here in America, they are all—there’s a war on science, and it’s coming from progressive, left-wing sources, because it doesn’t—and I don’t know where this happened. I don’t know—

KATHERINE HUDSON: I’d like to call your attention to some scientific evidence.

PHELIM McALEER: Yes.

AMY GOODMAN: Kate Hudson.

KATHERINE HUDSON: Duke University study of methane migration into drinking water, it established, through fingerprinting, scientific fingerprinting, that that methane, certain types of methane, does come from the drilling. And they were able to identify where it was in Pennsylvania that groundwater was contaminated because of the drilling. And I think this is a complete red herring.

PHELIM McALEER: That’s a complete misrepresentation.

KATHERINE HUDSON: I think this is—

PHELIM McALEER: A complete misrepresentation.

KATHERINE HUDSON: I think the whole issue of focusing on whether or not fracking is contaminating groundwater—

PHELIM McALEER: You started it.

KATHERINE HUDSON: —is a way of diverting attention from where 90 percent of the environmental and health problems exist, and that is on the surface. And that is because of the poor way in which, both from the perspective of technology and from the perspective of the way in which the gas companies are conducting their drilling—poor construction, spills, leaking pits that have waste fracking fluids in them, the truck accidents, the dumping of waste frack fluids in streams and rivers in Pennsylvania, which was going on before the New York Times series occurred. This is where most of the problems lie—the release of noxious fumes from the—both the drilling but also the compression, the transmission lines. We’re looking at a 9 percent greenhouse gas emission rate, in the study that we saw come out yesterday.

PHELIM McALEER: Look, look, look—

KATHERINE HUDSON: These are where the problems are.

PHELIM McALEER: Kate—Kate is a—Kate is a—Kate is a conservative.

KATHERINE HUDSON: We don’t have to talk about this red herring, which they like to focus on.

PHELIM McALEER: Kate is—Kate is a conservative. She doesn’t like change. She said that. She doesn’t like traffic. Listen, I don’t like traffic, either. I don’t like—I wouldn’t like it outside my house, if I wasn’t used to it.

Very interesting, Kate, you say we need to move away from contaminated water. That’s because the evidence doesn’t back up your allegations. You know, you claimed for years—you claimed for years that it was contaminating water—

KATHERINE HUDSON: There’s plenty of contaminated water.

PHELIM McALEER: No, you said—

KATHERINE HUDSON: There’s plenty of contaminated water.

PHELIM McALEER: You said we need to move away from—we need to move away from contaminated water. Dimock water—

KATHERINE HUDSON: But the debate over methane—

PHELIM McALEER: Is Dimock water safe? Is Dimock water safe?

KATHERINE HUDSON: —and whether the methane is naturally occurring or not naturally occurring is a way to focus away from where a lot of the problems are.

AMY GOODMAN: We have to break, but we’re going to come back to this discussion. We’re joined by Phelim McAleer—he is a filmmaker; Mayor Matt Ryan of Binghamton, New York, where there’s a two-year moratorium in place on fracking. We’re joined by Dan Simmons in Washington, D.C., and Kate Hudson of Riverkeeper here in New York state. We’ll be back in a minute.

[break]

AMY GOODMAN: We’re talking about fracking. It’s a major debate across the country, particularly here in New York state. The governor is about to make a decision about whether to lift a ban or a moratorium on fracking. At his State of the State address next week, there is a major protest promised.

Our guests are Dan Simmons in Washington, D.C., with the Institute for Energy Research; Kate Hudson of Riverkeeper in New York; Binghamton, New York, Mayor Matt Ryan; and Phelim McAleer, filmmaker who is just coming out with a new film called FrackNation, which is pro-fracking. Juan?

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, I’d like to bring Dan Simmons back into the conversation. You’re far from the heat of exchange here in the studio, in Washington, D.C. But I’d like to ask you, if the—if fracking is so safe, why has there been, for instance, since 2012, has the industry been exempted from seven major federal regulations in terms of harm to the environment? Why does it need—the Clean Water Act—why does it need those exemptions?

DANIEL SIMMONS: The oil and gas industry is regulated by the states. And whether it’s the state of Pennsylvania or the state of New York or North Dakota, Colorado, they are a heavily regulated industry. Just because the federal government isn’t doing the regulation does not mean that they’re not—they’re not regulated. And that is a—that’s a very important point, because the states—the states heavily regulate because they are the closest to those environmental issues, that—you know, instead of, like, the regulations being crafted here in Washington, D.C., where we don’t necessarily know, you know, the lay of the land in New York as well as the New York regulators, I would prefer for New York to be regulated by New York regulators, because they both experience the benefits of drilling, but also—but also the costs and also the downside. And I think their regulations are going to be better tuned. And that’s why—that’s why the regulation is by the states and not necessarily all by the federal government.

