Hundreds rallied on the steps of the New York State capitol in Albany on April 11, the Associated Press reported, to protest the practice of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, a method of natural-gas extraction that shoots chemicals mixed with millions of gallons of sand and water thousands of feet underground to break apart the rock, allowing more gas to escape and flow out of a well.
The practice particularly affects the Onondaga, a member nation of the Haudenosaunee Iroquois Confederacy, because New York, Ohio, West Virginia and Pennsylvania sit atop the gas-rich Marcellus shale, which is being considered for fracking.
New York was once ready to allow drilling, but over the past few months has pulled back and is considering a moratorium. Buffalo has banned the practice entirely out of health and environmental concerns. Fracking fluids have been found in wells and groundwater elsewhere in the U.S., as in the 2010 case on the Wind River Indian Reservation in Wyoming, when the Environmental Protection Agency investigated after detecting benzene, metals, naphthalene, methane and other contaminants.
Onondaga and other environmental stewards would like to make sure that’s not repeated in New York. Lawyers have their eye on potential cases too, The Legal Intelligencer reported.
“New York State leaders have a chance to show the nation how to protect our water from fracking—by choosing safe and healthy drinking water over poisoned wells, destroyed property values, and devastated communities,” said Kate Hudson, Riverkeeper Watershed Program Director in a release on April 11. “The oil and gas industry is eager to drill and now our leaders have a choice to make. We’re calling on Governor [Andrew] Cuomo and the State Legislature to put the long-term health of our communities and our water, air, and land ahead of short-term gas profits.”