AMY GOODMAN: But let me ask—let me follow up on that question, because it’s a key one, especially around the issue of the Clean Water Act and Safe Drinking Water Act. Due to the Halliburton loophole, which was pushed through by Vice President and former Halliburton CEO Dick Cheney, corporations were exempted from revealing the chemicals used in fracking fluid. That’s one of the seven exemptions. Dan Simmons, why shouldn’t people then be concerned? If it’s safe, why not know what these chemicals are?

DANIEL SIMMONS: Again, that is a—that is a federal law. And state laws, in almost all the states where there is hydraulic fracturing, require some type of disclosure of the ingredients. You know, the same type of disclosure frequently as that you get on a bottle of soda as in what is—what is in the—what is in that hydraulic fracturing fluid. And that is—and that is key, that even though that they might not have to disclose for federal purposes, they still need to disclose for state purposes and for the—and to satisfy the state regulators.

The state regulators, since—you know, since the beginning of groundwater regulation, the state regulators have always been in charge of groundwater regulation. It hasn’t been the role of the federal government, because groundwater is obviously a state issue. So they are the ones in charge, and they are the ones that are crafting those regulations. So, that’s why around the country there is some variability with the disclosure, but they are state regulations that, by and large, require disclosure of those—of what is in the fracturing fluid.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And Matt Ryan—

KATHERINE HUDSON: Can I make two points with respect to that?

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Oh, sure, yes, Kate Hudson.

AMY GOODMAN: Kate Hudson.

KATHERINE HUDSON: The first is that whatever the disclosure laws might—may or may not be at the state level, there are still huge chunks of information that is not being made available because industry is invoking business practice protections. And I think I have a graphic here, that—if it could be put up right now—that indicates the number, the amount of chemicals that would be used to frack one well next to a home. And this is another thing that I want to refer to at some point. And all of the red containers—those are barrels—are the ones that are not disclosed because of business practice exemptions that are invoked by the industry.

The other point that I want to make is that it is indisputable that state regulatory departments do not have the staff, they do not have the capacity, to keep track of what is going on. And I think New York is a perfect example. There are less than 20 field mineral resource inspectors in New York state, and the Department of Environmental Conservation itself estimated it would cost them millions of dollars to put the staff on board that they would need to be able to regulate this activity even barely adequately. And that money hasn’t become available. Nobody has asked for it. And you know where it’s going to come from? It is going to come from the taxpayers of New York.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, I’d like to ask Mayor Matt Ryan, you—Binghamton is in the middle of a depressed area of New York state. How do you answer your constituents who own land there, who say this is an opportunity not only for them to get income, but also for jobs for your area?

MAYOR MATT RYAN: Well, certainly, there’s no doubt it will produce some jobs and some money for people who have land. But the reality is, as elected officials, we have to make sure that the health and safety is primary for our constituents and for our future.

Right now we’ve had tremendous—one of the gentlemen, I think Dan, said we have the cleanest environment—cleaner, much cleaner environment than we did when the environmental movement started back in the late '60s. That's certainly true. But what we’ve done is injected all this pollution into the earth. And a ProPublica recent article showed that all this stuff is now starting—decades, injected into the earth, is starting to bubble up in—all over the country. And that’s exactly what this industry proposes to do now as they make changes because of all the things we’ve brought to their attention. They’re starting to inject all this stuff in Ohio, and even in—on drill sites, and saying that they’re recycling this stuff. But we’re—you know, we’re going to create a legacy of toxic pollution and Superfund sites that we’re all going to have to deal with down the road.

We do love modernity—to the filmmaker. We love it, and that’s why we want to make farmers do what they do best—grow things, grow biodiesel fuels. Let’s come up—let’s have Governor Cuomo come up with a plan that makes our farmers more productive and do what they know they love to do, and not pollute their property and not sell out. Many of these farmers are, you know, claiming—you know, a lot of people who own land, who haven’t farmed in a long time, they’re just cashing in, and they’re going to leave. Many people—I’ve talked to dozens of people down in Pennsylvania, prominent citizens, who have left the area because of this drilling activity. This is—we do love modernity, and we need to look at clean energy technology.

"Global Warming’s Terrifying New Math," the Rolling Stone article, said last summer that—revealed that the fossil fuel industry has five times more carbon in its proven reserves than the science says can be burned, if we want to avoid climate catastrophe. If we’re going to go into a modern society that has a sustainable way of producing energy, we can’t put all our eggs in this basket of fracking.

We should be putting a lot more into renewables. The whole world is doing it. Germany is doing it. Japan is doing it. They’re scrapping their nukes in Germany. They produced 50 percent of their energy by solar power a couple week—a few weekends ago. It can be done. And those are the sustainable jobs that—and we have—Governor Cuomo, you are putting tens of millions of dollars into research in our universities for clean energy technology at Binghamton University. And we’re going to build an incubator. We’re going to incubate those jobs into our community. And that’s what we should be doing. We believe in the—we believe in the future of our country. That’s what modernity is, and that’s where we should go. Oil and gas is old technology. We should be going towards new technology.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Phelim McAleer, your response?

PHELIM McALEER: Well, see, we started out talking about science, right? You know, Kate talked about science. Mayor Ryan talked about science. Now we’ve moved onto articles in the New York Times and articles in the Rolling Stone, you know, because the science isn’t there. So we’re quoting the Rolling Stone now as the Oracle. Sorry, I think Americans should base their future on something other than discredited articles in the the New York Times, which were attacked two weeks in a row by the New York Times ombudsman as inaccurate and unfair. Rolling Stone — we went from scientific—Kate had started off talking about science. Then she produced a Photoshopped photograph. I mean, a Photoshopped photograph is not an epidemiological study. It’s not a scientific document. It’s something you made up at your computer.

KATHERINE HUDSON: Actually, SkyTruth.

PHELIM McALEER: We need to look at the science. We need to look at the science, you know.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And what is the science that you cite that says that fracking is safe?

PHELIM McALEER: Well, this is a vast Petri dish of America. There’s been fracking going on in America since, I believe, 1947. I mean, the science is out there. The Petri dish is out there. There have been no scientific epidemiological studies to show that fracking has harmed human health in any way.

KATHERINE HUDSON: So what I hear—

PHELIM McALEER: The water in Dimock, Pennsylvania, it’s safe. It was the poster child. I mean, we need to—we need to—I would love to ask Kate and Matt, do they believe the EPA? You called the EPA in and said—the local environmental regulatory authority said the water is safe. This wasn’t good enough for the residents of Carter Road, who—11 litigants, 11 litigants in a community of 1,500 people. Fifteen hundred people signed a petition in Dimock to say, "Our water is fine. It’s the same it’s ever been." Eleven people were litigants. If you look at the statistics, those 11 people are the 1 percent. The people of Dimock who signed the petition who say, "Our water is fine," are the 99 percent. Again, I come to America, and I hear people talk about the 1 percent. In these communities, the true 1 percent are the litigants involved in lucrative, multimillion-dollar lawsuits, with no science to back them up. We should not confuse lawsuits—allegations in lawsuits with scientific evidence.

KATHERINE HUDSON: OK, so can I respond to that? So if there is no science, which is what I’m hearing you say—

PHELIM McALEER: There is science. There is science.

KATHERINE HUDSON: —and—

PHELIM McALEER: There is science.

KATHERINE HUDSON: —and we have had a commitment from Governor Cuomo—

PHELIM McALEER: There is science.

KATHERINE HUDSON: —that he will not move forward until he has the science and the facts—

PHELIM McALEER: There is science.

KATHERINE HUDSON: —then why is he moving forward with this decision—

PHELIM McALEER: Because there is science.

KATHERINE HUDSON: —on hydrofracking without having the health study completed, review completed, without having the environmental review completed? If you don’t have—if he doesn’t have the science, he is taking a huge gamble with the lives of New Yorkers.

AMY GOODMAN: Mayor Ryan, we only have 15 seconds. Binghamton has a ban on hydrofracking in place. If Governor Cuomo announces he will move forward on hydrofracking, will Binghamton still maintain this ban?

MAYOR MATT RYAN: Well, to be fair, a judge did overturn it on procedural issues. But we will—we will pursue any legal things that we have to prevent this industry from coming to us. Plus, there are 6,000 people who have said they’re going to do civil disobedience. And again, I’m very proud to be part of a group who’s not going to let this happen unless the science really exists. Governor Cuomo, please [inaudible]—

AMY GOODMAN: We’re going to have to leave it there. I want to thank you, Governor Matt Ryan from Binghamton; Dan Simmons with the Institute for Energy Research; Kate Hudson of Riverkeeper; and Phelim McAleer, filmmaker.

 

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